Presuppositions of Neurolinguistics Programming (NLP)


What are presuppositions?

A presupposition is something that is assumed by a person speaking or listening. A presupposition can indicate the filters that one has in their unconscious mind. Those filters include: beliefs, values, attitudes, memories, and meta programs. When an individual speaks, the meaning of what they say is highly influenced by these filters.

When there are two people talking to each other and there is a misunderstanding, that’s an indication that they are not conscious of each others presuppositions.

For example: if someone says “she is making a lot of money, so she is successful”, it presupposes that the speaker has a belief that connects money to success. If someone were communicating with the quoted person and did not share the same belief, they may not understand the link the speaker is making between money and success. They may even argue and say, “she isn’t even happy, so no, she is not successful”.

The two may argue back and forth because of a simple misunderstanding of their presuppositions. This is where being able to identify presuppositions can be extremely helpful in communication.

Another example: if someone were to say “I have never been good enough to sink a basket from this far away”, it presupposes that there are memories of taking shots from an equal distance.


Not only do people have presuppositions, so do…

  • Organizations
  • Groups of thought
  • Philosophies
  • Religions
  • Belief systems
  • Schools
  • Companies
  • Countries
  • Communities

In fact, these above groups can influence and shape an individuals personal presuppositions.


So, without further ado… here are the Presuppositions of Neurolinguistics Programming.

1. Respect for the other person’s model of the world.

NLP assumes that all people have different models of the world. An individuals model of the world is based upon their personal experiences in life and no one person has an exact copy of another’s. My personal opinion is that in order to respect another’s model of the world, one must respect their own. So, if you find it difficult to appreciate, respect, or accept someone else’s model of the world… it most likely indicates that you have parts of you that feel that way about your own model. A great signal to look inward and find self-appreciation, self-respect, and self-acceptance.


2. The most important information about a person is that person’s behavior.

In NLP, sensory acuity and recognition of behavioral patterns is essential for understanding the unconscious mind. The combination of a person’s body language, actions, tonality, and word choices are the behavior I take note of when using my NLP brain. Recording a person’s behavior is the first step in recognizing patterns. And patterns are the unconscious mind saying “here’s this thing I want to heal and release”.

3. Behavior is geared for adaptation, and present behavior is the best choice available.

NLP assumes that one of the unconscious mind’s prime directives is to heal and become whole. So, those behavioral patterns that I wrote about in #2 are at the surface for adaptation. They are the ladder down into the unconscious mind, so one can get back to the root cause and gain learnings for resolution. Behavior is unconscious until it becomes conscious. This adaptation of the unconscious behavior is how one begins to consciously act.

4. A person’s behavior is not who they are. Accept the person, change the behavior.

This is my personal favorite of the bunch because it led me to radically accept myself and others.

People are only doing the best they can with the resources they have available. You’re off the hook for the time you weren’t perfect in the past. You can forgive yourself now, and that means we can forgive other people, too. We also have to take responsibility.

Yager Training Company

People act based on the data they have collected throughout their life. When we recognize this, it allows for compassion and understanding of another’s behavior. It also keeps us conscious as a coach to stay focused on outcome goals.

5. The system (person) with the most flexibility of behavior will control the system. This is the Law of Requisite Variety.

People who can talk about anything and create a safe experience for others to do the same gain deep conscious and unconscious rapport. Being in rapport is in my opinion the single most important thing for getting results in communication. If one can be flexible in style and understanding of another, you can become an authority quite fast in a conversation. People begin to feel extremely comfortable and willing to speak about the root cause of their behavior.

6. Behavior and change are to be evaluated in terms of context, and ecology.

If someone does not want to change their behavior, then there is virtually no point in doing NLP with them on that specific topic. Also, if someone is conscious of their behavioral patterns and they are in their highest intention, it would be out of ecology to change. Ecology is based upon the person whom the change is suggested. It is important to keep personal judgement (mind reads) out of NLP. This is why we ask, “is it alright for your unconscious mind to make this change today and for you to be aware of it consciously?” before using a modality with someone.

7. People have all the ability they need to succeed.

The unconscious mind does not need instruction to know how to breath, how to grow hair, how to swallow water and food. NLP is there to help us get into rapport with our unconscious mind so that we can tap into our super intelligence. All that intelligence and innate ability is already within every single person. It is a matter of trusting your unconscious mind and listening to your intuition.

There are no un-resourceful people, only un-resourceful states

-Yager Training Company

8. Resistance in a client is a sign of a lack of rapport. There are no resistant clients, only inflexible communicators.

Resistance is a great indicator to go back to sensory acuity and gain conscious and unconscious rapport with another person. Resistance can be present via body language, spoken word, or tonality. To reiterate, one of the unconscious mind’s prime directives is to heal. So, any resistance to healing is an indication that the unconscious mind does not feel comfortable or safe to release/heal/integrate. This is where the Law of Requisite Variety comes back into play, how flexible can you be to get back into rapport? That rapport being either with a client or one’s own unconscious mind.

9. The meaning of communication is the response you get.

The way that someone responds to a sentence or conversation is an indicator of the meaning they are attaching to the words. It also indicates the ‘why’ of the listener and speaker (why are they communicating). Could it be to gain understanding? To win an argument? To feel heard? If a triggered response happens in a conversation, it shows that someone has added meaning to the communication rather than listening for understanding.

10. The mind and the body affect each other.

In NLP, sensory acuity is used to indicates neurological shifts and integrations. For that to be true, there is an assumption that the mind and body are linked and impact one another. The filters in the mind can manifest in the physical body and even epigenetics.

11. The words we use are NOT the event or the item they represent.

Rather, the words we use are more symbolic and messages from the unconscious mind. That is why curiosity is so important in NLP, we do not assume root causes of interesting language. Instead, ask questions for more details to get to the root event or item. Words do not mean the same thing to every person, so it is important to find out what it means to the person who is speaking.

The map is not the territory. The map is the symbol for the territory.

Yager Training Company

12. I am in charge of my mind, and therefore my results.

NLP has helped me to embrace self-empowerment and to take radical self-responsibility. Running on the basis that ‘perception is projection’, an individual can take responsibility for every experience, emotion, and state in their life. To take charge of your mind, thoughts, feelings, and experience is to ensure you achieve your intended results.

13. There is no failure, only feedback.

Failure is indeed a construct and perception of reality. One can choose to reframe themselves to see ‘failure’ as feedback. Very important for anyone who find failure to be a charged word or has negative self-talk when this word is used. Feedback is something to be expanded upon and gives us a chance to look internally and grow.

14. All procedures should increase choice.

NLP is a tool that when used with ecology, increases sovereignty. By releasing double binds, limiting beliefs, and unwanted emotions, the mind opens to see more options in a given situation. Limiting beliefs may cause tunnel vision and paradigms which keep people from new perspectives/open-mindedness.

15. All procedures should increase wholeness.

One of the unconscious mind’s prime directives is to integrate and become whole. So, by using NLP in tandem with ecology, it is assumed that it will increase wholeness. Checking for ecology is absolutely vital in every step of NLP.

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