NLP Crash Course

The Secret Technology Behind The World’s Greatest Communicators

D r. S u l o ‘ s

C r a s h C o u r s e i n

N e u r o – L i n g u i s t i c P r o g r a m m i n g (NLP)

by Christopher Tomasulo

NLP was created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. It’s a model. Grinder used his language knowledge and combined it with Bandler’s computer programming mentality to model what effective therapists did to create change.

These two modern day geniuses modeled people like Milton Erickson (hypnotist), Fritz Perls,and Virginia Satir (family therapist), took the most effective patterns from each and created a practical, replicatable system to get consistent results. They also borrowed heavily from Gregory Bateson and Alfred Korzybski of “the map is not the territory” fame and author of Science and Sanity. Korzybski held “Neuro Linguistic” trainings almost 40 years before Bandler and Grinder came on the scene.

Initially NLP was used mostly by therapists (since that’s where the model originally formed from) and now it’s applications have extended into almost every area of life (sales, business, negotiation, modeling, teaching, government, etc).

One of the great things about NLP is that it contains models that teach a person to effectively model other things.

There are all sorts of outgrowths from NLP and it has become somewhat of an industry. 90% of what Tony Robbins does is NLP based. He decided to rename it Neuro Associative Conditioning (NAC).

Here’s the core of NLP (there are all kinds of spin offs from the base model)

First of all NLP is based entirely on certain presuppositions Presuppositions could be considered base beliefs. Kind of like an operating system on a computer. Every program you run goes through that operating system (i.e.-Windows). So, the more flexible the operating system the more options you have when running a program.

Presuppositions are the internal, mental environmental structure we build that directs our 7+⁄-2 bits of conscious attention span. This is the Greenhouse effect I talk about in my persuasion newsletter, except applied internally.

These presuppositions form the environment from which all NLP techniques take form.

Bandler defines NLP as “an attitude, backed by a methodology, which leaves a trail of techniques”. Most people who are familiar with NLP just know of the techniques.

Bandler has also said that he created NLP so he could do whatever he wanted. From what I’ve experienced, ALL of Bandler’s trainings are created in such a way as to INSTALL THE NLP ATTITUDE which basically is all about FLEXIBILITY. He jars your consciousness through stories and unconscious communication to create a more flexible mental system. ATTITUDE (and your state of mind) is everything in NLP. Controlling your state and attitude comprise the majority of what NLP is all about.

The point is that the basis of NLP is the presuppositions and the attitude you have when you use these presuppositions. Here are some of them (list taken from The User’s Manual for the Brain (Vol 1) by Bobby G. Bodenhamer and L. Michael Hall. I recommend this book highly if you are just starting out in NLP. The explanations of each of the presuppositions are mine.):

The 19 Golden “Keys” To Understanding NLP

1. “The map is not the territory” or “The menu is not the meal”

What we see, hear, and feel is not reality, but our brain’s interpretation of it. Right now there are thousands of radio waves flowing through the air around you. When you turn on your radio, you hear only one wavelength- that one station. Your radio doesn’t play all the stations simultaneously it would be too confusing. Also, your radio isn’t set up to receive microwaves or any of the millions of other wavelengths available.

Humans are very similar. We have five basic instruments to pick up wavelengths. These instruments (the five senses- human antennae) take in information which is then interpreted by our nervous system (similar to radio circuitry), which then assembles the information in a way we can comprehend it. Everything you think you see hear or feel is created by your brain in response to real external stimuli. Reality out there does exist. We just never get to experience it first hand.

So our brain creates a virtual reality for us- a map. Just like a map of your town. The map is not the town. But, if you want to get to the corner store and the map tells you how to get there- it’s useful.

2. People respond according to their “maps”

The human mind has a very special capability. It can give meaning to things. As we grow up in the world we experience things and give meaning to them. Michael Jordan gave a different meaning to getting kicked off his high school basketball team than other people in a similar situation did. So, not only does our mind body system make it’s own interpretation of what’s really out there, but then we interpret it again by creating our own individual meanings for things. From these interpreted meanings we create our own maps. We move through the world and respond using these maps we create based on the meanings we have given to various experiences. Michael Jordan’s map didn’t label getting kicked off the basketball team as “failure” he mapped a different meaning to it. Look where he is today.

