The Map Is Not The Territory
by Rex Steven Sikes
map is not the territory.
father of general semantics, Alford Korzybski stated, "A
map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has
a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness".
What this means is that our perception of reality is not reality
itself but our own version of it, or our "map".
two people can have exactly the same map. While we all have similar
neurological structure, it functions differently in all of us.
This is the basis for our problems in communication when we try
to impose our map upon another person. Learning to recognize the
structure of another person's map allows us to "see the world
though their eyes" and therefor understand and relate to
others respectfully and accurately.
maps are created through gathering data through the five senses.
Our senses bring certain aspects of the world to our attention,
which go through neurological processes or filters, forming our
values, beliefs, criteria (rules), and capabilities. These are
often expressed consciously, yet most of the time they operate
outside of our awareness and we don't realize that they can be
changed to serve us in better ways.
we pour water through a filter not everything passes through.
Likewise, as information "pours in" from the outside
world, it is output (our language and behavior) according to what
we delete (filtering out 'unneeded' information), distort (picture
a giraffe with an elephant's head), and generalize (all redheads
have fiery tempers).
Generalization is the basis for the formation of our beliefs.
(Although, which came first, the chicken or the egg?) What we
believe about the world is how we interact within it. Most often
it is our beliefs that limit us. We have beliefs about spirituality,
the world, our capabilities and our environment, right and wrong,
what is just and unjust, and whether or not we can change.
are the things we invest our time, money and effort in trying
to attain. Examples: Fun, freedom, money, love, honesty, integrity.
They are what is important to us. And we have very definite criteria
or rule structures about how we go about attaining them.
offers us a means of understanding our own and other's maps of
reality. This knowledge allows us to create change for ourselves
and others. It also allows us to generate unbelievable trust,
rapport, and influence in communication while preserving the integrity
of the other person(s).
can assist you to begin to create trust, warmth and understanding
with another person, friend or stranger, by learning what is important
to know when communicating. Learning what to pay attention to
and how to become more skilled in interacting with others will
prevent you from imposing your own map upon those around you.
am saddened that our human evolution has not yet taught us how
to effectively deal with the condition of being human. We've made
great strides in inventing weapons, pollution and waste, as well
as great worthwhile achievements - yet we still struggle with
issues of fairness, respect, integrity, tolerance and acceptance.
is am amazing that in this day and age, with such a marvelous
technology as Neuro Linguistic Programming, that people aren't
doing more to improve the most frequent and common behavior to
humans: communication. We have a technology which emphasizes simple
principles of integrity and respect for fellow human beings regardless
of race, color or creed. Even some of those people involved in
NLP training do not practice what they preach!
is about creating rapport, a favorable communication climate,
respect and influence. It is about resourcefulness and attitude
change. NLP offers us a way to improve the human condition through
the appreciation and understanding of others. The number one assumption
of NLP is to appeal to others through their unique map rather
than imposing ours upon them.
need to educate people to the idea that there are better ways
to communicate with each other. As "NLP'ers", we need
to be a model for others. We need to make a difference and begin
to ease tensions.
person once said "You can light a million candles off just
one". As each of us begins to take responsibility for the way
we communicate, we can discover what make us wonderful as a species
is our differences. We can help young people grow up with self esteem.
We can assist adults in finding jobs and being productive. We can
ease tension between ethnic groups, parents and children, teachers
and students and become proud that we took steps to make the world
a better place. It all begins one on one, the way most communication
occurs anyway. The thing about lighting a million candles is that
your candle needs to be lit first!