I’m currently enrolled in a course in NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming, which offers a series of tools to enable us to live life more successfully, communicating more efficiently in a way that activates our will towards attaining a goal. NLP is ecological, meaning it is used for only positive results for both yourself and for those around you. It is a system that is widely used because it gets results without requiring expertise. Fascinated by a system which seems so very logical and utilitarian, I wanted to find out more from my Instructor, Master Practitioner and trainer Boris Meltser.
Interview with Boris Meltser
- Full Name: Boris Meltser
- Present Location: Ramat Gan, Israel
- Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
J: Can you describe yourself?
B: I was born in Moscow and I’ve been in Israel for 20 years. My family is here, and actually, my brother was just married a few days ago. I have a Masters in Computer Science. And at one point, I decided to make a switch and move into the direction of NLP and specifically training and organization.
J: Do you think that NLP has changed your life?
B: Becoming an NLP trainer was not an instant decision. I moved slowly from being a computer programmer to what I’m now doing. And my life has changed a lot. A few years ago, I, together with my former girlfriend and now colleague, created a training center: “All Directions” or Civunei HaRuah. At first it was geared to Russian speakers and now we have trainers in different languages. We also invite trainers from all over the world – and in different fields other than NLP. NLP is my domain in the center, but there is much more. I’m very happy that we did this and that it’s thriving.
J: Since you are so very active in NLP, I’m wondering: Are you able to turn NLP ‘on’ and ‘off’?
B: Personally, yes, of course I can, because it’s a just a tool. Well, actually it’s much more than a set of tools. I can allow myself not to use these tools, but usually it’s much better, much more effective to use them, rather than living life without any tools, whatsoever.
And NLP is not only tools; it’s also a map, a set of positive beliefs. NLP is based on positive suppositions. It’s difficult for me to switch these beliefs off, but of course, I can do it because NLP also instructs us in how to change beliefs instantly; like changing shoes. If you need a different set of beliefs in order to achieve a goal you can make the switch. This is, of course, done on the basis of ecology which means it’s positive not only for you but also for your surroundings. But since the set of beliefs that NLP proposes is very effective, I don’t see any reason to switch it off. When these beliefs are “on”, you can use tools based on these beliefs to improve the effectiveness of your life.
J: What is your favourite NLP technique at the moment? Why?
B: It’s not easy to say because it depends on the situation. I have a few techniques that I use with myself and my clients such as:
- Calmness meditation.
- The circle of excellence
- Logical levels alignment, which I use most
- Values verification, when you check out your values. I use this a lot with myself and with my clients.
But, as I said, NLP is more than a set of techniques so when I work with somebody I never know in advance which technique I’ll use. And usually it’s a mixture, not something with a specific name. Sometimes something new is created, based on NLP techniques of course, but still something entirely new.
J: So it’s a flexible growing system.
B: It’s a very flexible system because it’s not a predefined set of techniques. It may be seen like this at the beginning, when you’re just starting to learn NLP, much in the way you would learn the alphabet, but later on, as soon as you go deeper you understand that it is much more than this.
Every day, on the internet, I find more and more tools invented by NLP trainers and NLP masters and I, myself, sometimes invent different techniques. NLP is based on modeling of excellence, observing successful people of genius and replicating their strategy. This model becomes the NLP technique.
NLP in Society
J: Over the years, have you found that NLP is becoming more popular? If so, why?
B: As I said before, NLP is not merely tools but also includes an approach that is very different from conventional psychology. It is based on modeling of excellence and effectiveness which means that you achieve your goal as fast as you can. When people actually see they can achieve their goals much faster, improve their situation and solve problems faster and more easily, sometimes even in one session with one technique, then of course they will want to use it, connect to it. And they study it and use it for themselves and others. So the techniques travel quickly and NLP’s popularity is constantly growing in the U.S., Russia, Israel and Europe. And as people become aware of the existence of this tool, of this approach, they connect to it and use it in their lives.
J: Who comes to your NLP courses?
B: Very different people – I cannot define a specific range or type, but mostly people who have arrived at an understanding that life is not only about material things. They want more in their life, more than just owning a flat or a car. The people who come are searching for something deeper. There are some who only want to improve their material life, but even they derive many other benefits.
But if you’re asking about NLP courses, people usually come to study when they want more than material things in their life.
J: Have you seen NLP affect your students?
B: In the future do you mean? When they finish the courses?
J: During the course.
B: Of course. I see people who change all the time. Often they report that they are getting much more than techniques in the course; that there’s a positive shift or change internally and in their life. This is because their core beliefs can also be changed during the course. I’m referring to limiting beliefs, beliefs that prevent you from achieving goals, from going forward in your life in a positive way. And people themselves change. There are personality changes during the course. They can spot it and sometimes talk about it.
J: That’s amazing.
B: At the beginning of the course we use a technique of writing a letter to ourselves in a year’s time, and you’ll receive this letter a year later from yourself, from me. The future letter. Many times, very often people who get this letter understand how many shifts, how many changes occurred in the period of one year during the course and right afterwards.
J: How long is the NLP course?
B: The course is approximately half a year in length; the full NLP practitioner course is approximately seven or eight months. It’s 100 hours and it can be conducted in different ways. If once a week, 3 hours a week , it’s about half a year.
J: When I first became interested in NLP, it was because of a child psychologist who used NLP to make contact with children in the Hunter School in New Hampshire (a school for children with ADHD founded by Thom Hartmann). This psychologist was called upon to help remediate a bedwetting child. The psychologist used techniques of copying the child’s postures, forms of language and then asking him to teach him how to wet the bed. He suggested that it was very creative and he, himself, had never thought of it, but instead got up to go to the toilet at night. In this way he legitimized the child’s act while at the same time offering an alternative behavior. Soon enough, the child stopped wetting his bed and went on to greater accomplishments.
