What do we learn from NLP’s meta-programs to improve teaching skills & adapt to learning styles
Introduction to NLP
NLP, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, you might have heard of it, but do you know what it is and how it can make your life easier? Let us start with the terminology. NLP consists of three components that focus on different aspects of an individual:
❖ Neuro: what is memorised by our brain and our five senses.
❖ Linguistic: what manifests through our language, both verbal and non-verbal.
❖ Programming: what comes from our experiences and our habits.
NLP is originated from America in the seventies with John Grinder (linguist) and Richard Bandler (mathematician and psychologist). Their initial intention was to observe successful people, to see what makes them successful, to understand how their brain works to replicate extreme human excellence. Their findings led them to realise that the brain works by programming. They formalised their modelling techniques under the name 'Neuro-Linguistic Programming' to symbolise the relationship between mind, language and body.
In other words, NLP is a powerful tool to change your programming for the better; it is the manual for excellence.
How can NLP make your life easier and better? Picture a house, your house if you wish. Without strong foundations, you can try to make as many repairs as you want, if something big happens – wind, heavy rain, storm – your house will not resist. It is the same for us humans; without strong foundations, challenging life events can cost us a lot. NLP is assisting you in creating those strong foundations, and it can represent more or less work depending on planned and unplanned discoveries; just like when building a house on a new field, you never know what you will encounter.
NLP is not magic or a quick fix. Working on yourself and your house is a continuous process. By having a strong foundation, you can withstand pressure from unplanned circumstances. From time to time, you will have setbacks, but thanks to your stable foundation, you are always able to bounce back quickly.
We can all have a different approach to NLP; my seven big areas of work are the following:
Setting up your goals: a clear vision for precise results
Embracing your values as a decision-making tool
Turning your limiting beliefs into positive ones
Getting to accept, respect, and love yourself unconditionally
Understanding and accepting others better
Developing your resources to reach your full potential
Learning excellent communication skills to engage in positive relationships
This article dives deeper into aspects four and five. By introducing the concept of meta-programs, you will gain a better understanding of the reasons behind your own and others' actions while in a learning environment.
Understanding the concept of meta-programs
To start, NLP asserts meta-programs are mental processes which manage, guide and direct other mental processes. These so-called "meta-programs" are internal programs that drive our behaviour and influence how we function in the world. Meta-programs are responsible for the following:
What we notice
How we code our experiences differently
How we use different language patterns
The level of importance we give to different things
Meta-programs can differ per occasion since it is context-based. You may find your behaviour changing depending on your situation. You can act according to a meta-program or the entire opposite or anywhere in-between these extremes. The image below illustrates the range where you can find yourself.
Benefits coming along with an understanding of meta-programs:
Appreciating other people's differences
Increased sense of empowerment
Discover some interesting meta-programs to understand your students better and adapt your teaching to your learners' learning styles.
THE VAKOG learning style
You probably already know this one, but do you use it correctly?
V for visual
A for auditory
K for kinaesthetic
(O for olfactory)
(G for gustatory)
The VAKOG learning style in our representation system focuses on our five senses. In a classroom, we usually focus more on the VAK learning styles. Some people can easily read a text quietly and remember its content, whereas other people need to read it out loud to remember it.
How it impacts the learning experience
The visual learner sees, visualises, and pictures everything. He needs to see the information and learns best with diagrams, illustrated textbooks, videos, and handouts.
The auditory learner hears or pronounces sentences, and concepts to remember them. He needs to hear the information and learns best with verbal lectures, discussions, and talking things through.
The kinaesthetic learner enjoys contact and doing things. He needs to do, move or touch, and learns best with a hands-on approach.
How to spot it?
You can easily spot this meta-program in your students; by simply listening to them.
The visual learners will use this vocabulary: "I see", "It is clear", "Enlighten me", "Show me", "I have seen that"…
The auditory learners will use this vocabulary: "I hear you,'' "I am listening", "It sounds like", "Tell me", "I have heard that"…
The kinaesthetic learners will use this vocabulary: "I feel", "I was touched", "It affects me", "Emotional", "Sensitive"…
A final tip
The aim of knowing the different learning styles is to understand how the brain works when it absorbs information. As a facilitator, you want to adapt your presentation to all learning types.
You also want to ensure that you are not focusing too much on your learning style and that you manage to stimulate all learners through different perception canals.
Towards or away: understanding motivations
The meta-program "towards or away" works with our motivations. It highlights the fact that you are either motivated to do something by moving towards achieving it or by moving away from something you do not want. It is the "carrot or stick" situation.
How it impacts the learning experience
Moving-towards learners will be motivated to learn, to realise or to achieve something. For example, a moving-towards learner can enrol in training to develop new skills to apply to a higher position in