3. Meaning operates context dependently

If I call my girlfriend “sweetheart” and then call a waitress I don’t know “sweetheart” I am saying the same thing. Yet, I may get a completely different reaction from each person.

No word or behavior is an island. Everything we do or say occurs within some context. The meaning we give to what people say and do is altered by the context.

4. Mind/Body inevitably affect each other

If I cut you with a knife your mind knows about it. If I say certain things to you, I can make you feel bad. Well where exactly do you “FEEL bad”? In your body of course. MINDBODY acts a whole.

Korzybski talks in depth about how language maps our reality and that separating things that really shouldn’t be separated by using two different words has a major impact on how we respond and function in the world. It’s really MINDBODY. Just like Einstein’s SPACETIME.

5. Individual skills function by developing and sequencing rep systems

We have five senses or antennae by which our brain receives “human radio waves”. Once our brain converts those waves into something it can work with, we start sorting the information in our mind to give it structure.

Everything we do has a sequence to it. Before you decide to buy something you may picture yourself using the widget, then you may say to yourself “this widget would be really cool when I go widgeting”, then you may feel a good feeling about the widget and you buy it. This would be called a buying strategy and it consists of the 3 major representational systems- SEEING, HEARING AND FEELING or VISUAL (V), AUDITORY (A), AND KINESTHETIC (K). Most of the time we use these 3 antennae more often than the two others. The way we sequence these in our mind enables us to exhibit certain skills. Certain sequences work better than others. If your phone number is (876) 716-5512 and I dial (678) 551-2617, I’m not going to get you on the phone. It’s the same numbers, but the sequencing gives dramatically different results.

Richard Bandler uses a very funny example of this (paraphrased): “There’s all these books out there and they all have the same 26 letters. $15 or $20 and all I get are the same 26 letters over and over. I’m getting ripped off!” Sequencing the letters the right way creates the right words and sequencing the right words creates a masterpiece. We do the same at a very unconscious level with the VAK (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic.) The way we string together the representations of each sense in our mind will create very specific results. The spelling strategy of NLP was created from this presupposition.

6. Respect each person’s model of the world

Now that you know that we operate in a virtual reality of our own creation, you can respect that every other person on the planet is doing the same. The difference is you now know you are working through a map. Most people think everything they think and feel is REAL and it is for them. Respect that.

Rapport is created when you can step into that person’s model of the world (even if you don’t want to stay there). Leading is when you gently expand their map of the world.

NLP is all about more choices. So respect someone else’s model of the world and if you want to change it always make sure you are installing a map that allows greater flexibility. Much of NLP is based on systems theory, which basically says that the system with the most flexibility and options wins.

7. Person and Behavior describe different phenomena

When you were 3 years old maybe you sucked your thumb. Does that make you a thumb sucker today? You are more than the behaviors you produce and have the ability to change them at any time. What you DO and what you ARE are two different things.

8. Every behavior has utility and usefulness in some context

All behavior functions from positive intentions. This presupposition separates behaviors from the person. A person may start shaking with fear and sweating when they need to make a presentation. That fear may be appropriate just not in that situation. Maybe if a person held him up at gunpoint it would be natural to have fear. Fear is good in a certain context.

9. We cannot NOT communicate.

Even if we don’t say a word, our internal thought processes effect our body in such a way that our message gets out. (See presupposition #4)

10. The way we communicate affects perception and reception

How many ways can you say “You’re the best”? Try it. Use different tonalities, voice tempos, tones, etc. Change the way you stand, the focus of your eyes, and your posture. Experiment with a few friends and try to come up with 20 ways to say it over the next week. The words are the same, but the way you communicate them can make a radical difference.

11. The meaning of your communication lies in the response you get

This is one of the driving presuppositions in NLP. It forces you to take full responsibility for RESULTS in your communication. If you get a response you don’t like- then you need to change something in your communication.

Again, everyone is functioning through HIS OR HER model of the world. If you communicate to everyone using your model only, you will not get the response you want. NLP is all about results- if one thing doesn’t work, TRY SOMETHING ELSE. You aren’t just communicating to hear yourself, are you? You communicate because you are looking for a response from another person. Keep shifting and changing the way you communicate until you get the response you want. This is the basis of all sales and dealing with sales objections.

