NLP Language Patterns

Distortion - NLP secret

Distortion Generally

NLP language patterns in the Meta Model consist principally of deletion, distortion and generalisations

Distortion twists the truth in that the speaker draws conclusions or makes assumptions. 

By his statement he appears to know the truth about what another person or other people think, feel or believe.

The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth


It is easy for someone to believe that his or her distorted belief is the truth rather than one’s own perception because they have compared it with their own map of the world and decided it is so.

I have argued with opposing counsel and judges in court on many occasions, each of us asserting that a witness has said this, that or the other.

When the record has been checked with the court stenographer, it is quite apparent that each of us has interpreted the witness’s words differently, that is to say against our internal map of events.

Mind Reading

Mind reading often causes considerable pain and distress to the individual in personal, social or business situations. We have probably all been guilty of it at some time or another. We believe we know what someone else is thinking.

“I know he hates me”

Questions to ask: How do you know he hates you?

The answer to that might be: “Because he doesn’t call me any more.”

Questions to ask: Why does it follow that he hates you because he doesn’t call you any more?

NLP Language Patterns – Lost Performative

A lost performative occurs when a value judgment is made without saying who made the judgment:

Sensible people agree that all children should dress smartly”

Questions to ask: Sensible according to whom? How do you know they are sensible? How do you know children should dress smartly?


NLP Language Patterns – Nominalisation

Nominalisation occurs when a verb is made into a noun which makes it appear like a thing rather than an action:

“We need more communication”

Questions to ask: How would you know if you had it? What does it look like? How does it feel? (A better statement would have been “We need to be able to communicate more effectively).

NLP Language Patterns – Cause and Effect

The use of such words as: because, if, then, makes, drives, compels, causes.

It is believed that a specific action will cause a particular effect. It is believed that X causes Y and the events are in some way joined together. It is believed that one person’s actions are the sole cause of another’s response or reaction. For example, “The way he looks at me drives me wild.”

Questions to ask: How exactly does the way he looks at you drive you wild? What happens when he looks at you that drives you wild?

“I was going to speak up but I knew that it wouldn’t make any difference.”

Questions to ask: Wouldn’t have made any difference to what? How do you know that speaking up wouldn’t have made any difference? Why would speaking up not have made any difference?

“Your comments made me upset.”

Questions to ask: How exactly did what I say make you feel upset?

NLP Language Patterns – Complex Equivalence

The use of words such as: means, therefore, implies.

This is when two statements are joined or linked thereby giving them the same meaning.

“His letter was so short, he must be angry with me.”

Questions to ask: How does writing a short letter indicate he is angry with you? What other explanations might there be for writing a short letter?

“She didn’t wave to me when I saw her across the street this morning so she is ignoring me.”

Questions to ask: How does not waving indicate that she was ignoring you? What other explanations might there be for not waving? How exactly is not waving connected to ignoring you?

NLP Language Patterns – Presuppositions

They presuppose that something is true in order to understand the sentence.

“How many times did you beat your wife last night?”

Questions to ask: What makes you think I am married? How do you know I was with my wife last night? What makes you think I beat my wife at all?

“Shall we meet at your place or mine?”

Questions to ask: Do we need to meet at all? Do you have a place? What makes you think we should meet at one of those places and not somewhere else?

If you have not done so already, now would be a good time to read about the Meta Model, Deletion and Generalisation.

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