NLP Modelling Techniques

NLP Modelling

5 Powerful NLP NLP modelling techniques. Modelling is probably the most essential NLP skill.  Observing and learning how others achieve results makes it easy to suggest, try, and test different approaches to see what works for us. The testing part is essential. It’s only by testing our work that we’re able to improve.

NLP Modelling Techniques
NLP Modelling Techniques

Purpose of Modelling

  • Developing techniques to improve performance.
  • Modelling destructive behaviours is a way of knowing which strategies we need to avoid or change that behaviour.
  • Using modelling to understand or know someone better. The more we’re aware of the way our clients think, the easier it is to develop rapport.

There is a truism: if you want to find out something, simply ask and watch. Then add the steps, test and improve, and you’re on the way to becoming a good modeller.

NLP Modelling Video

In this video, NLP trainer Michael explains the key aspects of modelling.

NLP Techniques | Modeling

5 Powerful NLP modelling techniques.

1. Simply Ask

Sometimes we make life unnecessarily difficult. If you want to know how to do something, find some people who are good at that thing and ask them what they do.

The test is: Can we make it work for us?

If that doesn’t work, then move on to the approaches below.

2. Eliciting NLP Strategies

This uses the meta-model and strategy elicitation questions to identify the modality (sensory) sequence that leads to a result. In asking these questions, choice points become apparent, leading to surprisingly easy change.

The best way to become good at this is through the continual practice of meta-model and strategy elicitation questions. It really is about practice, practice, practice.

Valuable questions to elicit strategies include (they may be repeated several times):

“What happened before that?”

“What happened next?”

“What does that mean?”

“Tell me more?”

“How do you know?”

The approach lets us identify the triggers and anchors that give us keys to encourage or discourage specific behaviours.

Suggested Exercise

Chose a behaviour that you wish to change.

  1. Elicit the sequence you go through to achieve that behaviour.
  2. Identify the triggers that encourage the behaviour.
  3. Make small changes to the strategy to get a more beneficial result. For example, if we want to explore eating more healthily, we may have a trigger that when we see a chocolate trifle, we’re drawn to eat it. We want to change the result of the trigger and, for example, drink a glass of water instead.
  4. Future pace. Imagine that sometime in the future, when we see a trifle, we hesitate, smile and then drink a glass of water.
  5. Test. Purposely search out a trifle and see how easy it is to drink a glass of water instead of eating it.

3. Pure NLP Modelling

This is a form of ‘deep trance identification and has a similar structure to the ‘perceptual positions exercise.

  • Choose your success model – Select someone with skills you would like to explore and improve. It’s essential that you’ve seen them perform the activity you want to model in real life or on film or video. The more time you spend watching and listening to them in a neutral state, the better.
  • Imagine them performing. Sit comfortably, and imagine watching and listening to this person perform. Play a movie in your mind about their performance. Imagine yourself getting into rapport with them as they perform.
  • Imagine (in any way that makes sense to you) floating into their body. Replay the movie as them, let them do the work, but see, hear, and feel what they see, hear, and feel as you replay the movie.
  • Float back into your own body (again, in any way that makes sense to you). As you leave their body, take all the learning that’s useful to use now and/or at any appropriate time in the future. In your mind, replay the movie, with you as the leading actor exhibiting all the valuable attributes of your model.  
  • Repeat once or twice so that you feel comfortable with your performance.
  • Break state. For example, focus on the floor and notice the texture of the flooring, and then continue with whatever you want to do.
  • Find a safe environment and practice your new skill. Keep practising, and take in any helpful feedback.


4. Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels

Firstly, decide who you would like to model or what skills or capabilities you would like to develop.

Remember, NLP is about modelling the best – so set your sights high. Arrange a meeting.  You’ll be surprised who’ll see you if you come over as genuinely interested. And there are lots of others to see if they don’t.

Use a recorder and preferably arrange to see people in their offices – I have some very interesting recordings in bars and clubs – but the background noise blanks out the content!