12. The one who sets the frame for the communication controls the communicating

We can consciously take in 7 +/- 2 bits of information at a time. Frames are the magnifying glasses that magnify the specific 7 +/- 2 bits of information our other than conscious mind will choose to have our conscious mind concentrate on. When you use a camera, you don’t take a picture of everything around you. The lens “frames” the specific scene you want to focus on. Whoever sets this frame in any communication will control that particular communication.

“The sun has a beautiful red color to it as it’s setting tonight. (frame) Let’s take a walk on the beach”

“It’s going to be too dark when we get there (new frame- Dark is not good)”

Seductive voice “Well that will be nice. That way no one can see what I’m going to do to you once we get there” (reframe- Dark is good)

13. There is no failure, only feedback

There can only be failure if you put a time limit on something. Until you die, you can continually alter your behavior until you get the results you want

14. The person with the most flexibility exercises the most influence in the system

The Law of Requisite Variety: In any system, the one with the most flexibility will exercise more choices and therefore more influence in the system.

Make sure your model is big enough to allow a wide variety of behaviors. Again, simply, keep trying new things until you get the results you want. The wrestler with the most holds wins!

15. Resistance indicates lack of rapport

With the proper amount of rapport you can convince someone to do almost anything. You can literally change the way they map their entire world. If you are getting resistance on any level (verbal or non verbal- i.e. keep your eyes open) you need to step back into their map of the world for a minute and regain rapport. Remember presupposition #11!

16. People have all the internal resources they need to succeed.

We all pretty much have the same set of antennae and the same nervous system to interpret signals. We have everything we need to deal effectively in the world. Sometimes we just need other people to bring it out of us.

17. Humans have the ability to experience one trial learning

This presupposition takes the Pavlovian thing to new heights. Humans can associate anything with anything and do it instantly if the state of mind at the time is intense enough. That’s how phobias are formed.

I was watching on a talk show about a boy who had an intense fear of clowns. The boy was about 17 years old and he looked and talked like a pretty tough kid. When the host mentioned bringing a clown in, the 17 year old rolled up on the floor in a fetus position and started crying hysterically. A psychologist came on and asked the boy how this happened. The boy said that when he was 4 years old he was watching a movie about a killer clown on Halloween. His aunt just happened to have dressed up as a clown that looked very similar and during one of the intense parts of the movie the aunt, in her clown costume came up behind the boy. When he turned around, there was the clown in the movie- in real life.

Now, intellectually, now that he’s 17 he realizes that his aunt wasn’t the clown in the movie. But, humans are one-time learners and his nervous system learned in that one intense moment to associate massive fear to clowns.

18. People make the best choices open to them when they act

If I have a map of Florida (my home state) published in 1917 and I use it to get around, it’s probably not going to be very helpful. If my computer is an Apple II plus from 1982, I’m not going to be able to do as much as I can if I had a Pentium III 500 MHz. In either case though, that may be the best I have at the time.

Everyone makes the best choices they can from their current map or model of the world.

19. All communication should increase choice

Always increase the amount of choices someone has with your communication. See presupposition #14.

These 19 presuppositions are the framework or Greenhouse, as I like to call it, from which NLP blooms. If you don’t understand the 19 presuppositions, you really don’t understand NLP. They are the basis for the Attitude, which generates the methodology, which in turn leaves the trail of techniques. With just these presuppositions and the right attitude you can do better than the thousands of people out there that think they know what NLP is.

Now, from modeling therapists, Richard Bandler and John Grinder came up with, in my opinion, two main models and four, what I call facilitating techniques.

The two main models are:

1. The Meta Model and

2. The Milton Model.

The Four facilitating techniques are:

1. Anchoring

2. Reframing.

3. Rapport Building and

4. Pacing and Leading

Don’t let all the technical names for this stuff throw you. It’s really very simple.



The reason we have maps is because they are useful. I could carry around a map or model of Florida that had plastic models of the buildings and street lamps and little plastic people for the population. I might need a pickup to get around, but I could do it. It’s unnecessary though. If I just need to get from point a to point b, then a paper map will do just fine.

That’s how human maps of the world work. We usually chop out all the unnecessary detail so we don’t have too much information to keep track of. Sometimes though, we make our maps too limited and our choices become too limited.

It would be like that map of Florida only having one route for me to get to from point a to point b and the day I want to go to point b the street the map has me go on is closed for construction. It would be good to have an alternate way, so I would need a map that had more streets. (Note: these examples may seem simple and childish, but I have found they drive the information home so people use it).

As human beings we delete, generalize and distort to make life more manageable.

