The User's Guide to SLEIGHT OF MOUTH

How to Unleash the Magic of Language to Persuade Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere.

by Doug O'Brien

COPYRIGHT 2010 Doug O'Brien

SLEIGHT OF MOUTH
Table of Contents PART ONE ........................................................................................................... 4 Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. ........................................................ 5 Perception vs. Interpretation ................................................................................. 6 Beliefs are interpretations of perception................................................................ 7 Beliefs are Shortcuts ............................................................................................. 9 Unpacking Beliefs ............................................................................................... 10 The Structure of A Belief ..................................................................................... 12 Unpacking Beliefs ............................................................................................... 16 Unpacking the Belief "NLP is a quick fix." ........................................................... 19 Sleight of Mouth Responses to the Cause/Effect side ........................................ 21 Sleight of Mouth Responses to the Effect/Means side ........................................ 23 Sleight of Mouth in Icon Graphics ....................................................................... 27 PART TWO ......................................................................................................... 32 If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else 32 The Patterns Mapped ......................................................................................... 35 CHUNK ONE ...................................................................................................... 36 Hierarchy of Criteria ............................................................................................ 37 Employing Transformational Vocabulary ............................................................ 40 Consequence Pattern ......................................................................................... 41 A Learning Suggestion........................................................................................ 43 Another Outcome ................................................................................................ 44 Metaphor or Analogy Pattern .............................................................................. 45 Redefine ............................................................................................................. 47 Chunk 1: Play Time............................................................................................. 50 CHUNK TWO ...................................................................................................... 51 Chunk Down ....................................................................................................... 52 Chunk Up or the Exaggerate Pattern .................................................................. 54 Counterexample.................................................................................................. 56
©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 2 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

True Life Confessions - Part 1 ............................................................................ 58 Practice Session: Close Your Eyes.................................................................... 60 Intent Pattern ...................................................................................................... 61 Model of the World .............................................................................................. 62 Chunk 2: Play Time............................................................................................. 64 CHUNK THREE .................................................................................................. 65 Reality Strategy................................................................................................... 65 Apply to Self ........................................................................................................ 67 Changing Frame Size ......................................................................................... 70 Meta Frame ........................................................................................................ 71 Chunk 3: Play Time............................................................................................. 73 True Life Confessions - Part 2 ............................................................................ 74 Practice Session: Close Your Eyes................................................................... 77 The Classic Examples of Sleight of Mouth.......................................................... 78 Home Study: Blank Sleight of Mouth Pattern Map .............................................. 83 SOM in Action - A Real Life Example ................................................................. 84 SOM in Action - Conflict Resolution .................................................................... 89 Moving Toward Mastery...................................................................................... 93 Becoming a Wizard ............................................................................................. 93 Appendix 1 - The Agreement Frame ................................................................. 101 Appendix 2 - The Precision Model .................................................................... 106 Appendix 3 - Polya Patterns of Plausible Inference .......................................... 116 Appendix 4 - Strategies for Using Sleight of Mouth........................................... 125 Appendix 5 - Logical Levels .............................................................................. 127 Acknowledgments ............................................................................................. 131 About the Author ............................................................................................... 132

©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth

3 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

com .an empathic connection . and yet.it is not about winning arguments. This book will help you be more persuasive – and yet .org and www.Ericksonian. it’s not just about that. “What do you mean Sleight of Mouth is not about winning!? That’s what I bought it for!” Sleight of Mouth is often seen as a set of tools that will enable you to win every argument or make every sale. How is it that this person you’re talking with can believe what he says he believes? ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 4 www.SleightofMouth. and you will make more sales.. the thing is. What Sleight of Mouth is really about is communication. you will be more persuasive.it is not about persuasion.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH PART ONE T HIS book will help you win arguments – and yet . It will help you discover the following: • What is a belief? • How are beliefs held in place? • How can beliefs be changed? I’m sure some readers are already saying. It depends upon a compassionate engagement . This book is about beliefs. This book will help you increase your sales – and yet . I’ll admit that was one of my own original motivations for learning Sleight of Mouth.it is not about selling.with the other person where you are seeking first to understand where the other person is coming from.. Well.

