This is session number 14 and no doubt if you’ve delved into NLP you will have heard, “The Map is Not The Territory”. With its roots set in 1931 Science & Sanity, this is an essential part of understanding subjectivity. But what is the meaning of the map is not the territory?

But what the hell does it mean and why is this such an important part of NLP?

NLP is the study of excellence and the study of subjective experience. This last piece the study of subjective experience is where the map is not the territory kicks in.

No map regardless of how detailed will ever be a true representation of the actual terrain.

No amount of explanation of a personal experience will ever be the experienced in the same way by another person. A couple on the same holiday for two weeks, who spend every second together from the time they leave home, until the time they get back home. Will have very different interpretations of that holiday. Different memories, different likes and dislikes different experiences.

No movie watched by 2 people will ever be remembered in the same way either. Even the same movie watched again for the same person will lead to a different experience.

No NLP training will ever be experienced the same way by two people on the same course.

So consider the implications when most people respond to abstract communication. I saw an accident on the way to work! Think for a moment what that conjures up for you? Think how you are lead to assume so much information based on your own map.

Car accident, spilt coffee, a person with trousers on the wrong way!

Perhaps you do ask “What kind of accident?” and it turns out to be a car accident. But that’s only that persons map and experience and not what happened.

Their map told them it was a car accident which they then related to you as a car accident. However, it could have been infinitely different from another persons map or reality!

  • Stunt driver in town on set filming
  • Broken down car
  • Previously damaged car just parked funny
  • and on…..

When you appreciate we all have our own maps you can begin to explore a person map in more details and begin to discover more.

Think about this in terms of disagreements, fights, and wars. These usually come from a misunderstanding of intention. A failure to recognize all factors, all opinions, and from relying on their maps of reality. When 2 maps don’t align tension raises.

How many times have you heard people say, “Well, why didn’t you just say so” in that moment when 2 realise they were on about the same thing!