Written and Produced by Andy Bradbury
(author of "Develop Your NLP Skills", etc.)

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This glossary is designed for use on a very basic level, providing brief definitions, not detailed explanations.  It will be particulary useful to newcomers who have heard or read very little about NLP so far.  By the time you've read a half dozen of the better books you'll already know this stuff off by heart.

If there's anything you don't agree with, or which you think should be added, there is a "mail to" facility at the very end of this page.  All constructive comments will be welcome.

The Definitions:

Words in bold font are themselves explained somewhere within the glossary.

B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K

Absolutes, unqualified
This meta model pattern occurs in the form of sweeping generalisations which, logically, cannot possibly be true:
"Everyone knows..." - What, everyone in the entire world?  Everyone in the UK?  Everyone you know?
"That can never happen" - sadly, far too many destructive things happen which we have been assured can never happen.
Accessing Cues
Cues such as eye movements, changes in breathing pattern, changes in skin colouration and muscle tone, etc.  These cues indicate whether or not a person is reacting to internal and external stimuli.  They do not tell you what the person is actually thinking.
Some people feel happiest when involved with other people (affiliated) in the workplace; some people prefer to be alone (unaffiliated or independent); and some people like to work with others - as long as they are in charge of everyone else (management).
These preferences are covered by the Affiliation and Management meta program.
Roughly akin to congruent.  To be aligned is to have all of your resources working in unison to achieve a given objective.
In NLP this usually refers to words. phrases, or actions, which do not have a specific, clear-cut meaning.

phonological ambiguity, punctuation ambiguity and syntactic ambiguity.  There is also a structure known as referential ambiguity which occurs very frequently in spoken and written English, yet (as far as I know) is never referred to in books on NLP.

