Sunday, June 5, 2011

Anchoring - Part 4 of 4

This is part 4 in my series on anchors, you can read part 1, part 2 and part 3. In part one we learned the basics of what an anchor is and how to create one. In part 2 we stacked anchors and created a ring of power. In part 3 we collapsed anchors. In this part we will learn to build a chain of anchors. This helps us break out of a stuck state into a more resourceful one. We use this process when the states we are moving between are far apart and we would find it difficult to move directly from one to the other using collapsing anchors.

Stuck states are hard to get out of, that's why they are called stuck states, you're literally stuck in them, the way to get out of the stuck state and into a better state is for us to design a chain of anchors. Examples of stuck states are procrastination and indecisiveness. A chain of anchors will automatically lead the client through a sequence of states from the stuck state to the final more resourceful state. We elicit the necessary states by asking the client to describe a time when they went from the negative state to the desired state and noting down the states experienced.

A good chain of anchors will usually be 4 states long but can be as short as 3 or as long as necessary.
  • The first state will be the stuck state.
  • The second state is often an "away from state", this could be a lightly negative state like frustration or boredom, you will never use a strongly negative state like fear, anger, guilt, sadness or hurt. This state needs to be motivating enough to overpower the stuck state.
  • The third state is often a "towards state", this will be a positive state that leads towards getting going, good examples are desire or excitement.
  • The final state is the desired state and it usually the polar opposite of the stuck state.

The process for building a chain of four anchors goes like this:
You need to locate a place on the body where you have 4 spots to anchor that you can reach at the same time. The knuckles are very useful for this.
  • Follow the instructions in Part 1 to anchor the first state in the chain.
  • Make sure to break state by clearing the screen or accessing the senses (try asking "do you smell coffee?" or "did you hear that?")
  • Anchor the second state in the chain.
  • Break state
  • Anchor the third state in the chain. Since this is a positive state will we anchor it several times, remebering to break state each time.
  • Break state
  • Anchor the desired end state. Since this is the desired state we anchor it several times, even more than the third state, remeber to break state each time.
  • Break state
  • Now that we have our resource anchors we need to chain them. Fire the first anchor.
  • When the state peaks fire off the second anchor and release the first.
  • When the second state peaks fire off the third anchor and release the second.
  • When the third state peaks fire off the fourth anchor and release the third.
  • Keep holding the anchor for another 5 seconds and then release
  • Break state
  • Fire off the stuck state anchor and watch as the client goes through all four states and ends up in the desired state.
  • Future pace by asking the client to imagine a time in the future when they would normally experience the stuck state.
See this graph for a better idea of the timing:

Chaining anchors is a very powerful technique and can get amazing results for your client. You can have problems with the technique when the states you choose to use are not powerful enough to overpower the previous states. Only through stacking states and a process of trial and error can you guarantee a successful chain of anchors.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Anchoring - Part 3 of 4

This is part 3 in my series on anchors, you can see part 1 here and part 2 here. In part one we learned the basics of what an anchor is and how to create one. In part 2 we stacked anchors and created a ring of power. In this part we will learn to collapse an anchor. This is the process of replacing a negative anchor with a better one and it can also use collapsing anchors to help someone to move out of lingering in a negative state by automatically moving into a better one, this works on minor states, for more powerful negative states you would need to use a chain of anchors which will be covered in part 4.

It is possible and very common to anchor a negative state that can be inadvertently triggered. Imagine this scenario, someone loses a close relative, friends and family are coming to hug them to console them, months later, this person is introduced to someone new, they exchange a hug and all of a sudden the person breaks into tears because their state of grieving was anchored to being hugged. You could see how this could be a problem for them. The solution is to collapse the anchor.

The general principle for collapsing an anchor is to fire the undesired anchor off at the same time as firing off a more powerful positive anchor.  Here's how:
  • If you are not collapsing a negative anchor, being by anchoring the negative state.
  • Follow the instructions in Part 1 to create an anchor. Since we are most likely working with a powerful negative anchor (why else would someone go to the trouble of collapsing one?) we need to create an even more powerful positive anchor. Be sure to elicit states like exhilaration, bliss, excitement, etc you'll probably want to stack the anchor.
  • Make sure to break state by clearing the screen or accessing the senses (try asking "do you smell coffee?" or "did you hear that?")
  • Fire both anchors simultaneously and hold the stimulus
  • After the negative state peaks release that anchor
  • Hold the positive anchor for a further 5 seconds and release
  • Break State
  • Test by firing the old anchor or asking "can they imagine a time in the future when, if it had happened in the past, would have triggered the negative state?"
Keep an eye out for part 4 of this series on anchors

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Anchoring - Part 2 of 4

This is part 2 in my series on anchors, you can see part 1 here. In part one we learned the basics of what an anchor is and how to create one. In this part we will take that further by stacking anchors and creating a Ring of Power. The thing about anchors is that anchoring the same stimulus doesn't replace the old anchored state, rather the states combine, so we can stack multiple states onto the same anchor.

