What is Modelling? The heart of NLP

Creating models of Exceptional Effectiveness;

 NLPMOD801 Perform NLP modelling to Capture Expertise: Unit 6 of
10250NAT Graduate Certificate in NLP

Introduction to the art of capturing, describing and transferring expertise and expert performance (modelling).

“Like the creative composer, some people are more gifted at living than others. They do have an effect on those around them, but the process stops there because there is no way of describing in technical terms just what it is they do, most of which is out of awareness. Some time in the future, a long time from now when culture is more completely explored, there will be the equivalent of musical scores that can be learned, each for a different type of man or woman in different types of jobs and relationships, for time space and play. We see people who are successful and happy today, who have jobs, which are rewarding and productive. What are the sets, isolates, and patterns that differentiate their lives from those of the less fortunate? We need to have a means for making life a little less haphazard and more enjoyable”.

Edward T. Hall (1959) The Silent Language

What is Modelling?

NLP modelling is the process of representing the patterns of organisation of the specific skills and results of excellence of an exemplar; first in one’s own system, then subsequently in a form which can be taught to other people. The evidence of successful modelling is when the modeller’s performance achieves similar results within the same context and time frame as that demonstrated by the exemplar. It requires an extended tacit modelling phase of unconsciously taking up the skill, followed by a period of use before a final a phase of building an explicit description for transfer to others. NLP modelling is the core activity of NLP and is the process that led to the applications of NLP that exist currently. The ability to work well with one’s unconscious is necessary for NLP modelling.

The world is filled with human beings manifesting an endless variety of behaviours and abilities.These human abilities are as diverse as the ability to negotiate effectively, tell a joke, empathize with others, manage a large group, compose music, write a book, pay bills promptly, be thrilled by an abstract painting, plan the future, learn from the past, or ease the fears of a child. , Every human being is a repository of abilities at which they are expert, or in our terms, an “exemplar.”

Is there a way to transfer the ability of an exemplar to someone who needs and wants that ability? The purpose of modelling is to enable us to answer this question with a confident “Yes.”

The fundamental presupposition of modelling, the act of creating models of exceptional effectiveness, is: Experience has patterns of organisation (structure).

Our experiences comprise various elements: patterns of behaviour, patterns of states, patterns of thinking, and the frames (beliefs or assumptions) within which those patterns occur. Differences in the quality of experiences are the direct results of differences in how these elements are organised. That is, your behaviour, what you are feeling, what you are thinking, the frames you are using, and the interactions of all these elements with each other, combine to give rise to your experience at a given moment in time. How you represent that array of content and the relationships between its elements constitutes the pattern of organisation (or structure) of the experience.

Within these structures we find the differences that distinguish someone who is adept at a skill set from someone who is not. In modelling, we are “mapping” out the underlying patterns of organisation of experience that make it possible for an exemplar to manifest his/her particular ability. If we organise our experience to match that of the exemplar, that pattern of organisation will enable us to manifest a similar level of ability..

Modelling, then, is the process of creating useful “maps” (descriptions of the patterns of organisation of experience) of human abilities.

Such maps are useful because they provide the frames to enable us to replicate the experiential structure that makes it possible for a person to manifest a particular ability. When we make that map our own, we can have the necessary experience naturally and on demand.

The Intention for Modelling

Modelling is a doorway into the vast storehouse of human experience and abilities, providing access to anyone willing to turn the key. For the individual who pursues modelling, this enables:

  • Access to an ever-widening range of new experiences and abilities.
  • An increasing ability to bring those same experiences and abilities to others.
  • A finer understanding of the patterns of organisation underlying unwanted experiences and behaviours so that you know precisely what to change in those experiences and behaviours.
  • Ever-increasing flexibility in your experience and responses.
  • A growing appreciation of the beauty to be found in the patterns of human experience and appreciating the “patterns that connect”.(Bateson)


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Capturing Expertise

Through advances in the cognitive sciences, primarily linguistics, cognitive psychology, cognitive philosophy and neuro-linguistic programming we now have a practical framework to capture and describe patterns of expertise and expert performance and thus can build and transfer models of high performance for any area of human endeavour.

Until these advances, it was very difficult to capture and create models of expertise and expert performance due to the fact that many of the key patterns were manifest as unconscious competencies. These competencies typically emerged through years of experience, facilitating the automation of basic patterns and the emergence of more complex and sophisticated patterning through time.

With advances in the social sciences the “sets, isolates, and patterns”, that Edward T. Hall described is now available. It no longer needs to take years for a person to develop expertise in their chosen area. Modelling creates the means for the capture and transfer of desired expertise.

