The Top 7 Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Techniques


Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a revolutionary approach to communication and personal development, offering a set of techniques that can profoundly impact various aspects of daily life. I trained as an NLP Master Practitioner early in my career. Then I went on to run an NLP Training Academy with a business partner who was an NLP Trainer qualifying people as NLP Practitioners and Master Practitioners. I still use NLP techniques daily to create transformations with clients.

This blog explores seven of the most influential NLP techniques, providing real-life examples to illustrate how they can be applied for personal growth and improved interactions with others.

1. Rapport Building

Rapport building is fundamental in NLP, focusing on establishing a connection with others. It involves matching and mirroring language, tone, and body language. For example, in a job interview, you might notice the interviewer leans forward when making a point. Mirroring this action subtly can create a sense of understanding and connection. Similarly, using similar language or terminology can make the conversation more relatable. This technique is essential not just in professional settings but also in personal relationships, where empathy and understanding are crucial.

2. Anchoring

Anchoring creates a link between a specific emotional state and a physical trigger. For instance, think of a time when you felt incredibly confident. As you relive this moment, press your thumb and forefinger together. Doing this repeatedly creates an ‘anchor’. Later, when facing a challenging situation, pressing your thumb and forefinger together can help trigger this confident state. This technique is particularly useful for managing emotions in high-pressure situations like public speaking or important meetings.

3. Swish Pattern

The Swish Pattern is effective in changing behaviours or feelings. Imagine you have a tendency to procrastinate. Visualise what procrastination looks like for you (e.g., sitting on the couch, watching TV). Create a contrasting positive image (e.g., successfully completing tasks). ‘Swish’ the negative image with the positive one repeatedly. Over time, this mental exercise can help reduce the urge to procrastinate, replacing it with a desire for productivity.

4. Visual/Kinesthetic Dissociation (VKD)

VKD, or the ‘Fast Phobia Cure’, is used to diminish the emotional impact of memories. Consider someone with a fear of dogs due to a childhood incident. Using VKD, they would vividly imagine watching a movie of themselves experiencing this fear and then imagine stepping into the movie to experience it. Gradually, this technique reduces the emotional response to the memory, helping to overcome the phobia.

5. Meta Model

The Meta Model involves detailed questioning to explore and understand the specifics behind vague statements. For example, if a friend says, “I’m upset because my partner doesn’t understand me,” you might ask, “What specific action or words made you feel misunderstood?” This helps in uncovering the real issues and facilitates clearer communication and problem resolution.

6. Milton Model

In contrast to the Meta Model, the Milton Model uses vague and metaphorical language. A therapist might use this technique by saying something like, “As you sit there, you might begin to notice a feeling of relaxation spreading through your body.” This indirect approach allows individuals to interpret the suggestion in a way that’s personally meaningful, making it particularly effective in therapeutic settings.

7. Reframing

Reframing is about changing the perception of a situation. Let’s say you have a challenging project at work. Instead of viewing it as a stressful burden, reframe it as an opportunity to learn new skills and showcase your abilities. This shift in perspective can transform a daunting task into an empowering experience.

Expanding the Application of NLP Techniques

Beyond these seven techniques, NLP’s versatility extends to various aspects of life. In parenting, for example, reframing and rapport building can be invaluable. When a child is upset, using rapport building to empathise and then reframing the situation to show a different perspective can be quite effective.

In romantic relationships, anchoring can play a unique role. Couples can develop positive anchors for each other, such as a special gesture or word that brings back happy memories, strengthening their bond.

In the workplace, the Meta Model can be particularly useful in meetings and negotiations. By asking precise questions, you can uncover underlying needs and intentions, leading to more effective communication and outcomes.

Case Studies and Examples

Rapport Building in Customer Service: A customer service representative can use rapport building to handle customer complaints effectively. By mirroring the customer’s language and empathising with their situation, the representative can create a more harmonious interaction, leading to a better resolution of the issue.

Anchoring in Sports Performance: An athlete might use anchoring before a big game. By recalling a moment of peak performance and associating it with a specific physical action, they can trigger this state during the game, enhancing their performance.

Swish Pattern for Lifestyle Changes: For someone trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, using the Swish Pattern to replace the image of sedentary behaviour with an image of engaging in physical activity can help in making more active lifestyle choices.

VKD for Overcoming Past Trauma: An individual dealing with trauma from a past accident might use VKD to reduce the emotional intensity of their memories, thereby aiding in the healing process.

Meta Model in Conflict Resolution: In a conflict situation, using the Meta Model to clarify statements can help in understanding the real issues, leading to more effective conflict resolution.

Milton Model in Therapy: A therapist might use the Milton Model to guide a client into a relaxed state, allowing them to explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe, non-threatening way.

Reframing in Personal Development: Someone struggling with self-doubt could reframe their challenges as opportunities for growth, thereby transforming obstacles into stepping stones for personal development.


NLP offers a rich toolkit for enhancing communication, managing emotions, and fostering personal growth. By understanding and applying these seven core techniques, you can navigate life’s challenges more effectively and achieve your personal and professional goals. Whether in everyday interactions, managing personal issues, or pursuing career ambitions, the power of NLP can bring about profound changes in your approach to life and relationships. Remember, the effectiveness of these techniques grows with practice and application, so start integrating them into your daily routine and experience the transformation firsthand.

P.S. If you haven’t already I would encourage you to take my quiz to discover what type of business owner you are, knowing this can help take you from where you are now to becoming more successful personally, professionally and financially – quickly, efficiently and effectively.

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