Of course Martin Luther King Jr. never even heard of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), because it wasn’t developed yet during his time on this plane of existence.

That said, NLP started from modelling those that were some of the greatest minds on the planet, and along NLP’s evolution, yes, Martin Luther King Jr. has been an extraordinary role model in regards to his outstanding Leadership, Communication, Modelling of Excellence, Story Telling (Metaphors), Rapport Skills, along with many other NLP type techniques and methodologies well worth modeling.

So what are just 5 of the many ways Martin Luther King Jr. used some of the same NLP Techniques used today?

1. Leadership Skills:

Martin Luther King Jr. was without a doubt, one of the greatest leaders to ever walk the planet. He understood that if you expect people to follow you, you must first have a strong enough vision (Or “Dream” if you will) that will inspire people to follow you, and then, you must be the ultimate role model for living that Vision/Dream.

People will almost always Do As You Do— Not Just Do As You Say…

2. Advanced Communication Skills:

Martin Luther King Jr. was also, with very little argument, one of the greatest communicators of our time. He understood how to elicit sub-modalities (Sub-modalities being a term in NLP Jargon ), meaning he was a master at using language to fully engage and excite the imagination of the person or group he was communicating with.

He didn’t just speak *monotone* rhetoric. He didn’t just speak. He expressed his passion in ways that inspired people to action.

He used words, tonality and physiology to influence and pursued others, and of course he influenced others with the highest of integrity and ethics (Unlike so many politicians that use Advanced Communication Skills to influence others in ways that actually create and or contribute to violence and war- as opposed to peaceful resolution).

3. Modelling of Excellence:

Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t just born the outstanding leader he became. Of course there was a certain amount of natural ability that he probably had, but he became truly excellent by modelling excellence. He modelled what worked. He knew that violence simply would not work in regards to the civil rights movement, and despite the strong peer pressures to use violence, he knew that the change he wanted to see in the world, had to come from an absolute, unconditional stand for non-violent action for change.

To the best of my knowledge, the two individuals MLK modeled most in his lifetime were Mahatma Gandhi & Jesus Christ in regards to their unwavering stand on Non Violence and Non Violent Communication.

4. Story Telling (Metaphors):

Again, MLK was arguably one of the greatest story tellers of our time. He quoted scripture from the bible and combined them with his own stories and unique style and passion in ways that moved people in incredible ways.

For some, his story telling skills made them love him so much that they would follow him anywhere.

For some, his story telling skills made them hate him, because they knew the power he had to change things they didn’t want to ever seen changed.
And for some, his story telling skills were so powerful that they caused them to move from hating him, to respecting him.

Whatever direction it may have been, people were always moved in powerful ways when they heard him, not just “Speak”, but express the profound wisdom and stories inside of him.

5. Rapport Skills:

MLK, was exceptional at building Rapport with people. Although he didn’t use very traditional NLP Rapport Building techniques like “Matching & Mirroring” (Which I believe to often times be overdone, but that’s a different article), he fully understood how to establish and maintain rapport with individuals and groups.

He was a lifetime student and studied many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, recognizing that if you don’t take the time to better understand someone, they are considerably less likely to take the time to understand you.

Again, looping back to his impeccable leadership skills, he didn’t wait for others to lead the way.

He lead the way to being understood, by first seeking to understand others, or in the words of the late Stephen Covey and his Habit 5 of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People…”He Sought First to Understand, Then to Be Understood”

In closing, I will simply say Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.

You have been, and continue to be one of the many great men and women I seek to better understand, so that I may be better understood in my mission to make even a small percentage of the difference you have – and continue to make on this planet…

-Kevin Cole,

Head Trainer

NLP Training Academy: Empowerment Quest International