NLP Techniques: Checking Ecology

Submitted by Craig on Tue, 04/25/2017 - 01:16

The Idea:

In doing change work that is NLP, it is critical before implementing any change that the change itself be ecological. We like to say don't fix what ain't broken. This is true in NLP and is common sense in life. Making a change can end up to be disastrous if we don't take time to step back and evaluate the impact of the change before making it. So in NLP we stress ecological checks before installing any new program.

An ecological check means stepping back from the proposed change to think about it in a disassociated way. We evaluate the future as though the change were made to see if there are any negative, harmful, or unnecessarily expensive results caused by its implementation. This gives us an opportunity to debug the new program before it is ever installed.

Whenever we engineer anything for human use, whether it be a new bridge, new biotechnology, a new software system, it is critical that we perform the necessary functional and stress testing before we put that new program into production. Neuro-linguistic programming is no different. We check to make sure that the program performs the desired function in the desired context, and it that it performs well.

A simple neuro-linguistic program that is designed to solve a specific persistent problem, such as allergies, can be tested against the introduction of an allergen, and then you'll know whether program will stand up in real life. In contrast, a more complex neuro-linguistic program that is designed to help someone change it deep-seated metaprogram requires more thorough testing in more contexts and more possible kinds of stresses before that program can be six should be installed. For example, moving from a victim mentality to an absolutely confident mentality needs to be tested in a variety of contexts where confidence will be required.

As we debug the new neuro-linguistic program we check for certain things:

  • Conflicting Outcomes: Does this program interfere with other programs?
  • Loss of Present Benefit: Does the new program take away any currently available choices?
  • Bad Fit: Does this program address the presenting problem or goal, or something else?
  • Incongruence within the Person Making the Change: Is there any part within the person that disagrees or may sabotage the new program?
  • Possible New Problems: Does the new program create new problems which significantly offset the new gains?
  • Unfulfilled Needs: are there any other gains to be had which are not addressed in the new program?

The Pattern:

NLP Ecology Check

1. Invite the person to take a step back

  • Think about the new program in the future in a disassociated way
  • As you think about the new program, feeling, state, belief or decision, is it ecological?
  • As you think about the new program, do you feel that it is life enhancing?

2. Invite a higher level evaluation

  • As you implement this new choice, will it serve you well?
  • Does every part of you find it useful?
  • Is there any part of you that would object to it?
  • What are the new choices or limitations brought about by this new way of being or operating?

3. Step back further to evaluate your criteria for checking ecology

  • What standards do you use to make this evaluation?
  • Are the standards suitable for the kind of change you want to make?
  • Are the criteria of your standards properly weighted?

4. Explore the Cartesian Coordinates

  • If I make this change, what will happen?
  • If I make this change, what won't happen?
  • If I don't make this change, what will happen?
  • If I don't make this change, what won't happen?

When to Use This Pattern:

Use this pattern in all kinds of change in your life and with clients. Use this in project planning, software engineering, organizational engineering, and human engineering. Good NLP patterns ALWAYS include ecology check. If any program proves to be un-ecological, stop while you are in the development phase and modify the program before you install it.


Richard Bandler, John Grinder, Michael Hall, and others.