Calibration is the most important skill required to be an excellent practitioner of NLP. John Grinder calls this the “Mother of All Skills”

Calibration means to observe, to make note of.


So what can you observe when making NLP interventions?

There are two kinds of Calibration: Internal and External.

Internal – Observing something about you

External – Observing something about the person you are working with


Visual (External Calibration):

  • Breathing Pattern
  • Muscle Tension
  • Twitches or Small Movements
  • Incongruence
  • Eye Movement
  • Blinking Pattern
  • Gestures
  • Position & Movement of Feelings shown by hand movements

Auditory (External Calibration):

  • Tone
  • Tempo
  • Rhythm
  • Volume
  • Timbre

Kinesthetic (Internal Calibration)

  • Intensity of a feeling
  • Position
  • Direction
  • Speed of Movement
  • Shape

Note: You can find out about the client’s kinesthetic by asking verbally precise questions using the Meta-Model or by visual calibration. When working with self, the kinesthetic internal calibration is very valuable.

Self-Practice exercises for Calibration


1.     Sit in a position where you can watch someone.

2.     Look next to them. NOT at them. Like maybe a picture on the wall next to where this person is sitting.

3.     Get into a state where you can use your peripheral vision to notice the breathing pattern of that person  

4.     Be careful not to squint. That is not the idea. You are looking straight. You can even fix your gaze on a point. You are training the sides of your eyes to detect movement. You need to develop focus to be able to do this. If you find yourself saying something when trying to do this, you can help your focus by either dropping your tongue to the floor of your mouth or touching the top with the tip of the tongue. These two-physiology stops internal dialogue.


1.     Listen to people converse and pay attention to the phrase that has the word but.

2.     Listen to the tonality of the phrase before the word but and the tonality of the phrase after the word but.

3.     Make notes of the difference.

4.     Try to predict from the tonality early on in the sentence when then person is going to use the word but.


1.     Close your eyes and pay attention to a specific feeling you experience.

2.     Pay attention to its position and area

3.     Find out which direction is the feeling moving

4.     Can you make some comments on its intensity

5.     Find out a similar feeling and compare the differences.


Advanced Practitioners

Remember you can never be too good at this skill? The more you calibrate the more there are to calibrate.

Some personal challenges that you may find interesting.

  • Visual States Calibration - Calibrate physiology to yes. Calibrate physiology to no. And then make a random statement and know if the other person agrees or disagrees with it.
  • Visual and Auditory Analogue Marking – Can you connect states to visual and auditory qualities across conversations?
  • Vary the sub modality in visual and auditory representation system and calibrate the changes in kinesthetic.

These skills combined with exercises that help you strengthen your synesthesia circuits can be really powerful, so keep practising.


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