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NLP: association, dissociation & perceptual positions

Perceptual positions

Table of Contents

NLP, association, dissociation, perceptual positions etc.  It is a lot of jargon.   NLP Training offers so many coaching tools and opportunities to use in your life, at work, coaching, helping or advising others.

As an NLP Trainer I am often asked to do public speaking events, I prefer to do this as part of my Social Entrepreneurship efforts. If you want more information about how to gain coaching clients through Social Entrepreneurship, and wish to have a mini-training on the topic? Check-out our store.

This evening I will be presenting a brief presentation to a group of coaches or people interested in coaching. As I plan to ask them to put their pencils and their crayons away, and pay attention the presentation I decided to put a summary here. As I don’t know at this point what the other 3 speakers are presenting about exactly, I unfortunately am unable to include their work.

NLP Association & Dissociation

In NLP association and dissociation are important concepts.


First I placed the participants on a park bench observing a roller coaster from a distance. There are no feelings here (other than observer feelings.) From this place you could see the roller coaster, observe it, learn from it, study it. This is the third perceptual position of NLP, dissociation.


Then I placed the participants inside the roller coaster (looking through their own eyes.) I associated them into the experience of being in it. They could see, hear and feel the roller coaster. It provided the feeling of being inside a roller coaster. This is the first perceptual position of NLP, association.

What about your memories?

These are interesting concepts as it relates to your own memories of the past, the way you relate to your experience of the present, and how you code your own future. Do you see yourself inside those experiences (dissociated), no feeling, detached. Or are you looking through own eyes (associated?)  You experience the emotions (again.) But didn’t give a good sense to learn or gain a new understanding of it as well as dissociation does. In a sense ideal coding is to dissociate from the negative (or not letting it predominantly getting the better of you), and associate into the positive.

Now did I use more NLP tools inside my language? Of course I did. There is a lot more NLP demonstrated than meets the eye.

I then let the participants select a rough communication, or even a conflict. Not something really big of course, something simple. A context and a person where they experienced frustration, irritation, a mild anger, a lack of clarity etc. I simply traveled them through the perceptual positions. The order I used was 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and back into first. Another order would have worked too. But wise to start and end on the first perceptual position.

The five perceptual positions of NLP

First perceptual position of NLP: SELF (association.)

Standing inside your own shoes, and looking through your own eyes. So you see, hear and feel exactly from your point of view what happened. You experience it all over again. What were your feelings? Your needs? Your values? And were you being your authentic self.

Second perceptual position of NLP: OTHER (empathy.)

Standing inside the other persons shoes. Looking through their eyes. What do you see, hear and feel? What are your needs? In that persons map, considering their beliefs, their age, culture, level of awareness. What is it like to walk a mile in their shoes? What happens when you look at yourself from this position? What is that like?

Third perceptual position of NLP: OBSERVER (dissociation.)

Looking at both you and the other person, as an observer. There is no emotion here. What do you learn from this place of non-emotion? Are either of you listening?

Fourth perceptual position of NLP: GROUP.

This is stepping into the vantage point of a group as a whole, as to how it affects you and this other person. For instance your family, co-workers, the group of friends. Are either you serving the needs and positive experience of the group? Are either of you serving the group? The outcomes, the vision and mission of the group.

Fifth perceptual position of NLP: SOURCE.

Stepping into the source view, this can be anything based on your belief system for example: god, Allah, the best version of yourself, oneness, the universe, mankind as a whole, the ultimate happiness. From this place empathy, compassion, tolerance and acceptance is much easier. Even forgiveness, or self-forgiveness.

What else?

Also here, did I use a lot more NLP techniques? I love teaching and applying NLP in a less obvious way. Because experience is a wonderful teacher. As it is not just about WHAT  you learn, but more importantly HOW you learn. I like to teach unconsciously as well as consciously. Because unconsciously, we learn much more. No one consciously taught us how to walk, to form sentences, to make a friend. These things largely happen unconsciously through experience. INCLUDING the way we have conflicts. Over a life time it doesn’t matter what conflicts you have, it is how you have them. That’s where the solutions are.

Notes: NLP, association, dissociation, perceptual positions

1. Only 7% of the meaning of our communication lies in the words we speak. And often we speak them from our point of view, and not in the best way the other person can understand it. The rest of the meaning of our communication lies in tonality and body language.

2. Communication in essence is verbally and non-verbally communicating, which is causes someone else to feel something. Based on that they communicate back verbally and non-verbally to you. That makes you feel something. Based on which you communicate back to the other person. In a sense, if you make it an effort to make people feel good, to set the intention to put someone in a better emotional state as when you found them, you start having a positive control over communication. And the way you experience your communication and with that your world. As we are always communicating, at the very least non-verbally.



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NLP: The First Perceptual Position

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