NLP Perceptual Positions

You have probably heard of the saying “Before criticizing someone, try walking a mile in his shoes.” This saying reminds us that we cannot really understand what our listeners truly feel until we are able to bring ourselves to the point of feeling what they feel, seeing what they see and hearing what they hear. The example given here is a limited example of the Second Person Perspective which is just one out of the five perspectives that are taught and practiced in NLP.

So What Does NLP Perceptual Position Mean?

It is the skill of adopting more points of view than just your own in an organised and experientially rich way. It helps you to understand the thoughts or predicaments of others by viewing situations through their own eyes. Perceptual position has proven to be a profound contribution to the understanding of the human mind and how it operates.

There are three recognised NLP perceptual positions and they include:

First Perceptual Position:
In this position, you are basically looking at the world from your own perspective. You see things from your point of view, through your own eyes. At this position, you are principally concerned about the effect of the situation on yourself. You are not taking anyone else’s point of view into account.

Second Perceptual Position:
In this position, you are imagining what it’s like to be another person. You are trying to grasp their concerns, perspective and needs. Some people are naturally like this, while for others, it will have to be learnt. In this position, your concern is how it would feel, sound and look to another person. This perception is important because it is easier for you to appreciate others reality when you can establish a stronger rapport with them. 

Third Position or Meta Position: 
This position involves observing the system or feedback loop that exists between the first and second positions from a dissociated position. In this position, you are basically seeing the world like an independent observer with an outside outlook to the world around. For you to assume the third position effectively, you have to assume that you have no personal involvement whatsoever with the situation. It is also called the meta position. Meta is a Greek word for above or higher. The chief consideration here is you are trying to see how the prevailing situation will seem to an outsider who is not involved.

The three positions above are the commonly recognised ones. The other two are less common and they are the fourth position and the fifth position.

The fourth position is all about observing the 3rd position while it relates to the people it’s observing. The fifth position has to do with you observing yourself while you observe these other positions.

What are the Benefits of NLP Perceptual Positions?

The benefit of mastering Perceptual positions are anchored on the fact that you are able to look at an event from different points of reference. The benefits include:

NLP Perceptual positions has the advantage that it can help you navigate through awkward conversations and also help you relate better with difficult people.

You can make better decisions by appreciating the fact that there is no absolutely right perspective in any situation. By looking at other perspectives, you can make more quality decisions.
It helps you avoid conflicts because you come to the realisation that not everyone shares your point of view.
It fosters understanding between you and others as you can see things from their perspective and this makes you more tolerant.
Conclusively, it is only truly possible for you have a real learning when you step out of the default first person position and explore the other positions.