So, back to the streets. The Meta Model puts more streets on your mental map. The Meta Model adds more details. The Meta Model gives us more choices through details. When you want to add more details to someone’s mental map use the Meta Model.

The way the Meta Model is explained in many books makes it very complicated when in fact it’s not.

If you truly want to get advanced you can learn all about “comparative and superlative deletions,” “universal quantifiers,” “modal operators” and more by getting the book I recommend: The User’s Manual for the Brain (Vol 1).

This is a Crash Course, so all we’re interested in here is enabling you to start using some of this material TODAY. So, I’m about to show you a little trick that can sidestep 10 days of training in the Meta-Model so you can start using it right away.


This question is important. Using the Meta-Model at the wrong time in the wrong way can create enemies.


Well, let’s say you said to me, “I always do well at school.” and I said “Always?”

You might say with dissapointment as you think and remember, “Well, there was a time that I failed this math exam.”

What did that do? ALWAYS is a generalization and the Meta-Model makes us go to specifics. However, in this case I didn’t really help the other person out by making them get more specific did I?

So, when DO you use the Meta-Model? When someone’s deletions, generalizations, and distortions are not helping them or you.

For example, a customer says “No one buys used cars from Ford anymore.” You COULD say, “Who specifically do you mean when you say no one?”

This kind of questioning makes people re-consider their maps.


I make it real simple. When someone says something that is coming from a map that is restricted and does not allow them the perspective they need on a situation I simply ask questions and here’s some examples to try out:

  • “I can’t learn math” – What would happen if you did⁄didn’t learn math? (Gets the person to look at what they think is possible more closely.)
  • “That’s not important”- According to whom? (Gets the person to search for the reference for this value judgement and from there they can evaluate whether it’s useful or not- with a little help from you.)
  • “Nobody loves me” – Who specifically doesn’t love you? (Gets them to define a real reference point and then you can go from there. Many times people will take an isolated situation and generalize it across their whole life. So, if one specific person dislikes them- they think EVERYONE dislikes them.)
  • “I’ll be better off if I don’t buy this car” – Better off according to what standard? (This gets them to look at their comparisons)
  • “He really screwed me over” – How did he screw you over specifically? (This gets the person to truly define what they mean by the verb “screwed”)

Another effective way to use the Meta-Model is to ask these questions of yourself and then create a story thay illustrates that there are other options for the person involved.

The following chart is reprinted with permission from The User’s Manual For The Brain by Dr. L. Michael Hall and Bob Bodenhamer. NOTE: Below are two images which can be made larger by clicking on them.


The Milton Model is nearly the inverse of the Meta Model.

99% of the verbal “patterns” you hear from gurus are based entirely on the Milton Model. Its aim is the same- to increase choice and expand mental maps to increase flexibility.

The Milton Model was modeled after Milton Erickson, a brilliant conversational hypnotist. Hypnosis or trance involves a person having an inward focus.

If I tell you to think of a time where you met a certain person whom you really enjoyed being around and as you think of this person and as you read these words you allow a clear picture to form of that person, maybe hear their voice, smell their scent, you may begin to notice all those certain feelings you have, good feelings and YOU’RE UNCONSCIOUS knows how to make you have those good feelings anywhere. NOW, as you read this, YOU’RE UNCONSCIOUS can transfer those good feelings to LEARNING, really LEARNING this material. Because, FEELING GOOD, allows you to learn soooo much quicker. And I don’t know if you can begin to apply all you are learning from reading this right away or if you’ll just start using it when you’re finished reading. I do know that tonight you’ll sleep and dream and as you sleep and dream YOU’RE UNCONCIOUS NOW can begin to INTEGRATE all you’ve learned here and manifest new behaviors, new attitudes and new beliefs that will INCREASE YOUR FLEXIBILITY AND JOY. NOW, you can come back now.

Unfortunately, hypnotic language patterns don’t work all that well on paper. So, please, take the above paragraph with a grain of salt and a smile on your face.

Vagueness allows you to internally find references for the words I use. When I say a “certain person”, you’re mind searches it’s data banks for a certain person. The Milton Model occupies the conscious mind with words while the unconscious mind does all the work. The Milton Model taps the unconscious’s ability to use all your inherent resources and not be restricted to the conscious minds 7 +/- 2 bits of information. Read Patterns Of The Hypnotic Techniques Of Milton H. Erickson, M.D.

