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NLP State Management in Business

Do your emotions drive you?
Or do you drive your emotions?

by Jonathan Altfeld

One of the most impressive people I had the pleasure to meet was a consulting project manager at HP (Hewlett Packard).  At the time I was a senior Artificial Intelligence / IT consultant working for an AI consulting firm.  He and I (along with some others from still other companies) were collaborating on a proposal for a huge AI project being considered at a major credit bureau, a few years before I began doing NLP training in 1997.

During the 2 month proposal project, we encountered and brainstormed (an apt word) our way through multiple logistical problems, technical issues, and political storms (due to having so many different 3rd party companies involved in the proposal).  It was a mess – that we somehow eventually navigated from chaos into brilliant order.

Yet through it all, that HP project manager kept his cool.  Things could erupt in emotional turmoil, yet he never lost his cool. When he spoke, calmly, everyone listened.  He wasn't monotonous, but he was measured.  His words were well chosen, on target, and respectful of every view in the room. Everyone in turn respected him. And when he wasn't in the room, people repeatedly commented on how professional he was. We were all glad he was there.

He didn't let anything break his calm, cool demeanor.  He became a natural leader even though we were all roughly equal parties to the proposal.  No matter what was thrown at him, he remained eminently resourceful.  That, to me, to this day, makes up part of my ideal model for state management, and pre-dates my experiences in NLP. That's saying a lot, because I have even higher expectations for what constitutes great state management, today.

NLP State Management in Business
isn't limited to staying calm, though!

Sometimes a circumstance calls for finding and maintaining a certain level of passion for a task that would otherwise be boring. That's another form of state management.

Sometimes a manager irritates an employee (or vice-versa). NLP State Management in this case might mean remembering a circumstance when you appreciated them the most so far, thus allowing you to let the other person indulge their personality glitch without it damaging your relationship with them. Be the bigger person if you can (even better, once they're calm, find good ways to enable them to be an equally bigger person).

Sometimes even if you're not feeling 100% confident, you may need to go on an interview, where you'll need to find your confidence and maintain it. NLP State Management helps enormously here. Science backs you here, as well – Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy studied “Power Postures” and found that if you spend 2 minutes in a bathroom stall just before your interview, standing in a powerful victory posture, you WILL do better in the interview.  Act as if you feel confident, and you start feeling more confident.  True!

What Amy Cuddy did NOT yet study, however, is  how quickly a posture-induced state diminishes back to lower confidence, inside the interview itself, without NLP emotional state management skills.  And that is where NLP helps us excel measurably further than just relying on a 2-minute bathroom-stall victory posture.  It's not just about initiating a great state – it's about maintaining it for as long as you need it.  If you can't maintain confidence on your own even in low-confidence circumstances, for more than a few minutes, I assure you, this is something that a great 10+ day NLP Practitioner course WILL enable you to do, at will. Also, pair this skill with NLP Anchoring, and you'd never need to repeat the two minute victory posture in a stall again.

Sometimes you just don't like a client or vendor, but for whatever reason you continue to do business with them. Perhaps it's because they have the best product, or the best price, or they pay the most, or give you the most business, or the most referrals. In such cases, you may want to check in with your values, decide if maintaining the relationship is a price you're willing to pay, and if it is – then do what it takes to convince yourself you like them – for just the duration of time you need to spend with them.

Fortunately, that doesn't happen to me, except when I occasionally turn down a coaching client before working with them. In my coaching and training, I get to work with people who are ready to make their lives better and deeply value any progress they make, and any insights and techniques that get them closer to what they want. I have the privilege of working with fabulous high-quality people with great personalities, interesting backgrounds, unique skills, and in almost every case, a desire to live more congruently, manage change, or handle an issue. And when I help them do so, we both get to radiate deep gratitude.  It's very rewarding to inspire confidence in the likelihood of change, and to see it happen to good people!

Developing Flexibility, and Radiating Great States

Step One in emotional state management is that you'll want to be able to feel, and radiate great emotional states. I'm referring to states like credibility, openness, warmth, confidence, passion, curiosity, connectedness, and more. You'll want to use these (and others) as needed, developing the flexibility to jump into the most optimal emotional responses for any given situation. This is foundational NLP material – being able to learn to feel these states at will, trigger them in the perfect situations, and maintain them as needed.  One of the most common NLP exercises to develop Step One, is called "the Circle of Excellence."

Step Two in emotional state management is learning to redirect certain emotions (that are often but not always unresourceful), into more optimal emotional responses. Like redirecting “annoyance” into “calm, cool and collected.” Or from “worried” into “focused and passionate.” Or from “fear” into “bring it on!” Or any number of other emotional transitions that would be experienced by others as far more preferable.  Some of the more common NLP Techniques for developing Step Two, include "Swish", "Reframing", "Kinesthetic Squash", Emotional State Chaining (something I train in my "Creating the Automatic Yes" audio program), and more.

Step Three in emotional state management is learning how to maintain a state even with (or in spite of) the onslaught of efforts by others to pollute it.  After all, what good are steps One and Two if the slightest provocation by circumstances or other people derails your good intentions and throws you off your game?  I include this critical step in my courses.  Few do.  I can, because a 10 day certification course allows us the proper time to engage in these critical exercises.   There are some fascinating ways to develop this skill.

Remember that when feeling all of these states, these emotions give us access to (or cause) certain behaviors that might never be available to us in other states. Many behaviors are contextual to our emotional states. We would never yell at someone angrily when we're feeling calm, or generous, or nurturing. We would never congruently and gently smile widely at someone when we were feeling livid, or depressed. We would never give an employee a good review or a big raise or an ex employee a great referral, if we were feeling deep disappointment. We would never hire a new vendor if we felt deep distrust (and other options were available). We wouldn't show up late every day for work when we truly love what we do (unless you intentionally value and have permission for flexible hours!).

Whole areas of behavior can become possible or impossible depending on our emotions.

An Example of State-Based Business Coaching

I worked with a client (a professional insurance company executive) who was worried about his voice.  He said he wanted voice coaching to make his voice more compelling and influential.

Often when a client tells me a desired outcome, they're describing for me just one of the potential ways of solving their issue -- they're telling me just one means (to an implied end), but they may not be telling me the actual desired end.  So I like to investigate and unpack their outcome.  I asked him, "So you want to have a more compelling and influential voice.  What would that enable?"

He said "I'd be taken more seriously."  

So of course, I took him seriously, and asked for more information.  I asked, "Why don't people take you seriously enough, currently?"  (Note:  I could either ask more about being taken seriously, i.e. the solution state, which is one valuable direction.  By asking what I did, I was asking about the problem state, which helped me to build a map of what was actually not going well.)

He replied, "Well, sometimes, when I'm confident, my voice is great, and people take me seriously.  When I'm not confident, my voice gets all tinny and sounds whiny, and no one takes me seriously.  So I need voice coaching."  

If you, like me, were a voice coach AND an NLP Trainer, what you would be hearing in his words are the following:  Emotions are the cause.  The voice is the effect.  The effect causes a result.  He was assuming that because he believes he couldn't change his emotions, and he couldn't change the responses he was getting to a whiny voice, that he had to do voice coaching.

As a voice coach, I'm all for voice coaching!  Yet, my client had a nice voice when he sounded confident.  (It was his confidence that people enjoyed listening to, and charismatic personality that brought people closer).

I knew from experience it would be a difficult if not impossible battle to train him to sound good when feeling low confidence.  So instead, knowing that it's easier to train state-management (which for him was a short-cut to sounding great), I recommended some coaching that would help him manage his emotions more effectively.  And we did just that.  By enabling him to manage his emotions better, he learned to short-circuit the less-confident state, and the whiny, tinny voice, wouldn't be heard from again.

Remember, emotions drive the potential behaviors we can engage in.  Resourceful emotions lead to resourceful behavior.  Unresourceful emotions lead to unresourceful behavior.  This has both positive and negative implications, but all of the implications tell us...

More state management is better than less state management.

After all, you might not want to bark at a customer out of anger from an inappropriate accusation on their part, when you could instead calmly inform them of the facts, tell them you don't appreciate the insult, share with them something generous you're willing to do to make them feel better, and give them a way to save face instead of responding in kind.

On the other hand, if a customer repeatedly demeans people, you might not want to operate out of fear, because it may be that they would only respect or hear someone communicating similarly. This does happen on occasion, that meeting someone where they're at, emotionally, and then dialing it down to feeling calm again, can be brilliantly effective.

All of this speaks to behavioral and emotional state flexibility -- which is ever so valuable and useful!  So I hope you've learned some great ideas above.  Take them into your life and play with them!

Want to go further with NLP State Management in Business?

Great NLP training should provide this (and if it doesn't – it flat-out isn't great NLP training). It definitely takes time and active practicing, ideally with trainer observation and feedback, to develop the requisite reflexive emotional awareness, so this is yet another reason for avoiding short NLP certification courses.

Alternatively, if you took a short certification course already, and you'd like to acquire the depth of skills described above, I'm happy to invite you to take an NLP Business Practitioner course with me.  It won't be "repeating the course" because I assure you, my course won't look, sound or feel anything like a 5 or 7-day Practitioner course.  I focus on enabling students to acquire integrated skills, not book knowledge, and it will be more experiential and applied; less theoretical and academic.


author: Jonathan Altfeld

NLP Business Rapport Skills

NLP has enabled people just like you to discover that actively building, deepening, and maintaining Rapport creates stronger and more desirable results in communication settings of any kind.  We know that Rapport is not something that has to be left to chance, and it is utterly untrue that we click with some people and just don't click with others, and that nothing can be done about that.  Instead, Rapport can be created where it does not yet exist.  It can be magnified, strengthened, and harnessed -- for everyone's benefit.

Since its widespread dissemination into the self-improvement marketplace, the idea of Rapport is everywhere now.   Virtually every executive knows about mirroring, for example.  Mirror neuron research has finally proven what NLP has been saying for decades.  

Unfortunately, thanks to self-improvement "fast-food-style" sound-bytes, many people now think of Rapport as equivalent to mirroring, or equivalent to feeling warm & fuzzy.  While these are sometimes the case, they're truly not the case in all situations, and  things get really interesting when you move far past these simple assumptions and sound bytes about Rapport, and begin exploring what's possible. 

Rapport is about being in tune with people, and if two people are arguing at top volume, that's one form of being in rapport.  If both people are stubbornly refusing to say anything, both with arms crossed, they're in rapport.  If two people are both too shy to say anything to each other, even if they're not mirroring, they're very much in rapport.

Also, although mirroring skills are important, because mirroring can be experienced as mocking, nowadays its essential to learn how to move past basic mirroring and matching, into cross-mirroring and cross-matching, which requires some real nuances, behavioral demonstrations, and many hours of practice.  This is next to impossible for other people to identify, so they won't ever feel like you're mocking or manipulating them.  Yet it produces the same desirable result in terms of deeper rapport (presumably -- and this is just conjecture -- firing off the same mirror neurons, without mirror-image behavior).

People who are really good at rapport skills will need to have developed enough sensory awareness skills and behavioral flexibility to shift their behavior and communication to more closely match aspects of other people's behavior and communication, indirectly (ideally, via cross-mirroring and cross-matching).  As it pertains to Small Business, this lets us attract and keep clients or customers more effectively, make business partners feel more warmth around us, invite employees to feel more connected with us and our vision, and more.  Rapport ought to be an automatic effort by all of us.

Some would describe rapport as pacing (or mirroring), but pacing is just one specific skill.  Leading is another skill.  Temporarily breaking rapport is yet another.

Rapport is the overall ability to manage and deepen connections, including the ability to be able to disconnect a connection temporarily without the other person feeling like there's any disconnection.  This is valuable for optimally ending conversations, or putting an end to an interview, or a sales presentation.   For example, you may get interrupted during an important call, and need to end the call in a way where the other party can feel perfectly fine about it.  Or you could be having a conversation with one potential prospect at a trade-show, and be called in to another conversation by a manager or supervisor.

It's possible to go even further than this to achieve success in circumstances most would describe as difficult to impossible, e.g., for an NLP Practitioner to enable rapport indirectly (or unconsciously) between other parties who frequently argue.  Or for a skilled NLP artist to gain rapport between multiple members of a committee.  Even to get an entire audience to breathe all together at the same rate, indirectly.  These are pretty easy results for skilled NLP Practitioners – truly using basic skills -- if they were trained well to begin with.  

Do you think these sorts of indirect rapport skills could be useful for situations like a sales context where a couple comes into your store or business and can't make up their mind?  What if you could get both members of a couple back in rapport with each other, and with you, enabling you to lead the sale nearer to a successful closing.  I've done this countless times, and you can too.

It's also exceptionally valuable to spend days learning rapport skills in every major sensory modality, so you're not limited to the simplest rules of visual mirroring.  You'll want to be able to get rapport nonverbally from across a room (essential for conferences and trade-shows), which uses Kinesthetic and Visual.  You'll want to be able to get rapport over the phone, which is mostly auditory but has a kinesthetic starting point for you, and a kinesthetic ending for both you and the other person.  You see?  Rapport is far more than just mirroring.

Rapport with just a Belief?

