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What are PRESUPPOSITIONS and how can they help my results?


What are PRESUPPOSITIONS and how can they help my results?

Nicholas Chapman

By Nicholas Chapman

Through my 17 years of training people and helping them with common goals like weight loss, muscle gain, fitness, rehabilitation and mobility, one of the most interesting things to me is my client’s rate of change.  I find it fascinating how some clients can establish new patterns of behaviour quickly, whilst some take more time and coaching to get things moving in the right direction.

During my process of helping clients change, another fascinating variance I have observed is that; some members are very open and willing to embrace coaching, help and accountability, while others will find every possible reason to resist your attempts to help them. There are so many factors that contribute to this, but one thing I have found really helpful in establishing congruence between coach and client is to make sure both parties share some of the same key beliefs before starting the process of coaching behavior change.  I learnt about this whilst studying NLP (Neuro linguistic programming) and particularly the ‘Presuppositions of NLP’.

In simple terms, the NLP presuppositions are essentially ‘agreed beliefs between 2 people’. Everyone experiences the world differently and in turn variance in beliefs between people about the same experience are the norm. An example would be about roller coasters: ‘I think roller-coasters are fun’ or ‘I think roller-coasters are dangerous’, is an example of how 2 people can have massively different beliefs about the same experience.

There are over 80 presuppositions of NLP with 16 of them being core presuppositions. For a client to have a shift in mindset and in turn shift in behaviour change, the client and coach need to agree that 16 presuppositions are true. If this happens, the coach can move the client towards better mindset and behaviour and help achieve optimum results.


Ok …so here are my 8 favourite pre-presuppositions that once assumed true seem to have the biggest positive effect:

  1. The map is not the territory”. This means every person sees the world through their own filter and everyone has their own ‘version’ of reality. Be open to knowing that what you think is going on is most probably not entirely accurate so being open minded and listening to others about their experience will mean you have better clarity around life and choices that need to be made. Respect and learn from others’ models of the world.
  2. The meaning of communication is the response that you get’. This is a cracker. If you don’t like the response that your communication is eliciting, change your communication and avoid blaming the other party.
  3. People are doing the best that they can with the resources they have available.” People are generally good, well intentioned and doing their best with the tools and knowledge that they currently have.
  4. People have all the resources they need to succeed to achieve their desired outcomes”. We have everything that we need around us, change starts with us.
  5. People are not their behaviour”. Patterns of behaviour are learnt over time and hardwired by repetition. Understanding this means we can separate the person from the behaviour to work on the person. This belief is empowering.
  6. The most important information about someone is their behavior”. We cannot observe someone’s thoughts but we can observe their choices and behaviors. Choices and behaviours are real and concrete, communication is subjective and full of stories and interpretation.
  7. There is no failure, only feedback’. The more we believe in failure the negative feedback loop is created and more failure appears.
  8. Everyone has the potential for genius’. We are all built and come from the same source, genius is in all of us.

People who honestly believe these 8 presuppositions to be true are highly coachable and capable of a high rate of change when working with a coach. Change starts here with these beliefs.

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