Criteria and Judgment

In NLP, values are often equated with what are known as "criteria", but the two are not entirely synonymous. Values relate to what we desire and want. Criteria refer to the standards and evidences we apply in order to make decisions and judgments. The term comes from the Greek word A'.rites, meaning "judge." Our criteria define and shape the types of desired states that we will seek, and determine the evidences we will use to evaluate our success and progress with respect to these desired states. For example, applying the criterion of "stability" to a product, organization or family, will lead to certain judgments and conclusions. Applying the criterion of "ability to adapt" may lead to different judgments and conclusions about the same product, organization or family.

Criteria are often associated with "values," but they are not synonymous. Criteria may be applied to any number of different levels of experience. We can have environmental criteria, behavioral criteria and intellectual criteria as well as emotionally based criteria. From this perspective, values are similar to what are called core criteria in NLP.

Values and core criteria are classic examples of "subjective" experience; in contrast with "facts" and observable actions, which represent "objectivity." Two individuals can claim to have the same values and yet act quite differently in similar situations. This is because, even though people may share similar values (like "success," "harmony," and "respect"), they may have very different forms of evidence for judging whether these criteria have been met or violated. This can be the source of either conflict or creative diversity.

One of the challenges in defining, teaching, debating, or even talking about values and criteria is that the language used to express them is often very general and 'non-sensory based'. Values and core criteria are expressed by words such as: "success," "safety," "love," "integrity," etc. These types of words, known as nominalizations in NLP, are notoriously "slippery." As labels, they tend to be much farther removed from any specific sensory experience than words like "chair," "run," "sit," "house," etc. This makes them much more susceptible to the processes of generalization, deletion and distortion. It is not uncommon for two individuals to claim to share the same values and yet act quite differently in similar situations, because their subjective definitions of the values vary so widely.

People, of course, also frequently operate from different values. One person, or group, may seek "stability" and "security" while another desires "growth" and "self development." Recognizing that people have different values and criteria is essential for resolving conflicts and managing diversity. Culture contact, mergers between organizations and transitions in a person's life often bring up issues related to differences in values and criteria.

The principles and patterns of Sleight of Mouth can be used to help resolve problems and issues relating to values and criteria in a number of ways:

1. "Chaining" criteria and values by redefining them

2. Chunking Down to define "criterial equivalences"

3. Chunking Up to identify and utilize "hierarchies' of values and criteria

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