NLP Strategies

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By John Plester

Definition of a Strategy

A sequence of representations, leading to a specific outcome

Strategy Levels

Strategy extends from large chunks’ of behaviour down to the very detailed thought submodalities. A strategy is required for everything, it may take the form of specific words or a mental image that motivates one to do something.

Strategy Syntax

A successful strategy requires one to think and act in a particular order – this is called the syntax.

Four stage Success Model

  • Decide what you want i.e. goal or target
  • Do something
  • Notice what happens
  • Change what you do until you get your desired outcome

TOTE Model – NLP Guide to eliciting strategies

Test - this is the stimulus /cue that begins the strategy

Operate - this accesses the data by remembering, creating or gathering information from the internal or external world

Test - this second test compares the accessed data and the criteria established initially

Exit - this represents the result of the test – the decision point.

The TOTE model is followed until there is a match between the initial goal and the final outcome and then it exits and the decision is made. If there is no match then the process loops until there is a match.

TOTE modalities of operation

Vi Visual Internal - create a visual image in ones mind

Ve Visual External - actually see something externally

Ad Auditory Digital - talking to oneself internally

K Kinesthetic - a feeling inside about something

The above are all subject to the specific detail of the submodalities of each modality.

The above modalities of operation can be ascertained by watching for eye accessing cues and listening for language patterns used.

Example Buying a jumper

Test/Trigger Vi – you see a picture of the jumper you want

Operate Ve – you look around in shops and see some jumpers

Ad – as you look around you might talk to yourself  internally about the pro and cons of what you see

K – some jumpers may give you a good feeling

Test Ve = Vi = K? – here you compare what you have found with what you wanted and see if it feels right

Exit Make a decision and buy the jumper.

Key points of strategies

  1. All behaviour is the result of neurological patterns i.e sequences of internal representational functioning.
  2. Any particular neurological pattern is the result of accessing cues and synesthesia patterns such as anchors and associations.
  3. The strategy must have a well defined representation of the outcome.
  4. A strategy must have an operation to gather information and feedback from which a representation of the desired outcome can be built and modified.
  5. A strategy must involve all three representational systems.
  6. A strategy cannot cycle back before the decision point.
  7. A strategy may recycle or enter a loop by:
  • changing the outcome/redirecting the strategy e.g. buy shoes instead of a jumper
  • adjusting the outcome and chunking laterally e.g. put the money towards a holiday
  • refining by further specifying  the outcome e.g. wait till I can go to a designer shop
  • accessing more data e.g. shop around some more for a jumper.

Strategy Chunks

These are various levels of strategy that contribute to the success or failure of it such as motivation, decision making, convincing and reassurance. These can be broken down into discreet strategy chunks which may well all be part of an overall strategy to purchase something. Each discreet chunk can be compared with different contexts e.g. is the same decision making strategy used for purchasing a new cooker as deciding who to marry?

Strategy Elicitation 

Everything we do on a daily basis has some sort of strategy that we employ. Do you ever work out how you get out of bed or make a cup of tea? What is your strategy for going on holiday? For some it would be just quickly looking on the internet for the best deal and going wherever the best deal is. For others it would be going to the travel shop, picking up brochures and then settling down at home to pour over them building up the excitement along the way. They probably would have a good idea of where they may want to go as well.

Strategies are the programming part of NLP and we use the modalities and submodalities to sequence the strategy. And many of use so many different strategies according to our representational systems. An easy way to understand a strategy is to ask yourself how you spell a word. Take the word ‘juicy’ and look away and spell it. What did you do? Did you see the word spelled out, did you try to remember what the word looked like when you read it or did you try to phonetically spell it out in your head? Good spellers usually see the word in front of them so it becomes easier to remember and recall what the word looks like. If it is a new word that you have never heard of, you would have to remember how to spell it and make a picture.

There is a shorthand notation of eliciting a strategy which is fairly simple to use.

Using the five senses we can focus on either external things that are going on, or internal of how we are representing it internally. So for instance if someone said they see a car, we would write down Ve for visual external, if they were recalling a car they had seen we would write down Vi for visual internal. If they talked about how they felt when they saw the car, it could be Ke for how they felt when they saw it and Ki for the internal feelings that were felt.

Are you wondering what would make us want to elicit a strategy? The strategies we use can make a difference to whether we achieve the results we want. When we talk about modelling success, we are finding out how someone does something really well, finding out what strategy they use to achieve success and then model it ourselves.

An example would be asking a successful business person how they achieved success:

“When you first started your business, what ideas did you have”?

“I got this picture of me selling second hand designer clothes”

“So you were making a picture on your mind of how it could be successful”? Vi

“Yes, but I also went to look at some premises that might be suitable” Ve

“Then what did you do”?

“I got this good feeling when I saw the place I wanted to sell the clothes” Ke Ki Ve

“How did you then begin”?

“ I remembered that I had got a loan from the bank some years ago for another project, and recalled how I had talked to the bank manager about it and he had agreed it was a good idea, so I knew if I went to talk to him again, he would probably recommend me for a loan”. Ar

“What happened then”?

“I got the loan, and started to make some plans of how the shop would look As I looked round the shop, I got the feeling that it would be extremely popular and already had a vision of how I could open another one very soon in another place I had spotted and it looked good and felt the right things to do”. Vc Ac Ke Ki Ve

So we could model the successful person on how they are doing what they are doing which makes them successful.

This next example would be of someone who is not running a good strategy. We don’t choose our strategies by the way. They are usually formed by trial and error.

“So you have been looking to create a business for a while, what kind of business do you have in mind?”

“Well, I have all kinds of ideas floating round in my head, but often I reject them because I don’t think they will work”.

“What kinds of things do you think of and what happens when you think of them”?

“I see myself running a web design business, but then think of my last job working for a web design company and it did not work out well, so then I feel depressed thinking that I could run a company on my own. I don’t like talking to bank managers because they tend to say no often, well they have to me in the past, and I remember that I did not have a good experience of talking to them, but that was years ago.”

“Do you feel confident that you could offer a good product to people?”

“Sometimes, but then I think of things that have not gone well, and what other people have said as well, so it does put me off quite a bit, but I do have this dream and picture of how it could be”.

With a partner work out the strategy of this person; How are they doing what they do? What internal and external representations do they make? Visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.

Working out an Effective Strategy

If we find a strategy that works for us, we tend to stick to it. Often we don’t even think about the strategies we run unless we become aware of them in some way and work out how to design a new strategy for ourselves. NLP helps people in extend their choices and we begin with well formed conditions.

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