And remember to listen – sometimes, questions that don’t make any sense to you get the best answers.

You’ve chosen someone because they’re good – so let them know, and keep any confidences that are important to them.

You might ask:

“You have a reputation for being good at ‘people networking. Are you happy that I ask you some questions about it?”

Mix and match the following question sets:


  • Where and when do you do it?


  • What specifically do you do?
  • If you were going to teach me to do it, what would you ask me to do?


  • What skills do you have that enable you to do this?
  • How did you learn how to do this?


  • What do you believe about yourself when you do this?
  • What do you believe about the person you’re doing this to?


  • Do you have a personal mission or vision when you’re doing this?

Other questions (optional),

  • How do you know that you’re good at this?
  • What emotional and physical state are you in when you do this?
  • What happened for you to be good at this?
  • What are you trying to achieve when you do this?
  • To summarise, what are the 1-3 most important aspects of this?
  • If you were me and wanted to get really good at this, what are the top two areas that you would focus on?
  • Who else do you recommend I talk to about this?

NOTE: When you have more experience in doing this – and the questions become automatic – you could choose to get into deep rapport with your subject and imagine what it would be like to actually ‘be’ your subject as they are describing what they do. This is a step towards ‘true’ NLP modelling.

5. Marshall Goldsmith’s Feedforward

Feed-forward is an approach developed by Marshall Goldsmith. It overcomes the challenge that, in normal circumstances, we’re not too keen to take or give feedback. For more, read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.

1. Pick one behaviour that, if you changed it, you would experience significant development in your life. For example, I want to be a better listener.

2. Describe this objective in a one-to-one dialogue with anyone. It could be your husband, kids, boss, best friend, or coworker. It could even be a stranger. The person you choose is irrelevant. He or she doesn’t have to be an expert on the subject. For example, you say, I want to be a better listener. Almost anyone in an organisation knows what this means. You don’t have to be an ‘expert’ to know what good listening means.

Likewise, the person doesn’t have to be an expert on you. If you’ve ever found yourself seated next to a perfect stranger and proceeded to engage in an earnest, heartfelt, and honest discussion of your problems with that stranger – or vice-versa – you know this is true.

Some of the most accurate advice comes from strangers. We are all human beings. We know what is true. And when a helpful idea comes along, we don’t care who the source is.

3. Ask that person for two suggestions for the future that might help you achieve a positive change.

If you’re talking to someone who knows you or has worked with you in the past, the only ground rule is that there can be no mention of the past. Everything is about the future.

For example, you say: “I want to be better at finding good clients. Please suggest two ideas that you might use to find new clients if you were in my position?”

The other person suggests: “First, I’d find an excuse to drop a note to all my previous clients asking them for a brief  ‘catch up’ session’. Second, I’d find six people who appeared to be good at attracting clients and ask them if they would share the approaches they used.”

4. Listen attentively to the suggestions. Take notes. Your only ground rule is that you are not allowed to judge, rate, or critique the suggestion in any way. You can’t even say something positive, such as, “That’s a good idea.” The only response you are permitted to say is, “Thank you.”

The idea is to be genuinely grateful for their effort and time. Be aware that some of the ideas that we might have initially dismissed actually turn out to be the most useful.

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The following section looks at how NLP can help us deal with everyday problems such as phobias.

KEY NLP Techniques Section Index

1: NLP Techniques
2: Affirmations
3: Amplify feelings
4: Bad memories (Dissolving)
5: Bad memories (Exploding)
6: Belief change
7: NLP Coaching
8: Perceptual positions
9: Fast phobia cure
10: Hypnosis and meditation and separately Free Hypnosis MP3s
11: Luck
12: Mental Rehearsal 
13: Metaprogrammes, Profiles and Preferences
14: Modelling
15: Progressive dissociation
16: Rapport
17: Self Compassion
18: Submodalities
19. Six step re-framing
20: Storytelling
21: States and anchors
22: Strategies
23. Swish
24: Timeline therapy
25: Visual Squash
26: Values
27: Summary