Those of us in the field know that NLP is a collection of models and techniques that are highly effective at facilitating personal change and improved communication. We often complain that when new psychological research comes out, the scientists are merely discovering something that we have known and practiced for decades.
Unfortunately, there have been some unscrupulous individuals associated with NLP who have harmed the reputation of the field.
Some individuals have made false or exaggerated claims about what NLP can do. Others have taught explicit strategies for unethical behaviors–literally the how-to of evil. Both the “pick-up artist” community and the “internet marketing” community have used NLP–in name and in practice–for manipulative and devious ends. As a result, many people equate NLP with techniques of unfair manipulation.
No doubt part of the reason for this corruption in the field is because several of the founders of NLP wanted it to be ethically neutral.
This is no longer an acceptable stance.
As the saying goes, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” The time has come for those of us committed to the virtuous use of NLP tools to take a stand against those who would promote evil applications of these techniques, to speak out against unethical marketing and sales tactics, and to emphasize and encourage honesty about what these methods can realistically do.
The truth about NLP is more than sufficient.
The tools and models of NLP continue to surpass those of any other field of personal change and communication.
While not all NLPers are highly skilled, again and again we have found that highly skilled change agents are NLP trained. It’s time that we take a stand such that the reputation of NLP becomes not only that of highly skilled individuals, but highly ethical individuals.
In addition, our field has been criticized by professional “skeptics” for not being sufficiently based in the psychological and neurological sciences, to the point where it has become dogma in such circles that NLP is considered “pseudoscience.” This is in part because some NLP trainers misunderstand the models and techniques of NLP and promote misleading notions to the public; for instance, that eye accessing cues can accurately predict lying.
We must be willing to discard any notion of NLP that does not fit reality, while simultaneously holding to what we know and have observed to be true–that these methods and models work.
The methods and models of NLP are compatible with and easily testable by psychological science, and some projects have already begun to subject our techniques to the rigorous process of scientific testing. But since most of us are not scientists, the most important preventative measure we can take to maintain the reputation of our field is to be as honest as possible in our claims about the methods of NLP and what they can do.
In addition, we can continually revisit findings in relevant sciences and share what we discover to the wider NLP community, remaining continually open to revising and improving our maps–remembering that whatever maps we learned in our NLP practitioner trainings were not the territory.
The time has come to organize those in the field of NLP who are committed to honesty in advertising, ethical use of powerful communication techniques, and reality-based thinking and living.
Together, we can revive our wonderful field of NLP and help it to gain the reputation it truly deserves in the world, that of a set of models and methods for effective personal change and improved communication which can truly make a difference.