best NLP presuppositions the Map is not the territory

NLP presuppositions The map is not the territory

The map is not the territory is one of the founding NLP presuppositions, This concept first came into light by Work of Alfred Korzybski’s “Science and Sanity”.

Korzybski coined the term “neuro-linguistic” it was referring to the connection of the nervous system and our physical responses to thoughts.

We never confuse road map with the road. do we? the Map is not the territory is simple to understand NLP Presuppositions.

This can help you to improve your communication and certainly help to understand other persons view.

You may have found yourself arguing with someone over any issue, and later on, you realize another person’s view was also right. but how do we decide “our view” how do we decide “What is right”?

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We as humans come across millions of bits of information every moment, this information drives through our five senses and finally into our mind.

The researches have shown we can only process 7 plus or minus 2 bits of information consciously.

This NLP presuppositions say we can not truly understand the whole world as it is, not just because of our limited conscious awareness but also that small chunk of information we take in got experienced through unconscious filters like our beliefs, values, and states.

It means we see the world from our point of view. This point of view is developed over a period of years with experience and learning. It is important to understand NLP Presuppositions.

We make over our own map, I am mean to say We make our Internal representation for the events we experience in our mind.

We remember events in pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, words, and smells. This internal representation we make is based on our beliefs, values, and decisions.

Everyone has different beliefs, values, and decisions, so we all may have different experiences for the same event. so your map may not applicable to me. isn’t it?

If we get into arguments about some event, we are arguing on our differing interpretations (maps) but not the event itself.

For Example, If you think your superior is stupid then you have created an internal map for him, just in case if he gives you some kind of task you find him stupid again.

You always try to find out why he is stupid in order to validate your internal map. can you think of any more similar examples?

So we take raw data from our five senses and it gets through our internal filters of our own. so if anyhow you can change these filters (Beliefs, values, and decision) we may have a different experience of the same event altogether.

We create events in our mind mostly in pictures, try to remember something it will be mostly visual i.e picture only you can change your response to the event by just changing the picture.

Confused let us understand it better from the old story.

Do you remember that old story of “Elephant and Six blind men”?

What was happening there, All blind men were right from there point of view or say their internal map, What do you think? Does reality match with even a single-blind man’s internal map?


So, we have our own internal map with which we store and create our experiences.

We all have visited shopping malls every now and then, have you observed “You are Here” maps at malls? imagine if that map is not updated. You have found the shop you wanted to visit but it is not there.

Maps can be totally different than reality, but you make your memories, experiences with this map.

Imagine, you have planned your wedding, you will do this and that, but in the end, it turns out to be different than you had imagined.

People bring a different level of energy and there own maps to your wedding. 🙂

NLP presuppositions

Image source – Patheos

How can you use these NLP presuppositions in practical life?


What if you know the internal map of the person beforehand, the communication will become so easier. You will know how that person processes the information and where he will understand your view.

Imagine, You are about to do some negotiation and you really need to persuade this person, will understanding his motive (Internal map) help you?

The internal maps are made of personal belief, values, and decisions, these are built over a period of time with a number of experiences and beliefs. If you can do some homework here you may be able to build a great rapport.

You may have an experience of gelling up with complete strangers just because you find some common passion or experience.  You may also have a similar kind of childhood or localities.


I personally like to use this presupposition for self-reflection.

What if you know and understand your own maps. e.g if you know that you are generalizing things won’t it help in your decision making.

Let us assume, someone is complaining “I lack in self-confidence”. what message this person is giving to itself ? You may feel a lack of confidence sometimes but not all the time right.

But if you are creating such an internal map ” I lack in self-confidence” than maybe that becomes your reality. You can change your internal map, just by saying something positive.

Building rapport with almost anyone

If you can understand another person’s viewpoint or their internal representation (Map) then you just have to rephrase your language accordingly.

For example, if you know that someone understands in the form of facts figures and data only you can use henceforth try to include more data while you communicate with this person.

Managing conflict

The more you understand other persons’ map the more you are able to persuade them.

In the moment of conflict with others, you can try to find where your map matches with others. After that, you can resolve conflict and create a win-win situation.

How will you know the internal representation of others?

Well to be honest there is no method of the process for that.  but you can refer to my article here on the representational system here. Representational system in nlp

You can be observant and see their language.

For example, If a person uses “See”, “Look”, “Observe” words more he is more visual kind of person. You can also use these words in your language while communicating with them.

If a person uses “Listen”, “sounds”, words more than he is more auditory. You may change your language accordingly.

The more you interact with the person the more you know the internal map of others. just observe their language.

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 Conclusion of NLP presuppositions the map is not the territory

NLP presuppositions The map is not the territory- is the single most important presupposition with which you can change your view.

This NLP presuppositions basically talks about an internal map of the person, that ultimately help us to understand another person’s view, build rapport, and enhance self-awareness.

There are other 11 NLP presuppositions if you liked the article please share your views in the comment section. I will write a detailed article on other NLP presuppositions as well.


Where you are going to use these NLP presuppositions? let me know in the comments.