The overall Modelling process involves the following stages:

Identify exemplars of the ability to be modelled;

  1. Using a know nothing (modelling) state to model the expert implicitly (unconsciously) until competent to obtain similar results in the same time frame as the model;
  2. Once the skill is reproduced in the modeller’s behaviour, after a period of unconsciously led practise with the skills, map out the patterns explicitly. When the patterns the modeller has identified in their own behaviour, have been described and made explicit, they have the choice of interviewing the model and comparing notes. The suggestions below constitute a content model which may or may not be helpful, depending on the skills modelled and the context. These suggestions apply to modelling in a business context;
  3. For each exemplar, gather information with respect to what and how s/he is thinking, feeling, believing and doing when manifesting the ability. (The Experiential Array and Belief Template are our information gathering tools.);
  4. Use contrast and comparison of examples to identify the essential structural patterns for each exemplar;
  5. Use contrast and comparison of exemplars to identify the essential patterns of organisation for the ability.

In modelling projects for performance improvement the modellers then design a training program to translate the key patterns to a wider group of individuals and even improve the modelled high performer/s.

Examples of Successful Modelling projects

Inspiritive consultants have completed a number of successful modelling projects designed to increase customer’s profit margins. These include modelling high performing contact centre consultants, salespeople, customer service staff, expert negotiators, senior leaders, front-line leaders, project managers, change managers, machine operators and market traders.

Modelled skills have been transferred via training and coaching to average and learner performers in the same role as the expert and significant increases in performance have been measured.

So how do we go about creating practical models of expertise and developing increased performance with staff within organisations? We start with the identification of high performing individuals in targeted roles and with the framework that any expert’s performance consists of organised patterns of attention, thinking and behaviour.

Patterns of Organisation of Expertise and Expert Performance

The sets, isolates and patterns that constitute expert performance we refer to as the patterns of personal organisation of the expert in the context where they perform.The model of expertise and expert performance is comprised of these sets, isolates and patterns.

The key components or isolates of the expert’s patterns of organisation can be described usefully in the following way:

  • Mindset: What are the frames, beliefs and values that inform the expert’s expertise?
  • Frameworks: What are the overall frameworks (TOTEs) for the capability?
  • Linguistic Patterns: What are the key language patterns used by expert each stage of the framework?
  • Non-verbal Behaviour: What are the key patterns used in the high performing expert’s non-verbal or paralinguistic behaviour in communicating to others at each stage of the framework?
  • States/Emotions: What are the patterns of organisation for the expert’s performance state when performing?
  • Managing State: How does the expert manage their emotions to maintain a high performance state and overall performance?

Once we have a model of expertise the next step is considering the best way to transfer that skill to other people in the same role.

Training in Modelling to enable Capture of Expertise

It is suggested that the training program be organised into the following;

  • Training and coaching to develop an appropriate high performance state for performance of modelling. This will include development of mindset frames suited to modelling.
  • Training in formats for self-management of high performance modelling states.
  • Training in post-modelling self-editing routines for bootstrapping performance through time.
  • Training in clean-up routines for any emotion/state problems or loss of modelling states that may have occurred during modelling .

“The pattern of organisation of any system, living or non-living, is the configuration of the relationships among the systems components that determines the system’s essential characteristics”

– Fritjof Capra The Web of Life p.98

In the Modelling Unit of the Grad Cert NLP, participants will learn what modelling is, how it works and all the necessary preparation to be able to model an expert successfully. The first day of the program we shall create high performance modelling states and learn to enter and leave them quickly and smoothly. The states will be tested for durability in the face of disturbances and participants will learn to upgrade and refine their modelling states in response to feedback from their own systems and the context. By the end of the first day, participants will be ready to engage in modelling a live expert and or video demonstrations of an expert performing a skill.

Days two to five will include ample opportunity to model skills from one or more experts and to test developing skill levels with practical exercises between modelling sessions. Participants will have the opportunity to refine and upgrade their modelling states as and when necessary.

The intention of this unit is to learn to model so that in future, participants will have the discernment to choose expert models of their own, the freedom to choose the skills they want to model and the ability to model unassisted. Modelling material of one’s own choice lends itself to the process as the quality of attention brought to something inherently fascinating is congruent with modelling states.

We do our best to provide interesting content for learning to model, subject to the availability of experts and the practicality of the skill set for performance in a training context. Modelling material of someone else’s choice provides the opportunity to perfect one’s skills to a level where taking paid modelling projects is viable, as the content of such projects is often different from skills one would choose for oneself.

In class, guest models often have a teaching or coaching function in their own right. This provides the opportunity for participants to work within more than one frame at any given time. The overall context is Unit 6 of the Grad Cert NLP, the Modelling Unit. The intention is to learn to model. The expert model is present to demonstrate their skills for the class to model. If the expert requires a volunteer student or client in order to demonstrate their skills, that volunteer may take full advantage of the skills offered by the model for the duration of their session or lesson. Outside the frame of being a volunteer for a specified activity, the frame for participants is that of being students of modelling. If the content is fascinating, that is a bonus to flag for future exploration.

Financing Options available for this qualification

We have a number of financing options available for this program including loans and payment plans. If you require financing for the Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming either contact us (through the contact us button at the bottom of this page) to discuss financing options or you can apply for finance online by following the link to the two providers below.



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