"Criterial equivalence" is the term used in NLP to describe the specific and observable evidences that people use to define whether or not a particular criterion has been met. "Criteria" are related to goals and values. "Criterial equivalences" are related to the experiences and rules people use to evaluate their success in achieving particular criteria. Criteria and values are usually very general, abstract and ambiguous. They can take many shapes and forms. Criterial equivalences are the specific sensory or behavioral demonstrations or observations that are used to know if a criterion of value has been satisfied. Criterial equivalences are the result of evidence procedures. An evidence procedure links the why (the criteria and values) to the how (the observations and strategies used to attempt to satisfy the criteria).
The type of sensory evidence, or criterial equivalences, that a person uses to evaluate an idea, product or situation will determine to a large extent whether it is judged as being interesting, desirable or successful, etc. People often differ in the sensory channels, level of detail and perspectives that they use to evaluate their success in meeting their criteria. Effective persuasion, for example, involves the ability to identify and then meet a person's core criteria by matching their criterial equivalence. Establishing criteria and criterial equivalences is also an important part of team building, creating and managing organizational culture, and strategic planning.
Defining criterial equivalences involves asking, "How do you know if some behavior or consequence fits a particular criterion or value?" On a personal level, we hold or represent the "deeper structure" of our values to ourselves non-linguis-tically in the form of inner pictures, sounds, words and feelings. To explore some of your own criterial equivalences, try the following:
1. Think of some value or criterion that is important for you to satisfy (quality, creativity, uniqueness, health, etc.)
2. How do you know, specifically, that you have met this value or criterion? Is it something you see? Hear? Feel? Do you know it based solely on your own evaluation, or do you need verification from outside of yourself (i.e., from another person or an objective measurement)?
The sensory perceptions that form our criterial equivalences greatly influence how we think and feel about something. Consider the ways in which your sensory perceptions influence your degree of motivation. Think of an advertisement on television that made you want to own the product being advertised, for example. What was it about the ad that inspired you to go out and buy the product? Was it the color, brightness, music, words, tone of voice, movement, etc. These particular features are known as "submodalities" in NLP, and often play a significant role in people's motivation strategies.
Explore this for yourself by trying out the following exercise:
1. Imagine that you have already achieved a goal or outcome that matches the criterion you identified above, and are really enjoying it. Get in touch with what you are seeing, hearing, doing and feeling while enjoying these benefits.
2. Adjust the sensory qualities of your internal experience in such a way that it feels more motivating or compelling. Does the experience become more compelling and attractive if you add more color? Brightness? Sound? Words? Movement? What happens if you bring the image closer or move it farther away? What happens if you make the sounds or words louder or softer? What do you experience if you make the movement quicker or slower? Identify which qualities make the experience feel the best.
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