Between "Knowing, to Do..." & "Doing, to Know."

Many who know me find me a very outspoken critic of 7-day (or shorter) NLP Practitioner courses, especially those which train more than twenty people at a time. I find such courses to be a dark pollutant in the field.  From what I've observed, these courses consistently produce very poorly trained Practitioners.  (I won't even include "home study courses" that promise Practitioner certification.)

Many other trainers have had the same experience, observing these "7-day Practitioners" showing up at Master Practitioner or even short courses, consistently showing a notable absence of the level of skill and knowledge... that any good practitioner ought to have.

I'd like to briefly explore the fundamental difference between two completely different learning paradigms (slightly oversimplified down to 2 styles, for illustration purposes.)

  • Learning to KNOW... in order to DO.
  • Learning to DO... in order to KNOW.

The 1st paradigm (1st "knowing" and then "doing.") -- is what I see as having been done with most "7-day Practitioner" students. I don't even recognize this as training. I recognize it as presenting, with behavioral integration as an afterthought.

The 2nd paradigm is what I always aim to use, and what I know some other trainers use. With this method, behavioral integration is built into every exercise. Groups don't even move on from one topic to another until they've behaviorally integrated each piece. Granted, they'll likely be clunky after only doing something a few times, but they can DO it -- and then the knowing and integrating comes during & afterwards. This method can be frustrating to those who feel they need outline academic style presentations first... who can't jump into exercises until they think they "fully understand" what it is they're doing. But the experimental nature of this experiential method is what makes it succeed at transferring skills FAR more quickly and deeply than the first method.

This is, I believe, one of the key differences that makes the difference. And "7-day Practitioners" will probably never see it as important, because they "covered all the material." It was in the syllabus. It was covered. And unfortunately, just because it was in the material, and covered, and presented onstage, doesn't mean students behaviorally learned it in an integrated way.

Personally I believe the prevalence of "7-day Practitioner trainings" is evidence of a trainer "selling out."  Because literally anyone can describe all the NLP skills in 7 days or less.  But few if any can train deep skills in that time.

So regardless of the duration of the course you take, I strongly recommend that IF deep skills are what you're after... I encourage you to ask -- no, demand -- that your trainer effectively demonstrate any and every skill he or she describes, creatively, on the fly.  Without "cheat sheets" or notes.  I propose to you that many trainers who run 7-day or shorter certification courses... will not be able to do this well.

Author: Jonathan Altfeld

Date Published:  Feb 3 2010