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NLP Seminars ~ A Comprehensive Guide to the Good, Bad and Manipulative

nlp seminars

NLP Seminars ~ In this post you will find:

• Valid reasons NLP seminars are often considered manipulative
• The intention of legitimate NLP seminars and practitioners
• The difference between NLP and a manipulative NLP seminar leader
• Detailed list of tactics manipulative NLP seminars use (red flags)
• A list of specific features legitimate NLP training organizations offer

Since its development in the 1970’s, neuro-linguistic programming or NLP has received its fair share of accusations as a means of manipulation – some with good reason. But, manipulation itself is as old as the hills.

The misuse of language for personal gain made its mark in history long before the term neuro-linguistic programming was created. After all, NLP is a model of communication; a series of tools that may be used for the benefit of self and others. NLP, like any form of communication, may also be used for less benevolent means.

NLP practitioners intend to influence and change behavior by way of language and other types of communication, essentially re-coding the way the mind responds to its environment. It’s a wonderfully effective means of changing unwanted behaviors to more constructive and desirable ones. This is where the ‘programming’ part comes into play and also where those with less than pure intentions can take advantage of NLP’s subtle power.

Is NLP inherently manipulative?

No. Neuro-linguistic programming is one of many means to an end. Imagine a gourmet kitchen filled with all the best gadgets, appliances and ingredients a person might use to prepare a meal. We should be careful making assumptions about the food coming out of that kitchen without knowing a little about chef’s skill and intentions, right?  Meals made with those wonderful tools can be used to nourish or to poison, depending on the intentions of the cook.

Keeping with the analogy, an NLP practitioner might be highly trained and effective, or woefully under skilled and inadequate. He or she might have selfless intentions or be driven by selfishness and greed.

Tools to Fulfill Greed Have Always Been in Style

As long as there have been things to sell, there have been greedy people ready to take advantage of customers. Our culture sells far more than products. We buy and sell propaganda, political views, ideologies – even love is for sale according to some.

Since Edward Bernays’ use of psychoanalytic principles to invent public relations, politicians and businesses have mastered language, imagery, and positive association to gain influence, money and power. Corporations spend billions of dollars to choose the perfect wording, visual representations and spokespeople to achieve their objectives.


nlp manipulation


In the world of online marketing, manipulation for personal and corporate gain is a norm. Unfortunately, the techniques used are often too subtle for many people to detect. This is why many have learned to use neuro-linguistic programming as a ‘manipulation detection system.’

Neuro-linguistic programming, as a path of study and livelihood in the online world, has gained in popularity over the past decade, especially since the life coaching industry took off. With the increased interest and demand for NLP seminars and courses came a flood of parasitic companies, ready to cash in on unsuspecting buyers. Ironically, these snake oil vendors make liberal use of the very techniques they promise to teach in order to lure in and pressure prospective students.

NLP Seminar and NLP Training Scams

Five Tactics Used by Unscrupulous Organizations who Teach NLP Seminars

Sales tactics are sales tactics. Using them doesn’t make an organization unethical. The devil is in the details. How each tactic is used is the unethical part, so don’t judge an offer out of context. For example, using an ‘inner circle’ membership is a common practice. We should judge the level of manipulation based on the details of the offer and the way it is presented. If an organization presents an offer, as described in point #5 below, buyer beware.

1. The Bait – Free or Low-Cost ‘Too Good To Be True’ NLP Seminars

Some companies who promote neuro-linguistic programming offer a free or low-cost introductory NLP seminar or learning module in which they provide a superficial training, featuring compelling and easy-to-implement NLP techniques. This in itself is not a red flag, but if it comes with extraordinary promises, watch out. These “certifications” are infomercials for longer, more expensive courses that will be heavily pitched throughout. Once you get to the training, it is high pressure from there. Or, you may find out that what you thought was an “NLP certification” was actually just a “certificate of completion” and if you want to earn the actual NLP certification, it will be thousands of dollars more.

2. Promises of the ‘Magic and Power’ of NLP

The majority of these free introductory seminars or lessons, as well as the web pages themselves, will be liberally peppered with promises of instant power, prestige and prosperity by simply using these amazing ‘secret’ NLP techniques to influence other people, as well as the reassurance that NLP will fix any problem in any area of your life, no matter how bad the situation might be.

