NLP is the study of How language affects our nervous system. It’s how we use the language of the mind to achieve our specific and desirable outcomes consistently.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) began as a model of how we communicate to ourselves and others which were developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. This model explains how we process the information that comes into us from the outside. The belief is “the map is not the territory” and so the internal representations that we make about an outside event are not necessarily the event itself.
Typically, there is an external event, and we run that event through our internal processing. We make an Internal Representation(IR) of that event. That I/R of the event along with physiology and creates a state. “State refers to the internal emotional state of a happy state, a sad state, a motivated state, and so on. Our I/R includes our internal sounds and dialogue and our feelings (for example, whether we feel motivated, challenged, excited, and so on. A given state is the result of the combination of an internal representation and physiology.
To put it in plain language, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) studies the structure of how humans think and experience the world. Obviously, the structure of something so subjective does not lend itself to precise, statistical formulate but instead leads to how these things work. These models, techniques for quickly and effectively changing thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs that limit you have been developed.
Someone who wanted to create a model for learning to drive a car really well might approach an expert in the field something like this - Instead of asking an expert driver, " How do you drive?" ("Very well, thank you."), they would be concentrating not on the content of what they did but on the underlying structure such as how they represent driving in their mind, the beliefs and attitudes they had about driving, the strategies they used in making decisions, how often they change their oil, (skip that last one) among other factors.
Let's use something called submodalities as an example of how a model works. By understanding how we perceive the world through our five senses, we can understand how some people can respond very resourcefully in a situation and others do not. Once you learn how those who remain resourceful set up their representations, it's a simple matter to teach others to do the same thing.
The Example: Imagine seeing an enormous spider dangling directly in front of your face. Now clear your mind (sorry, I didn't want to leave that image hanging around). A common way for people to have a phobic reaction to spiders or anything related to them is to picture a spider completely over-sized and far too close in their minds.
NLP is based on many useful presuppositions that support the attitude that change is imminent. One of the most important is, NLP is about what works, not what should work. In other words, if what you're doing isn't working, try something else, anything else, regardless of whether what you had been doing should have worked. Flexibility is the key element in a given system; the one who is most likely to do well responds to changing (or unchanging) circumstances. That's one reason NLP has made so much progress in an area where such is not the norm. Innovators try out things with little regard as to its "truth" or "reality" NLP is much more interested in results and giving people what they want from life (sappy yes, but "true" nonetheless).
Adapted from Dr. Tad James