Robert Dilts : ”Flexibility comes from having multiple choices – Wisdom comes from having multiple perspectives”
Let’s start with definition of the ”Neurological Levels” – They are tool which allows people to analyse their lives and situations in our daily life through different perspectives. These Neurological levels concept derives from the Neurolinguistic Programming model (NLP) and it can facilitate and help us significantly to hear language used by our self-talk and others and then to apply the model to discover where the initial problems are being constructed within ourselves and others.
There are six logical levels and each of them represent a different point of view which is also connected to the other levels and they are arranged in a hierarchy of importance.
For many of us, the logical levels work outside of our conscious and they have a huge impact on the quality of our lives such as that every goal we want to achieve or to sort out a problem lies within one of those logical levels. Once we understand this model we can use it to understand where our problem standing and use different thinking levels in order to solve it. Sometimes the words that we speak are not really who we are. We have modelled our use of language from others and so may not be skilled in the use of language to communicate precisely who we are. We may for example try to say that we are not able to do something but in fact what we mean is that we are not confident enough at it. In this case, the feedback we will get is someone showing us how to do it – something which we already know – and then feel humiliated and not helped. Being aware of the Neurological Levels will help us to identify exactly from which level we are communicating and whether it is that level that we want to communicate from. It also helps us to respond appropriately to others: it will help us to see from which level the other is communicating and respond accordingly thus facilitating communication, making the other feel understood and helped and maintaining / establishing rapport. Apart from being important in interpersonal communication it is also important in intrapersonal communication. When I am aware and can discern from which level I am communicating something with self, I may address it in the right way.
The Logical Levels provide a structured way of understanding what’s going on in any system including the human personality, a partnership or marriage, a family, a team, a department, or even an organisation. We can use the model to recognise how the various levels interact and how they are related. And it provides a means of ; asking for, and verifying the relevance of, information, keeping track, in a highly structured manner, of the huge amount of information is often available when discussing an issue; recognising at which level a problem is occurring; recognising the most appropriate level at which to target the solution. Let me take the example given above – if I say ”I am not able to do learn X language ” than, I may read and try to learn more how to do it. However, the statement is at belief level and it means that a person is obviously confident is using such skill, hence, I need to target more is about building of my confidence, getting rid of fears and insecurities, rather than skill-based knowledge. Furthermore, realising what neurological level I am thinking on, can help me also in my relationships with others, whether subordinates, colleagues, friends or clients. I may have a tendency to speak form identity level saying “that person is not polite or arrogant ”. By doing so I will be cutting off the individual – generalising, deleting and distorting information to conform to that identity statement. Consequently, the behaviour is not what the person is – a person’s behaviour is not his/her identity – this really had an impact on me. Though I knew this before (theoretically so to say) it had never stuck me so clearly as when I listened to you speaking about is in the context of the neurological levels. I am training myself not to go from a lower level up i.e. for example form a behaviour inferring an identity. The same pattern can be applied in organisations too – both in training as well as in managing and motivating people. The importance of being aware not to label people from an identity level – saying for example, this person is stupid, …. Instead of doing so one has to analyse the language the person is using and see at what level is the difficulty – maybe the person does not feel valued or the person feels excluded in decision making thus rendering them to become critical and demotivated.
There are six logical levels and when the different levels of thinking are in congruence with each other, the person is experiencing a meaningful and purposeful life. Listening to the language that people use when they start to complain about a situation, we can realise at what level of the logical levels of change to pay attention too and to meet the need at the right level to get them back on track. Changing something on a lower logical level of the hierarchy could, but would not necessarily affect the levels above it. However,making a change at an upper level would necessarily change everything below it in order to support the higher level change, so it is necessary to work at the level above the one we are trying to influence for success. If you make a change at a lower level but the problem is at a higher NLP logical level then the change is not likely to last.
The levels are visualized in a pyramid, from the basic and superficial at the bottom to the deepest and significant at the top. Although, a change in any of those levels can be impactful and affect the other levels. Still, the higher the level which changes happen in, usually the change is bigger.