Be on the look-out for outrageous claims like these:

  • ‘Make others follow your lead through powerful persuasion techniques.’
  • ‘Instantly hypnotize complete strangers into obeying your hidden commands.’
  • ‘Get exactly what you want from any negotiation.’
  • ‘Make people beg you to sell them your products and services.’

Unfortunately, students of these dishonest NLP seminars discover that they are the ones who end up begging to purchase more products and services, just to be allowed to finish the program and finally receive the promised rewards of elusive, ‘magical and secret’ NLP techniques.

The miracle methods and inner circle secrets, however, remain perpetually on the other side of an additional credit card transaction. In fact, they don’t even live there… because these types of claims don’t actually exist.

3. High-Pressure Sales Tactics

This is an area where underhanded NLP seminars reveal their true colors.  Employing the very same NLP language techniques they promise to teach you in order to ‘manipulate others to your will’, they attempt to do just that – manipulate prospective students into commitments and enrollments through high pressure and slick sales tactics.

You’ll see promises of a ‘once in a lifetime’ offer, opportunities that will ‘never be available again’, and words that leave you feeling as though you’ll be an unsuccessful loser for the rest of your life if you don’t enroll immediately.

4. Hidden Costs in NLP Seminars

A common tactic used by these unscrupulous institutes that offer NLP seminars and training is to hook a potential student with a low-cost initial enrollment fee. Then, after a commitment is secured, reveal multiple additional costs for completing the program, often after you’ve just traveled there.  These ‘training systems’ are designed to put you in the uncomfortable position of having to pay more and more money just to get through it without losing any prior investment made. The fine print reveals that cancellation prior to completion also results in the loss of any credits earned.

Hidden ‘monthly maintenance’ fees, annual membership fees, steep cancellation fees, ongoing costs for the use of training materials and other money grabs are also common.

If the institute that claims to teach neuro-linguistic programming does not clearly state all the fees for enrollment, final certification, training materials and cancellation, at all levels and stages of their certification process, this should be a red flag for prospective students. There is no reason hide the fees unless there is something they don’t what you to know.

4. Direct Communication Black-Out

NLP ‘gurus’ that want to sucker you into an expensive program with very little substance will not want to allow opportunities for second thoughts.  As a result, they often make it virtually impossible to contact anyone at the school or institute directly (other than the sales call center that processes your payment).

Any reputable training program makes direct communication available with NLP trainers and staff.  Questions should be welcomed at all stages, including prior to enrollment and payment.

5. The Paid ‘Inner Circle’ Membership

Some neuro-linguistic programming training centers offer membership into an elite ‘inner circle’ upon completion of their program, which of course comes at a price, either via increasingly expensive certification levels, a high annual membership fee, or both.

The language used to convince students of the necessity of inner circle membership is subtly manipulative, designed to distract prospects from using common sense and limit choices to the options presented.

The suggestion will be that if a student does not choose to become a member, they are not ‘serious’ and will not succeed as an NLP practitioner. Those opting to decline membership may be disconnected from any further support from the organization and from contact with fellow students. This almost sounds like a cult.

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How to Find a Good NLP Seminar or NLP Training Program

Before you lose heart, you should know that there are a number of reputable and ethical NLP seminar and NLP training programs available.  Finding one involves taking the time to do a little research and eliminating any organizations or online schools that wave the red flags described above.

great nlp seminars and nlp training

What should you look for in a world-class NLP training program:

  • Complete transparency of all associated fees and costs, including training materials
  • Complete access to all course materials upon enrollment
  • Learn at your own pace schedule; no high-pressure deadlines
  • Direct communication access with trainers and administrators
  • Clear and detailed descriptions of course content at every level of training, including any certification achieved
  • Reasonable and clearly explained cancellation policy
  • Multi-media access to course materials and training, i.e. skype, online portals, virtual ‘live’ classrooms, etc.
  • No pressure tactics to move to higher levels of training
  • A reasonable satisfaction guarantee
  • On-going means of communication during training for tech support, course content questions, and feedback
  • Some means of connecting and communicating with fellow students and graduates
  • Trainers with extensive expertise

What Makes the iNLP Center a Good Choice for Your NLP Training?