Let’s be clear that there is nothing illegal going on here. Let's imagine that you accept the offer.” So to truly communicate is to create a commonality where true union is achieved.Looking at the etymology of the word "communication” helps us appreciate the word's meaning. Toto. Hence. requires a deeper understanding of how beliefs are constructed.000 free and clear. It’s all perfectly legal and proper. So Sleight of Mouth starts with curiosity about people and with recognizing that communication is about listening and hearing as much as it is about speaking.say.org and www. Consider the following: Suppose I were to offer you $500. Let me see if I can illustrate why this is important. communication means “to have union with. you get $500. or (at least) to see the merit of. a different belief system. I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.so we can listen twice as much as we speak. This book includes material like “Polya Patterns” and the “meta model” that technically aren't Sleight of Mouth at all. The word contains two root words: com (from the Latin "cum" which translates as "with") and unio (the Latin for "union" from which our English word directly comes).SleightofMouth. It is significant that two other English words come from the same base words: community and communion. from some location to New York City. The added materials will help achieve that deeper understanding.com . however.000 to transport a parcel from one place to someplace else . ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 5 www. Perhaps that’s why we have two ears and only one mouth -. To become truly adept with Sleight of Mouth. The parcel doesn’t contain drugs or anything like that.Ericksonian. It is a means to persuade the listener to accept. Sleight of Mouth by itself is just a way of reframing statements of belief in order to change the listener’s way of looking at things. The deal is that if you deliver the package successfully.

You don’t know. you’re right. and the sun is setting in the west. You could see it with great clarity. if you were sitting on the western side of the circle. what would be the first thing you would need to do in order to get yourself to New York City? Well of course. You might be in Mexico. you’d see that object bathed in a golden light. You’d need to find the nearest road or the nearest town to ascertain where exactly you are in order to start your travels from where you are to where you want to go. In that situation. You’d have this bright golden light in your eyes when you try to look at that object. From your perspective. You just wake up in this barren space. perhaps depending on what side of the circle each of us is sitting on. You’d need to find out where you are. Sleight of mouth is like that. Conversely.com . You might be in the southwest. You need to know the territory that you’re dealing with before you can start traveling to the new location. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 6 www. would be absolutely right in your perception. What if the only stipulation was that before you could start off on this transportation mission to New York City. each of us would have a different perception of that object.Ericksonian. like a feather or a drum. You have no idea where you are or how you got there. Of course. You need to know where you are. your perception is 100%. you would find yourself waking up one morning in the middle of nowhere? Perhaps it’s the middle of the desert somewhere. from your different perspectives. You might be in Canada. from where you’re sitting. the answer is obvious.org and www. And each of you. Imagine for a moment that you’re sitting on the eastern side of that circle. Perception vs.Now let’s add a small complication. Interpretation There’s an old Indian story that says that if we’re all sitting together in a circle and we put something in the center of that circle.SleightofMouth. You’d see the faces of the people opposite you also bathed in that same golden light. Maybe you’d only see that feather or that drum in a silhouette. There’d be no question about it.

then most likely we would bring even more preconceptions to the circle.” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 7 www.com . So we say to the other person. we can then lead the other person to see things from our perspective. “What is a belief?” In answer to this question.that drum or that feather . You might see it in a different way. that perception is correct from your particular vantage point.SleightofMouth. it’s that we’re both right from our distinct perspectives.and replace it with a concept or an idea. Or maybe you were dragged to this event against your will and are just waiting for it to be over. many people would say something like the following: "A belief is a conviction.” “A belief is a feeling of certainty. Sleight of Mouth echoes the notion that perception is 100%.org and www. “Yes. As an example. and also look at it from this other perspective. Given that assumption. In whatever way you may perceive a thing. if we were to take that object out from the center of the circle . Rather. Each person sitting in that circle naturally brings to the experience his or her own preconceived notions that color the interpretations of those perceptions. There are countless ways you could color your interpretations of the event.Ericksonian. raw perception is not the only thing going on there. you’re right from this perspective.However. Interpretations and ideas that we had prior to our entering the circle would influence our perception as well. The idea underlying Sleight of Mouth is not that you’re right and I’m wrong or that I’m right and you’re wrong." “A belief is something you know in your gut is true.” Beliefs are interpretations of perception Let’s consider for a moment the question. Now. Yet the perception itself is pure. you might have had previous experiences with drum circles that were wonderful and joyous.