Here's how:
  • Follow the instructions in Part 1 to create an anchor.
  • Make sure to break state by clearing the screen or accessing the senses (try asking "do you smell coffee?" or "did you hear that?")
  • Anchor another state to the same point on the body as in step 1)
  • Repeat steps 2) and 3) for each additional state you want to add to the stack
  • Break state and test

A really awesome use of stacking anchors is to build a ring of power. We do this by:
  • Imagining a ring of about 1 metre in diameter on the floor in front of us
  • Remember a time when you were in a positive state and when you start to get the feeling step into the circle
  • When the feeling starts to wane, then step out of the circle
  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 for all the states you want in your ring of power
  • When all the states are added, test by stepping into the ring
  • Now imagine the ring floating up to your hand and then shrinking until it fits around your finger
  • When ever you want to use the ring, imagine it expanding off your finger and onto the ground
  • Step into the ring

The ring of power is an example of a visually constructed anchor. Anchoring doesn't even require external sensory input. Check back soon for parts 3 and 4 of my series on anchoring.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Anchoring - Part 1 of 4

This is part 1 of my 4 part series on anchors. They are one of the first techniques taught in most NLP courses because they are very easy to understand and demonstrate. Before you read this please make sure you understand Sensory Acuity.

An anchor is a conditioned response. You may have heard the story of Pavlov's dogs. A scientist called Ivan Pavlov did an experiment. He would show some dogs a piece of meat. Seeing and smelling meat put the dogs into the state "I'm about to eat" which triggered the physiological response of drooling. At the same time as the dogs would begin to drool,  Pavlov would strike a tuning fork. After repeating this over several days Pavlov struck the tuning fork without showing the dogs any meat and the dogs still drooled. The dogs had been conditioned to have the same response to hearing the sound of a tuning fork as they would have to seeing and smelling a piece of meat. Pavlov had linked the state "I'm about to eat" to the anchor "sound of striking a tuning fork".

Humans are being anchored potentially thousands of times a day. Archors can be formed from any sensory stimulus, ie. sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Ever eat a certain food and have a wave of emotions flood over you? That's an achor. Do you have a song which always cheers you up? That's another anchor. Any time an emotional state is linked to a sensory input you have an anchor. Logos and jingles are some of the most common anchors, just think how many times a day you are exposed to advertising material, you're being anchored all the time.

The good news is that we can intentionally anchor ourselves and others. Why is this good news? Well, it enables us to do 4 things: 
  • Recall positive states - if you we're feeling down in the dumps and had an anchor for feeling happy you could instantly improve your mood.
  • Stack anchors - you can stack many states onto the same anchor allowing you to build a resource anchor of beneficial states which you can call up when you need them. This will be covered in part 2. 
  • Collapse negative anchors - if you have a bad anchor you can collapse that anchor which replaces it with an anchor to a better state, this will be covered in part 3.
  • Chain anchors - if you find yourself stuck in a state like procrastination you can create a chain of anchors which will put you into a more useful state, this will be covered in part 4.

The basic process for creating a kinesthetic anchor is:
  • Begin by asking the person you're anchoring if it's ok to touch them.
  • Have them experience or recall the desired state. The anchor will be strongest when actually experiencing the desired state, they are still effective when using a remembered state.
  • As soon as a response is noticed immediately apply the stimulus. This will require good sensory acuity.
  • As soon as the response begins to fall remove the stimulus. Again, this will require good sensory acuity. The anchor should now be set, you need to break state so you can test, ask the person you are anchoring if they can see, hear or smell something in the background or simply tell them to "clear the screen".
  • Now test the anchor by re-applying the stimulus. This touch should be shorter than the one used to anchor or you will stack the current state onto the same anchor.

This diagram should more easily depict the timing required.