The use of hypnotic language, along with proper voice inflection and something called embedded commands CAN be very powerful and very persuasive.

The underlying theme in all this is that your unconscious mind can hear things and interpret things differently than your conscious mind can. Your unconscious mind looks for patterns. Your conscious mind listens to the words. In hypnosis and the meta-model you are almost doing a magic trick by keeping your conscious mind occupied while you are speaking directly to someone’s unconscious processes.



Tony Robbins calls it Neuro Associative Conditioning. You learned it in presupposition #17 (Humans have the ability to experience one trial learning). Pavlov rang his bells and dogs salivated. How do you feel when I say IRS Audit? What about that song that reminds you of that person you loved 10 years ago, when you hear it does it bring back all the feelings involved? We can associate anything with anything. Remember a time right before you purchased something that you really wanted. You know, when you walk into a store, or pick up the phone to dial into a catalog, or log onto that website and you just can’t wait to get it. Maybe you heard about it from a friend, read about it somewhere and it piqued your interest and curiosity to the point where NOW you just have to have it. See what you saw right before you bought it, Hear the words you told yourself (maybe “I gotta get this”), feel all those feelings. NOW, as you enjoy those feelings say these words in your mind “babink”. Again, “babink”. Very good. Now wait a minute or two and say “babink” in the same tone you did initially. Did it bring back any of those good feelings. If so, then you’ve successfully anchored the nonsense word “babink” to those good feelings.


See Presupposition #12. Reframing is one of the most extensively used techniques in NLP by Richard Bandler. Most comedy applies reframes. Your mind is heading down a road it’s been a million times and you expect it to continue that way. Then WHAM! A reframe redirects you.


As I said earlier, if you have enough rapport you can do almost anything. Most verbal patterns fail to work because A. the person didn’t create a context where the verbal pattern is appropriate and B. there wasn’t enough rapport. Rapport is gained by making a person feel you are like them. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can match their voice tone, tempo and breathing. You can mirror or match their body posture. You can match their beliefs. You can match their phrasing and their key words. The key to rapport is: you want to gain rapport rapidly- then you want to lead that person into your frame (context). People like what’s the same or similar and learn from what’s different.


As you read this last portion of the CRASH COURSE IN NLP, while you are sitting at your computer or reading this on the printed page you may begin to think to yourself “Doc Sulo has really made NLP simple to understand in his Crash Course”. And as you say that, and as you continue reading this and your mind processes the words, you can begin to feel good about all that you learned here. And as you feel good about that, you may feel a compelling urge to EMAIL Doc Sulo and ask him when part II is coming out, or not. It’s your choice.

To close, I do want to say that true learning never takes place if you just read something. True learning involves at least the three major rep systems (SEE HEAR FEEL). So, go ahead and allow all this to sink in and integrate as you sleep and dream tonight and tomorrow when you wake up you may begin to notice certain changes in the way you go about things. Some people even tell me their whole life changes with this material. Even so, it’s always good to have real life examples of people so you can SEE, HEAR AND FEEL NLP in action. So go ahead and go to a seminar hosted by an excellent trainer and incorporate this material into your life.

You also may want to read some of the books I suggested (and more) so here are a few you can pick up on Amazon…

Thanks for reading.

– Christopher Tomasulo

©2000-2012 Christopher Tomasulo. All rights reserved.


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About Christopher Tomasulo

At home Christopher Tomasulo is your average dad with three kids. However, here at Covert Comm he is known as “Doc Sulo” and he mind-warps crowds with a tiny flutter of his left hand. He clothespins ideas to unsuspecting gray matter. He speaks lemon-yellow words that splash into ear canals and squeeze themselves into refreshing influence lemonade. It has also been said he's half-way decent at making complex persuasion and influence techniques simple.
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4 Responses to NLP Crash Course

  1. Brian Downs says:

    This is the most powerful post I’ve ever read. Sales books cover pitches and closes, but never truly explain the meaning behind such tactics. It is eye-opening to finally see the inner workings of the human mind and why we make the choices we do. For anyone in leadership or sales, these persuasion secrets can be life changing! I will definately further my education in NLP. Thanks for the amazing post!

  2. I uhh, don’t want to email you but am compelled to…

    Sort of feel like my neuro has been linguistically programmed.

    Thank you for this awesome knowledge, good sir.

    Have a grand day.

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