Finally, I'll share a story with you about a Knowledge Engineering (KE) student with whom I initially shared very little “obvious” rapport.  Our ages and life circumstances were very different when I first met him.  His preferred rate of speech and my own, were very different (I shifted mine more towards his, than he shifted his towards mine).  And we found we respectfully disagreed about a number of things.  We got along fine, and he was a good student and enjoyed the material, even though we didn't agree on everything.

Because I was teaching KE (which is all about identifying and working with beliefs and belief systems), however, there was one moment in the course where I had discovered we shared an unusual belief about sales:  “That once a buyer has been led to feel passionately about a product or service, then no closing techniques are ever needed.”  For someone who believes passionately in what they're selling, and enjoys sharing that passion with others in an inspirational way, pressure sales tactics become utterly unnecessary.

Once we both knew the other of us held these related beliefs as deeply accurate, our rapport for the rest of the course was set in concrete.  We weren't aware of mirroring much of anything around that time -- except some important beliefs we both shared.  And we did continue to disagree on things, but the disagreements paled in comparison to knowing about our mirrored beliefs.  And I don't know if he knew it, but even later on when we disagreed on things, we were mirroring each other's posture more, and voice rate.

I hope this expands your beliefs about what rapport is, and how many things you can mirror!

If you're interested in achieving the levels of rapport-building I've been talking about, feel free to connect with me.  Call my office at 813-991-8888, or contact us through the site.


author: Jonathan Altfeld

NLP Insights from Training Animals Helps You Learn and Teach

NLP Insights from Animal-Training helps you learn and teach more effectively!

Whenever you're looking to learn something (or train others in something), chances are you're interested in minimizing time required for learning and training, without sacrificing quality, while still maximizing ROI (return on investment -- whether time or money or both).

Towards that end, the purpose of today's blog is to share ideas that are essential and relevant in the valuable pursuit of training people in a way that maximizes retention and depth of development, while minimizing time required to acquire new skill and knowledge.

NLP is centrally built around the idea of creating desired changes through accelerated learning (whether an NLP-trained Therapist or Coach is training a client on a new mental process that helps them achieve a change, or an NLP-trained Speaker or Trainer (cough, cough) is training audiences on how to do something more effectively.

Not every innovation for accelerated or optimal learning and training comes from the field of NLP (though many do). In some cases, fascinating insights can be gleaned from the field of animal training, and by exploring these from an NLP perspective, we can establish a new way of thinking about training people.

Let's Review “Don't Shoot the Dog” by Karen Pryor

Karen Pryor writes about animal training in a way that I believe is also aimed also at helping us learn how to train people more effectively. As an aside, in my opinion, she's also written one of the closest things to using NLP while training Animals, in her book, Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training

I'll begin this blog entry by reminding readers of the most basic understandings of classical and operant conditioning (and we'll discuss anchoring later on). I do this because both classical AND operant conditioning can be a critically important aspect of training. By contrast, operant condition is usually absent from just presentations, and classical conditioning typically can only play a minor role in just presentations.

Classical Conditioning is when some reasonably-neutral conditioned stimulus (CS) is presented alongside any biologically powerful unconditioned stimulus (UC). The aim is to cause a subject to associate the normal response to the UC, now also to the CS. Like Dogs, salivating after hearing a bell ring. Like if we use a certain song for our cellphone ringtone, exclusively for someone specific we really want to hear from. Then if we hear that tune on the radio, we'd feel anticipation for connecting with that special someone.

Operant Conditioning is when the likelihood of a specific behavior or response is either strengthened or weakened, depending on setting specific consequences (i.e., reward or punishment). This would be like giving salespeople a higher bonus and a better shift schedule, vs giving them an unwanted work schedule, entirely based on positive or negative sales performance.

There typically are NO feedback loops in Classical Conditioning. But there are feedback loops in Operant Conditioning,  and great training absolutely requires feedback loops. 

Let's jump into “Don't Shoot the Dog.” Karen's sections in the book cover...

  • REINFORCEMENT: Better Than Rewards
  • SHAPING: Developing Super Performance
  • STIMULUS CONTROL: Cooperation Without Coercion
  • UN TRAINING: Using Reinforcement

Let's look at Reinforcement

Reinforcing is about adjusting ongoing behaviors. Shaping is about creating new ones. We're going to focus on reinforcing for the moment.

There are a lot of NLP Trainers and NLP Master Practitioners who've done some dog training in the past. It seems to be a commonly shared history. What dog-training has taught us is that with animals (and we are animals!), reinforcement requires INSTANT response. Any positive desired result or behavior must be reinforced instantly.

Karen states that "Reinforcement only with Positive means" works better than both positive & negative Reinforcement, because it saves one decision. Therefore it can be unconsciously acted on. We should begin by providing a small reward at or after every positive desired result or behavior. Negative results should be ignored, not punished, and then the relationship between subject and trainer requires less justification.

This means that even if someone has a negative response to something, we shouldn't ignore them, we should simply pick anything about what they are doing that is positive, to compliment or notice. If someone's negative response persists, then keep reminding them of verifiable positive facts and results (rather than on opinions where their stubborn focus on the negative can flourish). Begin with fact-based compliments and chunk up to the higher value of those compliments.

For example: Let's say your co-worker manages to complete an extremely complicated research project, culling together and effectively organizing the material into a format that's easy to digest. You're happy with it, and you use it to make smart decisions for moving forward that increases earnings, and reduces costs. What if they know they could have done better, and they complain that they didn't do that good a job. You can then say “While I know you're not as happy as you could be (Pace), some great evidence is already in (Pace), we've saved Four Million Dollars this quarter (Pace), you bumped sales up by 22% (Pace), and the higher-ups and shareholders are all obviously happy (Pace). We can build further on that again in the next quarter (Lead). How good does it feel to have this many people thanking you (Lead)?

Let's Look at Shaping Desired Behavior

Ms. Pryor describes Shaping being based on 10 high-level rules, with 3 'short cuts' to Shaping being : Targeting, Mimicry, & Modeling.

Targeting is about building a behavior with piecemeal elements... that string together bit by bit. NLP'ers might accurately consider this to be like chaining states. (I have an audio program available on chaining-emotional-states, called “Creating the Automatic Yes”).

Mimicry is something some animals do easily & well, so if you demonstrate, they follow. Mimicry can be like mirroring in Rapport, but in this case with Mimicry, we're referring not to rapport, but to learning. Mimicry actually has parallels to NLP Modeling, whereby we use mirroring and unconscious uptake intentionally not for rapport, but to physically mimic another person's skill so as to acquire it.

(Clarification): the term “Modeling” is used by Ms. Pryor to refer to pushing a subject through something. Like, showing someone how to make a copy at the copy machine, or like showing someone how to complete a form on paper or on screen. Or like handing your husband the garbage can and pushing him down the driveway. So Ms. Pryor is suggesting that in training animals, she uses the word modeling to help intentionally show a desired behavior to others. In NLP, we refer to modeling as what a subject does in trying to acquire a model of something from an exemplar. A minor distinction – but an important one. We can model our own behaviors for others to pick up (Karen Pryor's usage), AND, we can unconsciously model others' behavior (NLP's usage).

Targeting could start with when the wife smiles every time her husband offered to do the dishes, and then another bigger smile if he offered to massage her feet. Targeting could be used anytime a manager gives a retail salesperson a “thumbs-up” when they actively walk out to greet a customer, and another “thumbs-up” when the salesperson steers a customer towards a certain product or area, and another “thumbs-up” when a sale is made, and another “thumbs-up” when the salesperson hands the customer their card, to encourage return business with a specific helpful person.

To do targeting, reinforce any behavior that comes close to what you want, and provide some small reward within a half-second of what you want to reinforce – this is about building instant and unconscious associations. We don't want much conscious thinking here.

Some years ago, because a student asked a question about this book, I then replied by using some of Pryor's techniques to demonstrate training a specific NLP behavior at a workshop.  I brought another student up, and demonstrated shaping a totally new behavior for the trainee in under 5 minutes, in the context of an NLP exercise (this is something I've been doing regularly for years at courses without necessarily telling students I'm demonstrating behavioral shaping). I wanted the student to visually mirror my behaviors real-time, instead of afterwards.  When they didn't display what I was looking for, I didn't respond.  When they did, I offered positive verbal feedback.  One of Karen Pryor's rules of thumb is to minimize the size of the reward -- and slowly make the reinforcement less easy to acquire.  The demo worked like a charm, because these training methods work beautifully and reliably.

While training any technique, language model, behavior, or skill, naturally I make active use of targeting, mimicry, and modeling to help shape the behaviors and language of students. It's another reason why my students get so effective with these wonderful NLP skills!

Here's an example with using food to train dogs. I used tiny sliced hotdogs. I had a spot on the ground, marked with a penny or bottle-top. You don't need to use food -- you can use a "clicker" too (or instead) -- which is like auditory and/or gustatory reinforcement. I put the spot on the ground, and gave my dog a tiny piece of hotdog after she touched her nose to the spot. The 2nd time, she hit the spot faster. The 3rd time it was instant, but I was already on to building the next step. I moved the spot to another location. My dog went for the new location, and didn't get anything, but rapidly went back to the 1st place and then looked at me. She didn't get anything, so then she went to the new place and I did give her a hotdog (rewarding the behavior of touching both spots. We repeated that experience a few times, and then by the 4th round of practicing this new pair of behaviors, she was touching both spots, and getting the reward consistently. I helped my dog build a totally new sequence of behavioral choices that led to the reward.  What I liked about this technique was the way in which it involved the reverse of the usual paradigms for learning. 

My dog moved from certainty to uncertainty. The trainee moves from the certainty of getting a small reward, to the uncertainty of whether they understood what was suggested or asked for. When every positive response is instantly rewarded there is a certainty in that for the trainee. It is ONLY when it is time to move on to a new behavior that the rewards become less certain.

Another way of saying this is that inducing confusion in a contrived, controlled space, is an incredible paradigm for enabling cognitive leaps from one stuck state to a more resourceful and creative response. I like creating these moments repeatedly for students. Yes, mild confusion is an extraordinarily useful training tool. Deep confusion – not so much.

In the last chapter Karen Pryor discusses UN-TRAINING behaviors. I think her entire book, can be thought of “at a process level” as being about UN-TRAINING old ideas about how best to train, to learn, and to condition, while she talks in entertaining and interesting ways about how much more elegantly and quickly people can learn.

So, I invite you to wonder: is Ms. Pryor discussing learning how to train animals from what we've learned about human learning? Or is she talking of learning how to train people from what we've learned about animal learning?

Essentially, I think she's talking about training people to train... anything.

So naturally, I think every educator on the planet should read this book.

Let's Look at Un-Training
(before looking at Stimulus Control)

Ms. Pryor details eight methods of getting rid of a desired behavior (either in favor of a preferred behavior, or just getting rid of it). I won't go into all of these (read her book!), but I will say that there are pros and cons with each method. There is no one tried and true method that always works with eliminating every type of behavior, and there are situations where one method may be more or less effective than another.

I often encounter situations where people arrive at NLP courses having either trained themselves ineffectively, or, worse, were trained badly by certain other trainers. I do a lot of cleanup work. To help them improve on a badly-or-insufficiently-trained skill, it's usually useful to find indirect ways to un-train old behaviors or skills where they're clearly not getting good results for those students.

One of my favorite ways when training people to untrain less useful behavior, is to tap into students' own values, and get them dissatisfied ENOUGH with their old, less-effective way of doing something. Then I can get them to want to learn a newer, better way. When people are motivated to eliminate an undesirable behavior, they will. If they're not motivated to learn a better approach, they won't really absorb the new training content as thoroughly or be as motivated to try a different approach.

As a result, if I see people in a course demonstrating an unwanted behavior or communications skills strategy, I may want to enable them to make better choices in the future. So, without telling them what I saw or heard, I'll sometimes briefly train what I saw or heard them doing, and demonstrate reasons as to how and why that approach was ineffective. Then I can describe a better way, and describe the results I get with it, then they find themselves motivated to want to learn it. This is like creating a “propulsion system,” for those of you who know that NLP phrase. Essentially, I often won't train a better alternative until I've shown them how ineffective that behavior can be (in a different context).

Animal Training, Anchoring, & Stimulus Control

Anchoring, in NLP, enables us to associate certain stimuli, with the onset of a behavior, or a choice, or an emotional response or state, or thinking, or language. We use anchors to help direct attention and call forth responses and resourceful results in others. Anchoring also occurs constantly, all around us, whether we know it or not. And many examples of anchoring that weren't intended, end up causing undesirable responses. Anchoring with intention is all about setting up stimulus-response mechanisms.

In her book, Karen Pryor had a lot to say about anchoring (using different wording). She defines 4 rules for perfect stimulus control.

  1. Desired behavior is immediate in response to stimuli
  2. Behavior is reserved for whenever ONLY the stimuli occurs.
  3. Behavior never occurs in response to other stimuli
  4. No other behavior occurs when that stimuli is presented

For those of you who many not know,  the above conditions are extremely close to what we in NLP refer to as “Well-formedness characteristics of effective anchors,”  where following these principles will make for stronger, more effective, and longer-lasting anchors.

