Content in NLP is the details of a story. The history of the client.
In the NLP World, we give space to the story of life, but do not place much importance on it. We think it’s more important to find out how the story has been put together, the process of the story or content.
The difference between process and content…NLP is a process (not content) model. Content is the story, opinion, gossip or interpretation that colours much communication. Process is the means of handling ideas and matters in the world. As an example of the distinction between process and content, artists paint pictures. They use specific processes to apply colour to canvas to achieve the effects they want. The content of a picture may be anything from an image of a person to a tree or an abstract composition. A commissioned artwork requires the client to provide the content while the artist provides the process.
An important area of NLP is how we use our attention. We can discover this most simply by participating in live experiential exercises and learn to refine and harness our natural abilities. This is a totally process based activity.
Every person has their own style of speaking, their own unique way of choosing the words and phrases that make up their verbal communications. When you can ‘speak their language’, it allows you to connect with them at a deeper level. While there are many factors which influence the words people use, one of the most significant relates to which of their five senses. One of the most simple, yet powerful discoveries in the domain of NLP is the realisation that the way that a person is thinking is revealed in the language they use.
As you become more familiar with this process, some of the things people say will begin to leap out at you as opportunities to match their language preferences. You’ll notice yourself getting more clarity on the way people shift from one system to another, and start to get into harmony with other people more and more quickly.
The rep-systems and sensory words that someone is favouring from moment to moment are part of the process of their communication, while the subject they are talking about provides the content. People tend to be very focused on the content, and largely unaware of process… BUT… acting at the process level can have a powerful unconscious effect, such as establishing a deep sense of rapport – often a much more powerful effect than acting at the level of content can.
NLP Therapy can also be content free. This means the therapist can be effective without knowing about the problem in great detail. Clearly this is a major advantage of NLP over traditional therapies as people seeking therapy may be embarrassed about the idea of discussing personal issues one to one with a stranger. The very nature of NLP removes this hindrance.
John Grinder and Richard Bandler asked the question “What are the differences that make the difference?”. They chose at that time to use psycho-therapeutic change as the context for their work, investigating the genius of Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson. Virginia Satir herself was amazed by receiving a description of how she worked. “What Richard Bandler and John Grinder have done is to watch the process of change over a time and distil from it the patterns of the how process.” These patterns are the content.