NLP Dictionary – A

Accessing cues

Subtle behaviours that indicate which representational system a person is using. Typical types of accessing cues include eye movements, voice tone and tempo, body posture, gestures, and breathing patterns.


The need of human beings to affiliate with each other. One of the Meta Programs which indicates whether a person prefer to work alone or with a team.


Arrange so that all the elements being aligned are parallel, and therefore moving in the same direction.


The use of language which is vague, or ambiguous. Language which is ambiguous is also abstract (as opposed to specific).


Having shades of meaning, as opposed to Digital which has discrete (On/off) meaning. As in an analogue watch ( a watch with minute and hour hands).

Analogue marking

Using your voice tone, body language, gestures, etc. to mark out key word in a sentence or a special piece of your presentation.


Any stimulus that is associated with a specific response. Anchors happen naturally, and they can also be set up intentionally, for example, ringing a bell to get peoples attention, or more subtle, standing in a particular place when answering questions.


The process of associating an internal response with some external trigger (similar to classical conditioning) so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, re-accessed. Anchoring can be visual (as with specific hand gestures), auditory (by using specific words and voice tone), and kinaesthetic (as when touching and arm or laying a hand on someone’s shoulder).


As in a memory, looking through your own eyes, hearing what you heard, and feeling the feelings as if you were actually there. This is called the associated state.


A collection of values and beliefs around a certain subject. Our attitudes are choices we have made.


Relating to hearing or the sense of hearing.

Away from

A meta program – when a person’s preference is to move in the opposite direction from what they want. “I don’t want a 9 to 5 job.”

NLP Dictionary – B


To review or summarize, using another’s key words and tonalities, or in presentations, a very precise summary using the same key words in the same voice tones as were originally used.


The specific physical actiones and reactions through which we interact with people and the environment around us.

Behavioural flexibility

The ability to vary one’s own behaviour in order to elicit, or secure, a response from another person. Behavioural Flexibility can refer to the development of an entire range of responses to any given stimulus as opposed to having habitual, and therefore limiting, responses which would inhibit performance potential. John Grinder suggests that you each night before going to sleep, you review your day and create 3 different ways of responding. This way you will automatically build up your Behavioural Flexibility and you will discover that you respond more appropriately to the world around you. Behavioural Flexibility is a key element in NLP.


Closely held generalizations about (1) cause, (2) meaning, and (3) boundaries in (a) the world around us, (b) our behaviour, (c) our capabilities, and (d) our identity.

NLP Dictionary – C


The process of learning to read another person’s unconscious, non-verbal responses in an ongoing interaction by pairing observable behaviours clues with a specific internal response. A very important first step in most NLP processes, you calibrate the problem state. That is, how is your client’s body posture, where does the eyes go, how is the breathing, skin colour, voice tone etc. Knowing how the problem state looks like you have a reference point for measuring the success of your intervention.

Calibrated loop

Unconscious pattern of communication in which behavioural cues of one person trigger specific responses from another person in an ongoing interaction.


Mastery over an entire class of behaviour – knowing how to do something. Capabilities from the development of a mental map allowing us to select and organize groups of individual behaviours. In NLP these mental maps take the form of cognitive strategies and Meta-Programs.

Chaining anchors

When a series of anchors are released as each anchor experience peak allowing you to easily move through a sequence of states. This can take you through a chain of emotions progressively leading from a stuck state, to respect/appreciation, curiosity, reassurance, to confidence. Thereby establishing many more resourceful ways to feel.

Change personal history

An NLP anchoring process that adds resources into past problem memories with continuing negative impact, transforming them into memories with a positive or even numinous influence. A way to change the emotional impact of memories.


Systematically using different places for different kinds of behaviour. For example standing or sitting in a different position for delivering input, recounting stories, and answering questions etc. This sets up spatial anchors for the people you speak to. Particularly important in training situations.


Organizing or breaking down some experience into bigger or smaller pieces. Chunking up involves moving to a larger, more abstract level of information. Chunking down involves moving to a more specific and concrete level of information. Chunking laterally involves finding other examples at the same level of information.

Collapsing anchors

When two separate anchors are released simultaneously they combine two different internal experiences. This is especially effective with kinaesthetic anchors.


