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Perceptual Positions: all questions, examples and techniques

Perceptual Positions: all questions, examples and techniques

What are the perceptual positions in NLP? In this article, you will find the definition, questions, examples and techniques. The perceptual positions are a very useful tool for gaining new perspectives in all kinds of situations. Read further to find out more. Continue reading this article to learn all about it.

What are the perceptual positions?

There are three perceptual positions:

  1. Yourself: This is the first position (associated).
  2. The other: this is the second position (the empathy position for rapport , associated in the other).
  3. A neutral third position: this is the third position (this position is always dissociated)

Why are perceptual positions so important?

By changing your perception position, you show your flexibility (proactive behavior) in an ultimate way . You will be presented with a different map of the world if you assume the position of a trapezoid artist, for example. Or the position of a fly on the wall.

By taking other perspectives to get more empathy (second position), clear objective  feedback  (third position), information and even omdenk capabilities. In fact, by being able to observe from multiple perspectives, we are so flexible that we even give  ourselves optimal feedback.

The third observation position is useful, for example, for judging a situation without judgment. If you were to look through a lens, what would you see? A Frown! Some add an interpretation: one says: sad. The other says: angry. What is the only thing you know 100%? There is a frown!

Wisdom is … having taken all three positions of perception.
– John Grinder

Questions you can ask to take on other perspectives (perceptual positions)

For any perceptual position that you occupy, you can use all the questions in this article to discover that perceptual position.

observation positions nlp

Questions for in the first perceptual position:

  • How do I perceive the world from within myself?
  • What do I see, hear, feel and say from within myself?
  • How did I react to it?
  • What am I experiencing?
  • What did I see, heard, felt, heard, smelled?
  • How’s that for me?
  • How do I experience that?

Questions for in the second perceptual position:

  • How do I perceive the world from the other? From the filters of the other?
  • What do I see, hear, feel and say from the other?
  • What does the other think is important?
  • What does the other need?
  • What kind of something thoughtful can I do?
  • What can I now do / bring for the other?
  • Ask yourself: what does the other person need now? A glass of water? Tea? Hug?
  • How does the other experience something?
  • How do you think he felt? Why would that be?
  • How does he experience that?
  • What did he see, heard, felt, heard, smelled?
  • How’s that for him?
  • How did he react to it?
  • Could he / she have approached it differently?
  • Step into his shoes.
  • How did he react to it? What would have caused him to react this way?
  • Here the coach pretends to be talking to the second person, while talking to the client: “That’s cool of you. Could you do something about it? ”

Questions for in the third observation position:

In the third position you say what you see. You pretend you don’t understand anything / know no history. You know nothing and you perceive. You look at the case from the perspective of a fly on the wall. You see it all, you don’t like it.

  • To summarize: we just did A, B and C.
  • What kinds of differences do you notice?
  • What do you take from this?
  • What advice would you give him / her (yourself)?
  • What do you see?
  • What do you hear?
  • So not : what do you feel?
  • Lean back with your body. 

Are you unable to assume the second perceptual position?

If you find it challenging to empathize with the other, test the following:

  • Then use the wonder question (pretend) . “Do like the child who put on the princess dress and suddenly there was a princess!”
  • Just look through her glasses. Purely for perspective.

If I take the second position, am I not filling in for the other?

One of the things NLP makes us aware of is not filling in for someone else. A well-known mnemonic is NIVEA (Do Not Fill In For The Other).

Good that you are thinking about NIVEA (No Filling In For The Other) while in second position. It is certainly legitimate to use the second perceptual position, provided you only use the information that you have received or requested from the other.

In addition, when you have rapport with each other, you get transferred a lot of information energetically. Even if you’ve only just met the other person (this is how family constellations work, among other things).

The third perceptual position is very useful for feedback

It is very important for yourself to regularly take up other perceptual positions. The third position is particularly important. This way you can give yourself feedback. Then look at yourself and reflect on purpose, whether you are performing a technique well, the degree of rapport, structure, ecology, etc.

In fact, this is a good practice to teach yourself: to give self-feedback with the third position. Give yourself powerful feedback by literally taking the third position and giving yourself sensory feedback. For detailed steps, see: New Behavior Generator.

Exercise: Recognizing the perceptual positions in a story

waarnemingsposities nlp

A tells about an experience. B and C listen to the perception positions they can recognize in the story. Also do this recognition exercise with stories from people on radio and TV and with people who have nothing to do with NLP.

Exercise: Using the Perceptional Positions for a Situation (Discovering)

Consider a situation where you had an argument or disagreement with someone. Time to look at this situation from multiple angles!

  1. A tells about a difficult communication situation with someone else.
  2. B asks questions that ensure that A always describes the situation from a different perception position.
  3. C discovers which questions B has asked to lead A to another position. The effect of the questions is also discussed. How can B improve his skill in guiding through the perceptual positions?

Variation: do the same, but with a different situation (this can be anything).

Exercise: Using the Perceptional Positions for a Situation (Formal Exercise)

Consider a situation where you had an argument or disagreement with someone. Time to look at this situation from multiple angles!

  1. Anchor positions 1, 2 and 3 in three places on the ground. Associate each location with the first, second, or third position.
  2. Identify a situation where you want more choice.
  3. Experience position 1, 2 and 3 in that experience.
  4. Give advice from position 3.
  5. Go through positions 1 and 2 with the advice from position 3.

Tip: always do this

Are you currently following an NLP course? Then the following is a valuable tip. With every exercise you do, afterwards you give back what you have observed via the third position (third position). Then you do this from the perspective of someone else (second position) and your own perspective (first position). You can also give feedback afterwards ,  which is an extension of the observation. Bonus: make an observation report of each exercise. With this you will develop your objective observation really well.

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!


  1. Mohandas

    Dear Rubin
    You are simply great. If lyou feel your grammar is not ok let them rewrite grammar books. You are a great communicator. How do I get to read all that you have written. My email ID is not capital. But no matter what I do I am not able to write in smal

  2. Jen

    Thank you so much for the information and even some techniques, all organized in a way that was pleasant to read!
    Best wishes!