NLP Perceptual Positions - what are they and what can you do with them?


In NLP, Perceptual Positions are points of view. There are usually 3 NLP perceptual positions, but some people use a 4th. The Standard 3 positions are:

These Positions each refer to a specific internal representation of an event, using as many senses (or modalities) appropriate. The difference between the positions is due to the persons who's point of view you are representing. These are defined as:

First Position

Visualizing a situation through your own eyes.

Second Position

Visualizing a situation from the point of view of the person who you are interacting with.

Third Position

Visualizing a situation as if viewing from the outside.

Using Perceptual Positions

Perceptual Positions are often used in NLP to deal with issues such as Mind Reading, which is one of the Meta Model Patterns. For instance: Imagine a time when you had an interaction with someone else in which you thought you came across badly, or a situation where you don't understand someone else's reaction.

Now remember that experience and run it through in your mind viewing the experience from your own point of view (First Position). Once you are finished, run through the experience again, but this time view it through the eyes of the person you were interacting with (second position), so that you can see and hear yourself. Notice how different the experience feels from that perspective. Finally run the experience through from third position. In this instance you are outside of the experience watching and hearing both people. Notice how different that feels.

The aim with perceptual positions is to use each position to learn something new about an experience.

As well as going over past experiences, you can also use NLP perceptual positions to help plan an interaction - to play through in your mind how you plan to deal with someone and then explore the different views.

NLP Perceptual Positions also relate to disassociation, in that you are viewing an experience from another view point other than your associated self.

As with most NLP techniques, you more you experiment with perceptual positions the more you will learn and develop your NLP skills.