The rules for creating a good anchor are:
  • Use a unique stimulus - this stimulus must be something that others are unlikely to fire off inadvertently. Avoid using something like a handshake.
  • Use an easy to find part of the body - select a part of the body like the knuckles or finger tips that you can easily find again, make sure it's exposed and you aren't using clothing, which will move, as a guide.
  • Anchors can last for years but sometimes they will become ineffective after just a couple of uses you can increase their power by re-anchoring the same state over and over again.

Anchors are great for using on yourself, say you have a situation that always puts you in an unresourceful state, if you had previously anchored a more desireable state you could fire that off and instantly feel better.

If you can find someone to work with, a really great way of learning to anchor is to sit with a friend and help them anchor 5 positive states to each of the finger tips on one hand and then test each one individually and then have your friend do the same to you.

Keep any eye out for parts 2, 3 and 4 of this series on anchors.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Have you ever met someone new and instantly felt like you've known them for years, like there is a some deep connection between the two of you? That feeling is called rapport (pronounced 'rapore') and there is an NLP model for quickly gaining rapport with someone that I'm going to teach you today. Rapport is important both for building relationships and for hypnosis and therapy. When two people are in rapport there exists an unspoken bond, a synchronisation at the unconscious level which makes both people feel safety and trust.

The model for rapport was developed during Bandler and Grinder's study of Milton Erickson who was incredibly effective at gaining rapport and used it to great effect in his hypnotherapy practice. This model requires proficiency with sensory acuity, representation systems and the hierarchy of ideas for the best results.

There are 3 major elements to be aware of for observing rapport:
  • Posture (body position and relaxation/tenseness levels)
  • Gestures
  • Facial Expressions and blinking (see sensory acuity)
  • Breathing (belly, chest or shoulders moving and rate)
Voice Tonality
  • Tone (pitch)
  • Tempo (speed)
  • Timbre (quality)
  • Volume

To gain rapport you must match and/or mirror these elements. Matching means to copy them exactly as the other person does. Mirroring is to copy them using the opposite side of your body, if the other person puts their left hand on their hip, I would put my right hand on my hip, and if facing each other directly my posture would be the mirror image of theirs. Be careful not to be too overt with your matching and mirroring, it will come off as fake or mocking if done too obviously, as you get better with rapport you will start to do it unconsciously.

These three elements have different levels of effectiveness in gaining rapport. In what is probably one of the world's most misquoted statistics this has been broken down as:
  • 55% Physiology
  • 38% Tonality
  •  7% Words
I say misquoted because this statistic is often quoted as applying to all communication, this is obviously false, if words were only 7% of communication then I'd be able to get almost all messages across to deaf people or those who don't speak English. This statistic is only relevant to deciding whether or not you like someone.

You know those people who seem to get special treatment everywhere they go? Often, they are natural masters of rapport and everywhere they go people instantly like them and go out of their way to help them. You've probably had the experience happen to you once in a while too.

A fun exercise for experiencing the power of rapport is to sit facing on a 45 degree angle with a friend, one of you should talk for a couple of minutes on a random subject and the other should consciously make and break rapport by matching and mirroring, note how the gain and loss of rapport makes you feel, switch roles and try again when you're done.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sensory Acuity

Do you know people who seem to be able to read you like a book? Chances are those people, whether conscious of it or not, have great sensory acuity which is the ability to notice the tiny physiological changes that occur when someone's emotional state changes. Sensory acuity is a great skill and has applications whenever we communicate with others, it is especially useful to coaches, therapists and hypnotists. The following techniques really benefit from this skill; gaining rapport, hypnotic inductions, observing eye patterns and many others.

There are many different indicators which might hint at a shift in emotional state, these include:
Skin Colour - look for shifts from light to dark or vice versa, we've all observed someone go bright red when embarrassed or pale when shocked.
Skin Taughtness - muscles under the skin will pull it tight or leave it dangling loose, you can notice the transition from dull to shiny.
Lower Lip Size - will expand or contact, it is easiest to spot the change in size as it occurs.
Lower Lip Taughtness - lip will go from smooth to lined or vice versa.
Pupil dilation - pupil will expand or contract.

A great exercise for building your sensory acuity is to work with a friend, have them recall an emotional state and take a mental snapshot of their face, then have them recall a different emotional state and take another snapshot, after breaking state have them randomly recall either of those two states and see if you can read if it was the first or second.

