NLP Practitioner

NLP Practitioner – Neurological levels

NLP Practitioner gives you some really powerful tools for creating personal change and one useful model is neurological levels, which was developed by Robert Dilts. This model provides a framework for understanding personal change and makes it clearer about when it’s appropriate to initiate change for ourselves and with other people.

The model works on the basis of a hierarchy that contains six different levels. First it starts with environment at the bottom of the hierarchy and finishes with spirituality at the top. It’s a only a model, there are some people in the NLP community who suggest that instead of a hierarchy the six elements should feature on the same level. Here we explore Dilts model as it was originally conceived.


Environment (where, when and with whom you do things)

This level is about the external environment – including where you are, ie your physical environment, the people you interact with, the society and culture of which you are a part – and the restrictions that potentially they place on you. For change to take place at this level the NLP Practitioner will be asking ‘where’ and ‘when’ type questions. If you’re a leader of a team, for example, you may want to question whether your working environment fosters good teamwork.

Behaviour (what you do or say)

The behaviour level is concerned with what people do in the environment. Including: thinking, speaking, listening, reacting and taking conscious action with the intention of achieving something. It can equally be about what people don’t do as well. If you withdraw from a situation you are still influencing it in some way. For example, you can actively participate in team events and help to foster a good team spirit or ignore everyone else and go your own way. When you are a member of a team your behaviour will impact for the positive or negative on your colleagues and affect the atmosphere of the environment you all work in.

Capability (how you do it)

This level relates to the skills, abilities, strategies, talents and resources that guide our behaviour and enable us to take action. It’s about how we do things and the skills and processes that let us know we can carry out a task or act in a certain way. When we learn something new, such as riding a bike or playing a musical instrument, we start out with a vacuum at this level which gradually fills up till we reach a point where we can do it without having to think about it. Because capabilities are things we can do reliably, constantly and repeatedly, we are often unaware of them because they’re so taken for granted.

Beliefs and values (what’s important to you)

What we value and the beliefs we hold about life influence the way we think and act. If you don’t believe you are good at running meetings it’s likely that will affect your capability and be evident to others in the way you behave. Conversely, if you develop your skills and build your confidence in that area you may be surprised to find your belief about your ability has changed. Sometimes we have ‘limiting’ beliefs about ourselves. Beliefs and values generally operate ‘behind the scenes’, out of conscious awareness, which is how people come to have strongly held views that influence everything they do and say.

What you hold dear to you and believe to be important has evolved throughout your life. Every experience you’ve had and every person you’ve met will have in some way shaped your values and beliefs. Many organisations have a set of values that represent what’s important to them. Where there’s a mismatch between the values of a company and an employee, or between two colleagues, there’s potential for conflict.

Individuals are not always consistent, either, and may simultaneously hold beliefs that are contradictory, and this can result in them feeling pulled in opposite directions, being conflicted or at war with themselves.

Identity (who you are)

The identity level involves your sense of who you are – your role(s) in life – and also about who you are not. People sometimes fall into the trap of confusing behaviour (what they do) with identity (who they are). This level is about your purpose in life. One way you can think about your identity is in the context of leading a team. You might ask yourself, ‘Who am I as a leader?’ or ‘What kind of leader am I?

Your identity was created out of all the information and influences you have incorporated and learned during your life that have shaped you into the person you feel you are.

Spirituality/connectedness (your higher purpose/contribution to the world)

Not everyone feels comfortable with the word spirituality, but many people feel part of or connected to a larger system in some way. This level is about your higher purpose and what you have to offer society and the world at large. No matter what you spend your time doing your contribution will be experienced by others in some form.

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