Visualizing in NLP

Occasionally I get a client who says he or she cannot make pictures when I suggest they imagine something. THis is particularly difficult with time line work when I ask people rise up above where ther are sitting and see themselves down below or to look back into the past and make sure it is a straight line and to check if there are any dark spots along the way. NLP processes are heavily weighted toward people who are Visual modality processors. A common response might be, “When I try to see into the past, it just goes black.” Or “It so dim I can’t make it out very well.”

I have some ideas and the question is what do you do when you run up against this?

One idea I have is: These are most likely to be people who are primarily Auditory. So, I ask them to “just make up a story to go along with the suggestions I am giving.” About half of the people will take a breath, relax, and just do it that way.

Some people are mismatchers and need to mismatch information. If I tell them to visualize, they do something else. Once a ‘mismatcher’ has made the decision they can’t visualize, it gets more difficult because they are likely to dig their heals in more deeply and continue to get the results. Better to give them something to mismatch. Use negatives. “You don’t not want to choose not to see in your mind’s eye what I am suggesting now, don’t you? Don’t close your eyes and imagine too quickly now, won’t you?

Another possibility is the symbolism or metaphor of ‘goes black’. I might wonder about how my client is representing ‘goes black’ and what that might mean. Number one, it is a visual. Number two, it might be connected to avoiding an unresourceful emotional content.

What are ways you might think of now to deal with client who have difficulty visualizing?

One thought on “Visualizing in NLP

  1. Chris Harrison

    If I ask someone to visualize something and they say they can’t I usually ask them, what would it be like if you could.

    If someone says they don’t visualize at all then I ask them what colour their front door is, then when they answer, how do you know? Another idea would be to ask them to give you directions.

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