A great use of this skill is to observe people while you communicate with them, your sensory acuity will give you hints as to when someone is lying or if something is being held back. To improve your skills in sensory acuity over the next few weeks you could consciously keep an eye out for any of those 5 indicators of state changes when you are interacting with someone or even watching others interact with each other.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Representation Systems

Representation systems are a fundamental NLP concept, you need a grasp of this before you can understand the Rapport Model, Eye Patterns, Sub Modalities and Strategies. Rep systems are the 6 sensory and mental modalities that our minds use to represent reality to us. The rep systems are:

Name Type External Internal
Visual Pictures and Movies. Sensory input from our eyes. Pictures and movies in our minds.
Auditory (Analog) Sound Sensory input from our ears. Sounds in our minds
Kinesthetic Tactile sensation  Sensory input from skin and nervous system Physical feelings in our bodies and minds.
Olefactory Smells Sensory input from our noses. Smells in our minds
Gustatory Tastes Sensory input from our tongues Tastes in our minds
Auditory Digital Internal Dialogue None Voices in our minds

Most of this should be pretty obvious to the average human being. The interesting thing to note is that people use the various rep systems to varying degrees in varying situations. It is entirely possible that someone  doesn't use a one or two of the rep systems. Also note that the olfactory and gustatory rep systems are generally ignored.

At any one point in our lives we'll have a preference for one system over the others, this is called the Preferred Rep System. Knowing someone's prefered rep system is useful in gaining rapport with them and in helping to communicate an idea to them by using the predicates of their preferred rep system.

Predicates are words which reference a rep system. If someone had just described an idea to me, I might say "I SEE what you mean" or "I have a FIRM GRASP of that" to communicate that I think I've understood. As you probably noticed I said essentially the same thing, but each time I used predicates relating to different representation systems, I could reasonably expect a different response from the same person depending on which I used. When people have a strong preference for a rep system they can have great difficulty understanding statements which including predicates from different rep systems.

Sometimes when working with a group of people you may need to act as the predicate translator, taking one person's statements, translating them to another's preferred rep system and passing the message on.

For example if we take the kinesthetic statement "that feels right" we could translate it to:
    "that looks great"
    "that sounds good"
    "that's well thought out"

Each rep system also has factors which particularly irritate or please. Sometimes we have to translate these to help people using other rep systems understand just how irrititing or pleasurable something is.

For example a person who prefers the visual rep system might say "all this clutter drives me insane" we could translate it for users of other rep systems to:
    "leaving this pile of clutter out is like having a car alarm going off in your ear"
    "leaving this pile of clutter out is like wearing scratchy underwear"
    "leaving this pile of clutter out is like being confused"

See this page for a list of predicates and predicate phrases for each rep system. You can work out your own preferred rep system by taking this test.

You can make an educated guess as to someone else's preferred rep system by looking at several factors such as eye accessing cues (to be covered in a future post), breathing, body shape, clothing choice, voice tone and rate of speech, pleasures, irritations and predicates.

People who prefer the Visual rep system tend to:
  • breathe from high up in their lungs, you'll most likely notice their shoulders rising and falling as they breathe.
  • be thin
  • be very stylish in their dress
  • speak quickly as they try and communicate all the images that are flying through their brains
  • be pleased by how things look
  • be irritated by visual clutter
  • use visual predicates

People who prefer the Auditory rep system tend to:
  • breath lower than visuals, you should notice their chest expanding and contracting as they breathe
  • be of an average body type
  • think they are stylish in their dress but don't seem to pull it off as well as visuals
  • speak in a very melodic way with an average rate of speech.
  • be pleased by how things sound
  • be irritated by distracting sounds
  • use auditory predicates

People who prefer the Kinesthetic rep system tend to:
  •  breathe low down in their diaphragm, you should notice their stomach expanding and contracting as they breathe
  •  are more often overweight or muscular
  •  dress for comfort over style
  •  speak slowly and quietly
  •  be pleased by how things feel
  •  be irritated by feeling uncomfortable
  •  use kinesthetic predicates

You may have noticed that Auditory Digital is not included in this list, Auditory Digital people will often take on the characteristics of the other rep systems. Auditory Digital differs from the other rep systems because their thoughts most often consist of a voice speaking inside their minds. This results in process oriented logical thinking.

It is estimated that roughly 60% of people are visual, 20% are auditory and 20% are kinesthetic, the dominance of visual people is attributed to television and movies. No one system is better than the other, they
all have strengths and weaknesses and are more or less appropriate for specific situations.

A good exercise for learning the representation systems is to try and guess the preferred rep system of each person you speak to in a day. Try and remember what indicators you noticed and match them to the list
above. If it's a close friend you could ask them to take the preferred representation system test and compare the results to your guess.