Monthly Archives: July 2008

NLP and Frames

Frames are used in NLP to change the way that a person is filtering the information they are processing. It allows a person to perceive their thoughts and feelings through a different lens of understanding, a better lens that makes those thoughts and feelings more useful to that person.

The most common frames used in NLP are:

Outcome Frame

The outcome frame allows us to focus on the ‘outcome’ of a situation. This change in focus drives the brain to find options for achieving that outcome. If we are problem solving, or negotiating, setting the using the outcome frame will set the goal that we are all trying to achieve and then allow us to look back to how we could have possible achieved it. Consider a business / union dispute over pay.

The outcome frame may help you by looking at the purpose of the request. Consider a Worker’s / Management negotiation:

Union say ‘We want more pay’

Management (in outcome frame) say ‘For what purpose?’

Union say ‘To let our families enjoy life more’

Management say ’Then we can give the staff 3 more days off per year’.

This may be a contrived example, but it demonstrates the outcome frame is a way of satisfying an objective in a more balanced way.

Subsets of the Outcome Frame are:

· Agreement frame – the focus of the outcome is agreement

· Evidence Frame – which helps identify the sensory evidence that identifies success

As If Frame

This Frame was adapted from Milton’s Ericson’s work. By allowing the person to see the world ‘As If’ they had a skill, behaviour or resource, that person can act ‘As If’ they are a new person and break through a limiting belief. It is typified by the phrase ‘Fake it until you make it’ and is best demonstrated by the reality TV show ‘Faking it’ and its international equivalents.

Cause and Effect Frame

This frame allows a person to understand the relationship between what they are doing and the result they are getting. If we adopt the mental filter of looking at how something we do causes an effect, we are getting near real time feedback about how we are influencing the world. I use the cause and effect frame during my public speaking to see if the pitch, tempo and material is having the effect I want. If not I change my approach (cause) until I get the results (effect) I want.

Possibility / Necessity Frame

The possibility / necessity frame is a ‘sense making filter’ that looks at each part of a problem and see if it is something that creates a possibility or if it is a necessity. For example if we take the race to the moon that the US led in the 1960s, there was a possibility of getting a man to the moon much earlier than 1969, but the necessity was the need to return that man to Earth and so extra engineering effort and vehicle contingency was needed that extended the project to the end of that decade.

Ecology Frame

A fundamental precept in NLP is to always leave someone in a better ‘place’ then before you started. It aligns to the medical precept of ‘First do no harm’. The ecology frame gives you the perspective of looking at the wider implications of any change that NLP generates. It makes you answer the questions of:

· Is this change going to improve this person’s life?

· What is the impact on this person’s family and business life?

· What will this new behaviour replace?

· What was being satisfied by the old behaviour and is it still being satisfied?

· Is the new state a well formed outcome for this person?

Use frames as microscopes to look on a situation in a different way and so develop a better and potentially empowering alternative understanding of the situation.

Dare to Aspire


Leave a comment

Filed under Improvement, NLP, Performance

NLP and the Swish Pattern

The swish pattern is a technique that helps people change unwanted habits or behaviours. It modifies behaviour patterns so that the trigger for the old, unwanted behaviour now triggers a new and resourceful behaviour.

The swish pattern can be used in any representational system, Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, Olfactory and Gustatory. I have had the best results using the Visual and Auditory systems.

Here is a description of the Swish Pattern in the Visual Representation System.

1. Identify the problem behaviour or habit you would like to change – I choose nail biting.

2. Identify the trigger for this activity – I choose the image of my fingers moving to my mouth.

3. Identify the main submodalities – I choose the movement of my hand to my mouth.

4. Break the state by clearing the mental screen or thinking of something unrelated.

5. Now identify the desire action – I choose running my fingers through the hair at my temples.

6. Now create the unwanted image in your mind in an associated state, that is, as though you are looking at the behaviour through your own eyes. – I see my hand in front of my face.

7. Now have that image disappear into the distance as though it is printed on a rubber sheet and someone behind the sheet is pulling it away rapidly.

8. Now imagine the person behind the rubber sheet has let go and the new image of the behaviour you want is on that sheet as it snaps back into you view. Imagine a noise like a swish or a snap as the image comes back into focus and have that image be dissociated, that is, looking at you as though you were on a movie screen demonstrating the new behaviour.

9. Break your state by ‘clearing the screen’.

10. Repeat this rapidly several times and then again every day for a week until the old behaviour is replaced by the new.

This is only mild technique in NLP but can be extremely effective on minor behaviour changes or in modifying an unwanted habit.

Have a go at this and see if you can change some of those unwanted habits.

Dare to Aspire

Leave a comment

Filed under Improvement, NLP, Performance

Developing Sensory Acuity

One of the key tenets of NLP is that of gaining feedback and recognising the impact of what you are doing. This is sensory acuity and it is a skill that you need to develop to get the best out of your NLP skills. By knowing and calibrating someone’s state, you can more readily understand what is going on in their mind.

Here are some exercises to help you develop your sensory acuity:

Visual Acuity:

1. Postural observation:

·Have a friend stand or sit in front of you.

·Observe and hold an image of that person.

·Close your eyes.

·Have your friend move; an arm, a leg, tilt the head, etc.

·Open your eyes and identify how your friend has moved.

