07973 733271 renata.aiello@taoct.uk

Assumptions are assumed truths. As coaches we recognise that there are many assumptions that will make our client’s chances of successful outcomes greater. NLP may hold many golden tools for coaching clients.

This blog looks at one particular aspect of NLP. Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Coaching share many things. The core skills of NLP are equally applicable to coaching. One of the guiding principles of NLP are the NLP Presuppositions (not to be confused with linguistic presuppositions).

The Presuppositions of NLP

Presuppositions are assumptions and beliefs which, when adopted as true, give us great leverage for positive change. Following on from the last email, this is based on the differentiation between a belief and a fact. We have all changed beliefs from time to time in our lives. What we have in effect done, is looked at something in a new way and given it a different meaning. When something has a different meaning, it produces a different response in us.

When we choose to adopt positive assumptions, it has a positive effect in the way we respond to situations we encounter. This in turn, positively affects the results we get.

Try it for yourself

There are many NLP Presuppositions, we will take a snapshot of some of them here.

​​Try out some of the presuppositions below by thinking about situations you have experienced in the past, where you might not have got the outcome you wanted. By adopting some of the following presuppositions, how might you have had a more positive experience?

Tip: It is more powerful when you are able to fully adopt the presupposition as your viewpoint for this exercise.


1. There is no failure, only feedback.

Research has shown that people who look on experiences where they do not get what they want as learning opportunities and then seek to carry those learning forward, tend to learn things faster and get better results sooner, than people who feel defeated when they do not get what they want.

Almost every success in life is the result of multiple feedback loops, learning from mistakes or ‘non-successes’ is one of the main factors in achieving success.

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.” – Randy Pausch

‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions’ – Ken Blanchard

‘Failing forward – Turning Mistakes into Stepping-Stones’ – John C Maxwell

2. Flexibility is a key to Success

If we only have one way to achieve what we want, and that way gets blocked, then we are stuck. Flexibility is finding many ways to achieve the same thing. If you continue trying to do something that is not working, you are not going to get anywhere.

Be prepared to change strategies when the strategy you are currently using doesn’t work (not to be confused with giving up early!)

‘If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got!’ – Anonymous

3. Respect for other people’s ‘Map of the World’

This presupposition works on two levels. First, no one person’s viewpoint on life holds all the answers. We learn and grow from finding out things that we did not know before, or discovering that there are better ways to do some things than what we might have at first thought.

​​If we went around simply seeking to prove our own viewpoint all the time and not listen to others, what would that say about our ability to learn? Ultimately we do not have to agree with what others think, but how would we know if we never listened?

Learning comes from increasing our knowledge or updating what we used to think, and that often comes from exploring other viewpoints.

Secondly, relationships are enriched by giving others the space to express themselves. In this way people feel validated when others listen to them.

“The most precious gift we can offer others, is our presence’ – Thich That Hanh

4. If someone doesn’t understand what you mean, you have not communicated what you intended

This presupposition puts the responsibility for clear communication on the communicator; for the communicator to make sure that they have been understood and not to simply assume so. There are many ways that we can check understanding, including asking the other person or by noticing non-verbal cues (such as a look of confusion).

‘The single biggest problem with communication, is the illusion that it has taken place’ – George Bernard Shaw

5. You are in charge of your mind and therefore your results

When you believe something is possible, you open the door to change. The biggest barrier in personal development and change, is first of all the knowledge, understanding and acceptance that change is possible. Change can be quick and easy (although that is of course not always the case).

The way we perceive something affects the way we respond. Change one and we change the other.

‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right’ – Henry Ford

6. All change must be evaluated in terms of context and ecology

In NLP, ecology is the study of consequences. When we make a change, it is wise to look at that change from multiple perspectives to ensure that we are not causing harm somewhere in the system at large. That also applies to the context we want that change in. I may want to be more assertive at work for example, but being assertive in this way might not benefit me when I get home to my family.

We often make changes without thinking of the greater effect that change might have.

‘Sometimes your greatest strength can emerge as a weakness if the context changes’ – Harsha Bhogle

7. The Map is not the Territory

A map is a representation of something, it is not the thing it represents, just as a menu is not the meal. Every person’s viewpoint creates a different interpretation of what’s around them. We know that no one person has THE map. If we understand that our view of the world is not shared by everyone (and this is one of the reasons why people are so different), and we know that we can often change the way we look at things, then being aware that our Map can be updated is more likely to make us more open to change.

‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one’ – Albert Einstein

There are more NLP Presuppositions, I would encourage all coaches to explore what NLP can add to their coaching. For me, there are so many riches that will improve the coaches ability to assist their clients in achieving the positive change they seek.

Onwards and Upwards!

P.S. Please do leave a comment in the box below! Thank you in advance.