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Complex Equivalence

A Complex Equivalence in NLP occurs when:

  1. you attach meaning to something specific and
  2. when two statements, one behavioral and one capability, are considered to mean the same. (See Meta Model).

Instead of the word; “meaning”, NLP uses the term “complex equivalence” – the total complex of things in the real world that are identified by the word in question in the subject’s linguistic model of the world.

The two best questions for discovering a person’s complex equivalences are:

  1. “How would you know when …?” and
  2. “What would be an example of …?”

Thinking that you understand the other person relates specifically to complex equivalence. Every time a person makes an utterance they are coming from their model of the world. Rarely do we have the same pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes or smells as another person. Try asking them what do they mean by “commitment” or what’s your perception of “commitment” or how do you represent “commitment. This is like asking them what their complex equivalent for commitment is. It is a person’s internal definition of a noun (concept) and is unique to each individual.

Complex equivalence draws an unrelated conclusion from an event to create a logic that “does not follow”.

For example:

“And now my secretary quit. I’ll be bankrupt by the end of the year!”
Challenge: “Are you telling me your fortune depended on your secretary’s employment?”

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