The NLP logical levels
Six Logical Levels
|Level||Questions corresponding to logical levels|
|Spirituality/Purpose||Who else? For whom? This can be viewed as your connection to a larger system. If you are an individual or company providing NLP related services, what impact are you having within your community, where you live and work, the NLP community, your culture and the culture of others, … ?|
|Identity/Mission||Who? Who are you as an individual or company? What role do you play to achieve your purpose? How do you think of yourself as a person/organization – i.e. I am a successful person.|
|Beliefs and Values||Why? Why do you do something? What do you believe in or value? As an individual, you may believe you can do anything you choose. Or you may value honesty. From a company perspective, the company may value good customer service and/or the well-being of staff.|
|Capabilities/Strategies||How? How do you go about doing things? As an individual or company, what are your capabilities, skills, strategies or action plans?|
|Behaviours||What? What are your behaviours?|
|Environment||Where? When? With Whom? Where, when and with whom do you display your behaviours? What are the external influences on you?|
To gain an appreciation of how these logical levels work, assume it is 9:00 am and I am at my place of work (environment).
If I don’t want to be there, then I must change my behaviour. Some possible choices are: I could walk out. I could do cartwheels over to and out the door. I could start yelling and screaming – with the hope someone would take me out of the building. Etc.
The behaviour I select depends on my capabilities/strategies. If I am capable of performing cartwheels, then this is certainly a possibility. On the other hand, my strategy may be to have someone help me to leave (i.e. by yelling and screaming). Or, if I really don’t want to work there and need some source of income, my strategy might be to become ill so that I have a medical excuse and can go on long-term disability – know anyone who has done this – consciously or unconsciously?
The capability/strategy I choose will depend on my beliefs and values. If I believe that I can easily get another job to support my family, then becoming ill is not a choice for me.
My beliefs and values are determined by my identity. If I see myself as a successful person, then it is very possible that I would hold the belief that I can easily get another job or even create a business of my own.
My identity is dependent on my purpose in life – the impact that I wish to have on my community, etc.
Making a change at a lower level (i.e. environment — moving to a new city) may, but not necessarily, affect an upper level. However, a change at an upper level (i.e. belief) will have a distinct impact on the levels below it, as illustrated in the above example.
Using Logical Levels to Explain/Understand Change
The above leads to a number of interesting explanations/discoveries:
1. Short-term vs. long-term change: Sometimes people find that NLP techniques worked great at changing an unwanted behaviour for a short period of time, and eventually the unwanted behaviour returned. How can this be? If the new behaviour was not in alignment with the person’s beliefs and values or identity, the higher level would override the lower level.
For change at the behaviour level to be long-term, the desired behaviour change must either be in alignment with the higher levels or the change must take place at a high level i.e. identity.
2. Organizational change: Have you ever been involved in change within an organization? What are some of the more common change activities?
How about a new organization chart? Or maybe change the physical layout of the offices. This is change at the level of environment. Do you think it will be long-lasting? Only if the change is in alignment with the higher levels.
Or maybe staff are told to perform in a different way (behaviour) without receiving the necessary training (capability/strategy). Unfortunately, this happens far too often. When money becomes tight, the first thing cut is the training budget! Again the change will most likely not be long-lasting.
3. Health/Career: Suppose you have a goal for yourself (health, career, …) and it is not in alignment with one of the higher levels. How successful do you think you will be in achieving your goal?
4. “The problems of today can only be solved at a higher level of thinking than that which created them” – Albert Einstein: I have heard many people refer to this quote and few can explain how you can actually do it (i.e. move to a higher level of thinking). Using logical levels, you can easily explain it. For example, if there is a problem at the behavioural level, to solve it we must move to at least the capability/strategy level.
NLP can assist you in making change at the higher levels (beliefs and values, identity and spirituality/purpose) or can help you to ensure that your goals are aligned at all levels. Once this happens, your goals in life often become clear and obtained effortlessly.
describes the six levels: Spirituality/Purpose, Identity/Mission, Beliefs and Values, Capabilities/Strategies, Behaviours and Environment. In this article, we present other ways to look at the logical levels and an exercise to assist you with achieving personal congruence – all of the levels are in alignment.
Getting to Know Another Person
An important aspect of the NLP Logical Levels is that you can only observe two of the logical levels of another person – behaviour and environment. You can observe what they are doing and when, where and with whom. This will give you some idea as to their capabilities/strategies, beliefs and values, etc. To really be sure, you need to engage them in a conversation on these subjects. Having conversations with another person at the higher logical levels provides you with a more intimate understanding of that person and why they behave the way they do. How often do you have a conversation with someone you really care about and the topic is the weather (environment) or what they are doing (behaviour) rather than who they see themselves being (identity/mission) or what are their beliefs and values. And to engage in this type of conversation, you need to create a space where each of you feels safe in disclosing your ‘inner selves’.
Aligning Logical Levels for Personal Congruence
For many of us, the logical levels operate outside of our conscious awareness. Whether we are aware of them or not, they have a significant influence over the quality of our lives.
The following exercise will help you to: 1. Become consciously aware of what factors influence how you live your life. 2. Identify possible conflicts. 3. Recognize possible changes you can make to bring the levels more in alignment and hence achieve a higher level of personal congruence (reduced inner conflict). I suggest you take your time doing this exercise and write down your answers.
Spirituality/Purpose: For the larger system (i.e. family, co-workers, people needing your service/product, community, … ), what is your purpose or the impact you wish to have?
Identity/Mission: Who are you or what role do you play? Is it the role necessary to achieve your purpose? What do you need to change?
Beliefs and Values: What beliefs do you have about yourself, about others, about the world in general? Do these beliefs support you in fulfilling your role? What do you value – in yourself, others, the world in general. Are these values in alignment with your role? Are there other beliefs and values that you could take on that would be more in alignment?
Capabilities/Strategies: What capabilities/strategies/action plans do you have? Do you need to develop new capabilities, strategies or action plans? Are they in alignment with each of the above logical levels? If not, what needs to be changed? Maybe you need to change your capabilities (get more training), your strategies or action plans. Or maybe, given this new information, you need to reassess your purpose, your role or your beliefs and values.
Behaviours: What do people really see/experience in your behaviours. Are your behaviours in alignment with each of the above logical levels? Does something need to be changed?
Environment: When, where, with whom do you do these behaviours? Are they in alignment with the above logical levels?
Aligning Your Goals with Your Logical Levels
Many of our goals (career, family, romance, health, purpose in life, … .) are based on the requests, desires or expectations of others – parents, spouse, teachers, religious leaders, boss, society, … . These are not our goals and hence do not have the energy that propels us forward to truly achieve our goals. When we struggle with our goals, almost always there is some hidden inner conflict that must be resolved. Often we are less then fully alive because of these inner conflicts. The following exercise will assist you in identifying these conflicts and realigning your goal with who you really are.
Think about your goal and answer the same questions for the logical levels as you did above. Notice if there is an alignment between the answers. For example you may find that achieving your goal would take time away from being with your spouse and children (assuming this is an important value for you). If this is the case, is there some way to adjust your goal or your strategies/action plan to spend time with your family and still achieve your goal? You may wish to ask those affected by your goal, as they often come up with solutions that you would never think of.
This process will allow you to become aware of the alignment (or lack of it) between your inner self and your goals. As you fine-tune your goals and align them with your inner self, you should find that your goals become clearer, more compelling and more easily achieved