·Repeat the exercise with less and less dramatic moves until you can recognise subtle changes like an eyebrow raised or minor head tilt.

2. Like / Dislike:

·Have your friend think of something that they like.

·Let them build a strong impression of it in their mind.

·Notice the visual cues for ‘like’ – this is called ‘calibration’.

·Now have them build a strong impression of something they dislike.

·‘Calibrate’ for dislike.

·Now have your friend choose either a ‘like’ or a ‘dislike’

·Identify which your friend is thinking of by identifying their ‘state’

3. Yes/No:

·Ask your friend some closed questions that will make them respond with a ‘Yes’.

Are you alive?

Are you awake?

Is it daylight?

·‘Calibrate’ their responses for ‘Yes’

·Ask your friend some closed questions that will make them respond with a ‘No’.

Can pigs fly?

Are you dead?

Can you hold your breath for an hour?

·‘Calibrate’ their responses for ‘No’

·Now ask closed questions without you friend responding.

·Identify your friends response without them telling you.

Auditory Acuity:

1. Friend/Foe:

·Stand back to back with your friend in a quiet room.

·Have your friend think of someone that they like.

·Let them build a strong impression of that person in their mind.

·Now ask them to count aloud from 1 to 10.

·Calibrate the ‘sound’ for friend

·Now have them build a strong impression of someone they dislike.

·Now ask them to count aloud from 1 to 10.

·Calibrate the ‘sound’ for foe

·Now have your friend choose the person they ‘like’ or ‘dislike’

·Now ask them to count aloud from 1 to 10.

·Identify which your friend is thinking of from the sounds you hear.

2. Coin Tone

·Get several coins and a plate.

·Have you friend drop a coin on the plate and name it.

·Repeat this for each coin several times until you have calibrated the sound.

·Have your friend drop a coin at random.

·Identify the coin from the sound.

These exercises will increase your sensory acuity ‘muscles’ and make you more aware and receptive to the changes in the people around you.

Dare to Aspire


Filed under Improvement, NLP, Performance

NLP and Representational Systems

Information about the world enters our experience through our senses. That information is then processed and we build a map of the world inside our minds.

So each experience is recorded in our minds based on the information that our senses provide. The input from each sense is known as a representational system. These representational systems then are:

· Visual What we see

· Audio What we hear

· Kinaesthetic What we feel physically or emotionally

· Olfactory What we smell

· Gustatory What we taste

· Internal Dialog What we say in our heads

Think of a particular and perhaps significant memory from your past. Hold it in your mind and consider it for a moment.

Is it a picture?

Is it a feeling?

What can you hear?

Is there a taste that is familiar?

Can you smell anything?

Do you have an inner voice commenting on the moment?

How you encode your memories is important in NLP because your memories define your experience and that affects your behaviour. Several of the techniques that NLP uses change the way memories are represented and so changes the impact that those memories have on behaviour.

Consider the memory of an event from which someone may have developed a phobia. Such an event can have a real impact on a phobic’s behaviour often significantly affecting their life.

By changing the way that a phobic represents that memory it is possible to radically reduce the impact such a memory has.

This approach has resulted in the famous NLP ‘Phobia Cure’, more of which in another post.

We all have a lead representational system, a particular sense that we are more dependent upon and that we more readily use to encode our memories.

By recognising the lead representational system of the person you are talking to, you can more readily communicate with that person. By using terms from the same representational system you will find you that the person will appear to understand you better and warm to you.

If a person uses most visual words such as, ‘Can you show me that’ or, ‘I see what you are saying’ you should use visual words in return to best communicate. Using a phrase like ‘Let me show you’ will be easier for the person to understand you.

Spend a few days listening more actively to the words that people use and see if you can identify words that relate to the representational systems. When you become better at identifying those words, see if there is a lead system that they use more frequently and then use similar words and measure the effect. Most people that match another person’s representational systems find a significant benefit in the quality of their communication and a rapid building of trust.

Dare to Aspire

1 Comment

Filed under Improvement, NLP

NLP and Sensory Acuity

The 4-Step Success Formula requires you to have an awareness of how your behaviour is affecting the environment and your progress towards your goals. NLP captures the idea of being aware of your surroundings and the impact you are having under the blanket term of ‘Sensory Acuity’.

Essentially, your performance as an NLP practitioner is dependent upon how well you notice the things that change around you. This is the essential feedback that you get when you change any behaviour. Just like a thermostat turns the heating on or off based on the temperature it senses, you must modify your behaviour based on the response you get.

As you increase your sensory acuity, you will begin to notice more increasingly subtle details about yourself, your environment and the people with whom you communicate. This increased attention to detail will help you to improve your actions and so get the results you want with more accuracy.

For example:

If you are selling a guitar and the customer says I just want to feel how it plays. You need to understand that this person needs to feel the instrument to get a sense of it, rather than listen to the tone or look at the shine off the rosewood neck.

By becoming more aware of the words people use you will more readily understand their ‘map of the world’ (see presuppositions) and be more able to communicate with them.

For the next few days, open your awareness a little more and expand your view of the world and the things that go on in it.

The next positing will take make you more aware of how sensory acuity can be of benefit as we move onto Representational Systems.

Dare to Aspire

Leave a comment

Filed under Improvement, NLP