The concept of NLP states refers to our mental and physical processes we experience at any moment. Our state depends on our interaction with the external environment, how well our bodies are functioning and our thinking (including emotions).
States act as a kind of filter on our interpretations of our experiences. If we are tired and hungry, we are likely to be less tolerant of challenges. These interpretations then affect behavior and choices. If we are exhausted, we may choose sleeping in over a networking breakfast.
Changing states naturally
We change state all the time. Body chemistry changes due to food, hydration, oxygen, circadian and other rhythms and external stimuli etc. We move from the unconscious world of dreaming to alert states of consciousness.
For some changing form sleeping to waking is almost instantaneous, like an on off switch. For others it is much more gradual like the tide rising.
States leave Clues
Because states involve bodily changes, they are noticeable on both the inside and the outside. If we are paying attention, we can notice changes in heart rate, breathing, posture and other internal signals within ourselves.
State calibration is the NLP term for noticing changes of state, particularly in others. It is a vital communication skill. For instance, how aware are you of changes in someone’s voice tone or volume or slight changes in his or her facial expression?
Managing and Changing States
We can learn to influence and even change states in particular situations to give us more choices in achieving our outcomes.
NLP States and Situations
What is the most useful state for this particular challenge or situation? We can more easily solve different problems with particular internal states. It’s not about good and bad states, but which is more useful given the context.
A relaxed state is not useful in an emergency. An active state is not useful when patience is required. If you are in an unsuitable state for the task, anything you do will be more difficult. You can match the appropriate state and task using State Elicitation
Types of state
- Emotional States – our sympathetic (active) and parasympathetic (rest) nervous system responses based on our interpretations.
- Attentional States – how ready are we to respond? When we are on “automatic pilot” we are less alert
- Other States. What are we tuning out? When we focus on a particular task or are distracted, we don’t necessarily notice other important happenings.