  1. The Intensity and Clarity of the original experience, will make for stronger anchors. If you're anchoring a set of emotions or experiences that have been polluted with irrelevant details or information, that can reduce the anchor's effectiveness. One stimuli, one response only.
  2. UNIQUE Anchors maintain longer. Ideally, use a unique sensory stimuli that won't be used commonly elsewhere, by ourselves, or others.
  3. The Timing of the Anchor needs to be very precise, consistent, and immediate.
  4. Context plays a very important role. An anchor set in a kitchen will not be as strong when fired (recalled) outside in a yard. Contextual triggers act as additional components to an anchor.
  5. The more sensory systems used in concert, the stronger the anchor. Making a certain sound can be an effective anchor, but if you wave your hand in a unique way while you're making the sound, that's better. Even stronger if you add touch or some kind of kinesthetic experience to the anchor. These combined sensory systems create synesthesias, and that will lead to strong anchors (if they're done well with precision, consistency & effective timing.

What does THAT set of conditions sound like to you?

If you're an NLP enthusiast, and Stimulus Control sounds to you like Anchoring, you're in good company.

The value of the NLP Presupposition:
"There is no Failure, only Feedback."

This presupposition is primarily used in and meant for NLP training and learning contexts, but students are invited to apply this throughout their lives, because it helps free us from self-deprecation and negative reinforcement. Mistakes are only tragic when and if we don't learn from them. Self improvement material is awash with infographics and great quotes from people like basketball great Michael Jordan, who said:

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

If you disallow a negative emotional response to mistakes and instead adopt a curious attitude about what can be learned from a mistake, and what can be done differently next time, your body remains in a resourceful state and your mind remains in a positive and creative place.

So, of course, in NLP courses, we train this presupposition, and it doesn't end there. Every time I notice a student having a self-deprecating response to a poor result, I remind them that we're looking for positive states, cognitive and emotional state flexibility (such as a laugh and a curiosity about the next attempt), and a resourceful response overall. I don't 'let' students get upset about mistakes without offering a more positive interruption.  If you attempt to learn NLP at home or without trainer mentorship, you're unlikely to catch yourself during these less resourceful responses.

It's not that errors or mistakes don't have costs. They do. In the real world, mistakes can cost enormously. What costs even more, though, is spending even a second wallowing in those mistakes, and getting angry or upset at yourself (or others), instead of not only turning them into fabulous opportunities to learn and grow, but instead, having mistakes instantly trigger resourceful responses. It's not just a nice-sounding daydream – it's a reality for NLP students attending good quality training.

The difference between
Learning, using only Positive Reinforcement, and
Motivating, using both positive and negative consequences

Every time I discuss the value of positive reinforcement only for training purposes, someone reminds me that people are more motivated by pain. I hear this both from NLP-trained people, and people who've never heard about NLP.

And yes, that's true:  More people are more motivated by moving away from pain, than they are by moving towards a desired result (towards pleasure).

The largest number of people are most motivated by a combination of pain and pleasure, and again, in NLP circles we call this a Propulsion System.

And while motivation is centrally important to learning... the actual learning process occurs most deeply and effectively, with positive reinforcement only.

So what's the difference and why is this critically important?

We need to motivate human beings with a combination of (1) a desired result for moving forward with one choice, and (2) an unwanted result from moving forward with a different choice (or of not choosing at all). This creates a desire to move forward in some directed way.

At that point, it's best to discard the negative reference, and teach or train, using only positive reinforcement.

So, use pain to motivate, but once someone is motivated to learn something, stay away from negative reinforcement while they're actively learning and acquiring new skills and knowledge.

What if you find that you've been doing things the wrong way in the past?

You are an amazing learning machine.  You have the capacity to learn things and build habits that may have served you well in one context, but perhaps you've carried those habits over into contexts where it can be a rude awakening to discover they're not serving you well.  

In considering the possibility you may have trained other people to have unwanted responses to you -- some of you may want to review your past behavior with friends, loved ones, and professional contacts. Maybe you've been unknowingly training employees to continue doing unwanted things. Maybe you've been unintentionally conditioning your spouse to dread conversing with you. Maybe you've been making it increasingly difficult for people to do new things, even while you were intending to help them.

While none of those potential concerns are easy to swallow, they are, fortunately, easy to fix!

The most basic "do-it-yourself" advice you can use... is essentially to stop doing what wasn't working well, and start doing what's known to work more effectively. For some of you, that will be easy and natural to do differently, now that you recognize certain past behaviors as less useful.

If doing the above is not solving the problem overnight, then you may be finding old less-useful habits to be deeply ingrained, and not yet know the best way to move forward on changing these unconscious unwanted habits. For people like yourself, it would be valuable and useful to either acquire private NLP-based coaching (with one of our very experienced coaches and trainers), or, attend NLP courses that will help you to change old habits, build new ones, and become a far more flexible, effective communicator, with the latest techniques and approaches to aid you in your future efforts.

In particular, to help unwind old habits, learn new ones, expand your awareness to pick up on (and start to circumvent) every circumstance where you've been practicing the less-useful behaviors... here are a list of NLP skills that may be critically useful to solve your particular dilemma:

Anchoring, Calibrating, the Meta Model, the Milton Model, Sensory Acuity, State Management, Strategies, Meta-Programs, Circle-of-Excellence, Timeline work, Distance-based Swish, Visual (or Kinesthetic) Squash, Time Distortion, and more.

Remember, any of the above have been found by thousands of people before you to be highly effective at creating change easily!  Let us know how we can help!

author: Jonathan Altfeld

The A.I. Advantage: How and Why A.I. helps you with Decisions, Learning, Communication, and Success.

Relax; we're not talking about getting brain implants or strapping you into a big computer.  We're talking about how you can become a better communicator, thinker, decider, learner, and speaker -- today -- with some advantages offered from an amazing field of study. 

Let's clear up some A.I. Misconceptions.

I'm Jonathan (the author behind this blog entry & website; the other guy in the picture is a photographer's model).  

Most of you already know me (thanks for visiting again to read this blog entry!).  For those who don't, I've been training applications of NLP since 1997 (~17 years, now).  My first career was in Artificial Intelligence, specifically, expert systems (building intelligent decision-making software).

Most of us know A.I. has been madly misrepresented in the media and film industry. Many have been exposed to a version of AI like that in films, like "Transcendence", or the "Terminator" movies, "I, Robot", Spielberg's ridiculous "A.I.", or even "Wargames."  

I'm more interested (& trained) in the AI that makes Google a bit smarter when it searches for what you want, instead of what you asked for.  Or the AI that helps drive Google driverless cars, and fly airplanes, and schedule transportation amidst a constantly fluctuating chaotic world with moving parts.  Like the AI that's behind Siri on your iPhone.  Like the AI behind massive CGI battle scenes where computer-generated armies are filmed without requiring animators to make individual character movements.  Like the AI in video games.  Like the AI that figures out when its time to offer you a specific additional service on top of existing services.  Like the AI that approves your mortgage or ascertains your insurance application (no, not science fiction, I helped build some of these systems over 15 years ago).  Possibly also a little like the AI-based ad-retargeting systems that see you click on an organic food website and know that an ad for "non-GMO products" will be more likely to work with you than with someone else.

The field of A.I. can make you a more effective NLP student and communicator; indeed, a more successful professional.

In 1997, I began learning and then later training NLP.  I noticed early on that many other trainers were gifted at multi-channel congruent communication (words that are aligned with behavior, multiple messages that coordinated well, and very compelling communication that made me listen more closely).  I also noticed that many were not that compelling or congruent, or capable of demonstrating nonverbally what they were talking about verbally at the same time.  

At the time, I borrowed another computer metaphor for this, and labelled this for myself as the difference between serial communication (one skill described or demonstrated at a time) and parallel (many demonstrated at a time, well integrated and congruent).

Serial training rapidly became a turn-off.  Parallel training attracted me.

For me, 'Serial' trainers provide minimal more value in person than we get from a book or dvd.

Parallel trainers are amazing to observe and listen to, and are always worth the live training experience (& CDs/books pale by comparison).

Simply put, serial trainers bored me.  I wanted to learn to use these skills in an integrated, natural, massively parallel fashion, without having to consciously manage it all.  In keeping with the concept of NLP Modeling, if you want to get good at something, its best to model the skills and behaviors of, and learn from, people who are demonstrably good at what you want to achieve. So if you want to get good at using a wide range of NLP skills together, real-time, as I did, then you're going to want to choose to learn from trainers who are known for multi-channel communication.  

I learned early on that serial trainers weren't going to get me there, and don't seem to me to be good exemplars for getting really good at multi-channel communication - especially in the faster paced world of business.  So I sought out trainers who were clearly skilled at multi-level communication, and augmented it with supportive written, audio and video material from other wonderful trainers (even a few serial trainers who do great work, but just wouldn't be able to maintain my attention in a classroom).

As I was learning and attending courses with these amazing communicators (like Richard Bandler, and Rex Sikes), I found that my background was enabling me to absorb NLP skills and knowledge much faster than those I was learning alongside.  Further, I found that arguably the most important skill for an NLP trainer -- NLP Modeling -- was getting a lot of lip service, but not a lot of action, and not a lot of clarity.  Many people were talking about it, but not doing it, and couldn't seem to explain it to me.  Yet I was already doing a form of modeling from my years in A.I. -- I was paid to interview experts, and replicate their thinking and decision making in computers.

So when it became clear that A.I. offered benefits to NLP'ers, I started offering courses called "Knowledge Engineering" for modeling and belief system mapping.  And then later "Belief Craft" with Doug O'Brien, combining KE with Sleight of Mouth."  And over the years, I've designed learning exercises that help people develop the creative use of deeply integrated skills, for natural, parallel multi-channel communication.  In more recent months, it's become obvious to me that some of the exercise-drill designs that have gotten enormous attention and student praise, all come at least partly from my years in A.I.  This distinction that is impossible to find from other NLP trainers (whether serial OR parallel).

Shortsightedness in NLP is rampant.

Once in a while someone says "But AI was meant to emulate the mind, not the other way around."

This can be translated to "why should people interested in NLP study how computers have been taught to think like people?"  Or "shouldn't AI folks be studying us, instead of us exploring or studying AI?"

Avoid that very costly short-sighted perspective, and become a far more effective student of NLP.

Another field of study apart from NLP spent decades prior to and concurrently with NLP, learning to 'unpack' and optimally emulate how people think... and coming up with reflections of how people learn and make decisions, that were then tested and refined in measurable ways.

NLP students should want to glean everything they can from discoveries and representations created by such a field.

My perspective is that an A.I. background (even exposure to one), leads people to greater depth of skills, as well as more natural use of more than one skill at a time, faster than many other methods or backgrounds can.

Let's look at Neural Networks.

Once you get a sense of how neural networks learn, you'll likely find yourself more easily willing and able to immerse yourself in unusual non-rational learning experiences (as opposed to always needing rational explanations before determining if you've actually learned anything). Many people give the idea of "unconscious learning" lip service, and then still demand only conscious understanding and explanations -- and if they don't get it, they ignore any potential value experienced/learned. A willingness to learn in a 'variety of ways' (to quote Milton Erickson) is a critical factor to truly gettting the most from NLP. 

If you'd like to become better at (1) learning anything, (2) learning unconsciously, (3) unconscious uptake (what we like to call learning by osmosis!), (4) allowing yourself to reap the benefits of more than just conscious acquisition of understanding, then study Neural Networks.

In studying Neural Networks, focus on the evidence that explains how we draw conclusions and make decisions without any rational basis, entirely mathematically as a result of strengthening some neural traces and weakening some others.  From an NLP perspective, this could help free you from analysis paralysis and may even lead you to greater emotional intelligence. For those who are deeply stuck in ruts, this could just free you... from yourself.

Let's look at Expert Systems
(my prior domain of expertise).

The subfield of A.I. that deals with expert decision-making is called "Knowledge Engineering."  Knowledge Engineers interview experts, find out what they know, and then build pseudo-intelligent (not sentient) Expert Systems.  These have been in use for 30+ years.  I've built many financial expert systems currently being used by companies like Equifax, Chase Manhattan Bank, Ernst & Young, GTE (now Verizon), and contributed in some way to many more.  

When I arrived at the field of NLP, it became obvious fast that Knowledge Engineering would be valuable for NLP students.  So I created a course to train these skills.  Knowledge Engineering actually provides a conscious way of mapping entire areas of cognitive expertise, of decision systems, of belief systems, including kinesthetic information and values, etc. It offered a thorough and flexible decision and belief mapping system -- before NLP ever came along.

This is useful for doing actual (explicit/analytical) modeling, knowledge mining & transfer, business process re-engineering, consulting, coaching, and so much more.

From an NLP perspective, my KE (& Belief Craft) students often tell me that after they learn KE, they can literally see how people's decision systems and belief systems get them into trouble (or success), predictably. And when they turn that same skillset on themselves, it's transformational. People start cleaning up whole areas of their lives -- and not just magically/unconsciously thanks to some silly external provocation, but in a way they can easily understand and explain afterwards.  My expertise from this career covers cognitive modeling, mapping beliefs, unpacking belief systems, and reprogramming/rewiring belief systems.  For businesses looking to gain from that, I help people make smarter (sometimes seemingly impossible) choices, acquire and optimize and then share/retrain expertise to others.

