Does NLP Influence or Manipulate?

If you have had exposure to NLP beyond a book or introductory CD, have been involved in a discussion about the utilization of NLP for the purposes of “manipulating” people.  (And if you are brand new to NLP, having seen some of the claims made by NLP training institutes, perhaps the question has been raised in your mind).

I recall vividly my version of this conversation, in the opening days of my own Practitioner Training, back in about 1991.  The trainer was asked by someone in the audience “Given how powerful these techniques are, shouldn’t we be careful in teaching people things that they can then use to gain their own advantage?” Said another way, if you “do NLP on someone” (without permission) to help them get more of what they want AND it also benefits you (for example, using NLP to help create greater harmony in your relationships at home), is it manipulation? Or is it influence?

The answer lives in your intention.  Is your focus on yourself or on the benefit of the bigger system in which you are a part?

In the recent U.S. election, were the political candidates manipulating or influencing?  Regardless of their “tactics” what do we believe about their intentions? 

This is a powerful question to consider, and often has subtle implications. If my influence to get my son to do his homework is related to the bigger picture of him getting good grades so that he can get into a good college, who is that serving?

Is it my need for my son to succeed or am I trying to help him remember his own innate desire?  As a more mature person in the relationship, what rights do I have to impose my perspective? How much should my authority as a salesperson, consultant, boss, therapist, or parent dictate the outcome? And when I have no authority, how do I create a balance of power?

The bottom line is, most of us do have strong motives to “influence” in ways that truly help others. But, it’s worth checking yourself regularly.  I find even with my clearest intentions, my own self-interests bleed into my communication in a way that mis-uses my influence. When we are operating out of a value or goal of our own, and getting someone else to see things our way, that’s manipulation. When we can see that, then the best use of the power of NLP has a fighting change.

When we take the other person’s point of view and truly consider what’s of benefit to them, that is the best use of NLP.

When we help another person clarify their desires and motives, that is the best use of NLP.

When we seek to create a relationship in which every time we interact, the other person is left in a better place than we found them, that is the best use of NLP.

If more of our leaders acted from this place, there would be fewer wars and more harmony in families, communities, and organizations. 

Try this: Consider for 30 days, not making any decision until you have asked one other interested party: “What do you think?” “What would you like to see happen?”  “What would you do if you could wave a magic wand?”

Notice how much your influence increases as a result.


For a deeper experience of the process of meaningful and respectful influence, this month we are offering a special price on Charles Faulkner’s “Irresistible Influence” audio tape set. 

Whether it’s in business or in home, influence is how we make things happen and move ourselves forward. In his paradigm-changing audio program, Creating Irresistable Influence with NLP, author and modeler Charles Faulkner reveals the concept of meaningful influence and why it is really the only kind of influence you will ever need to nkow about.  You will learn how to influence more effective and obtain more of what you really want. You will learn:

The crucial difference between influence and manipulation

How to hear (and see) what people really wan

How to increase your influence through a Value Matrix

The importance of Identity Values over Utility Values.

The five levels of the Pyramid of Influence.

The Five Life Purposes

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