NLP is a model of how we communicate with ourselves and others based on the information we receive from the external world. Each person will interpret and experience the this differently according to our internal filters

As human beings when we receive this information when will do the following automatically:

  1. Deletion

Deletion occurs when we selectively pay attention to specific aspects of our experience and not others. We may even overlook or omit others. Without deletion, the human psyche would be faced with way too much information. The concept of deletion helps us cope in a world where we are constantly overloaded with information.

2. Distortion

Distortion occurs when we misrepresent reality by making a shift in our experience of sensory data. In Indian philosophy, there is a well-known story of distortion with the rope and snake analogy. In the story, a man is walking along the road when he sees what he thinks is a snake. Upon further inspection, he realises it is really only a piece of rope

3. Generalization

Finally, comes the idea of generalisation. This occurs when we form a global conclusion based on only one or two experiences. You may even know someone who has one experience and forms an opinion about all similar experiences? 

Generalisation is one of the ways in which we learn. We take in information and draw broad overall conclusions about the meaning.

So, the real question is, when two people have the same stimulus, why do they not have the same response? The answer is because we delete, distort, and generalise the information from the outside that comes in from our senses based on one of five filters. The filters of the NLP communication model are:

  1. Meta programs
  2. Belief systems
  3. Values
  4. Decisions
  5. Memories


The first of the NLP filters is something known as the Meta program. Knowing someone’s Meta program can help you clearly and closely predict people’s states, and therefore predict their actions and behaviours. One important thing to note about Meta programs is they are not good or bad; they are just the way someone handles information.


The next filter is beliefs. Beliefs are those generalisations about how the world is. Beliefs are the assumptions that we have about the way the world is that either create or deny personal power to us.


Values are what people typically move toward or away from. They are basically our attractions or repulsions in life. They are our deep, unconscious belief systems about what’s important, and our values can change with context too.


The fifth filter is the decisions that we have made in the past. Decisions may create new beliefs or they may just affect our perceptions through time. The problem with many decisions is that they were either made either unconsciously or at a very early age and are forgotten. However, the effect is still there.


The fourth filter is our memories. In fact, a number of psychologists say that the present plays a very small part in our behaviour. Some psychologists believe that as we get older, our reactions in the present are more and more just reactions to gestalts or collections of memories that are organised in a certain way of past memories.

‘To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.’ ~ Tony Robnins Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement.