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Am I an A*sshole? NLP & Intellectual Humility

Intellectual Humility

Table of Contents

Sadly, finding NLP and Intellectual Humility in many NLP Practitioners and trainers is a rare find. This scarcity was one of the main reasons I started to avoid hanging out in places where NLP trainers typically gather. To me, Intellectual Humility signifies good leadership, being a great conversationalist, living a values-based life, having healthy self-esteem, and essentially not being an a*sshole.

In the 2020 study by Grossman, researchers revealed that people with higher levels of Intellectual Humility tend to benefit in managing interpersonal conflicts and enhancing personal relationships.

The way we think and feel directly impacts our social interactions, highlighting the importance of NLP and Intellectual Humility.

What is Intellectual Humility


It involves recognizing and accepting the limits of our knowledge and being open to new ideas, contradictory information, and advice. Essentially, it means not being a*ssholes, being willing to admit when we are wrong, and being open to changing our minds when someone presents us with new evidence and perspectives.


Humility in the way we present our intellectual knowledge has proven to improve our relationships, is crucial in learning and personal development, and allows us to make better decisions. It directly improves conversations, makes us more authentic and likable, causes us to be more flexible, and facilitates building rapport with another person much easier.

What is NLP

NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, emerged from studying successful people worldwide. Although you might consider it a psychological approach or method, it focuses not on mental illness or how people are broken but on solutions and operating in more successful ways.

NLP came about through modeling projects on successful people, including successful communicators. Interestingly, the creators of NLP never considered the benefits of Intellectual Humility in communication. This oversight is not surprising, as NLP predates the studies in Positive Psychology that coined the term.

What are the Benefits of NLP?

NLP offers many benefits as a diverse toolset. Interestingly, some benefits of Intellectual Humility mirror those of NLP.

What are the Perceptual Positions of NLP?

Perceptual positions, a core component of NLP, provide a tool for understanding situations from multiple perspectives. This technique involves seeing a scenario from your perspective (first position), stepping into someone else’s shoes (second position), and observing the situation as an impartial bystander (third position). It fosters empathy and deeper understanding in interpersonal interactions.

Some schools, like Global NLP Training, also teach a fourth perceptual position (that of a group or a community) and a fifth perceptual position (source, god, peace, oneness, purpose, etc.).

NLP & Values

Values form the foundations we stand on, often unconsciously. When our behaviors, attitudes, and life choices align with our true values, we achieve happiness. Intellectual Humility, or humility in general, aligns with many people’s values and other indirect values like authenticity, flexibility, open-mindedness, empathy, love of learning, etc.

Discovering your values or having an NLP Master Practitioner elicit them can reveal your unconscious values, serving as a life compass.

Intellectual Humility and NLP

Combining NLP’s perceptual positions with intellectual humility can be a powerful strategy for positive leadership. An authentic leader showing intellectual humility can more easily gain buy-in from others. They can see things from another person’s perspective (second perceptual position), more accurately reality-test a situation and take a neutral point of view (third perceptual position), and foster understanding among groups, leading to a loyal and engaged following.

Social Media, Missteps, Cancel Culture

Nowadays, individuals incapable of showing Intellectual Humility struggle with building or keeping followers. Sooner or later, missteps are exposed, leading quickly to being canceled or ridiculed.

NLP Technique for Intellectual Humility

Step 1: What is Your Intellectual Viewpoint?

What specifically is your viewpoint?

Create a representation of this viewpoint, noting what you see, hear, and feel.

Ensure the visual is slightly dimmer and in the distance.

Step 2: What are Other Points of View?

Consider a group of people more knowledgeable than you.

Specifically, what other viewpoints could there be?

List a minimum of 3 viewpoints.

Step 3: What can we learn?

Envision a movie of other people discussing different viewpoints with you.

Watch as a neutral observer, where anyone could be right or wrong. It becomes clear whose ideas are vague or not.

What if everyone is technically right?

Imagine a master of intellectual humility quietly observing the discussion.

Step 4: A Master Appears

How specifically would a master of intellectual humility present the information?

Observe the master communicating his or her viewpoints.

Step 5: How is this experienced?

Step into the shoes of another person experiencing the communication from the intellectual humility master.

Step 6: Associate & Future Pace

Return to your perspective, bringing all the learnings.
Imagine a future scenario where you communicate what the humility master taught you.

Am I an A*sshole?

This question, often posed in moments of self-doubt or reflection, can lead to a powerful journey of self-discovery when approached with NLP.

This process not only aids in understanding the root causes of our actions but also in making amends and improving our interactions with others.


The synergy between intellectual humility and NLP  provides a robust framework for personal development and social interaction. Together, they empower us to lead more insightful, compassionate, and adaptable lives, constantly evolving in our quest for understanding and connection. Whether pondering if we’re the proverbial “a*sshole” in a situation or striving to improve ourselves, the fusion of NLP and intellectual humility illuminates the path to a more self-aware and harmonious existence.

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