Book review – Can we start again? The patterns of NLP applied to business interactions by Daryll Scott

This book review was published in  Magazine – PM Forum way back in 2008. However, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) has arisen a few times at recent training workshops so I thought I would publish the review as a blog post. Book review – Can we start again? The patterns of NLP applied to business interactions by Daryll Scott. 

Can we start again? The patterns of NLP applied to business interactions

By Daryll Scott. Published by Noggin £14.99 ISBN 9 781852525460

Having been interested in NLP for almost a decade (I wrote an introduction to NLP for PM magazine back in 2001) and having recently completed my NLP practitioner training I was really excited about this book – all those ideas and techniques packaged together for use in a business, rather than a counselling/therapeutic, environment.

However, it didn’t entirely fulfil its promise of “the patterns and techniques of neuro-linguistic programming applied to business presentations and applications”. But it is a thorough and detailed account of the material that you study on an NLP practitioner course – accessible and with lots of examples. But it is quite general.

The author’s style is highly personal with lots of stories and anecdotes. It’s almost stream of consciousness stuff at times. Sometimes it strays dangerously close to self-promotion (e.g. “I do quite a lot of coaching…”). Some will like this and others will find it distracting. The author references a lot of contemporary works that are not really in the NLP space – like Malcolm Gladwell’s books – yet he also draws on an eclectic range of psychology. Some may find this appealing.

Introduction to NLP

The book starts with an introduction with a rather evasive, defensive, overcomplicated, meandering and convoluted review of the origins and scientific basis of NLP and the related fields of psychology.

Others appear to be able to answer “what is NLP?” in a concise and relevant way. The author ends up suggesting that NLP has no theories (only suppositions) and that it is a modelling science – “Psychology is to statistics as NLP is to algebra”. Mmnn.

There is also quite a lot of NLP jargon in the scene setting chapters that is not always readily explained which would suggest to me that someone who is new to NLP is not the target audience. I suspect the “Science bit” chapter most readers will find impenetrable unless they have some familiarity with NLP.

Sensory preferences

The book introduces the fundamental idea of our preferred or lead sensory mode – visual (pictures), auditory (sounds), kinaesthetic (feelings), olfactory (smells) and gustatory (tastes). There is a little self-assessment included. The diagrams are helpful.

It stresses the importance of your “state” – and explains that the mind cannot differentiate between real sensory input and remembered or imagined sensory input – vital NLP concepts when state affects your body language. Non-Verbal Communication (NVC) – the basics (Video) (

Rapport and communication

The bulk of the book is in chapters covering making a connection with a focus on rapport development. It explains how to read eye patterns to learn people’s lead sensory mode (and then use of appropriate language patterns), body language (Non-Verbal Communication) and investigative listening (based on the Meta Model which addresses the “ambiguous and metaphoric nature of the words we use”. Active Listening (Video) (

There’s analysis of the use of “and” rather than “but”, the idea of priming conversations and distortions, deletions and generalisations), influential speaking (framing and the Milton model, “agreement is influence, disagreement is resistance”, pre-frames, softening requests), negotiation (chunking), presentations (4MAT system) and self application (goal setting, perceptual positions).

There are nuggets in each of these sections but they leave you feeling they lack real substance.

One of the tips I did like was the need to check your emails for language – and whether it matched the preferred/lead mode of the recipient – as well as spelling and grammar. Book review: Digital Body Language – How to build trust by Erica Dhawan (

Exercises and tests

Throughout the book, there are lots of exercises where you can test your understanding and practise your new skills. And each chapter has a useful summary at the end to remind you of the key points.

The book is supported by John Grinder, the official co-founder of NLP, and a major figure on the international business circuit. It would be an excellent addition as a companion guide to the materials you receive when you sign up for your NLP course and therefore, conversely, would provide a great insight into what NLP practitioner training covers if you needed some persuasion before signing up.

Maybe I have read too many business skills books to get enthusiastic about any one volume now. There were a few nuggets in here but as an experienced NLP practitioner there wasn’t much new. And if I was new to the subject I would probably have struggled with it. So, anyone who has some familiarity with or has studied NLP already will find the book a useful refresher and reference.

But for those who are new to NLP you might find a faster, lighter and easier introduction with one of the original books like “NLP – the new art and science of getting what you want “ (Dr Harry Adler) or “NLP – The new technology of achievement” (Steve Andres and Charles Faulkner).

NLP “big ideas”

  • The map is not the territory (it is a representation)
  • Mind and body inevitably and inescapably affect each other
  • You choose your response to any stimulus
  • People are not their behaviours
  • Resistance indicates a lack of rapport
  • Meaning operates context dependently
  • The one who sets the frame controls the communication
  • We cannot NOT communicate
  • Respect each person’s model of the world
  • The meaning of the communication is the response you get
  • The person with the most flexibility exercises the most influence
  • All behaviour functions from positive intention
  • The way we communicate affects perception and reception
  • There is only feedback
  • We evaluate behaviour and change in terms of context and ecology

Neuro-linguistic programming – Wikipedia

My original NLP Practitioner training was completed with MacKay Solutions | Training For Success (

NLP Training Courses | Certified UK NLP Training (

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