Tuesday, December 26, 2006

NLP: NLP is about Thinking Part 3 - The Map is not the Teritory


Thanks for reading Part 3 of our NLP is about Thinking Series.

As we have mentioned in Part 2, NLP is the science of Modeling of behaviour. There are about 20 NLP Presuppositions, which are the guidelines for modeling. These also form the basic concepts of NLP.

The most fundamental NLP Presupposition is "The Map is not the Territory". This is adopted from Korzybsk's works of 1933. Our perception of the Reality might be quite different from the Reality itself. The actual Territory is the Reality in the outside world, while we have our own Maps of the Reality inside our mind.

For example, there are 11 books on the desk. One might say that there are several books there. Another one might tell you that there are 11 books on the desk. Even a third one might say that there are 9 books and 2 magazines on the desk. All can be right or wrong to certain degree. They are all telling you the truth, according to their perceptions, i.e. their Maps of the Reality.

In short, what you think about something/someone might not be exactly the same as the Reality. That is, what you think might not be Real! However, we often don't realize that we are using a map at all.

Then, how does this "The Map is not the Territory" Presupposition relate to NLP?

1. NLP is about Modeling. When you model someone, his/her behaviour is based on his/her Map, but not the Reality. It is meaningless and sometimes quite useless to just "copy" his/her external behaviour. We model others' internal map, too. That is, we copy what are inside others' minds., their strategies of judgement, decision and perception.

2. NLP is about Thinking. The more deviation the Map from the Territory, the more unreal is our thinking. The decision and the behaviours resulted from these unreal thinking cannot match with the Reality. Problems are then the results. Our objective is to make our maps as closed to the Reality (Territory) as possible in order to achieve accurate thinking.

Then, what makes the Map not same as the Territory?

There can be 5 different sources of this difference between the Map and the Territory:

1. Physical Barriers. These might include some physical handicaps - one can't hear, see or sense clearly. Environmental factors can be other form of physical barriers. A noisy environment, communication using the telephone, talking in a hurry are examples of environmental factors.

NLP trains us to expand the capability of every Sensory Channels so that we can get the maximum amount of information with or without physical barriers. The more information feed-in, the more accurate is our maps.

2. Missing Perspectives. If you ask 3 persons to see something, they will tell you 3 separate different stories afterward. Why? Because they all see the same thing from different perspectives.

We can never see the whole picture from one single perspective. The more perspectives you have, the fuller the picture you can see. In NLP, we learn to see things from at least 6 Perceptual Positions to give us a more realistic Map.

3. Time. There are some "old" maps inside our minds formed years ago. They can be valid at the time of formation, but being "outdated" at the present moment. However, we can still non-consciously use these maps in our lives. Our maps are static in nature. They are the snapshots of what we perceived at the moments of our perception. Unless we consciously update our maps, most of them will remain as they are forever. Intentionally Updating our maps is another key NLP lessons.

4. Filters. This is one of the core concepts of NLP. Filters refer to our Beliefs, Values and Rules. They interact with each others to form our Beliefs System. This is the interface between the Reality and our Maps. Every information going into our mind from outside can be deleted, distorted or/and generalized when passing through these filters.

For example, if you believe that we must be nice to our parents, you will think someone is bad when you see he is shouting to his mom. You might miss the fact that it is their habit to talk to each others loudly or his mom is deaf. This is Deletion.

In NLP, we train ourselves to backtrack our Filters in order to identify them. Then we can consciously study them. This is one way of achieving Self-Awareness.

5. Language. Our maps affect the language we use and our language in turn affect our (and others') maps. For example, if one sees many people are not treating him/her good, one might say to him/herself: "Everybody is bad". This "Everybody is bad" statement will in turn makes him/her truly believe that Everybody is really bad.

NLP is also the studies of how language affects our thinking. We learn how to be aware of our language, and make use of our language to identify and fine-tune our maps. Meta Model is one of our key tools to attain such awareness.

As a conclusion, a more accurate map generates less misunderstanding, better decisions and an easier life.

In Part 4 of our series, we will discuss more on Physical Barriers & Sensory Channels.

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