Anything that has shades of meaning, a 'spectrum' of options or which changes gradually and 'smoothly' (like the undulations in a line of hills, for example) is referred to as "analogue" - as compared to anything which offers a set of clearly separate options (e.g. on/off, yes/no, people/places/things), which is referred to as "digital".
Analogue Marking
Adding emphasis to a word or phrase by means of an unobtrusive gesture, change of voice tone, or whatever.  In theory the listener's conscious mind will not notice the marking, but their subconscious mind will 'get the message.
An external event (sound, sight, physical feeling) which triggers an internal state or memory.  For example, if you get a 'warm glow' and recall happy memories when you hear a particular piece of music that reminds you of a special occasion, the music is functioning as an anchor.
(See also: Creating an Anchor)
The process of 'setting' an anchor.  Anchors can be created deliberately or by chance.  They can also be altered or 'dissolved', 'stacked' or 'collapsed' (see Collapsing Anchors" and Stacking Anchors .
As If (1)
Using visualisation etc. to deal with a situation "as if" it had already happened.  Quite amazingly, this can often make it possible to see how something occurred so that you actually use that visualisation as the blueprint for creating the outcome you have imagined.
As If (2)
The various NLP presuppositions are not necessarily 'true' in the sense of having been discovered by careful and lengthy scientific study.  Nevertheless they have been adopted because many people find that it produces beneficial results to act "as if" they were true.
To be 'associated' with some memory or event is to see it from the viewpoint of someone involved in the action (as distinct from simply observing the action).
Auditory Digital
Also referred to as "self-talk."*nbsp; When people look down and to the right (from an observer's point of view) they will usually (if they are using the standard eye accessing cues positions) be in auditory digital mode.  Politicians and other spokesmen and spokeswomen ofter go in and out of this mode when they are being interviewed as they internally rehearse whatever answer they are about to give.
Auditory (A) Mode
Taking in and/or processing information as sounds.  It is misleading to refer to someone as "An auditory" as this obscures the fact that this is a form of behaviour, and not something we are.  Moreover we can, and often do, switch between the different representational systems depending on the context.
Someone operating in auditory mode might use expressions like:
"That rings a bell"
"I'd like to talk it over before I make my decision"
"Tell me more"
and so on.
Backtrack; backtracking
Many books on communications, especially in relation to situations such as business meetings, negotiations or presentations, recommend some form of summarisation so that everyone is aware of what points have been made, what has been agreed, etc.  They also recommend that where appropriate the speaker should summarize what has been said and agreed in his or her own words so as to check that they have both heard what was said and understood what the other person/people meant.
In the NLP process of backtracking the summarization is carried out using the original speaker's vocal tones, body language and even the words and phrases they used.
In the case of a presentation, the purpose is to strengthen your audience's memory of key points by replaying them as exactly as possible; in the case of repeating someone elses words, gestures, etc, the purpose is to strengthen rappost by repeating their original words and behaviour rather than by paraphrasing (though of course you should have determined what each person actually meant prior to starting the summarization).  This may still lead to further clarification, by the way, if someone hears their exact words repeated back to them and realises that they didn't actually say quite what they meant.
Please note   It is important to keep the use of backtracking to a sensible minimum or you may start to sound like a human parrot.
An idea about ourselves and/or the external world which we hold to be true even though we have no unambiguous supporting evidence.  A belief may be true.  The important distinction between what we 'believe' and what we 'know' is whether we have evidence, not just personal opinion and experience.
(Many of the things we imagine are facts are actually beliefs.)
One of the five 'Satir categories'.  The blamer's response to any kind of threat is to go on the offensive: "Don't look at me - you're the idiot who gave me the wrong information".  Satir calculated that about 30% of the members of any group would be 'blamers'.
The practice and skill of 'reading' eye accessing cues and other non-verbal manifestations of a person's thought processes such as changes in skin colour, muscle tone, etc.  For most people, unconscious calibration skills are acquired as a natural part of the process of growing up.  Developing conscious calibration skills is particularly useful in contexts such as negotiating, therapy and people management.
A body of information which can be dealt with as a single concept or idea.  For some people a "steering wheel" is one chunk, whilst for a car mechanic the whole steering system may be one chunk.  Obviously 'a chunk' is very much defined by the context, the person's prior knowledge of the subject, etc.
Chunking (1)
Dividing a body of information into pieces suitable for the intended audience.
Chunking (2)
Moving from a detailed description of some subject towards an overview of that subject is referred to as "chunking up".
Moving from the overview towards a detailed description is known as "chunking down".
Completion of an implied or stated sequence of events.  For example, if I say I'm going to tell you three things, and then get into greater and greater detail on the first two, and don't even mention the third, you may begin to feel discomfort and irritation at the lack of closure.