KE explains how, when, why, where, and what you do, in a visual mapping system.  When KE is used to map a small piece of someone's mind, it becomes crystal clear why they're successful and why they're stuck.  More importantly, it provides perfect clues as to how to get them unstuck, or optimize what they're doing.  And it helps us to clarify someone's thinking, and get them from confused to clear, or from conflicted to congruent, or from hesitant to go for it.

And this is important:  most people trained in NLP, when presented with a real-world difficult situation, will not do the same things the same way.  NLP is not a consistent system.  But KE... is.  When properly trained in KE, people would go about unpacking beliefs and choices in very similar ways, and would result in very similar if not identical maps of what they're modeling.

Let's look at Hybrid Systems:

The intentional combination of multiple learning and deciding methodologies. This is where things get even more interesting. Allowing the parts of a larger system to do their jobs where they're most optimal. You shouldn't trust key decisions to unconscious feelings. But you also shouldn't trust learning to the conscious mind alone.

If you'd like to become better at complex marriages of very different skillsets, Study Hybrid Systems. From an NLP perspective, You can think of your own brain as a hybrid system, and check to see if you're using the right or wrong skill for each job, or perhaps the right or wrong MOOD (yes, emotional states matter). You can think of an entire team of people as a hybrid system. Where do they need to communicate? Where is communication bogging things down?

Let's look at Genetic Algorithms:

This is a search or exploration heuristic that mimics the process of natural selection in decision making and other areas of thinking. Often used in population studies in science, or in predictions of species intermingling, WE might want to learn more from this area of thinking to learn more about where teams become inefficient, and how to optimize them. Or what kinds of communication patterns take us from resourceful to unresourceful, or vice-versa.

If you'd like to become better at identifying inefficient or less optimal choices and replacing those with more resourceful choices, study genetic algorithms. From an NLP perspective, this is extraordinary useful for pattern-matching skills, developing a lower tolerance for inefficiency, and an awareness of when habits get stale.

Let's look at Organic Systems:

Organic Systems are an effort to represent and reproduce human cognition and organic thinking/computing. The truth continues to emerge that while we still don't have a crystal clear idea of how it all works together in our minds -- we do continue to progress towards an increasingly accurate understanding of the complex massively parallel operation of our minds. If you want to be on the forefront of learning about improving human cognition and optimizing human communication skills, there is a high cost to ignoring this area of study.

From an NLP perspective, when I consider group dynamics, I'm typically thinking in terms of organic systems. In small groups, Virginia Satir's family constellation work can be extremely helpful. But in larger groups, taking her approach makes things infinitely difficult to unravel. Organic systems help provide greater awareness of forces at play in larger groups, and help us choose good ways to navigate these choppy waters.

It usually only takes one profound unexpected learning experience, one powerful Eureka moment, to free hyper-analytical minds from their own limitations.  Put differently, one cannot 'understand' the pieces of organic systems easily.  However, one can experience organic systems, holistically, and then drill down to the dynamics at play.

Why would Exposure to A.I. Experience be a Valuable Criteria for NLP Training?

It's important for NLP professionals to do more than just think and wax poetic about "how" people think, and also do more to study these things, than just read articles about language, neurology, and behavior, on the web.  

It's important for all of us to test assumptions thoroughly, in the contexts where the results of those tests would be most valuable.  

A.I. taught me to make and constantly test refinements in long-standing models of learning, cognition, and decision-making.  In turn, this means my courses and home-study materials are designed for maximum acquisition and retention.  They're designed to reach the widest range of types of potential learners.

I've also always been deeply fascinated by unconscious learning and accelerated learning, and have been exploring (for two decades) what is required of me, to help people take that critical leap of faith into "learning to learn differently."  As well as to both demonstrate and explain, concurrently.

There is quite a bit more I learned and accomplished through A.I., and hopefully the above examples share with you how my experience in A.I. translates to some of the benefits you'll have enjoyed from my material and courses.

How Else can you Benefit?

My perspective is that NLP'ers can gain immense value from established and constantly-refining models of how people think.  Seems useful, doesn't it?

If you want to learn about specific areas of study above, search the web for resources on the above named areas, like Neural Networks, or Hybrid Systems, etc.

If you'd like exposure to AI -influenced NLP material, you can invest in some home-study materials.  My "Knowledge Engineering" course is the closest detailed home-study course.  Also, "Belief Craft" is a blending of "Knowledge Engineering" and "Sleight of Mouth."  Indirectly, all of my other NLP home-study recordings represent my approach to training and learning NLP, so, of course, I'm biased to think you'll benefit, no matter which titles you pick.

And if you'd like to learn either Knowledge Engineering or Belief Craft, these courses will be scheduled again soon.

Additionally, I'm working on a course currently called "The Refined Mind: AI Inspired Breakthroughs..." which aims to combine some of my most popular multi-channel learning experiences designed to help you become a more gifted thinker and communicator.  Coming soon!

To open a discussion here -- feel free to include comments below -- what area of your thinking and communicating skills, do you think you want or need the most help with?

author: Jonathan Altfeld

Influencing the Difficult (or 'Impossible') to Convince

All of us have, at one time or another, attempted to influence another person, to no avail.  It's a universal experience to walk head-first into unresponsive stubbornness.

Many of us have personally experienced what it's like in those situations, to try to restate what we've said.  Some of us have even personally experienced the definition of insanity (trying again, to tell them the same thing, the same way, repeatedly).  Maybe you've even tried using a louder voice!

We've all tried to convince the inconvincible.  But doing so isn't necessarily as futile as most people think it can be.

NLP can enable you to find amazing ways to convince the seemingly unconvincible.

Let's begin with a usually innocuous example in business, and then graduate to more extreme examples.

1.  When people just "give up" trying to complete something, in a work environment.

At a workshop earlier this year, I was running a discussion exercise, and one particular pair of people just weren't getting anywhere.  They weren't communicating well.  It was like watching two competing rhythms just failing to synchronize.  I walked over, smiled, and asked if there was something I could do to help them engage in the requested exercise more effectively?

One of them began chuckling while standing up, and said "We're just not agreeing on what we're supposed to be getting from this exercise, so we haven't started yet.  I think I'll take a coffee break.  I don't think it's us, though.  Mercury is in Retrograde."

Have you ever heard the phrase “Mercury Is in Retrograde?”

This catchphrase is often used by people to explain how, why, and when, things simply go wrong.  It's often used at the moment of giving up or walking away.

It's the ultimate 'get out of jail free' card for misunderstandings. "It's not my fault, or your fault, all because 'Mercury is in Retrograde.' "

I'm not going into detail about what it means, here.  If you want to know more, and explore if there's validity to it or not, here's a link to a google search for the phrase.  (opens in a new window.)

While I expect to hear these sorts of phrases from massage therapists, astrologers, acupuncturists, enthusiasts of the “law of attraction” and other such folks (and I have), I have also heard this very phrase from people across many more “vanilla” walks of life, including professionals like financial advisors, vice presidents, chiropractors, lawyers, and even one surgeon.

It's arguable as to whether those 'vanilla' professionals were being facetious or not when saying “Mercury is in Retrograde.” And if you argue that there's no such thing, sometimes people will downplay their belief in the statement, and pretend to have been using the phrase in jest. Others will stand by their belief, no matter what you've said to change their mind.  'Because Mercury is in Retrograde, there's no point starting something new.'

Remember, for the moment, that phrases like this are often used at the moment when people are giving up their power (or at points in their thinking process where they stopped investigating).  We'll come back to this in a bit.

2. Bill Nye (the Science Guy) debated Creationist Ken Ham, Feb 5, 2014.

Now we get to a more intense example.  Bill Nye ("the Science Guy") decided to engage in a several hour televised debate, with Ken Ham (a Young Earth Creationist), on Creationism vs. Evolution.  On the one hand, the Bible.  On the other hand, massive quantities of scientific evidence.  Ostensibly, the debate was between the idea that God created the Earth and Man, a few thousand years ago, and the idea that the Earth, life, and ultimately humanity, evolved over millions of years.

Evolutionists believe Bill won the debate by a mile.  What is 'blind faith' when stacked up against vast quantities of fully upheld scientific data?

Yet from the Creationist perspective, the Creationist won. Because they entered the debate with an unassailable faith in a document and in their beliefs. Scientific evidence didn't matter; it held no weight over their perspective.

Some would say that just getting the debate in the public eye was a win for the Creationist perspective.  Some would say if Nye could get Ham to ignore data and blindly hold the Bible up in response, that would be a win for the Evolution perspective.  I think it's probable that both Nye and Ham weren't actually expecting to change each other's minds. The way I read it -- and it is my opinion -- they were both aiming to influence the swing votes.

There are many Creationists, but not that many Young Earth Creationists.  The vast majority of people (even people of faith) rely on reason and science more than faith alone in this debate between Evolution and Creationism. Also, it's not so black and white between the two extremes of Evolution and Young Earth Creationism, because there is a third common belief right in between the two, where some people believe that human beings evolved, and God played a role in directing that (but they don't believe that both the planet, and human beings were created in less than 10,000 years).  And there are other shades of gray in between as well.

The statistics differ significantly from poll to poll, country to country, and demographic to demographic, so I won't quote statistics.  Suffice it to say, there are extremists in both camps, and there are many who hold strong beliefs that blend both views, and there are lots of people who just aren't sure. This latter group are the swing votes, and they were the primary 'targets' for the debate.

If you're only aiming to change the swing votes, then, fine.  I suppose that's one route to take.

From an NLP perspective, however, we know we CAN go further. We might even say that if you actually want to convince the 'inconvincible', then debating skills meant only for the swing votes won't be strong enough.  We have to go first, and we have to go further.

Update (October 2014):  Pope Francis has set the record straight on Young Earth theories.  He says "Evolution and the Big Bang are real, and not inconsistent with Creationism."  By implication, Ken Ham, if he persists with his blind faith in a young earth, is now considered a heretic by the Catholic church!  Go ahead, laugh -- we did!

3. Watching a Government Shut Down

Now we come to a much more extreme example, that of a complete shutdown of negotiations at any level.  They even happen at a governmental level, such as the October 1-16, 2013 US Federal Government shutdown.

Shutdowns happen when people can't compromise, and use what's known as "hostage patterns" to get their way.  It almost never works (and on the rare occasions when it does, the consequences are usually dire for everyone).

They happen whenever someone shows up at a negotiating table, pretending to have a willingness to compromise, but ultimately, deceitfully, because their behavior proved afterwards they were really unwilling to budge from their idealized position, to begin with.

It's been happening increasingly in American government affairs because there are fewer and fewer moderates in American politics today.  This occurred because our political system has squeezed out most moderate liberals and conservatives.  Now we have mostly strongly liberal or conservative, with a little extreme liberal or conservative.  Arguably, it serves the parties in the political system very well, and it serves the media that feeds the American media spectacle (and the uber-wealthy magnates that run the media), but it doesn't serve grass-roots American communities in the least.  This is part of what led to disorganized movements like “Occupy Wall-Street.”

The only way to ensure we prevent shutdowns, is for cooler heads to prevail, and for moderates to regain power.

Or is there another way?  Could learning greater cognitive and behavioral flexibility enable an alternative solution?

So how can we Convince the Inconvincible?

Always remember the most flexible element in any system wins.

I'm guessing Bill Nye wasn't really interested in proving Evolution to a Creationist (and apparently, neither is Pope Francis!).  I hope he knew, fundamentally, that he was unlikely to shift the opinion of a Young Earth Creationist. He presented mountains of unassailable data, and in response, the Creationist held up the Bible. There's no convincing someone whose faith trumps reason and data every time, if your primary weapon is reason.  The only way to have done it was to find a way to shake his faith, using the Creationist's own rules.  Maybe the pope will have been successful!  Time will tell.

And we know the Creationist isn't likely going to convince Evolutionists that the Earth was created a few thousand years ago, or anyone who firmly believes dinosaurs roamed the planet.  He certainly didn't convince the pope.

Again, both were trying to convince “Swing votes.”  Ken Ham was likely hoping to share his mission with people who have doubts and therefore could be convinced, and also to be able to say he shared the stage in such a debate, and that the debate actually got public television airtime.  Bill Nye was likely hoping to reduce the number of Creationist believers out there.  Polls show that often, when young Creationists go to college, their beliefs in Creationism diminish.  Bill took the approach in the debate of educating people with incontrovertible data.  Great for convincing swing votes.

But I think either of them or both of them could have gone further.

The only way for the opposing sides of that debate to have impacted the other view, would be to “enter the other mindset completely”, and then find a way to SPOIL it.  The biggest marks go to Pope Francis for doing that better than anyone else could have.

Sometimes change is best introduced from outside of a system.

When the inside of the system is open to fresh ideas, that can work a charm.  For change from outside of a system to work well and easily, the system has to have, built-in, a desire for new knowledge and new evidence and new approaches.  

Science only partly welcomes this.  If Ken Ham had provided ANY form of new evidence, science would have welcomed it.  And Ham could have said he convinced Evolutionists to consider Creationism.  But... he utterly failed to do this.

The question of what is inside or outside science is a tough one.  If Ham had new evidence to present, would that be inside of science?  Or outside of science?  Presenting new hard data of any kind to an Evolutionist would actually be using the system, and using the system's rules for drawing conclusions.  By contrast, FAITH is more outside the system of science.  Science doesn't address questions of faith.  So we know that even Science isn't actually open to data outside it's currently acceptable ways of measuring data.  Science will not accept any faith evidence.