A logical semantic property of the full linguistic representation, the Deep Structure. Surface Structures are complete if they represent every portion of the Deep Structure.


When all of a person’s internal beliefs, strategies, and behaviours are fully in agreement and oriented toward securing a desired outcome. Words, voice and body language – give the same message.

Conscious incompetence

The second stage of the learning cycle in which conscious attention is on the task and the results are variable. This is the stage when the learning rate is the greatest.

Conscious competence

The third stage of the learning cycle in which full conscious attention is still to carry out an activity. The skill is not yet fully integrated and habitual

Content reframing

Taking a statement and giving it another meaning, by focusing on another part of the content, asking, “What else could this mean?”


The framework surrounding a particular event. This framework will often determine how a particular experience or event is interpreted.

Control frame

Setting a limit on the scope or time of an activity.


Subtle or out of conscious awareness.


The values or standards a person uses to make decisions and judgements about the world. A single criteria is composed of many elements, conscious and sub-conscious. The question to ask is: “What’s important about ….?”

Cross over mirroring

Matching a person’s body language with a different type of movement, e.g. tapping your foot in time to their speech rhythm.

NLP Dictionary – D

Deep structure

The sensory maps (both conscious and sub-conscious) that people use to organize and guide their behaviour.


One of the three universals of human modelling; the process by which selected portions of the world are excluded from the representation created by the person modelling. Within language systems, deletion is a transformational process in which portions of the Deep Structure are removed and, therefore, do not appear in the Surface Structure representation.


Having a discrete (on / off) meaning, as opposed to Analogue which has shades of meaning.


As in a memory, for example, looking at your body in the picture from the outside, so that you do not have the feelings you would have if you were actually there.


One of the three universals of human modelling; the process by which the relationships which hold among the parts of the model are represented differently from the relationships which they are supposed to represent. One of the most common examples of distortion in modelling is the representation of a process by an event. Within language systems, this is called normalization.

Dovetailing outcomes

The process of fitting together different outcomes, optimizing solutions. The basis of win- win negotiations.


As in having all sensory input channels turned inward so that there are no chunks of attention available for outward attention.

NLP Dictionary – E


The study of the effects of individual actiones on the larger system. In an individual, the study of the effects of individual components of therapy on the bigger picture of the whole individual. In all NLP processes an ecology check is incorporated assuring harmony.


The act of discovery and detection of certain internal processes.


The external context in which our behaviour takes place. Our environment is that which we perceive as being “outside” of us. It is not part of our behaviour but is rather something we must react to.

Embedded commands

This is when you mark out certain phrases that could stand on their own as commands, by changing your voice tone or by gesturing so that they don’t get it consciously, only unconsciously.

Eye accessing cues

Movements of the eyes in certain directions which indicate visual, auditory or kinaesthetic thinking. Please note individual variance and that information readily available is not accessed and thus no detectable eye movement.


The study of how we know what we know.

NLP Dictionary – F


Set a context or way of perceiving something as in Outcome Frame, Rapport Frame, Backtrack Frame, Out Frame, etc.

Future pacing

The process of mentally rehearsing oneself through some future situation in order to help ensure that the desired behaviour will occur naturally and automatically.

NLP Dictionary – G


One of the three universals of human modelling; the process by which a specific experience comes to represent the entire category of which it is a member.


A collection of memories, where the memories are linked together or grouped together around a certain subject.


Relating to taste or the sense of taste

NLP Dictionary – H


An organization of things or ideas where the more important ideas are given a ranking based upon their importance.

NLP Dictionary – I


Our sense of who we are. Our sense of identity organizes our beliefs, capabilities, and behaviours into a single system.


A smoke screen. When a person draws a blank or gets confused as you are working on an issue with them.


State of having reservations, not totally committed to an outcome, the internal conflict will be expressed in the person’s behaviour.


The process of facilitating the acquisition of a new strategy or behaviour. A new strategy may be installed through some combination of anchoring, accessing cues, metaphor, and future pacing.


Congruence and honesty. Personal integrity and ethical actiones are necessary for a high level of NLP skills.


The purpose or desired outcome of any behaviour.


Sub-conscious rules that control behaviour.

Internal representation

Patterns of information we create and store in our minds in combinations of images, sounds, feelings, smells and tastes. The way we store an encode our memories.

