Richard Bandler and John Grinder were interested in why some people achieved excellence in their lives, while others languished in frustration and mediocrity. They figured that if you wanted to be good at something, all you had to do was look at someone else who was good at the same thing, and copy or model them. So they modeled Milton Erickson, the most effective therapist they knew, and they created Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) based on how he related to his clients.

NLP isn't so much a therapy as a toolbox full of way to get more out of your mind, your interactions and relationships with other people. For example, rather than delving deep into your psyche to get to the bottom of why you can't relate to other people powerfully, you just find someone who has excellent relationships, and copy exactly what they do.

Don't think about it, or worry how you feel about it, just do what they do and you'll get the same results they get. Watch what they do, rather than asking them about it, because most experts can't accurately describe how they do what they do. They do it using their intuition. Often their explanation of why this works is misleading, and they may be unaware of the subtle nuances behind it. But copy someone who gets the results you get, and you'll get the same result too.

The obvious problem with this is that we're not all Milton Erickson, and we don't all have the same personalities. But if you can model and copy the behavior accurately enough, you'll get the same results. For example if you're hopeless with women, start doing what pick-up artists do, and your luck with the ladies will change. Sure it'll feel awkward at first, but eventually you get the hang of it and it starts feeling natural. NLP tends to side-step dealing with our deeper insecurities by borrowing communication skills imported wholesale from people who've worked out how to relate to others really well. This is probably both it's greatest strength, and weakness.

You either love NLP and think it's amazing, or despise it. There doesn't seem to be a middle-ground.


  • It's relatively quick to learn

  • You don't have to deal the fact that your mom and dad didn't love you

  • It's reasonably widely accepted

  • You don't need to become a psychologist to practice it


  • You need to practice the techniques regularly to embed them in your psyche

  • You never really deal with the fact that your mom and dad didn't love you

  • It can feel fake

  • It's mainly based on thinking, which can make you less present and more self-conscious

Categories: Therapy

Graham Stoney

Graham Stoney

I struggled for years with low self-esteem, anxiety and a lack of self-confidence before finding a solution that really worked. I created The Confident Man Program to help other men live the life of their dreams. I also offer 1-on-1 coaching via Skype so if you related to this article contact me about coaching.

1 Comment

Matt · March 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I have friends who are extremely active within the 'pick up community,' who swear black and blue that NLP is the best thing since sliced bread and upon learning it for the first time considered it to be an absolute, 'gamer changer.'

I've never tackled it myself but you're certainly right about one thing, Graham, the camps are certainly split. There are lovers and there are haters; few sit on the fence when it comes to this particular technique.

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