B: This is the approach of Richard Bandler. He always asked people how they created their problem, about their strategy behind it. And he asked the client to teach him how to do it, how to create this behavior and then he studied the strategy and changed it.
J. After I read the story, I searched on the internet for more information, but I found a lot of commercialization: how to manipulate others to make a business deal, etc. Do you have any comments about the commercialization of NLP?
B: Yes, I know that it’s become very commercialized –and it’s because NLP includes a lot of very effective techniques that can be used to manipulate or to improve sales.
So, of course people want to take this instrument to support their commercial uses. As I always say, however, there is a difference between NLP itself and the use of its instruments. You can use a knife to prepare breakfast in the kitchen or you can use it to kill somebody. It’s only a tool. It was designed for kitchen use, to chop vegetables. NLP is designed to improve lives, to make people’s lives better as a therapy and simply for more effective communication in peoples’ lives. But it’s possible to apply this tool to non-positive directions. But this I wouldn’t call NLP. I would term this using the tools for Non-ecological purposes.
Ecology is the basis of NLP which means only positive things for yourself and for others. When these instruments are used with ecology in mind it is NLP, even in commercial use, but if you manipulate people in a negative way, it is simply not NLP.
J: Would you encourage educators to study NLP?
B: Of course, it is my privilege to teach NLP to teachers, educators because it gives much more leverage to the instruments themselves. When teachers or educators go through inner change, when their approach to life is much more positive, this influences their students. And the children will develop with a much more positive view of life and in this way I can affect many more people in a positive way.
Another use would be for these educators to teach their students to use the tools, not only for a positive approach to life, but also as tools to improve their lives.
J: Do you find that NLP suits Israelis in particular? Do you see differences in Americans or Russians in their grasp and application of NLP?
B: I would say there is a difference in the grasp of NLP between people in Russia and in other parts of the world. In Russia, people are much more used to studying deeply, not expecting immediate results. In the U.S, Europe and Israel, people very often want an immediate result without studying, without making the effort. But still, it’s not a problem, because as soon as somebody starts studying NLP, and sees even a small positive change, s/he is willing to go deeper. S/he will start to study NLP in a deeper way and come to the understanding that you don’t always get an instant result; that you first need to acquire some education.
J: At the present moment you are instructing courses in Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem. Do you see a difference in these different environments? Can you describe any such difference?
B: I wouldn’t generalize. Every person is different from every other person in the world. And the groups in Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem are composed of different kinds of people.
I’m currently conducting 3 NLP courses in the framework of Teachers Organizations. I feel that Be’er Sheva is a very cozy positive place. There’s a nice atmosphere and people are very willing to accept all these tools. In Tel Aviv, for example, they sometimes challenge me and ask me tough questions, but this, on the other hand, allows them to benefit by getting more extended answers.
J: Have you found that NLP attracts a specific age group?
B: There’s no specific age group. If we’re talking about ages of teachers – the average age is probably from 30 to 50, perhaps older because pensioners also come to the group.
But, generally in the private groups that I conduct, it varies from 18 – 70 so there’s no specific range. I cannot even talk about a tendency, it’s approximately the same distribution.
J: In your current course in NLP in Be’er Sheva, you asked students to temporarily put aside prior systems they’ve learned in order to devote their attention to the new techniques of NLP. Why is that?
B: When you study a new language, if you start from a blank page and can study the alphabet without prior interference from other languages, it helps you to study the language faster. This advice is only for the beginning. It’s the same when you study the alphabet of NLP. I can see that sometimes when people with some knowledge and experience in different areas are asked to use a technique of NLP, they use their old techniques, more familiar techniques.
That’s okay but by doing so they prevent themselves from learning the NLP technique, something new. It’s much easier for them to resort to known methods, instead of trying to study a new one.
At a later stage, it’s totally okay to combine NLP with other approaches, because NLP doesn’t interfere but can be aligned to them and complement them. Only for educational purposes, do I make the request to put aside old techniques, not because it’s against something.
Getting Deeper into NLP
J: Can you spot the students in a classroom who have a knack for becoming an NLP practitioner?
B: I think that my approach is that everybody can be a practitioner – there’s no limitation. The only thing that is needed is to get deeper, to want to improve, to have the motivation. This is much more important for me than mistakes in techniques and so on. I once had a situation when somebody missed a lot of the course but was so motivated that he studied by himself and did a lot of homework and as soon as he came to certification, he showed a very high level of knowledge. I gave him a certificate even though he missed part of the course. What is needed is motivation and the ability to use the techniques in an efficient and ecological way. And anybody can do it.
J: At the beginning of our course, we were in search of our inner resources and the first assignment was our ability to feel happiness. I found that re-experiencing happiness often brought me to tears. Do you find that people cry in your classes?
B: Most people don’t cry, because it’s not a goal of this technique but it’s very good that you felt like crying because as Osho once said, happiness is the same energy (though considered opposite) as sadness and as soon as you fill up with this energy you may cry because you overflow. It can be sadness and it can be happiness. And it is okay. But we are not used to crying from happiness.
J: How does one know whether to continue studying NLP or to leave it alone and allow oneself to assimilate the techniques? In other words, how does a student of NLP know when more classroom time is required?
B: One knows. Some people take one or two techniques from the course and use them to change their lives. That’s fine. Some people feel that they want to study more or to get into it more deeply. It’s a feeling. One simply knows.