By contrast, often, businesses need help getting unstuck, using methods outside of their current knowledge base or skill-sets.  So they'll hire experts or consultants outside of their areas of expertise.  They have to be open to that, to even consider that step.

Sometimes change is best introduced from inside of a system.

When the inside of a system (in this case, a belief system) is closed to fresh ideas, then the system evolves over time to develop arguments and methods to protect the closed system from change introduced externally from other perspectives.  Just as the American Political system has evolved to protect from and squeeze out many moderate politicians.  This is one of the main functions of a cult, by the way -- to defend against the external.  The result?  Change of any kind is only considered when its introduced by those already 'inside' the system.

In NLP, we're taught that to optimally help someone change their minds, especially if there's a potential for resistance, we need to begin by building a map or a model of how they think.  We have to set aside our perspectives, our values and beliefs, and enter their world as fully as possible, as nonjudgementally as possible.  And we have to build a map of what that's like, and look for the best possible hinge or leverage points for changing their views, i.e., things we know are true inside their map that we don't want to change, but that also enable them to add additional options.  

We ask questions like, 'If "I" believed that, with their values and beliefs and evidence, how would I most likely be convinced of a different possibility?'  And we use these hinge points as pivots to alternatives.

When you more thoroughly and accurately enter someone else's mindset... with behavioral and cognitive flexibility, then you become better able to change their model from the inside out.

Yes, NLP'ers would have done better in the Ham vs. Nye debate. An Evolutionist trained in NLP would have done better, if they had sufficient advance time, opportunity, and interest, in modeling a Creationists views so thoroughly, that they'd effectively learn how to convince a Creationist that their perspective was untenable.  The key hinge points would need to be to (a) find the Creationist's most solid reliance on stories or phrases or claims in the Bible, (b) find where the Creationist was taking the Bible literally, vs where he was taking it figuratively, and then identify the specific reasoning that the Creationist used to determine when to take things literally vs figuratively.  Once you know those rules, it becomes just a research project to find inconsistencies in the Bible according to those rules, and then a process of getting the other person to admit to two sides of the same argument, repeatedly.

Essentially, you'd need to become a Creationist intent on toppling Creationism.  Only then, would you become able to poke holes in their system for interpreting the Bible.  If it worked as I'm saying it could, that would end up cornering the Creationist with confusion, and they would then be attempting to defend their views real-time while having their beliefs restructured.  I have seen those sorts of responses happening in a multitude of contexts over the years -- what it looks like when someone's map is changing as they're talking.  It causes the subject to backpedal, or restate things differently, stop mid-sentence, and more.  Naturally, it can be a huge wake-up call, to have one's beliefs about the ultimate nature of the universe, suddenly be found insufficient or incorrect.

Alternatively, a Young Earth Creationist, if they were trained in NLP, could have modeled an Evolutionist, and then used the Evolutionist's model to poke holes in Evolution using data and reason.

Frankly, a Creationist convincing an Evolutionist is a MUCH harder job than an Evolutionist convincing a Creationist.  Why?  Because the Evolutionary model IS already open to new or alternative data, so in effect, it's evolved.  Creationism as a theory really hasn't evolved.  Evolution's been vetted over time.  Creationism isn't open to vetting.  So there are far less holes in Evolution than there are in Creationism -- though there are holes in both.

To model effectively, you have to metaphorically Open Your Eyes to absorb more perspectives, more ideas, more information. Any belief system that requires, metaphorically, Closing Your Eyes to new ideas... makes modeling inherently more difficult.

Preventing Shutdowns, Government and otherwise

A NLP'er would have been better able to bridge the gap between staunch liberals and conservatives, by more effectively entering into both belief systems, and looking for common ground, and finding even the smallest leverage points for compromise. More importantly, they'd likely have to hunt for leverage points that each side was not conscious of having – which only become apparent when one is thoroughly and effectively modeling the other side's perspective.

I'm not saying preventing shutdowns in any negotiation is easy; I'm saying that to do so, we (and everyone, really) truly benefit from developing the ability to set aside our own perspective, and completely enter the other person's model of the world. And only then, when we've done that well... can we find the optimal ways to change their minds in a way that improves things for everyone (or for the greatest number of people).

Now, interestingly, its also true that a number of politicians are trained in NLP, or more accurately, have explored books, cds, or videos of NLP.  Which is to say that many politicians are just scraping the tip of the iceberg, and probably aren't very good at it.  Even if they do get good at it, if politicians add great tools on top of selfish intentions and extreme beliefs, that just leads to even more annoying and pushy politicians.  By contrast, if moderate politicians with great intentions were well versed in NLP from a lot of live training, they would be increasingly able to achieve more effective compromises that everyone can happily live with.

Responding to “Mercury in Retrograde” and other Shirks of Responsibility

Let's be clear. Regardless of the veracity of any belief in a phrase like this, when it's uttered after things go awry, it most definitely is a shirk of responsibility. It lets people off the hook.  Note that I am not critiquing whether or not people use this to make plans differently, in a pro-active way.  I'm talking about the reactive use of the phrase.

In every case, we have to weigh the value of ignoring or addressing these shirks directly or indirectly. I almost never question them directly, because even if they're just having fun with the phrase, it just comes across as disrespectful and aggressive.

But optimally, the aim is to get people to hoist themselves back on the hook, without them perceiving you as weilding the hook.  In doing so, they reclaim their power while re-taking responsibility.  Doing this elegantly, with NLP, is actually hard to notice.  In other words, if they notice the fact that 'you're doing something with intention' when you do this, it wasn't elegant. 

Here are some examples of directly opposing it.

“That's an utter crock.”

“Don't tell me you believe in that...”

“Uh, no. It's not because of some astrological anomaly. This one's on you.”

Obviously these (and even gentler versions of these) are going to create an undesireable, defensive response.

By significant contrast, here are some NLP-based examples of indirectly challenging it, that enable people to shift away from shirking, and back to retaking responsibility?

“Some people feel Mercury in Retrograde is the cause of all kinds of weirdness. I know a lot of people felt that way until they decided to take charge of their future no matter what obstacles present, and found that no matter how much random weirdness occured, it was still up to us to follow through on all our responsibilities and promises.”  (Feel, Felt, Found).

“I know that some part of you enjoys having fun with noticing prevalent patterns of chaos out there, just as I know there's a stronger part of you that knows that no matter what occurs, the results you get are virtually always still a function of the decisions you make and the actions you take.” (reframe shirk as “noticing patterns.” Uses the 'parts' model, and focuses on action).

“It's great to see that you chose not to dwell on that which you can't control! So now, as you think about the things you can control, moving forward, what would be some of the first things you would do, next?” (reframing, redirecting to a stepwise process, time distortion patterns).

The above examples are far more effective examples of communication, that enable people to reclaim their power, retake responsibility, and move forward with intention.  They use a wide range of specific techniques or patterns that can be woven together for far more effective results, anywhere.

Sometimes I just ignore it when I hear people say “Mercury is in Retrograde.”

Let me be clear that I don't have a strong opinion on the truth or lack of such. That's not why I use it as an example – I welcome people having the beliefs they choose to have (as opposed to the beliefs they were programmed to believe, from other people).

I use this as an example because invariably, in most cases, the effect of calling upon that phrase is that people are “giving up” any hope of having a strong influence over a situation. It's a helplessness pattern – and I do concern myself very strongly with enabling people to overcome things like that.

So if I hear it being used in jest, or to explain some outside circumstance that isn't of much importance, I generally ignore it.

When I hear it being used as an excuse to shirk responsibility, I'll often reply with one of my indirectly influential responses, above. And to make it likely they'll respond positively, I usually need to know something about their model of the world. If I want to help them change their perspective, I have to understand what it's like inside their perspective.  The more I understand their perspective, the more accurately my suggestions will affect them.

Some Great Questions for Moving Forward

How are you currently communicating when dealing with seemingly-inconvincible people?

How do you currently act or respond to moments when other people shirk responsibility?

How often are you using these sorts of phrases as excuses to give up your power?

How could you potentially use these lessons to empower yourself, your customers or clients, and/or others in your workplace?

Want More Resources like this?

If you would like more knowledge, skills, and tools for being able to convince the inconvincible... do get in touch with me for coaching, training, or home-study resources!  I'm confident we can make measurable leaps together.  And of course, I look forward to working with you!

Share with friends, circles, & followers.



author: Jonathan Altfeld


NLP & Time Distortion: We Are the Meaning Makers

You are hereby invited to harness a natural mental process that you've probably never controlled in your past, learn techniques that utilize that process, and then become more effective and influential in every area of your life.

Perhaps in your past you thought improving your influence or changing minds or habits would have been a hard thing to do.   There is an area of study in hypnosis and NLP that explores this very topic and process, and has developed a range of techniques for harnessing it for improved human achievement.  We call it "time distortion."  Milton Erickson studied and utilized it, so Richard Bandler and John Grinder and many other NLP developers explored its use as well.

I have spent a decade and a half exploring, developing, and mastering a range of refinements with time distortion, to the point where I can confidently say... very little of this work gets explained or published on the web.  I use it during training, during coaching, and in a wide variety of business contexts.  And it can be very, very effective.

NLP Time Distortion techniques help lock in changes, expand perceptions, create new possibilities, and change the way the past and/or the future is experienced.  I'm sharing just the tip of the iceberg with this blog post.

Why is Time Distortion such a Potentially Powerful technique for Great Results?

Time Distortion is a profoundly useful set of techniques for consciously affecting how people think, because it makes adjustments to something we all already do naturally and unconsciously, frequently.  We can't not distort time.  And this leads us to experience both positive and negative results from these effects.

We can't not distort time, because our brains are wired to do this automatically.  As poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy wrote, and Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka quoted, "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams."  Essentially, we are all meaning-makers, every one of us, and how we distort time is often at the roots of how we create and assign meaning.

It's Time Distortion that makes...

  • that 3-hour dinner with a loved one feel like it lasted only a split second, and it's over too soon.
  • that 3 minute wait at the bank or at an airline counter feel like it takes an hour. 
  • those whole 20 years were wasted
  • that one single day seem like the most amazing day or moment of our lives.

NLP Practitioners know that we do not have to be at the mercy of this effect, but instead, can harness it and use it more with intention, for ourselves — and others.

How does Time Distortion work?

Here are just some of the principles involved (there are more than just these):

  • We assign meaning to all experience.
  • Emotion colors our memory of experience.
  • When we review experiences, and assign and review meaning drawn from that, it changes our perceptions of those time periods, which enables us to amplify some aspects of memories, and downplay or delete other aspects of memories.
  • How we feel when we are doing the above, colors the process further.

NLP Practitioners learn techniques and language patterns for shifting how people distort time from being "at effect" to "at cause."  And in doing so, we change meaning — we change experience — and we can change values, beliefs, habits, and meaning.

One of the most important factors to understand is...

We encode memories differently between a "Future Possibility" and a "Past Experience."

We 'encode' or create sensory representations of these, neurologically, very differently.  We know this thanks to our work with submodalities.  As a result, people draw meaning from these distinctions, differently.

Future Possibilities have no momentum yet, sometimes have less meaning attached to them, and sometimes encounter greater resistance (to name just a few differences).

Past Experiences have momentum as a result of sense-memory and muscle-memory, are easier to repeat, and sometimes have stronger meaning and emotions attached to them (to name just a few differences).

How you refer to these distinctions is usually automatic.  How you store them in your mind is usually automatic.  But this doesn't have to be automatic!

One example of intentional time distortion would be to have you experience some of these things, differently, which may change how you feel and think about them.  Let's show you two ways to do this!

Change A Negative Memory

"Think of something you did in the past that you're not proud of."  This is stated in the present, looking back at the past.  Minimal time distortion.

Now let's add in some time distortion:

"If you went back to some time before that event, knowing then what you know now, you would be about to make a different choice today, wouldn't you?" 

This may sound like it's stated in the present, but there is ample time distortion here.  It takes the occurrence from a negative memory, and puts you back before it, looking forward towards making a better choice in the future.  Diagramatically...

Chances are, you're already feeling better about that memory, knowing you'd choose differently today.  Now, granted, this by itself usually isn't enough time distortion to completely clear a negative memory, but it's a start.  Why?  Because instead of treating something as a "done deal" in the past, it changes your relationship to the memory, reminding you that if a similar choice were to occur in the future, you'd make a more empowering choice then.  It re-enables greater hope.

Build a More Empowered Future

"Think of something you'd love to do in the future but have kept putting off, perhaps because you haven't prioritized it, or have hesitated too long, or don't believe in yourself enough, yet."  This is stated in the present, looking forward at the future.  Minimal time distortion.

Now let's add in some time distortion:

"If you were to fly forwards 6 months, having already done that thing you were hesitating to do in your past, looking back at how wonderful a time you enjoyed getting that accomplished, doesn't it now seem like something you absolutely loved doing, thoroughly benefited from, and can't wait to have done again?"

That way of framing a description involves a lot of time distortion.  It takes a future possibility and encodes it as a past occurrence, playing up the positive meaning of the newly chosen future activity.  It does this by taking the listener out past the choice to have done something, and look back at it as if it's already done.  Diagramatically...

