In this short series we’ll be exploring various aspects of neurolinguistic programming starting with ‘the map is not the territory’.

What is neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and why is it relevant?

NLP is an approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California in the 1970s.

It is based on the idea that there is a connection between the neurological processes, language and behavioural patterns that we learn through experience.

NLP can be used to achieve specific goals by raising self-awareness and changing these established patterns.

The map is not the territory

This rather curious phrase was originally coined by the scholar Alfred Korzybski in the 1930s. However, in the context of NLP it has a straightforward meaning:

The ‘map’ is the way we see the world (the territory). It is subjective and therefore everyone sees and interprets things differently based on their own life experiences, perspectives and beliefs.

The ‘territory’ is objective reality: how things actually are in the world. This can be very different to our individual perceptions.

“Gaining an understanding of the disconnect that exists between individual perception and external reality can be invaluable in improving everyday communications in the workplace, reducing conflict and promoting greater understanding,” says Austin Wedge, Impellus Leadership, Management & Commercial Skills Trainer.

“Someone else’s map of the world may not make sense to you (and yours may not make sense to them). However, gaining insights into why they think as they do will make a big difference to your ability to communicate, influence and build positive working relationships.”

You may find useful

Neurolinguistic programming is explored in our Effective Communication Skills course. You will find out how your conscious and subconscious behaviours, actions and communication methods affect and influence others and how to use this knowledge to achieve a positive response from your team.