Two Downsides to Using NLP in Coaching

NLP and coaching seem like they go together like a hand in a glove. And they do.

But there are downsides to using NLP in coaching and these are what we’ll highlight today.

I teach neuro-linguistic programming certification at the iNLP Center. I’m also a certified and ACC-credentialed life coach who trains other life coaches.

I’m qualified to talk about the upside and downside of NLP. Today we’ll discuss the downside. Here are three downsides to Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

Downside #1 – NLP Can Be Technique-heavy.

When you learn NLP, you’ll be impressed by the techniques. They work so much of the time, if you know what you’re doing. That makes it easy to be a technique-heavy practitioner, which may be just fine. The downside to relying so heavily on techniques is that you, as a practitioner, might miss out on deeper connections with people.

If you spend your sessions looking for an opportunity to do a technique – a technique mindset – you might miss who the person sitting in front of you is. There is healing in the coach-client relationship just because it is one of safety and caring.

Of course, NLP practitioners do not have to be technique-heavy. The more profound tools in NLP have to do with conversational skills and connecting with people on a deeper level.

Downside to NLP in Coaching #2 – ICF Style Clash

If you’re concerned about getting credentialed as a coach from the International Coach Federation, using NLP might get in the way of your performance evaluation.

ICF-style coaching requires the coach to play a facilitative role in which she talks no more than 20% of the time during a session. From direct experience, I know that ICF assessors review performance evaluations during the credentialing process with this principle in mind. They disqualify coaches who take up too much space on the paper. 

When you use NLP in coaching, you’re fine with this, until you get to the point where you use an NLP technique. At that point, the coach becomes more directive in the session and ends up talking a lot more. This is where ICF reviewers get cranky.

Just a couple of issues with using NLP if you’re a life coach. There are others, as with any modality that might be applied in the coaching context, but we’ll stop short today:)