This makes doing it in the future much more likely, and makes it feel much more real, because it's no longer encoded as only a possibility; it's encoded as something to "repeat" (for the first time).  And again, this by itself usually isn't enough time distortion to guarantee taking action in the future on something that someone's been putting off or avoiding beginning, but it's a start.  These are just baby steps with time-distortion techniques.

There is Far, FAR More to explore and use...

This area of NLP skills becomes even more fascinating when you begin to combine these approaches, thereby changing the perception of the past and the future in single sentences.  Your results begin to accelerate when you start to combine them strategically with other Ericksonian language patterns, and with congruent use of vocal tonality and rhythm.  And when you learn to engage your inner editor as well... you can take what speakers like Anthony Robbins take a whopping 20 minutes to accomplish in front of a group... and do it all in a single sentence, with conciseness, elegance, and conversationally hypnotic language.  Y' know. Only if you want to have gotten that good at this.

What will you have needed to have learned, to have turned around that collective set of ineffective communication experiences in your past, back then, into something you'll have done brilliantly, soon?

Study the above example... and then study it more deeply.

Here are just some of the things you can accomplish with time distortion...

  • reprogram emotional responses to triggers, both in terms of remembering the past, and in terms of re-encountering past triggers in the future
  • define for others in advance what meaning they're going to draw from a future experience, instead of just leaving future interpretations of events up to luck or chance.
  • diminish unwanted emotional responses to past or future situations
  • amplify desired emotional responses to past or future situations
  • cause people to create increasing doubt and uncertainty about a topic or choice moving into the future
  • cause people to create increasing certainty and confidence about a topic or choice moving into the future
  • reverse old decisions people were certain about, take them back to before the decision, reopen the choice, help them make a better decision, make them more confident about it, and then condition them to be incredibly happy with that choice moving into the future
  • and much, much more.

When you finally become ready to step things up further... give us a call!

Author: Jonathan Altfeld

How to “Crush It” in Business, Anywhere & Everywhere

This blog post is dedicated to anyone and everyone looking to measurably improve their business careers, and the date of its publishing marks a major transition for the Mastery InSight Institute towards focusing primarily on helping people become measurably more effective in business, with NLP.

Don't Read This Unless You're Not Yet Getting The Results You Want.

Most people who hear about NLP aren't interested in NLP for its own sake. You're interested in results. There's something you want, that you don't yet have, and you're hungry for it. You're looking for resources that will help you get it. Ideally, these resources must be proven successful, or you won't waste your time or money investing in it.

Yet the world isn't quite so black and white. If they sold promotions in a pill, everyone would be buying them. Your success in business is by its very nature going to be a more sophisticated result of a more nuanced development over time. You cannot escape that fact, so don't try. Instead, your best results will come from experimenting with things other people have found effective.

What's holding you back?

What's been holding you back is either Risk-Aversion, Oversimplification, Confusion, Poor Decision Strategies, or Fear of the Unknown.

  1. Risk Aversion: If you try to develop yourself only by reading books, that's a good start, but then you'll be 60 when you make it from your entry level job to a middle management position. If you try to do it by doing what the guy or gal next to you is doing, then you're still not distinguishing yourself from the pack. You can only do it by choosing to invest in yourself, and take managed risks. The most successful people on the planet are voracious students for life, and are notorious for experimenting, taking risks, and learning from failures. If you catch yourself not taking small risks because you're afraid of failure, you've already lost the game. Being smart about evaluating and managing larger risks is important. But if that's caused you to be risk-averse at the lowest levels... then there's no point reading further. You're not ready for this.

  2. Oversimplification:  Oversimplification happens when someone can't make sense of complexity on their own without generalizing beyond what's useful.   In other words... how comfortable with complexity are you?  Human beings love their "top 5 lists" and "top 7 lists."  If you regularly need the complexity of the world oversimplified for you, then you're definitely not at the top of your game, yet.  But if you can whittle complex situations down to "top 5 lists" for other people's consumption, that's evidence of the valuable ability to create order from chaos.  That's a valuable leadership trait; the world needs people who can simplify complexity.  The point here... is that if you're complexity-averse... you may as well sign a contract to receive the same salary for the rest of your life with no opportunity for advancement.

  3. Confusion:  This nearly always boils down to poor information gathering and/or not having the expertise to evaluate that information (whether the expertise is yours, or consulted externally).  Solving this is easy when and if you're willing to hire someone who does have the expertise and knows what information to gather, or if you know where to go to get that information.  Failure to recognize the symptom of confusion and know what to do with it... is what NLP would refer to as a lack of behavioral flexibility.

  4. Poor Decision Strategies:  Chances are if your business career is already moving forward, you've already got at least one if not several good decision strategies, and they probably serve you well in some circumstances.  The more you find yourself in unfamiliar territories, though, the more uncertain most people become about how and when to make decisions.  This sort of uncertainty and lack of direction can lead to career problems.

  5. Fear of the Unknown: You need to develop, exercise, and keep exercising, your ability to embrace the unknown, step into what it is that you don't yet know, and explore. Play. Attach a sense of adventure and fun into the process. Because if you only stay inside your “comfort zone”, and aren't open to constantly challenging your own assumptions, then you'll remain stuck inside a lie of gargantuan proportions. “So, keep telling yourself you know it all, or that your position is the right one! That'll do wonders for your career.”

The Top 3 Skillsets You Must Keep Sharpening

Regardless of your Job title or your working environment – whether CEO, Manager, Customer Service Representative, Bank Teller, Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Salesperson, Financial Strategist, Attorney, Doctor, or Lemonade Stand Businesskid – your success and growth always depends upon all of these three skills:

  1. The ability to enter a situation and rapidly gather more than enough high quality information to make the best possible decision about an optimal result, moving forward.

  2. The ability to (a) determine a strategy or course of action, or (b) identify or gather choices, and then make a decision about how to move forward.

  3. The ability to execute steps towards the action or decision you've made, which may include leading, communicating, acting, and more.

The most successful businesspeople in the world – if that group doesn't yet include you – are all better at some or all the above, than you are. Every single one of these... are considered “Soft Skills.”

“Hard Skills” may have taken you from resume to interview, or from phone call to client visit, or from college degree to 1st job. The lists of hard skills are conscious check-lists. But always remember that its the “Soft Skills” that got you the offer letter, or the client, or the raise, or the promotion. It's the “Soft Skills” that led to the other decision maker's “impression” of you. And the factors that contributed to their impression are far more numerous than 7 +/- 2. Hundreds of pieces of information went into that impression, and the most important were your soft skills.

All three of these soft skills can be used to prevent or avoid or eliminate any of the above 5 areas:  Risk-Aversion, Oversimplification, Confusion, Poor Decision Strategies, or Fear of the Unknown.

Yet, amazingly, for the most part, they don't teach “Soft Skills” in college or graduate school.

An entire field of personal and professional development outside of academia has sprung up to help people improve themselves. Some call it the Self-Improvement field, which of course, is ill-named, since when you explore that field, you're still seeking advice from others about how you can help yourself.

If it were truly self-improvement, people wouldn't be quoting authors, reading books, listening to CDs, or attending training courses, to learn from other people.  Call it what it is -- learning from experts to enable growth.  And the better the teacher, the longer the mentorship relationship, the faster and more effectively you grow.

So throw away the myth of self improvement.  Find experts you align with, and learn from them in whatever ways you can.

Naturally, NLP provides profoundly effective tools, techniques and abilities for All Three Skill-sets.

There's not a person on the planet that wouldn't benefit from being able to more quickly and effectively connect with another human being. 

Everyone would become more effective in their careers if they understood themselves more accurately, and could understand more accurately how others think, what drives them, how to communicate with them, and how to motivate and influence them in ethical ways.

NLP in Business – Lessons for the USA from the UK.

I began training NLP in 1997 and rapidly began travelling overseas to the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. In particular I visited and ran courses in the UK 20 times from 1997 to 2008, and have spoken in London, Richmond, Southampton, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Manchester, Leeds, & Glasgow (just to mention UK cities).

During these training visits, I noticed that there was widespread and increasing acceptance and fascination in the UK for using NLP in business. With the people and groups I met with in the UK, the emphasis was on developing emotional state-management, creative problem-solving, team development, personal excellence, and on effective communication skills. People exhibited an openness to accepting that their unconscious minds were as or more important than their conscious minds.... there was an openness to investing in their own development, and a willingness to play.

Perhaps equally important, the culture of business life in the UK and Europe allowed for and encouraged far more “vacation time” for just about every employee, than those employees' counterparts in the USA enjoy. In the UK, they call it “holiday” time. Employees in the UK can expect 3-6 weeks of holiday per year. Employees in the USA can expect 1-3 weeks of holiday per year, usually no more than 2 until they've become an executive or have been with a company for at least 10 years. Obviously, with less time to spare, people feel pressure to use that free time for relaxing or re-charging. In response, many NLP trainers have felt a need to keep shortening their courses in order to keep getting people in the door. They're short-changing their students – and the field.

The history lesson is only important for the purposes of reminding readers that the “Jedi-like” results written about during the early years of NLP, were mostly achieved by people who'd been trained for months, not from people who attended a 3-5 day workshop and got a piece of paper lying about their supposed abilities. The field is now chock full of people who suck at NLP and who’ve been told they're as good or effective as people who were trained 20 years ago. They're not.  The false idea that a person can get good at these skills in just a handful of days, and somehow magically transport their career into the stratosphere with that low a commitment is unrealistic at best.

I also noticed that in the UK, there are NLP study groups all over the place. In every major UK city, there are multiple NLP study groups. People make a long-term commitment to exercising and developing their skills. That only rarely happens in the USA. There's a catch-phrase in the field that says “the training begins when the training ends.” This is well exemplified in the UK. In the USA, it's ignored. If you want to get damn good at using NLP in any area – especially in business, you should actively seek out post-workshop local study groups that meet a minimum of once a month, preferably once every couple of weeks, for 2-3 hours of active exercises and/or evening presentations from visiting trainers.

By contrast with the emphasis on applying NLP to relationship-building in the UK, in the USA, the emphases has been on being pushy... on influence... on hypnotizing prospects... on 'getting a leg up over someone else...' and on getting one's own way.  That win-lose frame will leak in your communication.  And this, I believe, is why here in the USA... NLP got a bad rap, from some unsavory characters using it badly.

So that stands in stark contrast to the UK, where mentioning NLP on a business card or resume is widely valued and accepted.  It's a badge of honor -- for the right reasons.

Science vs. NLP ?

Academics and social scientists have criticized NLP for years, suggesting that many tenets of NLP are either false or unproven.  Yet in fact, science is increasingly supportive of claims made by NLP as much as 35 years ago.  Visit this blog entry to learn more about this issue (as well as how and why science does support NLP).

The Direct Response Marketing crowd are ALL aware of NLP. Many of them are NLP Practitioners, Master Practitioners, or NLP trainers.

There's an enormous direct response copywriting world out there. Years ago there were just a handful of major names in the business -- Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Gary Halbert, John Carlton, Gary Bencivenga and others.

Now there are hordes of effective Direct Response Copywriters, and they ALL know about NLP, because so many NLP-trained people have been going to their bootcamps and conferences for years. Some use it more effectively than others. Some use it more or less honorably than others.

Additionally, most of the major information product (& internet marketing courses) launches over the past decade have intentionally used NLP to help cause specific emotional response chains in their mailing list readers, leading to increased 'conversion rates' and of course, sales.

Effective use of certain skills, does not necessarily equate to honorable use. Both effectiveness and integrity are what contribute to improving the reputation of NLP in the marketplace.

Real Estate Professionals

Real Estate agencies across the country have studied aspects of NLP -- though it's often done in tiny piecemeal bits (like studying “Sleight of Mouth” for 1 to 2 days). Many real estate agency owners are notoriously cheap when investing in external training; they'll try to get their agents to pay for their own training wherever possible (it's extremely short-sighted of them!).

That said, extremely smart Real Estate Agents will do whatever they must, to place themselves head and shoulders above and beyond their competition.  NLP is an extraordinary tool for enabling that result. 

Competition in the real estate marketplace is often extreme.  Many people today can't earn a living doing just real estate, which is a problem, because to do it well, a realtor often has to be "on-call" 24/7.  But taking another job can make a realtor unavailable to serve their buyers and sellers.  NLP helps you get inside the minds of your clients, connect them to you strongly, and create loyalty and referrals, for all the right reasons.


There are a select few attorneys using NLP in a variety of ways, including making a persuasive court presentation, voir dire, discovery, and more.

However, it is difficult to get attorneys to realize the value of NLP to their practice, because:

  • Many attorneys are know-it-alls. When you believe you know it all, or at least, you know better than most other people, why would you ever perceive a course outside your field to be valuable?
  • Most attorneys are extremely busy, working 60-70 hours per week, with very little vacation time. How much free time for training can a lawyer take for themselves, when they're that busy?
  • It's near impossible to offer them a targeted course on applying NLP to law, because every attorney has a different schedule.  Trying to get multiple attorneys to sit in a room together, long enough to get them really good at NLP, is a virtual impossibility.  This is why most attorneys will never get good at NLP unless or until they can take the time to invest in learning how to do it well.  (and remember, 3-5 days isn't remotely enough time, and home study on one's own isn't remotely effective enough). 
  • Most of the attorneys I know who are great at NLP learned it before starting their practice, or over 20+ years, or by making it such a high priority, that they could devote a couple of weeks per year to NLP courses.

