Language is at the heart of NLP. It is also the exact representation of how people create the realities they live in. The ability to use language with elegance and sophistication in order to influence people in positive ways is one of the cornerstones that allows NLP to shine above other disciplines. For those of you always wondering what to say, this section is for you.
The use of “language patterns” is nothing more than consistently using certain methodologies in your communication style in order to enhance the impact. Language patterns allow you to focus the mental process of the person you are communicating with so that your message can be heard and understood in the way you want.
Everyone knows that there are people who are influential and charismatic (as playboys, businessmen, politicians etc) and people who are not. The fact is that everyone can be charismatic and influential if they communicate in powerful and influential ways. Like being Alpha, these skills are learned as surely as you learned your native language. The study of language patterns can be said to be synonymous with studying the actual language of influence.
Language is incredibly important as it has the power to simultaneously trap us and liberate our thinking:
“The suggestion is that the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive… The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful… To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol systems and implicit philosophies that we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic traditions into which he has been born – the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated record of other people’s experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual thing.”
Language is an incredibly powerful tool. When used well, it can liberate the mind, impact people’s health and create wonderfully rich experiences for people. When used negatively, it can hurt, inhibit and in extreme cases even kill.
A presupposition is a linguistic assumption, usually implied, that something is true. As an example, if I tell you the “the chair is in the back of the room”, I am presupposing an almost endless set of things:
- There is such a thing as a room.
- There is a larger structure to which the room belongs (rooms don’t exist by themselves).
- There is a “front” and at least two “sides” of the room.
- The item identified as “chair” is separate from other items and from the rest of the room.
- I am aware of the chair.
- You understand the English language.
And so on.
The list of presuppositions that can be inferred from the simple statement can be extended from the mundane to the bizarre. And yet these assumed meanings still guide our thought processes and can lock up our thinking. As these assumptions work outside of conscious analysis, we do not even know that there is an assumption being made which we might want to challenge. This makes presuppositions a very powerful way of communicating, whether it is seduction, relationships or business.
Presuppositions are much weaker when they are stated deliberately than when they are implied. This is because stating the assumption out loud draws conscious attention and thereby critical analysis to it. Consider the following statements:
Just sign on the dotted line and you can take your new car home today!
I assume that you want to buy this car and that you want to take it home right now, so go ahead and sign on the dotted line and a binding contract will exist between us so that you can do just that.
Both statements say essentially the same thing. However by implying the desire to buy the car, an automatic process is engaged. It is harder for someone to break through the implication, analyze the underlying assumption and the decide whether or not to reject it, then to just go along with things. You should remember that people can and do break such presuppositions on a daily basis. It does happen, particularly when people grow wise to such tactics (many people will be more wary when interacting with a sales person than in other situations). All that presuppositions do is stack the deck in your favor.
Presuppositions can be classified in all manner of ways. The labels of the classification are not important, it is the ideas that they represent that matter. By understanding different categories of presuppositions, you gain more choice both in the way you communicate and in the way you respond to other people’s communications!
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