This widespread need for closure provides a good way, if used carefully, of holding people's attention in situations where they might otherwise become bored or distracted.
Collapsing Anchors
Collapsing anchors is a technique used to defuse a negative anchor by absorbing it into a positive anchor.  It is based on the assumption that, given the option, human beings will normally select an outcome which is nice/happy/positive over one which is nasty/sad/negative.
To collapse an anchor:
  1. Get a very strong sense of the unwanted response/behaviour and anchor it.
  2. Break state (move around, jiggle your arms, etc.)
  3. Check that the negative anchor is firing correctly (if it isn't, go back to step 1.)
  4. Break state.
  5. Build a very strong sense of an alternative, preferred behaviour/response to the same stimulus, and anchor it (using a different anchor).
  6. Break state.
  7. Check that the positive anchor is firing correctly (if not, go back to step 5).
  8. Break state.
  9. Fire both anchors at the same time.  It is to be expected that the positive anchor and response will neutralise the old, negative response.
If you don't get the required result at step 9 this is simply because the old response/behaviour has had so long to become entrenched.  In this case you may need to stack anchors and fire the stack against the negative anchor.
Communications between people consist of a message (i.e. whatever it is the sender intends to communicate to the receiver(s)), and a transmission process, which includes both vocal and non-vocal elements.  The fewer elements there are in a communication, the more possibilities for misunderstanding.  Thus, broadly speaking, a face to face conversation will leave less room for misunderstanding than a telephone conversation; and a telephone conversation will leave less room for misunderstanding than a letter or an e-mail.
(See also
FAQ #17 for details of the "7% - 38% - 55% 'rule'" and Rosenthal's "thin slices".)
Comparison, unqualified
An element within the meta model which refers to the use of words like "best", "better", "healthier", "faster", "whiter" and so on, where the speaker never states what the comparison is between.
For example, "Gunko washes whiter" (than what?).  "In tests" (what tests? carried out by whom?) "it washed whiter than six other leading brands" (which six leading brands?)
Complex Equivalence
Assigning a meaning to an event on the basis of opinion rather than evidence, such as: "If you don't do at least ten hours unpaid overtime per week you obviously aren't loyal to the company".
An element of the Meta Model.
One of the five 'Satir categories'.  Responds to threats by becoming very logical and distant.  "Perhaps we should take a moment to step back and review the situation".  Satir reckoned about 15% of the members of an average group would be 'computers'.
Congruence (external)
External congruence exists when all of your external signals - body language, vocal tone, tempo, etc., and verbal content - are sending the same message.
Congruence (internal)
Internal congruence exists when you are focused on the task in hand (to the appropriate degree), and when you are comfortable about what you are doing (i.e. when all of your parts are in harmony.
That part of your mental activity which you are actually aware of at any given moment.  It is only the conscious mind which is limited to dealing with 7 chunks of information, plus or minus 2 (see Miller, George).
A communication consists of a message and a transmission process.  The content is the message itself.  As Bandler and Grinder originally conceived techniques such as the fast phobia cure, it should be possible to resolve the problem without knowing the specific content.  That is to say, by dealing with the thinking process that supports the phobia rather than the nature - snakes, spiders, etc. - or the history of the phobia.)
Contrastive Analysis
This commonly refers to the process of comparing two sets of sub-modalities to discover which ones are critical in a given context.  For example, if I am learning presentation skills I might want to do a contrastive analysis on my sub-modalities for (a) a situation where I spoke fluently and engagingly to one or two people, and (b) a situation where I was addressing a larger number of people, and did rather badly.
By doing the analysis I can identify which particular sub-modality settings helped me to perform well in the first situation and not so well in the second situation so that I can apply the critical settings from the first situation to the second.
Creating an Anchor
You can creating an anchor for yourself or for another person.  The process consists of three basic steps:
  1. Set up the state you want to anchor (happiness, confidence, whatever).  This can be done by recalling a previous experience or simply by working with a state that is happening in the here and now.
  2. Perform some "concrete" action that can be associated with the desired state.  This is often a physical touch, but works equally well by using a clearly defined sound, a word or a phrase.  A state can also be anchored to some visual trigger.  So, you could anchor a state for someone else by, say, touching the back of their hand; by coughing or saying a slightly unusual word or phrase, or by having them focus their eyes on a specific picture or view.
    The anchor should be set as the person's experience of the desired state reaches its peak.  Initiate the anchor as the state approaches its peak, and release it (end the touch, redirect the person's visual attention, etc.) immediately the state has passed its peak.
  3. Always test an anchor (repeat the "trigger" event) to ensure that it has been set.  Depending on the context, you may occasionally find that it is necessary to repeat steps 1 and 2 several times before the trigger event and response become effectively linked.
Crossover Mirroring
The process of indirectly matching another person's behaviour - you tap your thigh with your hand, I tap my desk with my pencil, for example - usually for the purpose of creating/enhancing rapport.