. they just assumed that. In that way. Until. The possibility that it might be otherwise didn’t even dawn on them. of course. though. So.. In time. the world must be round.com . ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 8 www. perception began to change. hundreds.org and www. Throughout the history of science and exploration.. or even thousands.an interpretation of the circumstances . The conventional belief was convenient..that worked. For these reasons." And they believe it's true because they feel it in their gut.. most people didn’t even think about it. the reason is that they stop looking for their keys after they’ve found them. How could a person really believe something that is so clearly untrue? Here’s one way of answering that question.. that’s been the basis for a lot of beliefs. of course.Ericksonian. People started to do things like sail around the world . Heretics were burned at the stake in the middle ages. A few people did think about it. and they had to be very careful.things that would be impossible if the world were flat.But what if someone says something like this? "I believe the world is flat. The idea that the world is flat was a convenient explanation that worked for a long period of time. because there was a word for people who held unconventional beliefs. therefore. the belief that the world is round became the new orthodoxy that no one questioned. the cycle endlessly repeats. of course. Have you ever noticed that a person always finds their keys in the last place they look? Why is that? Obviously. Most people didn’t even think about it. of years.SleightofMouth. We found an explanation . they were called heretics. the world is flat. and heretics had a tough time of it back then. and so we stopped looking. So suggesting that perhaps the world isn’t flat might not be a very safe thing to do. and it worked. Instead.

Beliefs are Shortcuts It took a lot of work.symbols. It's much easier just to have the conclusion. you can't do that.com . Here are a few examples: • "Ah.org and www." • "It is important to be nice.” Also imagine ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 9 www. exploration and thinking to change from "the world is flat" to "the world is round.SleightofMouth. reasoned-out belief. Imagine for a moment a belief suitcase that’s labeled “I believe in Sasquatch." • "Greed is good." • "Sasquatch is real. let's take that metaphor of the suitcase a wee bit further.for the speaker's whole." Thank goodness we don't have to go through that whole process every time we think about the world. that's better. "the world is round" represent all that exploration and thinking in a simple phrase." • "Hey." • "Life is good. People often represent beliefs in their minds by means of these shortcuts in the form of a word or a phrase. really . Now.Ericksonian. It's like we packed all that experience and cognitive deliberation into a suitcase and simply put a label on the suitcase to make it easier on us." These are all shortcuts .

Yet. and the second one belongs to my friend Fred. • I think I saw him once. To answer that question we would open up the suitcase to see what’s inside.” The first of those two suitcases is mine. when taken together.SleightofMouth.com . • I saw the footprints of Sasquatch. Unpacking Beliefs Let's take a look at my belief-in-Sasquatch suitcase. we might expect that the contents would also be identical. You could ask me how I know my belief is true. such as: • I’ve heard stories about Sasquatch from when I was growing up in Canada. or why do I have that belief. • We were always losing chickens. My suitcase might have a load of things in there. I was with my Dad and he definitely saw Sasquatch. • Every year there’d be these big footprints and chickens would be gone and there’d be a trail of feathers following those footprints up into the mountains.org and www. constitute all the reasons that I believe Sasquatch is real. because they’re identical looking suitcases and have the same labels on them. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 10 www.that there is another suitcase that looks identical to the first suitcase and that has the same identical label on it: “I believe in Sasquatch.Ericksonian. long list of things inside that suitcase which. There would be a long.

Which of the two people in this scenario would be easier to convince that there is no Sasquatch? Clearly. The suitcase is virtually empty.SleightofMouth. much to your surprise.Ericksonian. it would be contestant number two who has very ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 11 www. The only thing backing up his belief is that he saw a picture in a tabloid once. you find just a little pair of socks in there.org and www.com .Then when you go to open Fred's identical looking belief-in-Sasquatch suitcase.

and the way to do that is by asking questions. The lesson here is that we don’t know what a person has inside their suitcases until we unpack them. What we need to do.little in the way of a support system for that belief. Take a look at the illustration below: The Structure of A Belief ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 12 www. we don t know how a person comes to believe what he believes until we ask questions. we can go on to find out how we can guide people toward other ways of looking at reality and possibly to having different beliefs.Ericksonian. That is.com . more specifically.org and www. then. With that in mind.SleightofMouth. the first part of this exploration of Sleight of Mouth is to find out what is a belief? Or. is be curious about how a person holds a belief to be true. how is a belief actually structured? Once we answer that question.

