NLP Dictionary

We have a compiled a reference dictionary for a large number of terms that you will find in NLP.


A practical description of how something or someone works, thinks, acts. Usually a generalized, deleted or distorted copy.


Modelling is the process of adopting the behaviors, beliefs, physiology and thought processes of one or more people in order to achieve their behavioral outcome. In other words, modelling is a way to achieve the success of others by replicating their way of doing things.

Meta Model

A model used in NLP for identifying language patterns that obscure meaning in a communication through the brain’s processes of distortion, deletion and generalization. The Meta Model is comprised of a series of questions that help to clarify and change imprecise language to connect it back to sensory experience and the deep structure.


Another model used in NLP which can be considered the opposite of the Meta Model because of its usage of subtle and vague language patterns which have the purpose of pacing a person’s experience and facilitating access to the unconscious.


Rapport or empathy is the ability to relate to others by understanding another person’s model of the world. Creating rapport means establishing a relationship of trust and responsiveness. NLP teaches a number of techniques for establishing rapport. There are two factors at play in one’s ability to establish rapport: the degree to which you can perceive other people’s body postures, breathing, voice and speech patterns and your individual skill as to successfully matching those behaviors.


In NLP, rapport is established by pacing. Pacing means matching or mirroring another person’s behavior. Like creates like. Body posture (whole body or body parts), breathing (chest, abdomen or stomach, intensity), voice (tonality, pitch, volume, speed, rhythm), beliefs and language patterns (power words) can all be matched in order to establish rapport. We match other people’s behavior on a constant basis. Matching is not the same as mimicry, which is exaggerated, obvious and sometimes even offensive.


Changing your own behaviors once enough rapport has been established in order for the other person to follow.

Representational system

The way by which we take in, store and code information in our minds is called a representational system. There are five types of representational systems: seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), feeling (kinesthetic), tasting (gustatory) and smelling (olfactory). A representational system can be used externally (the visual for example, when we are looking at an object in nature) and internally (when visualizing).

Preferred representational system

The representational system that a person uses on a constant basis to structure information and describe experiences. Put more simply, this is the system we use most when thinking and talking about our experiences.

Lead representational system

The representational system that a person uses for information input. The lead representational system is also sometimes called the input system: this is the primary way for information to reach the brain and acts like a start-up program for the brain. A lead system can be different from the preferred representational system.


The component elements, distinctions within a representational system. Qualities of our internal representations. The Legos of our thoughts and feelings. For example, a sound can be loud or quiet, an image can be bright or dim, a smell can be intense or neutral and so on. The most common submodality distinctions for the visual, auditory and kinesthetic representational systems are:


Associated (seen through own eyes), or dissociated (looking on at self)
Colour or black and white
Framed or unbounded
Depth (two or three dimensional)
Location (e.g, to left or right, up or down)
Distance of self from picture
Clarity (blurred or focused)
Movement (like a film or a slide show)
Speed (faster or slower than usual)
Number (split screen or multiple images)


Stereo or mono
Words or sounds
Volume (loud or soft)
Tone (soft or harsh)
Timbre (fullness of sound)
Location of sound
Distance from sound source
Continuous or discontinuous
Speed (faster or slower than usual)
Clarity (clear or muffled)


Pressure (hard or soft)
Extent (how big)
Texture (rough or smooth)
Weight (light or heavy)
Duration (how long it lasts)


An immediate and unconscious overlap of two or more representational systems. Music can conjure feelings (kinesthetic), certain words can conjure images, certain colors can induce moods and so on. A person’s strongest synesthesia pattern is often defined by their lead to preferred system.

Eye Accessing Cues

The movements of a person’s eye that indicate the representational system currently in use.


The process of guiding a person into a particular state. Elicitation happens everyday under a different label. The quickest way to elicit an emotional state from a person is to ask them to recall a past event when he/she felt a particular emotion.


The skill of identifying the current state of a person, both by verbal and non-verbal cues. We are calibrating most of the time, even if unconsciously.


A stimulus that is linked to and triggers a specific physiological state. Almost everything can be a trigger: a familiar tune (auditory anchor), a picture (visual anchor), a slight pressure on your ring-finger (kinesthetic anchor), a smell (olfactory) and so on.


In NLP a resource is considered anything that can be used to achieve an outcome: body posture, states, thoughts, strategies, experiences, events, possessions and even people.

Resource state

A desirable response to a certain situation. This can be a specific ability, an attitude, behavior, mood, perspective — anything that is useful in a specific context.

Future pacing

Experiencing and rehearsing a situation prior to it happening so that a desired behavior or set of behaviors becomes linked and triggered when the appropriate cues appear. Using your imagination to step into the future with a certain behavior or attitude in order to change how you want to act then.

New behavior generator

A specific NLP technique for creating a desired behavior or changing and improving an existing one.

Failure to Feedback

A NLP technique for changing the perspective of failure as feedback for helping you achieve a goal.

Perceptual filter

An attitude, perspective, bias, assumption, presupposition or point of view about an object, person or situation. The perceptual filter “colors” all information about the object.

First position (“self”)

First position or “self” is the perspective of experiencing the world through your body and being associated with yourself. “How do I feel/see about this?” is a first position question.

Second position (“other”)

The perspective of someone else or “other”. When taking second position we take on the perspective of another person as well as their characteristics, personal history and so on. “How would this look to them?” is a question for accessing the second position.

Third position (“observer”)

A perspective that is dissociated from yourself from which you can look at yourself and others without any personal involvement. “How would this look to someone who is not involved?”


A state of being, mood, condition of body/mind response experienced in a particular moment.

Break state

To dramatically change one’s or another’s state. Usually used to take someone out of an unpleasant state.


In NLP, framing is the process by which we put things into context to attribute meaning.


In NLP, reframing is the process of changing a person’s specific perspective in regards to a specific object, person, behavior or event in order to obtain a different response.

“As-if” frame

Thinking of an event as if it had already happened in order to stimulate creative problem-solving by accessing resources that would remain hidden.

Change Personal History

A NLP technique for changing the meaning of past experiences in order to change their effect on current behavior.


A state of alertness where your attention is turned to the exterior and the senses.


A state of light trance where your attention is turned inwards to your own thoughts and feelings.


The relationship between one being and its environment. When working with NLP techniques, it is required to take into account the internal ecology of a person: the relationship of a person with his/her thoughts, strategies, behaviors, capabilities, beliefs and values. A dynamic balance of elements in a given system.

Logical level

The relationship between one level with another. The level which contains another will be the higher one.

Cross-over mirroring

Matching another person’s body language with another type of movement, e.g. accelerating your speech rhythm to their fidgeting.