Now, all that said, law may be one of the best professions around for using the skills provided by NLP.  But only a select few attorneys will ever get good enough at NLP to realize that potential!


This is one of the best possible areas where NLP can become extremely useful. 

There are some truly wonderful salespeople out there, and some utter frauds.  Most are on the ethical side, but not yet high performers.  Many less-than-ethical sales people have been forced into certain sales behaviors by demanding and cold-blooded sales managers who've taught them despicable tactics.  We wonder if those tactics evolved entirely because people didn't know there was a better way.

Recently, when shopping for a car, I walked out of 8 dealerships when faced with clear-cut examples of fraudulent sales tactics. That series of unfortunate experiences was fortunately overshadowed after I found the right dealer at the right dealership.

Finding honorable salespeople can be a challenge.  Why did I encounter so many negative sales experiences before finding a positive one?  What if every salesperson refused to work for an unethical sales manager -- and had the skills to identify that during their interview? What if every salesperson were so good at connecting with people and helping them make the best decision possible, that they all earned commissions for the right reasons at the right time? 

If all those things were true... what if that would enable them to (1) take better advantage of every opportunity, (2) cause their happy customers to rabidly send them more future business, and then (3) actually earn far more than they would have done, if they'd adopted a sales process with less integrity?

NLP helps you convey a sense of higher value, that people will attach... to you.


Executives need to lead.  They need to be able to influence minds both gently and strongly.  They need insightful and incisive minds.  They need to radiate charisma, listen profoundly well, and effectively communicate a strong shared vision.   They need to be able to establish, simplify and streamline a company culture, a mission, and a public message.  They need to attract the best people to their teams, and retain them by challenging and rewarding those people properly.  They need to find and project confidence in their choices and in their strategic planning.  In short, there's very little in NLP that isn't extremely helpful to executives, because NLP teaches incredibly useful skills for all of the above areas.


Most politicians don't need any reminders of the value of NLP for influencing the masses.  It's been said that Al Gore has had NLP training.  President Clinton got coaching from Anthony Robbins.  NLP books have been seen laying on tables at No. 10 Downing Street (the office of the British Prime Minister).  Many politicians actively study the more hypnotic aspects of NLP, such as the Milton Model hypnotic language patterns, and rhythmic cadence to minimize resistance, and tonal shifts during key moments of a speech.

If you're a politician or planning to run for office soon, and you don't yet know NLP, rest assured:  You're way, WAY behind.  Get yourself registered for as many NLP courses as you can, ASAP.  Your competition probably already has.

Our 2014 Course Line-Up Serves All of the Above.

Our 2014 Business NLP training schedule meets a wide range of business needs, and aims to enable you to exceed others' expectations!  Go ahead and give us a call to ask any questions you may have, and/or register online when you're ready to make plans for your own rewarding professional development!

NLP Sales Wizardry - a 2-day course exploring NLP for Selling Effectively.  You'll learn how to improve in 5 areas:  Generating Leads, Qualifying Prospects, Selling/Convincing, Getting Past or Around Objections, and Closing the Deal.

Speaking Ingeniously - a 5-day course for Compelling and Memorable Presentation Skills.  Need to craft a profoundly powerful message for your audiences?  Want to become more effective from the stage?  There's no better preparation, anywhere.

Own the Interview - a 2-day NLP course for people running interviews, and for people taking interviews.  Got interviews coming up?  Limited time and money to prepare?  This is the course for you.

NLP Business Practitioner - a 10-day course teaching not only all of the foundational skills of NLP, but giving you active practice and preparation using it in a wide array of business contexts.  This is the basis for getting ridiculously good at NLP.  If you're serious about propelling your career, this is the first longer course to take.

NLP Business Master Practitioner (Link is coming soon) - an 11-day course teaching how to use NLP to become the undisputed leader of any situation.  You'll learn how to unpack & rewire beliefs and belief systems.  You'll learn Sleight of Mouth for extremely influential reframing skills, you'll learn advanced metaprograms (personality patterns and preferences) so that you can tune your communication to every listener's unique personality and communication style, and develop an operational real-time creative flexibility for entering, owning, and leading any situation from wherever you found it, to wherever you want to take it.


author: Jonathan Altfeld

Scientific Support for Aspects of NLP

There's been a rash of recent studies and publications that directly support NLP, accidentally!

Since NLP's early days in the mid-1970's, its development has been haunted by a lack of properly funded or carried-out research.

This is not because (as some academics have suggested) NLP is just a pseudo-science. 

It's partly because NLP has never claimed to be a science.  Ideally, the use of NLP is a methodology or skill-set that blends assumptions, facts, artistic style, and a sense of experimentation.  The assumptions and facts come from a wide range of fields.  The artistic style comes from an attraction to elegance and commitment to excellence.  The sense of experimentation and exploration come from an assumption that the definition of insanity is the act of repeating an unsuccessful activity over and over again, hoping to get a different result. 

All of these factors have led to hordes of NLP-trained Practitioners and Master Practitioners in every major country in the world, who anecdotally believe NLP has helped them become more successful.  People have achieved extensive success using NLP across a wide array of fields -- initially just therapy, but increasingly into coaching, business, sales, politics, teaching, marketing, medicine, law, and more.

Nearly all scientific funding goes to grant writers.  Most grant writers work for universities and research facilities, in established, traditional fields.  NLP is not a traditional and academically established field, at least, not yet.  The fault of that belongs to the field of NLP.   We have failed to make it more traditional, by running training businesses instead of heavily lobbying to have it taught in schools.  The problem with teaching it in schools has to do with classification.  NLP is best taught as an art, with a partial basis in science.  Lectures are a dry and dead way to learn NLP -- yet NLP is a full body active sport requiring mentorship and feedback loops to help tune behavior and language and style.

It would be more accurate to say that great NLP Practitioners were taught NLP much like someone is taught a martial art -- through practice and refinement.  Poor NLP Practitioners were taught NLP through the delivery of dry information.  You cannot become good at NLP through the transfer of information; you have to get it into the muscle memory, and practice practice practice until you find flexibility and creativity in the activity.

Most scientific grants do not go towards studying an art.  But... we can find ways to do better.

All that said... while direct scientific proof validating specific NLP techniques has not been easily found or funded, we have in recent years seen research that now directly supports many of the early central tenets of NLP.  Here's just a small sampling.

Mirroring... Works.

NLP has suggested for many years that mirroring another person's behavior causes mirroring, and that rapport can be strengthened by mirroring other people. This was laughed at initially. Yet thanks to the scientific discovery of mirror neurons, we now have a scientific basis for understanding how and why most people are more comfortable when mirroring occurs. Mirroring creates a sense of recognition, and recognition creates increased comfort in most people.  According to the following article, published at,

Mirror Neurons Allow Us to Understand Each Other

As per the above article, "Mirroring is believed to be the way in which the brain automatically interprets the actions, intentions and emotions of other people. Mirror neurons, the cells in the brain that activate when we perform a particular action or watch someone else perform that same action, were up until recently only a theory. Scientists knew that they existed deep in our minds and were responsible for making us empathize with others, but had no hard proof to show for it – until now."

Telling you mirroring works, and having you become great at it, are two entirely different things.  You might read this and other sources on mirroring, put it into practice, and think you're doing it well.  You might also not know that you're off in your rhythms, or may only be mirroring above your neck, or mirroring in one way and mismatching in many others.  In short, you don't know what you're not noticing.  To do this elegantly, you need training and honest, positive feedback loops from people who have spent years training themselves to see, hear, and feel more of what most people have learned to ignore.  And then you need a lot of practice.

Also, mirroring directly is now well known in many business circles.  And ridiculously, direct mirroring is now often made fun of or 'toyed with' by those who know it.   What is far more elegant than direct mirroring, and very difficult to catch -- is cross-mirroring or cross-matching.  That's the next level of excellence with creating rapport without being "caught."  And to get good at that, you also need training and honest, positive feedback loops, and a lot of practice.

And to draw your attention to a massively important nuance:  We don't just mirror postures or expressions.  We mirror EMOTIONAL STATES.  This next linked article from the DNA Learning Center, states:

Terms of Empathy: Your Pain is My Pain – If You Play a Fair Game

The most important point in this article, from our perspective, is that mirror neurons aren't only about posture and physiological mirroring. We mirror STATES.  This has enormous implications for how we teach people to lead via state, first.  NLP has a presupposition called “You Go First” and it's never more important than with respect to this lesson, right here.  You need to be able to choose an emotional state, and start feeling it right now, at will -- and feeling it powerfully enough to radiate it.  This is EASY, after you'll have finished taking powerfully effective, and sufficient-duration NLP training.  Not hard, not challenging, but EASY.

Science Backs NLP for “Act As If” and for “You Go First”:

NLP includes another presupposition that if you “Act As If” something is true, it becomes true.  We use this in multiple ways, including in managing our emotional states. If you put a smile on your face, it causes a physiological shift that makes you happier.  We now know and have scientific proof that it also causes a neurological shift – it changes the active blend of neurotransmitters swimming around in your brain.

Saying the above most simply... state doesn't just cause a shift in posture... posture also causes a shift in state.  These two factors are linked, in both directions.  State begets physiology, and physiology begets state.

Amy Cuddy, of Harvard Business School, studied and confirmed that “posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants”.

Power Posing:  Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance

In this case, we believe Harvard Business School is getting press for something that's been observed and taught through NLP, since the late 1970's and early 1980's.  Just don't get blinded by their limited focus on Power Poses.  Here's how to apply the above MYOPIC study, more widely in business: 

  • If you spend 2-3 minutes physically adopting a more conciliatory posture, you will inevitably close negotiations more quickly.
  • If you put a curious expression on your face and lean forward, you will color ANY environment or subject as suddenly becoming more interesting for yourself.
  • If you physically shift an aggressive posture to a more relaxed posture, you will become less oppositional or aggressive, which in turn will put others more at ease.
  • ... and so on.

Remember, State begets physiology, and physiology begets state.  And you have NLP to thank for that, though you can thank Amy Cuddy's research for helping us to demonstrate that we weren't just spouting nonsense.  We were observing, and sharing, human behavior patterns we (as a field) noticed -- decades ago.

Psychology Today published what we would say is a new version of NLP's "Visual-Kinesthetic Dissociation" technique from 1980, without any attribution. (Updated* 1/9/2014, see bottom of section)

Guy Winch, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and author of The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships and Enhance Self-Esteem.  In that book, there's a passage which is published at the Psychology Today website, entitled "A Simple Mind Trick that Reduces Emotional Pain; How to reduce the pain associated with distressing experiences"

It seems to be increasingly common to read articles in the field of psychology recommending a technique or approach that's been a truly basic part of NLP for decades (after the field has actively resisted NLP as not-Psychology for those same decades).

Here's our approach to the referenced technique for reducing emotional pain:   NLP considers aspects of this mind trick to include one of several elements: (1) simple dissociation, seeing oneself in the picture dealing with the original emotional trigger, instead of seeing the whole experience from our own eyes. Or, (2) using multiple perspectives.  Seeing an event from our own eyes (1st perceptual position), seeing an event from another person's eyes (2nd perceptual position), or seeing an event involving multiple parties from a fly-on-the-wall perspective (3rd perceptual position)

Thanks to the brilliant Eric Robbie for sharing this with me through Facebook:

  • The first mention *in print* of the Visual-Kinesthetic Dissociation technique is on pp117-124 of 'They Lived Happily Ever After' by Leslie Cameron-Bandler, published by Meta Publicatons, Cupertino, CA. in July, 1978. Library of Congress card number LC 78-71281. Near the start of that passage, Cameron-Bandler gives credit to her "colleagues" - by which she meant primarily: Richard Bandler, Judith DeLozier, David Gordon, and John Grinder.   Pay special attention to pp118-119 where there is a detailed discussion of two-place dissociation - or "distancing" - and then three-place dissociation, before the transcript of the treatment of a rape victim begins.

UPDATE, 1/9/2014:  A wide array of NLP Practitioners and trainers contacted Guy Winch, and as a result, he has just published another follow-up article on the Psychology Today website, acknowledging a similar technique from NLP coming decades earlier.  And in the interests of 'equal time', so to speak, he published a handful of techniques submitted by NLP contributors.  The follow-up article can be found here:  NLP Experts Speak Out.  Very kind of you, Dr. Winch!

Don't Blame the Traditional Worlds of Psychology and Business for what we might describe as Myopia.

They can't help it.  They're entrenched.  They have a way of doing things.  They have established channels of vetting information and knowledge, and NLP has flown above those channels, expanding and exploring in its own less traditional way.  Yet there are now millions of NLP students and enthusiasts out there still learning it (not all of which are learning it well, of course, which isn't helping matters).

If someone wants to pursue "business as usual..." if they're not willing to look outside the established rules of their field to discover advances already made elsewhere... then that's their prerogative.  Metaphorical myopia is an unfortunate and unnecessary 'condition'... and its easily treated with a little open-mindedness and a sense of exploration.