The six levels are:
Environment –Our surroundings, the people around us and places we go and work in etc. that we are interacting with, and responding to.
Behaviour –What we do and say, Our external behaviours which may include, for example, what an observer would see or hear or feel when they are engaged in a particular activity.
Capability & Skills –Whether or not we have instinctive capabilities and/or learned skills for dealing appropriately with issues, and what qualities and strategies we use.
Beliefs & Values –Our emotionally held views, whether we believe something is possible or impossible, whether we believe it is necessary or unnecessary, whether or not we feel motivated about it.
Identity –How we think of ourselves, our self esteem, our sense of self, and our unique value. This can include identifying with our job, marriage, religion, etc. it can also include how we interpret events in terms of our own self-worth.
Mission and Purpose in Life or Your Spirituality –Referring to the larger system of which we are part. Where are we going with our life? With which people? and what contribution to the world we intend on making. I used the Neurological Levels of Change as an exercise with myself, looking at my own lack of motivation in organising a family holiday. I worked through the concept from environment up to mission. I discovered that what I had thought was a behaviour level issue was in fact to do with identity and a clash between how I see myself and how (I believe) the rest of the family see me.
By being consciously aware of what we say is a huge benefactor in enabling people to be the best they can be. The results we get from people are heavily influenced by what we say based on the language being linguistically coded. What is important to understand is how the use of words in the sentences we shape can impact the results we want to achieve. The words we use enable choice and flexibility to progress and move forward in both life and the choices we make.
Our attitudes, memories, decisions and values are all described through our language, there for the way we use the language when we communicate with both our self and other can either be limiting or enabling. Through language we express ourselves in three way, speaking, writing, and gestures.
As we listen to language it is important to understand what level people are communicating at, if someone is off track or lacks engagement when conversing with you, by listening to their response you can determine how you should respond and what level of language is required to get the person back on track. Everybody has their own neurological needs model and it is important to understand what level they are thinking at to enable the change you want to see.
If I am communicating something I don’t believe in, then the chances are this will be reflected through the words I used, my tonality and physiology the results of which will be seen by the audience who will instinctively be able to identify my true feelings and emotions by the way in which I have communicated.
When people speak, you are able to identify what level of language they are communicating at, therefore it is this recognition that will enable me to engage this individual once I have understood where their language is coming from. Language is great because it enables you to recognise at what level they are communicating at. When people speak to you and by listening to what they say you are able to identify the structure of how they are creating the language and where it is being formed i.e., identity, beliefs & values, capabilities, behaviour, environment. Once you have recognised where it is coming from, you can then construct the language in which your reply to focus in on that very element that it preventing them from moving forward. If you concentrate on the structure of what is being said as opposed to the problems, then you can focus your attention on the way you should response in line with the way it is being shaped.
If you pay attention to the person you are able to listen to how their response is being constructed. If you can find out linguistically how it has been built, then you can start to build a solution using the same framework they are using in their language. If you listen to what is being said and pay attention to the words used then you can structure your language and reply in the same pathway they are using to vocalise their feelings or emotions. By finding out linguistically how they have built the problem, you can then start to unpack it using the same pathway they have used in order to overcome the way they feel about it. If you respond using a different pathway then the chances of the individual being able to move forward are limited as a result of differences in the way the language is being formed.
When communicating with someone who lacks understanding or is unsure about the change being presented, you can identify the trigger in their language by just listening. If you can understand the individual and understand how they are thinking, you can then begin to build a way forward based on the fact that you are able to focus on the very thing that is causing the problem. You will then change your language pattern to match the individual to ensure rapport, connection and understanding, however if they communicate using beliefs and you respond using a different language pattern, then you have not identified the true course of the problems and where it is being constructed from. Our choice of words is key to discovering what the internal landscape of our minds and bodies is made up of. To benefit yourself, you can be aware of the words that you use in your self-talk and to others. By asking yourself key questions, you can identify the meaning you give to the words you use as well as to detect the words you use structure whereby you can discover where problems are being expressed through your use of language. Similarly you can assess the language used by others to express their problems.
Hence, play with this tool and explore where do you stand and what needs to be changes.