NLP has certain underlying presuppositions. These presuppositions are related to effectiveness in communication. NLP finds its basis largely in practical experience than being rooted in academic theories.
Though some NLP presuppositions may be borrowed from cybernetics or General Semantics, some are unique to NLP. Given below is a detailed study of some examples of NLP presuppositions.
What communication means equals the response it elicits: In communication, information is transferred from one to another. The information conveyed has some meaning for the receiver and is intended to be understood by the receiver in the way that it is communicated. However, effective communicators understand that communication is, in fact, what the receiver thinks rather than what is intended to be communicated, which may be two different things altogether. NLP trains people to focus on the actions of the receiver to determine if there is misunderstanding and vary their own communication until the desired response is received.
Map and territory: The way a person organizes his experience of the world is a ‘map,’ and the world as it exists is ‘territory’ and is different from the map. The experience of every person determines their perception of the world and the choices they will observe as being available to them. NLP techniques help to change this perception to a more useful model, better matching the world as it really is.
Language and experience: Language is understood as representing a person’s experience. People speaking different languages use separate words that describe the same thing. Everyone has a different experience, so the same words have different meanings for each person. Communication between people is effective as long as meanings are mutually similar. When there is dissimilarity in meaning, communication problems arise.
Mind and body affect each other: Body and mind in a human being are inseparable. A person’s thinking is influenced by the feelings in their physical body. In effect, this means that a person can change the way they feel by changing how they think and change the way they think by changing their physiology or his feelings.
Communicating cannot be avoided: People usually suppose that if they keep silent, they are not communicating and can avoid personal responsibility. However, there is a presupposition in NLP that one is constantly communicating through words, silence, and several other non-verbal signals. It is, therefore, better to accept personal responsibility than to remain aloof.
Anyone with the maximum options in a given situation can get the best outcome: This presupposition is related to BATNA i.e. Best Alternative to Non-agreement. If you enter upon negotiations with a single outcome in mind, it means the end of the road if that outcome is not achieved. Alternatively, if you have a prioritized list of options, the likelihood of achieving any one of them is very high.
Each type of behavior is appropriate in some specific context: Simply stated, you adopt a certain behavior because you have experienced it to work at some time. Problems arise because you may continue to believe that it is still going to work even though it is no longer appropriate. Accepting this presupposition follows that a new and appropriate behavior is warranted instead of dissecting the old behavior, which more often than not, reinforces it rather than rejecting it.