Our filters are the colored lenses that we wear on our mind’s eye. We look at the world outside of us through these lenses. These filters are always influencing our behavior at an unconscious level of our mind. Neuro-Linguistic Programming gives us the techniques to be conscious of these filters and induce changes in us for a positive outcome. Our filters within us decide the interpretation of our world.
The first filter that affects any experience of ours is whether we are in an associated state or a dissociated state. Associated state means, to be fully involved in the experience. The dissociated state is, to be an observer of the experience we are into. The ability to preferentially use any of these can become a great resource. We are in un-resourceful states whenever we are in an associated state with an unpleasant memory of an experience. The moment we look at that experience as an outside observer who is detached our interpretation of the experience changes. We somehow do not associate too much importance with it. Associated states for pleasant experiences can be a great motivational tool. Some people do this unconsciously and thus are in a resourceful state even in the most trying situations. They have an automatic programme to move to all successful situations in life in an associated state. The trying time then becomes a mere obstacle which, they can then easily remove. People with the habit of worrying, operate in associated states of experiences. They always envy the people with dissociated filter and often term them as ‘thick-skinned.’
Then we have the filter called moving towards and moving away from. Moving towards means associate to an action with pleasure; moving away is, associating to an action with pain. For any given problem on hand, we have a choice to imagine the pleasure of the solution or the pain of the problem. This makes people either solve the problem by taking action or keep delaying the action. Again people exercise one of these filters unconsciously. Moving away people keep looking for problems in every problem and thus find it difficult to zero down on a conclusion. Moving towards filter looks for a solution and the pleasure associated with it, which motivates them for decision making. In a family or an organization, we have these two filters operating between individuals at any point in time. There exists a great mismatch then in approaches leading to increased stress levels. However one must understand that these two patterns complement each other in decision making and a team should thus have a combination of such people. We need to explore all the problems as well as solutions. To manage people with moving away filter a moving towards patterned person should work on the style of moving away. This would put pressure on the moving away patterned person to move towards to a decision. A classic example of this is we often use the expression of disgust like “We are not arriving at any conclusion so do what you please, in a decisive way” and suddenly people decisively.
There is another critical filter called big chunk or global thinking and small chunk or detailing. A certain set of people work on an overall aspect of the idea and find it very boring when it gets to detailing. And then again some people work only on specifics and details. Imagine a boss who is small chunk and a subordinate who is a big chunk. Needless to say, meetings would not end in a happy state. So to manage the situation, either of them should consciously change the filter and results would be immediate and pleasant. However, it is important to understand whenever you address any issue, both the patterns complement each other.
The filter of looking for a match results in our recalling experiences which are similar. And then there are some with a filter of mismatch and look for dissimilarity every where. Just imagine how difficult the situation gets, and then we say our thinking is ‘poles apart.’ However, it is important to understand looking at only matches or mismatches cannot get you the success. That’s why we ‘weigh pros and cons’ of the situation.
When it comes to accepting ideas and decision making we are either internally referenced or externally referenced. When we are internally referenced we use our own internal feelings, voices, and images as evidence of fulfillment. Externally referenced people rely on external factors for decision making. By knowing this, we can easily work on a strategy to influence a decision. When we are with externally referenced people we should give them references to help them make decisions. With internally referenced people we need to provide information, which they want, to arrive at a decision. Thus knowing this filter can be a great tool in situations requiring convincing.
Our experiences are also sorted through our filters based on past present or future. Thus we find people mostly using past experience or sensing current situation to arrive at any decision; while we at times find a set of people in a continuous planning process. These are the people who always work in future mode. Organizations need all these filters in any process to work effectively. The dissimilarity of filters is the essence of any successful operation.
It is important to understand that there is nothing right or wrong with these filters through which we operate. It is essentially the way we are. Understanding of filters goes a long way in building fruitful relationships. Win/win techniques are an implementation of these filters. By determining filters of people, organizations are effectively using NLP to define roles for the people within.
Through an understanding of these filters, we can manage our internal dialogue consciously. By working on our filters, we can change our experience with situations and people. This would thus have a direct impact on our behavior and thus the resulting outcome. By managing our internal dialogues, we can hold our memories in a way that supports the person we want to be.
It is thus evident that all the interactions amongst people are a function of type filters in use. A conscious effort towards understanding these can help us become successful team leaders and also enrich our personal lives.