John Grindler and Richard Bandler created the ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming’ (NLP) in the 1970s. In simple terms, NLP refers to the way of precisely understanding how you do (in terms of thinking, feeling, language and behaviour) the things you do, so that you can improve your good mehtods and replace your not-so-good ones. It is a tool used for personal development and for success in business.
According to Grindler and Bandler, there is a connection between neurological processes (‘neuro’), language (‘linguistic’) and behavioural patterns learnt through experience (‘programming’):
Neuro refers to how the mind and body interact, to how the millions of bits of data absorbed through the senses are processed. It is linked to the first mental map ('First Access'), which is constituted of internal images, sounds, tactile awareness, internal sensations, tastes and smells.
Linguistic refers to the insights into a person's thinking that can be obtained by careful attention to their use of language, it is about assigning personal meaning to the information received from the outside. The second mental map (Liguistic Representation or Map) is formed by assigning language to the internal images, sounds and feelings, tastes and smells.
Programming refers to the study of the thinking and behavioral patterns or 'programmes' by which people use in their daily life.
A key element of NLP is that we form our unique internal mental maps of the world as a product of the way we filter and perceive information absorbed through our five senses from the world around us.
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You're probably now thinking, all of this Psychology is great but how can I use any of it to my advantage in my personal life and as a future lawyer?
Good question! Now that we know what the neurological levels are we can move on to the practical side: learning how to shift our neurological levels to help us solve problems more effectively.
How does it work, you ask. It's an easy two step process. Step 1: identify the neurological level at which the problem is occurring. Step 2: To solve the problem simply go to another neurological level. According to Dilts, the solution becomes obvious.
Still not quite clear? Remember how Gandhi said that your beliefs become your thoughts and ultimately lead to your destiny? Well, that's basically what Robert Dilts said but with less technical terms and no pyramids. Here's an example:
Mary-Jane has a huge presentation on Monday and she's terrified. She has told herself over and over again that she can't do it.
Step 1: identify that the problem is at the neurological level of belief
Step 2: let's shift to the level of capabilities. This anxiety could simply be a sign that she hasn't prepared enough so she should ask herself: do I have all the resources I need? Have I done all the necessary preparation?
If the answer to the questions was no then Mary-Jane is now aware that her problem is not that she can't do it, she simply hasn't prepared enough. She may also need to ask for assistance and support from others.
If the answer to the questions is yes then Mary-Jane can now focus her thoughts on the fact that she is prepared, has all her resources together and she is absolutely capable of acing that presentation on Monday!
The ability to shifting your own neurological levels is a great skill to master and will save you tons of time when solving your own problems, but what about your future client's problems.
It is hugely valuable for a lawyer to know about neurological levels and how they work because you can induce reactions or changes in a person at one neurological level by making changes or introducing stimuli at another level. Imagine the possibilities if you can understand and influence the neurological workings of witnesses, your clients, opposition lawyers and their clients! As you can imagine this is a very powerful tool and can be used for good or for harm.
High profile cases are always an example of this where lawyers try to beat each other using strategy and mind games. In the OJ Simpson case for example, OJ's mugshot was published on the 1994 cover of Time Magazine. Notice any difference between the actual mugshot and the cover?
Yes the cover image is significantly darker than the mugshot. There was a huge outcry following its publication. Why do you think?
Many argued that Time Magazine was playing on the prejudiced belief of many Americans at the time that people of a darker hue are more likely to commit crimes. Analyzing this from the Dilts perspective, Time was able to introduce a stimulus (the magazine cover) that targeted the neurological level of beliefs of certain individuals and thus was able to affect or mold their behaviour level creating the specific public response to the case that would sell copies.
Lawyers in that case and others use similar techniques for example in jury selection. If we know that people's values and beliefs will lead them to think or act a certain way or that putting them in a certain environment can affect the way they behave, we can effectively control certain elements of the case just by introducing different actions, stimuli or changes at various levels.
Now that you're a neurological programming expert: how will you use your power?