NLP Internal and External Reference


This article is a transcript of the following video:

An important NLP meta program which is not the same as the meta model, the met programs are taught in NLP Master Practitioner, is the internal reference and the external reference.

An internally-referenced person, if they need to determine whether or not they have done a good job or if they are doing the right thing, they use their own standards. An externally-referenced person, they tend to go by the standards that other people set for them. Regardless if somebody’s internally or externally-referenced, it’s important to know who the reference is. Does this person have the knowledge, the right information? Does this person have tunnel vision? Does this person really know what they’re talking about? And does this person set the right standard and have the best positive intentions in mind for that other person, or you for yourself for that matter? There are also people that are a combination of the two. They are, for instance, internally referenced but do an external check, or they’re externally referenced and do an internal check.

The best thing is of course to have the flexibility to use the right reference, but also to be able to switch at will the internal/external reference. If I am going to someone who is extremely knowledgeable about a problem that I have, I may want to go by their standards of how to fix it or determine if I have fixed it or not. Other times, I really should know for myself that if I feel that I’ve done a great job that I should celebrate that no matter what somebody else says.

As a coach especially, it’s important to understand that a lot of your clients may be externally-referenced. In those cases, you need to be really careful in what you would maybe advise them to do. If you tell them that they, for instance, should leave their relationship, it’s not going to be you sitting alone at that kitchen table.