NLP Dictionary – J

NLP Dictionary – K


Relating to body sensations. In NLP the term kinaesthetic is used to encompass all kinds of feelings including tactile, visceral, and emotional.

NLP Dictionary – L


Changing your own behaviours with enough rapport for the other person to follow. Pacing and leading is an important part of NLP. You should enter the client’s world, and lead him to reach the appropriate conclusions himself for achieving the changes desired. Leading

Lead system

The preferred representational system (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) that finds information to input into consciousness.


The process of getting knowledge, skills, experience or values by study, experience or training.

Learning cycle

Stages of learning to build habitual skills –

Learning strategies

Sequences of images, sounds and feelings that lead to learning.

Learning styles

Different preferred ways of learning. There are many different models, including different senses, meta programs or concept-structure-use. Some prefer to see things, others learn best if they read, and some learn best if they hear someone talk about the material.

Logical levels

An internal hierarchy in which each level is progressively more psychologically encompassing and impactful.

Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) logical levels are a powerful way to think about change by breaking it down as a model into different categories of information. As you begin to think about some change you want to make, you can ask yourself some questions that relate to the different levels:

Environment refers to the factors that are external opportunities or constraints. Answers the questions ‘where?’, ‘when?’, and ‘with whom?’

Behaviour is made up of specific actions or reactions within the environment. Answers the question ‘what?’

Capabilities are about the knowledge and skills, the ‘how-tos’ that guide and give direction to behaviour. Answer the question ‘how?’

Beliefs and values provide the reinforcement – motivation and permission – to support or deny your capabilities. Answer the question ‘why?’

Identity factors determine your sense of self. Answer the question ‘who?’

Purpose goes beyond self-consciousness to relate to the bigger picture about mission, to ask ‘what for?’ or ‘for whom?’


The inappropriate, usually compulsive repetition of a unit of behaviour.

NLP Dictionary – M

Map of reality

(Model of the World) Each person’s unique representation of the world built from his or her individual perceptions and experiences.


Adopting parts of another person’s behaviour for the purpose of enhancing rapport.


Derived from Greek, meaning over or beyond.


Knowing about knowing: having a skill, and the knowledge about it to explain how you do it.

Meta model

A model developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler that identifies categories of language patterns that can be problematic or ambiguous. The Meta Model is based on Transformational Grammar and identify common distortions, deletions and generalizations which obscure the Deep Structure/original meaning. The model have clarifying questions that will restore the original meaning of the message. The Meta Model reconnects language with experiences, and can be used for gathering information, clarifying meanings, identify limitations, and opening up choices.

Meta program

A level of mental programming that determines how we sort, orient to, and chunk our experiences. Our meta programs are more abstract than our specific strategies for thinking and define our general approach to a particular issue rather than the details of our thinking process.

Meta message

A message about a message. Your non-verbal behaviour is constantly giving people meta messages about you and the information your are providing.

Meta mirror

Developed by Robert Dilts, a Meta Mirror is a 4th position added to the 1st. position (as seen through your own eyes), 2nd. position (as seen through the eyes of the other), 3rd. position (observing both your and the other), and the 4th. position which is about how your 3rd position you treat the “you” that is in relationship with the other person. Dilts notes, that often, the way the person treats you is a “reflection” (hence, Meta- Mirror) of the way you treat yourself. The Meta-Mirror creates a context in which we can keep shifting perceptual positions inside and outside the problematic relationship until we find the most appropriate and ecological relationship of the elements.

Meta position

The process of thinking about one situation or phenomenon as something else, i.e., stories, parables, and analogies.


The process of thinking about one situation or phenomenon as something else, i.e., stories, parables, and analogies.

Milton model

The inverse of the Meta Model, using artfully vague language patterns to pace another person’s experience and access unconscious resources. Based on the language used by Milton H. Erickson M.D.


Matching portions of another person’s behaviour.


Adopting different patterns of behaviour to another person, breaking rapport for the purpose of redirecting, interrupting or terminating a meeting or conversation.


A practical description of how something works, whose purpose is to be useful.

Model of the world

A person’s internal representation about the condition of the world.


The process of observing and mapping the successful behaviours of other people. In NLP this involves profiling behaviours/physiology, beliefs and values, internal states and strategies

Multiple description

The process of describing the same thing from different viewpoints.