The process of ignoring certain information about a person, event or whatever, for any reason.  Deletion is one of the key factors in creating wholly personal maps (see also Distortion and Generalisation).
To be 'dissociated' from some action or event - real, remembered or imagined - is to view it from the standpoint of an outside observer.  The opposite of being associated.
The process of interpreting incoming information so as to misrepresent external reality.  The second of the key factors in creating wholly personal maps (see also Deletion and Generalisation).
One of the five 'Satir categories'.  These people react to any kind of threat by going off at a tangent.  "Why don't we just put that aside now and look at ...".  This is the least common of the four categories.  Satir estimated that less than one percent of the average group would be made up of 'distracters'.
Double Bind
In broad terms, a double bind (first identified under that name by Gregory Bateson) is a set-up where someone phrases their communication in such a way that whoever they're talking to is caught in a "no win" situation, or an "illusion of choice."
For example, a relatively mild double bind is set up by a salesman who asks "Would you prefer to pay by credit card or by cheque?" when you haven't actually agreed to buy whatever it is he's trying to sell you.
Milton Erickson was fond of using subtle, "therapeutic" double binds such as: "I don't know whether you'll find the answer straight away or whether it will take you a day or two."
A more malign form of double bind is typified by the young man who tells his girlfriend: "If you really loved me you'd be willing to sleep with me."  To which a realistic answer (also a double bind) might be: "And if you really loved me you wouldn't try to use emotional blackmail to get me to do what you want."
Dovetailing (outcomes)
Where appropriate, aligning your outcome with that of another person so that both outcomes can be achieved, as far as this may be possible.
Note:  Dovetailing implies reaching a mutually acceptable agreement, it does not require you too sacrifice your own interests in order to help the other person achieve their aim.
Down Time
Adapted from computer jargon - that part of your time when your attention is focused inwards - when day dreaming, in deep thought, recalling memories, etc.  The opposite of Up Time.
Erickson, Milton
An American hypnotherapist, a leader in the development of the 'permissive' form of hypnosis and 'brief therapy', and a lifelong student of the use of language in the therapeutic context.  His work was extensively modelled by Bandler and Grinder and was a key element in the original formulation of NLP.
Fast Phobia technique
Based on the idea that a phobia is a learned thinking pattern, the "fast phobia" technique aims to eliminate the phobia by disrupting the cognitive sequence which it depends upon.
First/1st Position
One of the three "perceptual positions".
In 1st position a person is fully themselves at a given point in time.  That is to say, they see through their own eyes, hear through their own ears, and so on - as distinct from playing the role of some other person or group of people.  (see also Perceptual Positions, Second Position and Third Position)/dd>
The context within which a person, event or thing is perceived (see also Reframing).
The process of building a global rule or belief on the basis of a very small amount of information.  The second of the key factors in creating wholly personal maps (see also Deletion and Distortion).
General Semantics
Based primarily on the work of Count Alfred Korzybski, General Semantics is concerned with the way in which the words we use both shape and reflect the way we perceive the world around us, and the way in which our mental and physical systems interact.
General Semantics has contributed some of the key concepts of NLP, such as "the map is not the territory".  Indeed, the phrase "neuro-lingistic" (referring to the interaction between words and the nervous system) was coined by Korzybski about 30 years before it became part of "neuro-linguistic programing".
Gestalt Therapy
A form of psychotherapy practiced by Fritz Perls (and others).  A number of ideas from Gestalt therapy were adopted during the formulation of NLP.
Gustatory (G)
Taste - one of the secondary Rep Systems (i.e. it is not as frequently used, by most people, compared with Vision, Sound and Feeling.. 
Gustatory (G) Mode
In gustatory mode a person - a chef, for example - is primarily collecting and processing information as experiences involving the mouth/taste buds.  A person in gustatory mode might use expressions like:
"Let me chew it over"
"It left a nasty taste in my mouth"
and so on.
There are no entries for "H" at this time.
Inner Search
See Transderivational Search.
In Time
People who are 'in time' tend to find it easier to focus than on the past or future, which may appear to them too be comparatively remote and unreal (as compared with the viewpoint of someone with a through time perspective).
In the context of timelines, an 'in time' person's timeline is perceived as running through their body - back to front, head to feet, left to right or whatever.
There are no entries for "J" at this time.
Kinaesthetic(UK)/Kinesthetic (US) (K) Mode
One of the five ways of taking in information from the external world, and one of the three most common PTSs or Rep Systems.  In the NLP context, kinaesthetic encompasses both emotional feelings and physical feelings.  It is misleading to refer to someones as "A kinaesthetic" as this obscures the fact that this is a form of behaviour, and not something we are.
A person operating in kinaesthetic mode might use expressions like:
"I'll wear that" (regarding some explanation)
"I'm comfortable with that"
"That doesn't sit well with our ccurrent plans"
and so on.
Korzybski, Count Alfred
Author of Science and Sanity, and various other books on General Semantics, which he invented in the 1920s and 30s.  Korzybski's work and ideas have been a key factor in the development of NLP.
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Andy Bradbury can be contacted at: bradburyac@hotmail.com