Is NLP Manipulative?

Since I didn’t take the practitioner courses, I’ve been learning NLP on my own.

I realized that I could benefit from being able to practice NLP in persuading people in person as well so I joined a couple of local Meetup groups. One is a hypnosis group and the other is an NLP group. I’ve also considered starting a Toastmasters club based on learning NLP in any and all contexts.

In talking to people about NLP, I’m faced with the difficult issue of trying to explain NLP. Usually I say it has to do with hypnosis and behavior modification. Now that I’m studying modeling, I might tack on modeling excellence. If someone said "modeling excellence" to me, I doubt I’d know what they were talking about so maybe not.

Once I’ve said that much though, I often get looks like I’ve just told them I’m dabbling in black magic or the occult. Sometimes I get asked (or accused) whether it’s manipulative. And I haven’t even mentioned the applications of speed seduction at that point.

Here’s how I see it: NLP is a tool like anything else. It can be used for good OR for evil if you like to make that distinction. It’s an especially helpful tool if you’re wanting to persuade another person. Any moral judgment about that persuasion is up to the intent of the persuader or observer, not the techniques employed… as long as you’re not violating another person’s will. Obviously involuntary trauma based brainwashing is something totally different.

As a persuader, are you responsible for respecting other people’s boundaries? It depends on your worldview I suppose. Does your doctor? Does the car salesman? Once you realize how maliable subjective reality is, you may wonder how useful boundaries are at all. That’s a topic for another time though.

Another consideration is in using any tool. Do you want to be more versatile and skilled or less? Do you want the tools of persuasion used on you or do you want to be the one using them? You have a responsibility to safeguard your own interests as well.

So is NLP manipulative? Absolutely. It’s as manipulative, dirty and evil as money, cars or hammers. 🙂

2 Responses

  1. I must say I have always thought of NLP as the way to improve communication by knowing more about the thought processes of your subject. It becomes manipulative when it is used against the will of someone, but in a milder sense it is a way of enhanced persuasion. Yes it can be abused to harm a person but for me it is a way to enhance marketing by getting the message over like a targetted arrow.

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