the Cause/Effect belief or the Complex equivalence belief. structure." that I became convinced that there is really only one." We'll talk more about this in a moment. Before we can get there. "Knowledge Engineering.Ericksonian. however.This diagram was first introduced to me by Robert Dilts." (You can also look at it as a "Cause/Effect" plus a "Complex Equivalence.” This piece can show up in our ordinary language in more than one form. so the triangle goes to the square. Regardless of the form in which we find them. inclusive.’ or ‘because of X. which goes to the circle. This is a somewhat new way of looking at belief structures. The first part of the Normalized Belief Structure (NBS) is the “Cause/Effect.Effect . Cause/Effect statements are represented in the first part of the NBS diagram by the triangle connecting to the square. we have to take a closer look at the individual pieces that make up the structure of a belief.Y. One of the things you’re going to learn in this book is how to do precisely that.com . then Y.” Or sometimes it can come in the slightly disguised forms of ‘Y because of X. Sometimes it can be as straightforward as saying ‘X causes Y.SleightofMouth. although it is rarely readily apparent that they do. It is read from left to right.Means. You need to unpack them to discover their inner structure. These symbols are labeled "Cause .org and www. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 13 www. I'd always been taught that there were two kinds of beliefs ." All beliefs have this structure. It's just that most people don't elicit that structure in its entirety.’ or even ‘If X. It wasn't until I was exposed to Jonathan Altfeld's brilliant work.’ Yet all of these forms are Cause/Effect statements because they all assert a causal dependency of one thing on another.) This three-part structure will henceforth be referred to as a "Normalized Belief Structure (NBS).

. Each of these Cause/Effect statements could be stated just as well in any of the various alternative forms we mentioned earlier. If she blushes then she's feeling strong emotion. Rain causes wetness.com . In other words. Learning causes growth. we take the “Effect” from the “Cause/Effect” and attribute a meaning to it. Here’s what they might look like: Because of the rain.” This relationship is ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 14 www. Because he likes her. I’m sure you can think of lots more. but these will be enough to give you the idea.e. It’s wet because of the rain. If he calls then he likes her.Here are a few examples of Cause/Effect statements. the “Complex Equivalence.org and www. the Cause/Effect gives us “X causes Y. then you will grow. then you’ll get wet. Her blushing is caused by strong emotion.Ericksonian. Now let’s take a look at the second piece of the NBS – i. he’ll call. If it rains.” We then take that piece and add to it that “Y means Z.SleightofMouth. If you learn. it’s wet.” In this piece.

It’s a relationship between the triangle and the square or a relationship between the square and the circle. you'll get wet. “That's good. humans tend to attach meaning to it. Here are a couple of examples: See. For example. Notice that it’s always a relationship. Interestingly. she's blushing. “Oh yes. “Miracles do happen.represented in the diagram by the square connecting to the circle. That means she's guilty. when something (an “effect”) happens.” We can give different meanings to the same cause and effect. If it rains. Rather. Learning causes growth. that means there s going to be rain tomorrow.” People will simply state something like that. that’s a bad omen of trouble brewing. “I believe in politics.org and www. “Oh. So you ought to study hard.” or. and that’s fine. referring back to our earlier suitcase idea (remember Sasquatch?). That means you should never leave home. It’s a shortcut that represents the whole ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 15 www.” or. people see a halo around the moon and one person says. It has been said that nothing really has an intrinsic meaning. It’s always one to the other.com . Now. There's nothing wrong with that.” Another person says.SleightofMouth. a thing or event has only the meaning that we attach to it. most beliefs will just be statements like.Ericksonian.

" ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 16 www. could you give me more information?” It would be more productive. though. we could just say. sleight of mouth becomes easy. As an example. There’s a whole area of NLP called the Meta Model. There’s not enough information to work with. Unpacking Beliefs And while that's fine for them. keep in mind that what we’re trying to do is to elicit enough information to cast the belief we’re working with into a full. three-part NBS. “Hey. So how do we get that information? How do we unpack their suitcase? We do it by asking questions.SleightofMouth. Once you get a belief into that structure. I'm curious as to how you've come to believe in Santa. let’s go back to do some examples.org and www. We’ll take some more time with the meta model a bit later.thing to the person." You: "Oh. We need more information. It's their label on their suitcase. which asks very specific questions for information that’s been deleted or generalized or distorted. because I do. many people do. Here’s the first of our working examples.com . Suppose we have someone who has the belief. so one way we can start is by asking a very simple question: "Why?" Them: "Well. It’s pretty simple. that's OK. We need more information.Ericksonian. it’s not going to help us do Sleight of Mouth one bit. really. We can’t do Sleight of Mouth with just the belief label. to ask for the specific information that you desire. “I believe in Santa. but for now. so you can see how this works. As we do this.

" Excellent! By asking these questions we’ve elicited from our person the Cause/Effect part of their belief. is that right?" ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 17 www.. if you want to. So. but we still don't have the complete belief." So. It's like finding out exactly where you are before you start traveling.org and www. do we? It's most often useful to find out the complete NBS before getting started." they are telling you their "CAUSE.". if you get gifts from him on Christmas morning then he must exist. That's enough to get started with Sleight of Mouth. what meaning does the person attach to this cause and effect? In order to get that information. you might say something like this: You: "So. So we have the square and the triangle." We've now retrieved enough information to do Sleight of Mouth on this belief. "I believe in him. *REMEMBER* Whenever you hear the word "because. We have enough information because we have a relationship of the triangle to the square ..Ericksonian. cuz he brings me stuff on Christmas.the Cause to the Effect. or. the "effect" is that he must exist. I’d want to know what’s in the circle.Them: "Well.com .cuz he brings me stuff on Christmas" is the cause. That is. Thus.SleightofMouth.

If you want more insight and practice in doing this. life. you can just ask. and we’ve gathered much more information from him. We could say. He uses this exact same NBS structure as a way of finding out how beliefs are put together. and he spends a lot of time explaining and demonstrating this process very clearly. meaning to this thing." All right. It’s very cool. beautiful. But we have the information we need. very hip. You don’t have to change their belief. By the way. you could use the patterns to expand or reinforce their existing beliefs.SleightofMouth. so he’s attributed a nice." You: "OK. It’s almost like every day is Christmas. just in case. magic does happen in life.com . and what does that mean to you?" (Note: to retrieve the "Means" information.Them: "Of course. In this particular example. we could also use Sleight of Mouth to reinforce or expand on that belief. while we might want to leave the guy alone. based on this structure. it's questionable whether you'd actually want to do Sleight of Mouth to change that belief. Maybe it's perfectly fine to leave that belief the way it is. you can help the person to expand upon that belief and make it even better using Sleight of Mouth. "What does that mean to you?") Them: "Well. Instead.org and www. if we stop to think about it that way. that means magic is real. isn’t it?” In other words. I recommend Jonathan Altfeld's CD set on “Knowledge Engineering. itself is a miracle.” Jonathan developed “Knowledge Engineering” out of his work in Artificial Intelligence where the outcome was to model the thinking process of humans in order to make computers smarter. “Yes.Ericksonian. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 18 www. All this comes down to finding out enough information to get the belief into the NBS structure.

Remember the Sasquatch example. Keep in mind that we can have no definitive way of knowing where the “suitcase label” will end up in the NBS until we unpack the belief by asking questions. You are an NLP Practitioner.SleightofMouth. and your potential client is not yet convinced to utilize your service. if it’s too fast. Imagine yourself in the following situation." Let’s have a go at another belief.org and www. that means it’s not worth doing. No problem.com . it won’t last. The first clue the client gives is.” “OK. So we ask a very nonleading question. how is that a problem?” “Well.cause.” So now we have elicited. How do you see that?” “Well.” “A quick fix?” “Yes. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know. “everyone says NLP is a quick fix.Unpacking the Belief " NLP is a quick fix. Can I ask what it is you are considering?” “It’s just that everyone says NLP is a quick fix. or means. It really could be anywhere . Do you see it? Let’s look closer at what’s there.” “And if it’s a quick fix.” That statement alone sounds like a belief. effect. We basically just repeat what they said with a questioning ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 19 www. but it is incomplete. a complete belief statement although it’s possible the structure is a bit hidden.Ericksonian. The dialogue might go something like this: “I need to think about it.” “I have heard people say that before. conversationally. isn’t it? We don’t know how they are thinking about that piece of evidence.