NLP Dictionary – N

Neuro-linguistic programming (nlp)

A behavioural model and set of explicit skills and techniques founded by John grinder and Richard Bandler in 1975. Defined as the study of the structure of subjective experience. NLP studies the patterns or “programming” created by the interactions among the brain (neuro), language (linguistic), and the body that produce both effective and ineffective behaviour. The skills and techniques were derived by observing the patterns of excellence in experts from diverse fields of professional communication, including psychotherapy, business, hypnosis, law, and education.

New behaviour generator strategies

A process where a person reviews a situation where they don’t behave as they would like to, and then adds new resources into that situation.


Without words. Usually referring to the analogue portion of our behaviour such as tone of voice or other external behaviour.

NLP Dictionary – O


Relating to smell or the sense of smell.

Open frame

An opportunity for anyone to raise any comments or questions about the material that interests them.


Goals or desired states that a person or organization aspires to achieve.

Out framing

Setting a frame that excludes possible objections. “I will answer any question, except questions about the seating arrangements.” This is a very important concept in meetings and presentations.


Using one representational system to gain access to another, for example, picturing a scene and then hearing the sounds in it.

NLP Dictionary – P


A method used by communicators to quickly establish rapport by matching certain aspects of their behaviour to those of the person with whom they are communicating – a matching or mirroring of behaviour.


A metaphorical way of talking about independent programs and strategies or behaviour. Programs or “parts” will often develop a persona that becomes one of their identifying features.

Past pacing

Is installing memories of having already achieved a desired change at some earlier date in order to create memories of already having achieved the desired change in the past.

Pattern interrupt

Breaking a habitual pattern before it is completed.

Perceptual filters

The unique ideas, experiences, beliefs and language that shape our model of the world.

Perceptual position

A particular perspective or point of view. In NLP there are three basic positions one can take in perceiving a particular experience. First position involves experiencing something through our own eyes associated in a first person point of view. Second position involves experiencing something as if we were in another person’s shoes. Third position involves standing back and perceiving the relationship between out selves and others from a dissociated perspective.

Phonological ambiguity

Two words that sound the same, but there/their difference is plain/plane to see/sea.


To do with the physical part of a person.

Problem space

Problem space is defined by both physical and non-physical elements which create or contribute to a problem. Solutions arise out of a “Solution Space” of resources and alternatives. A Solution Space needs to be broader than the Problem Space to produce an adequate solution.

Process and content

Content is what is done, whereas process is about how it is done. What you say is content and how you say it is process.


The mind compares sensory information to stored models or ideas of how reality has been previously experienced and organized. Upon receiving a sensory impression the mind matches the impression to the stored images. If the individual initially notices the aspects that matches the image, this is called a positive responder. If the person notices the mismatch initially, this is called a negative or polarity response. (There is also the possibility of a neutral response if the stimulus has no kinaesthetic value to the person.) Polarity responders tend to be called reactive, argumentative, or negative personalities if the predominant pattern is to initially notice what is wrong in comparison to their ideal images. These three patterns are learned and can be changed from any one of the three to another mode according to the desired effect.


Process words (like verbs, adverbs, and adjectives) that a person selects to describe a subject. Predicates are used in NLP to identify which representational system a person is using, and subsequently preferred sensory predicates are used in the interaction enhancing rapport.

Preferred system

The representational system that an individual typically uses most to think consciously and organize his or her experience.


A basic underlying assumption which is necessary for a representation to make sense. Within language systems, a sentence which must be true for some other sentence to make sense. Mastery of presuppositions is one of the keys to NLP excellence.

Punctuation ambiguity

Ambiguity by merging two separate sentences into one can always try to make sense of them.

NLP Dictionary – Q


A pattern in which a message that you want to deliver can be embedded in quotations, as if someone else had stated the message.

NLP Dictionary – R


The establishment of trust, harmony, and cooperation in a relationship.


A process used in NLP through which a problematic behaviour is separated from the positive intention of the internal program or “part” that is responsible for the behaviour. New choices of behaviour are established by having the part responsible for the old behaviour take responsibility for implementing other behaviours that satisfy the same positive intention but don’t have the problematic byproducts.

Relevancy challenge

Asking how a specific statement or behaviour is helping to achieve an agreed outcome.