You are reading this article at iNLP Center and we are an NLP training center. However, we are also  proud of our transparency. We want our students to feel good about their decision to train with us and to participate in our school community!

Because of this, there are never any hidden or on-going fees when you enroll in any of our courses or training tracks, and prices for enrollment and completion of each course are clearly listed and easy to find on our website. There are no certification fees, no materials fees, no membership fees… we don’t even charge a fee for mailing or emailing certificates worldwide!

iNLP Center offers several levels of certification, including NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Trainer, and Life Coach Certification. While some students choose to enroll in a training track, which include multiple courses, others choose to enroll in just one training at a time, moving to higher levels if and when they’re ready.

We do not make any attempt to pressure or upsell students to higher levels of training during the learning process. Students often choose to move on to the next course and doing so is simple, but no pressure to move on is applied. You choose the path that’s right for you!

Students receive the entire certification course or multi-certification track upon enrollment. Even students making use of our monthly payment plans will receive all course materials and content up-front (and receive their certificates once the payment plan is completed).

Certified iNLP Center trainers do not pay fees to use iNLP Center training materials for their courses, and there are no fees to maintain trainer status. When conducting NLP training with their own students, they are required to pay a small licensing fee for every student iNLP certifies on the trainer’s behalf.  This fee includes the shipping of certificates and is disclosed up front.

Working with students in over 70 different countries with varying levels of income, we strive to be fair in our pricing model. Currency rate exchanges can be steep, so iNLP Center can reduce enrollment fees under special circumstances to accommodate those dealing with financial hardship.

There is no re-enrollment fee if something comes up in a student’s life that requires an extended break from a course.  Imposing no deadlines to learn or complete the courses, we give students access to the learning material and live classes for life, even after formal certification is completed.

Students needing help with content, tech support, or who have questions about their enrollment will find contacting the iNLP Center easy and straightforward, and we strive to address any concerns in a timely manner, even refunds. We welcome refunds if the training doesn’t suit you. You have up to a week to request a refund. That gives you plenty of time to complete a couple modules, attend some live sessions with our trainers, and get a taste of what iNLP Center has to offer.

The iNLP Center has created an engaging and uplifting community of NLP and coaching professionals, with trainers who don’t pretend to be above or better than the students.

Our ‘inner circle’ is open to all iNLP students, past and present, free of charge forever via our live, weekly online training classes, where current and former students ask questions, learn new NLP techniques, watch coaching demonstrations and hang out with other students.  Multiple classes are offered weekly to accommodate international time zones.

Each live training class is unique, so be prepared to learn something new every time. You can participate in the community for life and there is never a charge or membership premium.

Our lead Trainer, Mike Bundrant, is a former licensed mental health counselor with over 25 years experience working with neuro-linguistic programming and various coaching models.  With his extensive background, Mike understands and teaches NLP not as ‘magic’, but rather as a profoundly effective personal development modality.

A Final Note to All Considering NLP Seminars or Training

Those bent on seeing manipulation will find it, regardless of the messenger’s intention. If you ask me to pass you the salt, I could make that request into an attempt at manipulation if I were so inclined.

  • You were just trying to distract me.
  • You’re too lazy to get it yourself.
  • You’re trying to control me.

This is why manipulation is often hard to detect. It involves the messenger’s intention, which can often only be known over time and with experience. What it comes down to is this: Manipulation involves the intention and effort to take advantage of another for personal gain. If you’re manipulative, you want what you want, without concern for the other’s well-being.

If that is you, please don’t enroll at the iNLP Center. Don’t get NLP training anywhere. Get help.

iNLP Center teaches NLP ethically, from a coaching and personal development perspective. If that is the type of training you are seeking, check out our courses.

NLP Seminars ~ A Comprehensive Guide to the Good, Bad and Manipulative

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2018). NLP Seminars ~ A Comprehensive Guide to the Good, Bad and Manipulative. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 19 Apr 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Apr 2018
Published on All rights reserved.