If you're in Business and Are Considering Learning or Using NLP in Some Way

Decide on your desired outcomes, interview a few consultants or trainers, and just jump in with a small pilot program or sign up for short seminars with several trainers.  The only way to find out for yourself, is to find out for yourself.

If the reason for your hesitation was because there aren't a lot of scientific studies to rely on yet, hopefully this blog entry has provided you a new and more empowered perspective about the field of NLP.  There are scientific studies that are relevant and valuable and supportive;  they're simply often distorted and misinterpreted, because of who paid for the studies and why. 

We don't claim to be a science; we claim to pursue the art of reproducing achievement and excellence, in accelerated ways.

Would you like to discuss our NLP Business/Consulting services?

Would you like to look at our upcoming Business-oriented NLP Workshops?

Would you like to Help the Field?

There is now a new initiative that is worth investing in:  "The NLP Research and Recognition Project."  At the time of publishing this entry, the main site page for that isn't working, but the project is definitely active.  For now, visit here.


author: Jonathan Altfeld

Developing Accountability & Momentum for Resolutions

Goodbye 2012, and hello 2013! 

That time has come again to ritually cap a year gone by... and, perhaps more intentionally, choose how you want your next year to go.

Towards that end, I'd like to share with you a way that you can establish patterns in a new direction that will help you to stay on track towards those New Year's Resolutions.

A 5-Step Process for Turning Resolutions Into Successfully Achieved Outcomes.

Step 1:  Once you decide what you want to achieve, whether it's reducing smoking, or getting fitter by dropping excess weight, or boosting your closing ratio, earning more money, etc... begin by figuring out realistic milestones.  Determine partial goals on the way to larger goals.  Decide what level of results you'd like to achieve, by what dates, and at what rates. 

Step 2:  Develop a way of measuring and tracking that progress, daily, that ensures you continually remind yourself how much and how far you're progressing.  

Here's an example of what has worked well, for me!  I wanted to set up a spreadsheet that somehow tracked everything I wanted to know, about how quickly (or not) I was making progress from a starting point, to an end-goal.  I wanted to know, every day, how many days left I had, until specific known upcoming events came along.  So I created something like the following.

DateDayDays til Event #1Days til Event #2Days til Event #3Current WeightGoal Progress (Weight dropped)Activity/ Exercise
January 1159120365 030 min. elliptical
January 2258119364  45 min. walk, lifting chest/tris
January 3357118363  30 min. elliptical, 30 min. stretch
January 4456117362   
January 5555116361   
March 156061306   
May 1120/0245   


And, it worked!  I used that to track my progress during my Juice Fast in 2012.  Helped me to drop 70 pounds last year. 

What makes the above work?  It's a form of self-accountability.  And it's a daily reminder of where we are in our overall plan.

Every piece of literature you can find on goal setting & achieving suggests you need to know where you're currently at, where you want to get to, and have some way of measuring your progress.  The above chart is one way of providing you all that information, in a daily snapshot.  And it reminds you "here's exactly how long you have, from this day, until when you want that result to be achieved."  Each day that comes along, you'll have reminders like...

  • It's 35 days until that family reunion.
  • It's 72 days until that trip to the Bahamas.
  • It's 112 days until the date of that half-marathon I want to run.

You could even add or change columns that showed how many pounds you still had to lose to get to each dated milestone.  Or how few cigarettes you wanted to use on that day (if you were stopping smoking slowly).  Or how many inches you still wanted to remove from your waist.  Or how many more dollars closer to your sales goals you want to reach.  Or how many new subscribers you want to your lists.  Or how many more books you'd like to sell.  Or how many new friends you want to make to expand your network (whether business or personal).

You get to choose how to set your spreadsheet up!

What are you waiting for? 

Step 3:  If you know (MS) Excel, or (Apple) Numbers, or (LibreOffice) Calc, It should take you less than an hour to set up a spreadsheet like the above, and customize it to your specific needs.  If you know these programs WELL, it should take you about 5-10 minutes to set up such a spreadsheet, because formula short-cuts can speed up all the numeric counting for you.

Step 4:  Print out your tracking progress spreadsheet, and put it somewhere you're going to see it every day.  Allow no excuses here.  Put it on the wall by your scale.  Put it on your refrigerator, or your kitchen cabinet.  Tape it to the side of your monitor, or under your keyboard (sticking out to the side).  Post it next to your vision board (if you have one) at home or in the office.  Have a pen right by it, that stays there.  Keeping a high frequency of visibility is part of what keeps you accountable.  By the way, don't do this as an "app" or a smartphone or tablet document.  Then it would be too easy to close or put away out of view.  Do this "old school."  Paper & pen.  Seen multiple times a day.

Step 5:  Every day, review where you're at, measure your progress, and write in the relevant new details for the current day.  You'll find that before ONE week is out -- if you do this religiously for 1 week, you find yourself starting to look forward to this little ritual!  It'll become a habit with very little additional motivation!

I hope you get immense value from the suggestion above.  Let me know how this works for you, and/or how I can support you through a more prosperout 2013! 

This came from solving a client's challenge!

I've had many coaching clients that kept putting their goals off.  Two in particular that were always 6 months away from achieving their goal.  One of these had a goal of finishing a book.  He was always six months away from finishing his book (which meant, he was always 10 pages into his book, never getting any further).  I designed the above system for him.  And it worked!  Unfortunately I can't quote the author's name, because -- feel free to enjoy the irony at my expense -- he's in the self-improvement industry.  How does someone who's supposed to be an expert at creating change admit he couldn't get his book started for 5 years?

And then, I did what in NLP we consider pretty important:  We "apply to self."  And 70 lbs down, I can attest, the above simple method contributes significantly to success.

Could I be the right Coach for you?

If you think you might need help with achieving specific challenges, did you know that I have coaching clients that regularly call me for 15-30 minute (pro-rated) bits of targeted coaching?  When they're stuck thinking through a challenging problem, I help them get unstuck in minutes, moving forward again, with an extremely useful and new solution.  I help distill the most relevant and important criteria for making decisions, and can rapidly and effectively identify what's distracting you unnecessarily and why.  Then the right decisions usually become obvious.

Providing help as needed without requiring commitments is one of the ways I build strong loyalty from coaching clients. 

In what ways are you not moving forward, that's costing you (or could cost you)?  If you're in a stuck place and don't care one way or the other, then coaching is an expense, not an investment. 

By contrast, if you're stuck... and getting unstuck and moving again fast would prevent losses or other costs, then coaching is an investment, not a cost.  In some circumstances, after doing a simple cost-benefit analysis, coaching is the only smart choice.

Author: Jonathan Altfeld


Rex Sikes says: "Develop Curiosity!"

Are you self-aware enough to know that every single judgement call you make, prevents you from learning, or diminishes how much you can learn?

The following is a transcript of a "sample" audio clip from a teleconference held with Rex Sikes on Sept. 24, 2012.  Rex was my first NLP trainer; I attended his Practitioner course in July 1997.  He was a profound influence on my training style, and on how I view extraordinary training.  I think you'll find this quote to be inspirational, and the sort of message that stays with you for ages, guiding you in your life.  I know it did for me!

In some ways, Rex "ruined" me for many of the trainers out there who had made their living doing 7-day certification courses or shorter, because after years of seeing many people coming to my courses after taking those short certification courses, it has always been easy to contrast the levels Rex brought my student group to (in 14 days), with the lacking "results" produced by those short courses.  Read this, "young Jedi," and you'll get a taste of why that's so!

Rex Sikes Interviewed, Sept 24:

Rex:  People either listen to what you say, or what I say, and they go "yep, yep, that's right, absolutely, I agree."  Or they go, "that's such bs, who would... total garbage, I don't agree with any of that."  Both of those are the mind shutting down.  Both of those are like a big heavy safe door slamming shut inside the bank.  The minute you agree or the minute you disagree, you have stopped the learning process. 

Rex:  The key to the learner is to be able to allow things in, without evaluating or analyzing them or agreeing or disagreeing.  It's being open to it as if you were a child, without the judgement process.  A very difficult thing to do, but that's the point of Mind Design™ and creating exercises, which is to put people into an exercise -- and believe me it's a whole lot harder to explain than it is to actually do -- but to put people into exercises where they can experience things, and hopefully one of the things they experience, and they learn, and they begin to recognize, is when they close, and when they can open, and that's the challenge for me, for you, for, you know, I think, everybody.  Because the second you're in an exercise and you go, "Ohhh, yep yep, he was right... " you've stopped seeing, you've stopped listening, you stopped.... you've gone inside, you make a mental judgement of something, and you miss whatever follows.  Especially when it comes to calibration skills."

Jonathan:  "Aw, Rex, but its too much work to keep thinking about this, I've gotta make a judgement call."

Rex:  "Well, and in fact, you do... and that's part of being human.  So it's not that you never do it, it's that you learn when, and how, to do it.  So that you become more of the master of choice, than the victim of your own brain.  And so, you know, it is this dance.  You can't be open infinitely and forever, and it's important to shut down and to rest and to close off, and analyze and to do all those things.  But it's a matter of when, and where that you do it.  And at what point in the learning process do you do it.  And guess what, in the learning process, you're going to do it all the time.  Until you learn how to suspend it for a while.  And that takes calibrating yourself.  That takes being.. you know... It's the kind of thing, where you go "Oh crap!  Now I just closed down! Oh, there I did it again!  Oh, I did it again!"   It's almost an infinite regress, until you find your way of getting out of it, and the only way you do that, and the most easily, is with a skilled mentor... somebody who can go "hey, you just closed down"  and they go "I did not..." you know, they'll defend it.  Or they'll go "oh, I did, Oh, gosh, woe is me, I'm such a bad puppy, I'm going to go sit in a corner and cry!"  And that's not the right response either! 

Rex:  The response whenever you notice that you did something right or something wrong, is yes, congratulate yourself, and nurture it.  This is when in one of the last ones I said, you "don't punt the baby."  You encourage and you nurture and you gently bring yourself along, because when you do that, you open yourself up to more and more of the kinds of experiences that are vital, and that you want to have more of.  So, it is nurturing.

Jonathan:  So, a question might be, "I wonder how many different things I might notice that I haven't yet noticed before, but won't it be cool to discover those things."

Rex:  Yep, again, you know, that's using Directed Questions™ to keep your mind open; you don't want a yes or no answer, you want an answer that leads you to discovery.

Rex:  And one of the things that I do like about Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the way it was approached in the beginning, was, the idea of being curious.  Being curious about what's going on inside of another person, instead of just paying attention to what goes on inside of yourself.   You know, being curious about how people do things?  How do people who are excellent, produce the results that they produce? 

Rex:  What's the internal mechanisms, that are allowing them to do that?  What's the sequence of those thoughts?  What are those thoughts?  Are there pictures?  Are there sounds?  Well, how are those pictures and sounds and feelings represented?  In other words, what are the components that go into the pictures, and if they're having pictures, when are they having them?  And how are they having them?  And, are they in color or black and white?  I mean, it's all about being curious... and being open and discovering things, and noticing, guess what!  Hey, you know what?  I noticed that there are some patterns here.  How is it that this person's able to do that, or how is it that this person's able to be stuck?  How do they construct that for themselves, as opposed to blaming,   or saying "being stuck is bad," or being an excellent athlete is good.  How do they do that?   You know?  And staying open, and curious, and I wonder if I'll discover something I've never ever seen before, because I'm now, as I approach things in a new way, how many different ways could I begin to think about this, differently than I have from the past.  You know?  And what is it that I'm not paying attention to that I haven't yet noticed, that if I were to bring my attention to that, I could begin to notice and appreciate in even grander ways. 

Rex:  There's all sorts of ways to direct your brain.  But you do it lovingly and kindly and gently, and hopefully, when you learn NLP, you learn to do that with other people as well.  We don't live in a vacuum.

Want to know more about, and hear more of Rex Sikes?

Rex Sikes has been in the field of personal development for decades.  He founded and ran the NLP training company "IDEA Seminars" in the 1990's.  He was the author of many popular NLP home-study courses, including the extremely popular recording known as the "Attitude Activator!"  He was also the only NLP consultant to be hired to work with the OJ Simpson Defense "Dream Team" and the media surrounding that trial, to calibrate the jury and the witnesses.  In 2001 he left NLP to focus on other passions including independent filmmaking and corporate entertainment.  So he's been away for over 10 years... and we're getting another shot at training with this extraordinary NLP Master Trainer!

The Teleconferences that produced the above quote are currently available for listening!  If you go to our "Rex Sikes Teleconferences" page, you can listen to multiple audio samples, one from each of our 1-hour-long calls.  If you'd like to listen to the full calls, or download them, you'll need to subscribe to our teleconferences email list.  You may or may not be subscribed to our main newsletter; that will NOT get you access to the calls.  Again, go to this page for more pearls of wisdom like the above -- and the audio clip sample from which the quotes above were transcribed.  They may NOT be available for free download later -- we're considering turning these into a product soon.  Listen to them immediately, while you can, free of charge.

Amazingly, Rex has also agreed to co-train a 12-day NLP Practitioner training in Orlando, November 2-13, 2012.  Your only opportunity to train with Rex Sikes in over a decade!.  Learn more here!