Representational system primacy

Where an individual systematically uses one sense over the others to process and organize his or her experience. Primary representational system will determine many personality traits as well as learning capabilities.

Representational systems

The five senses: seeing, hearing, touching (feeling), smelling, and tasting.

Reference structure

The sum total of experiences in a person’s life story. Also, the fullest representation from which other representations within some system are derived; for example, the Deep Structure serves as the Reference Structure for the Surface Structure.

Requisite variety

Flexibility of thought and behaviour. Can make changes on the way to an outcome / goal.


Any means that can be brought to bear to achieve an outcome: physiology, states, thought, strategies, experiences, people, events or possessions.

Resourceful state

The total neurological and physiological experience when a person feels resourceful.

NLP Dictionary – S

Sensory acuity

The process of learning to make finer and more useful distinctions about the sense information we get from the world.

Sliding anchor

An anchor which is functioning as an amplitude of response, similar to a slide potentiometer on a stereo. The sliding anchor can both amplify and decrese depending on how you set it up. Richard Bandler combines sliding and stacking anchors in order to create optimal states.

Slight-of-mouth pattern

Developed by Robert Dilts modelling Richard Bandler’s language patterns. The patterns are used with any complex equivalence or cause-effect statement as a conversational belief change.

Second position

Seeing the world from another persons point of view and so understanding their reality.

Secondary gain

Where some seemingly negative or problematic behaviour actually carries out some positive function at some other level. For example, smoking may help a person to relax or help them fit a particular self-image.


The total ongoing mental and physical conditions from which a person is acting. The state we are in affects our capabilities and interpretation of experience.

Stimulus response

An association between an experience and a subsequent so-called reaction; the natural learning process Ivan P. Pavlov demonstrated when he correlated the ringing of a bell to the secretion of saliva in dogs.


A set of explicit mental and behavioural steps used to achieve a specific outcome. In NLP, the most important aspect of a strategy is the representational systems used to carry out the specific steps.


Lessen the impact of a direct question by softening voice tone or preamble such as “Would you be willing to tell me ….?

Spatial marking

Consistently using different areas of space for different actiones to associate location with action.

Surface structure

The words or language used to describe or stand for the actual primary sensory representations stored in the brain.

Swish pattern

A generative NLP sub-modality process that programs your brain to go in a new direction. Is very effective in changing habits or unwanted behaviours into new constructive ways.


The process of overlap between representational systems, characterized by phenomena like see-feel circuits, in which a person derives feelings from what he sees, and hear-feel circuits, in which a person gets feelings from what they hear. Any two sensory modalities may be linked together.

Syntactic ambiguity

Ambiguous sentence where a verb plus “ing” can serve either as an adjective or a verb, e.g. Influencing people can make a difference.


To do with systems, looking at relationships and consequences over time and space rather than linear cause and effect.

NLP Dictionary – T

Third position

When you observe yourself and others.


The way we store pictures, sounds, and feelings of our past, present and future.

Tonal marking

Using your voice to mark out certain words as being significant.

Triple description

The process of perceiving experience through First, Second, and Third Positions.

Transderivational search

The process of searching back through one’s stored memories and mental representations to find the reference experience from which a current behaviour or response was derived.


The process of rephrasing words from one type of representational system predicates to another.

NLP Dictionary – U

Unconscious incompetence

The first stage of the learning cycle in which we are unaware of a skill.

Unconscious competence

The fourth stage of learning in which the skill has been fully integrated and is habitual.


State where the attention and senses are committed outwards.


A technique in which a specific strategy sequence or pattern of behaviour is paced or matched in order to influence another’s response.

NLP Dictionary – V


Those things that are important to us and are driving our actiones.


Relating to sight or the sense of sight.


The process of seeing images in your mind.

Visual squash

A process of negotiating between two internal parts or polarities that included defining the parts, identifying the positive purpose or intention of each and negotiating agreement with resultant integration.

Voice quality

The second most important channel of communication and influence. Research suggests it is 38 percent of the total impact of the communication.

NLP Dictionary – W

Well-formedness conditions

The set of conditions something must satisfy in order to produce an effective and ecological outcome. In NLP a particular goal is well-formed if it can be:

NLP Dictionary – X

NLP Dictionary – Y

NLP Dictionary – Z