NLP Modelling – Unleashing the innovator within

July 29, 2013

I’m very lucky to have had opportunities to learn and model John Grinder, Stephen Gilligan and Frank Pucelik and to hear their own personal experiences on the modelling which led to the set of patterns which formed NLP. I must confess my amazement at their (and all the other early developers) commitment and creativity in investing their time, energy, modelling, coding, testing and teaching the patterns that Perls, Satir and Erickson demonstrated in the change work and therapies they delivered. What we know from NLP and all the other systems that have been inspired by NLP comes from this unconscious assimilation from modelling. So for me NLP modelling is an essential skill that is a must for anyone interested in human excellence to know about and apply. Imagine the benefits to you in knowing how to model and decode the difference that makes the difference in successful business people, leaders, presenters, sportspeople, happy people, healthy people, creative people etc……  Below are the steps to do just that.

NLP Modelling steps:

1. Find a model of excellence.
2. Unconscious assimilation.
3. Deploy the pattern(s).
4. Code the pattern.
5. Test and teach the pattern.

Brief Descriptions and tips on each step.

1. Find a model of Excellence: This is pretty clear, for a personal modelling project finding a person who is excellent at a skill you pursue or are interested in is a great project to undertake. I’m currently modelling a golf professional which is fascinating for me and allows me many testing opportunities to get direct feedback on the project. Let’s say you wish to model a high performer in a business context, I recommend finding someone who performs similar activities that you do/or wish to do and model them.

2. Unconscious assimilation: This is the most important step of all. Many people are excellent at an activity, but if you asked them to outline the steps they often have great difficulty in explaining what they do. This is because they have unconsciously assimilated the pattern themselves. A great example is Virginia Satir who John and Richard modelled. Virginia was a fantastic therapist who responded often to changes in the clients by internal kinaesthetic cues. John and Richard coded her activity after having unconsciously assimilated the skill themselves and then delivered a session which Virginia decided to attend (despite warnings about the effects it could have). Virginia could not believe that there was a specific code to what she did in her sessions and then having become aware of this consciously could not replicate the skill the very next day, which she had demonstrated beautifully for years. She had been made conscious of what she did unconsciously. For Virginia responding Kinaesthetically was what she did unconsciously in responding to the calibrations her clients offered.  With NLP modelling John and Richard coded that she was also responding and demonstrating consistent language patterns and interventions which she was not aware of.

To model, the modeller micro muscle mirrors and mimics the persons breathing, physiology and tone whilst imitating them at the given activity. It is important to free yourself from conscious thoughts, internal dialogue and the need to ask questions as to what steps they take. This process requires rigorous modelling before effective assimilation occurs.

3. Deploy the patterning: Practice and go out there and do it and observe and notice the levels of performance you get. Get out on the golf course, call out some clients, and deliver presentations. If you can replicate the model and enhance your performance you know you have assimilated the patterning. If you haven’t go back and model some more . Some people choose to stop at this point and do the pattern without wishing to teach it to others. The more you deploy the pattern the more conscious you will become which leads to the next step.

4. Code the pattern: After this assimilation has occurred in you, break down the specific steps needed to undertake this activity. Be sensory specific, descriptive words such as walk purposely towards the ball are interpretive and no use for someone learning how to do the model after you (should you wish to teach it). An example of this would be, feet shoulder width apart, breath in through the nose and exhale through the mouth three times etc…. You may find that some parts of the model are unnecessary. Hence us not having to speak in a low, gravelly voice when applying Ericksonian Hypnosis.

5. Test and teach: Keep on testing and then if your code is explicit and clear enough teach the pattern to others. If they can replicate the activity based on your coding you know that your code is a strong, effective code. An example of this is the process now known as NLP!


NLP invention was a highly innovative and creative process, it’s amazing to see how far NLP has gone that in some shape or form it is being applied worldwide by thousands upon thousands of people. Imagine what you can innovate that goes beyond this or is specifically applied in the context that you are in. This is what we seek to do through our courses and the patterns and processes we ourselves develop. We’re looking forward to seeing the innovations that our Master Practitioner students formulate in the modelling they do having now learned and applied the purest form of NLP, modelling!

About The Author

Jack Carroll has been directly part of the NLP Academy team since November 2009, though has been around the Academy most of his life. He works at the Academy on a daily basis heading the client services team, running coaching sessions and delivering some of our programs.
He is also an associate trainer at the NLP Academy and can be seen presenting sessions at various practice groups and courses.

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