Simple! In NLP Presuppositions are basically – “What is the person assuming to be true, underneath what they are actually telling me?”. Presuppositions are not necessarily true, but even if the are not, by holding something not-yet-true as being true, we can help to bring that to fruition.
Presuppositions usually appear in the deep structure of language and not in the actual surface structure, though they can be obvious sometimes. You can usually find many clues to what people’s presuppositions really are. Presuppositions are beliefs or assumptions, which support the language we hear from others or use ourselves. Presuppositions can be in the surface structure, allowing us an obvious clue. Or, they can be in the deep structure and only suggested by the surface structure of language.
In the example: “When do you want to have the goods shipped, today or tomorrow?” – the keyword is “or”. “Or” here implies a choice, that implies options and the options given here are “today or tomorrow”. The presupposition here is that these options are the only two worth mentioning. Bottom line, you must want to have the goods shipped today or tomorrow if you want to make that choice.
As an exercise today, write out all the presuppositions you can find in the following sentence. “We cannot provide you that information now, as we have to discuss this with the team first.”. Besides that, listen to every discussion you hear today and scan for the presuppositions made therein. Have fun!
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