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NLP Chunking Explained

Do you have a great idea but wonder where to start, or are you submerged in the details of a project? You may benefit from NLP Chunking & NLP chunking up or chunking down. This approach can be used in any number of situations to help you move forwards. This post aims to give you 5 useful and easy pointers to help you get started with NLP chunking.

5 Useful Things To Know About NLP Chunking

1. What is NLP Chunking?

NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) could be described as the study of successful behaviours. This can then be used to support people in living happier and healthier lives. Chunking is about clusters of information, and the term is taken from computer terminology. We will all create our chunks of information differently depending upon our patterns of thinking, preferences, associations, life experience, etc.

Chunks can be practical – foods within a group such as proteins, cars that are similar in some way like hatchbacks, consumers of certain products, and so on.

Chunks can also be based on our personal associations – all the people I know who also like cake for example.

nlp chunking cakeThey can be a broad cluster and gradually become a more specific and targeted group – cakes (the whole), types of cake (the class, e.g. sponge cake), which cake (the example – Victoria Sandwich cake). There is also great scope in terms of the level to which one can chunk down (become more specific) – my favourite Victoria Sandwich cakes, cakes with jam, etc. And one can chunk up (see more of the whole picture) too – cakes as one of many sweet foods, as food, and beyond.

NLP chunking can be applied to any area and on any level.

2. Why Use NLP Chunking?

There are a few NLP techniques that I find myself using constantly in everyday life and NLP chunking is one of them. The essence of this, for me, is very simple – how do I need to think about this so that I can be happier, more effective and productive, or reduce conflict? Do I need to zoom in or out?

3. NLP Chunking Up

This is when we zoom out – what is the bigger picture, overview or whole of the situation (and possibly beyond). Being able to connect with our goals, what matters to us and what we wish to achieve gives us direction, meaning and motivation.

4. NLP Chunking Down

No surprises here, chunking down is where you zoom in and simply allow yourself to get more and more specific.

I Keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.
― Rudyard Kipling

5. When to Use NLP Chunking

We will all also usually have our comfort zones in terms of how we think about things – some naturally inhabit the bigger picture whilst others are at home with detail. The trick is to be able to switch between modes so that you can make the most of the strengths of each.

nlp chunking workIf you feel overwhelmed in your work, a task or project, or in a personal situation it can be incredibly helpful to chunk down. As you create smaller chunks you can work out what you need to do and what you can manage to do.

I remember listening to the five times gold medal winner Sir Steve Redgrave giving a talk some years ago. He spoke about how the Olympic Rowing team had approached the task of shaving yet more time off their already outstanding performance as they went for another gold. The time required looked impossible to achieve – too great a difference from the times they were currently achieving. They divided that time all the way down into daily nano-second improvements. This was an achievable amount to accomplish in each day’s training. The cumulative effect is now Olympic history and a lovely example of chunking down.

Sometimes the opposite is true and we may be lost in the midst of all detail – not going anywhere. This is when we need to use NLP chunking to chunk up. What is it you are trying to achieve, what is your goal, your vision? Then you can use your excellent skills in analytical thinking to chunk down, maybe update and refine the plan to work out how to get there.

This is also a very useful model to apply in conflict resolution – at work or at home. Chunk up to the point where all parties agree. Most of us want the same things – health, love, happiness, and to be fulfilled. In the work arena parties are hopefully all aligned with the mission of the organisation: offering excellent service, generating sales, optimal performance.

Once you reach the point where all are in agreement, start chunking down through practicalities of how to achieve this. Each time there is disagreement, chunk back up to where everyone agrees and then chunk down work with the issues of how to achieve it.

nlp chunking zoom in zoom outThe key to success is flexibility – being able to chunk up and down optimally. Zooming in to the detail and back out to the big picture enables a fluidity of thinking, creativity and communication.

Robert Dilts excellent NLP University Encyclopedia gives clear and helpful information about NLP Chunking and is a wonderful resource for anyone who might be interested in finding out more about NLP.

NLP Chunking offers us an easy method to find more resourceful ways to approach projects and problems. Depending upon your preference you can apply it with big picture simplicity or explore the depths of its detail – either way it is a very useful tool to have to hand.

I hope you have found this to be of interest and if you have any questions about NLP and Coaching, or would like to book a free initial meeting, please do contact me.