They just say.” So.com . effective change.” The full question is. In this example.tonality. "Quick change can be the best kind of change when it is a good. That choice. but they give us a clear if/then. Remember . that means it’s not worth doing. in effect. the person will counter it themselves. you first chose to respond either to the cause effect side of the belief or to the complex equivalence side. will depend on where the most obvious fallacy lurks or where you feel it would be easiest to begin. “And if it’s a quick fix. Now that we’ve elicited the entire belief we can do Sleight of Mouth.” You could go in a lot of different directions from there." When you actually DO Sleight of Mouth.SleightofMouth. “A quick fix?” The client doesn’t bite. it won’t last. “Well. but we want to be careful not to reinforce a false belief so we carefully add an “if.Ericksonian.” So we have to probe a little more explicitly.org and www. even though the word “then” isn’t stated. they go further and add the complex equivalence. the belief we’ll attempt to lead the client towards will be one that says. in turn. “Yes. if it’s too fast. how is that a problem?” At this point they change their language. In this case.you are well advised to know where you want to go with the belief before you start using Sleight of Mouth. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 20 www. mapping it out looks like this: Excellent. but sometimes if you just question the statement. “Well.

Having made that choice.it's too fast . we’ll just list some of the possible Sleight of Mouth patterns we could generate around this belief: If . Yet.then . their worth has been validated.SleightofMouth.Sleight of Mouth Responses to the Cause/Effect side Let's imagine that we elect to enter the system on the cause/effect side of their belief. don't jump to conclusions so quickly. we can now generate appropriate Sleight of Mouth patterns in order to lead them in the direction we want to take them. Apply To Self (Effect) That belief won't last for long as you see the deep changes that take place.org and www. Hierarchy of Criteria ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 21 www.com .it won't last. Change Frame Size Many breakthroughs in the history of science have met with that same skepticism. Apply To Self (Cause) Well. however.Ericksonian. For now. over time. and perhaps to whet your appetite just a bit for the good things to come. We’ll go into considerable detail a bit later on how to generate those patterns.

Redefi ne (Effect) It's not that it's too fast. The more they do that. Redefi ne (Cause) It's not that being fast means it won't last.SleightofMouth. Another Outcome Whether it's too fast or will last isn't the issue but rather how to assist the client in finding appropriate new patterns to relieve suffering now. Chunk Down How fast is too fast? How slow should it be? How speci fically does length of treatment lead to quality? How long should change last? Chunk Up So unless a therapy treatment lasts for years it's just a total waste of time and energy and should be avoided at all costs? ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 22 www. Metaphor/ Analogy So you're saying a dentist should drill teeth slowly? The best ones I know work fast and effectively and cause minimal pain to their patients.org and www. the more they'll form that new habit.Isn't the depth and effectiveness of the therapy more important than its duration? Consequence Having a belief like that will ensure your problems will last a long time because you refuse to allow for possibilities. It only seems fast by comparison to conventional methods. being fast means it will be less painful so people will be more likely actually to do it.com .Ericksonian. it's that it is highly effective.

inside.SleightofMouth. we could generate patterns like the following: ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 23 www. Alternatively. Intent I know you're saying that because you sincerely want to make these changes permanent. In that event. that the change is yours to keep. Most modern theorists and practitioners believe that it is the thoroughness of the work that creates change. Reality Strategy Wow. We can take as much time as you need to be certain. Model of the World Many psychologists used to believe that and some still hold to that model of the world.Counter-Example Really? Have you never heard of any therapeutic intervention that happened quickly and was permanent? Many advances in medical history have seemed like miracles until people understood the science behind it.org and www. we could opt to enter the system on the complex-equivalence side.Ericksonian. not the duration of the treatment. Sleight of Mouth Responses to the Effect/Means side Those are some of the patterns we could generate around this belief if we were to enter the system on the cause/effect side. That's fascinating.com . now. How speci fically do you represent that belief to yourself? Do you make pictures in your mind? Is it a feeling? How would you know if it weren't true? Meta Frame You're only saying that because you don't understand the internal mechanism of true change and are buying into the out-of-date Freudian belief systems our Grandmothers were sold.

Most people I know are willing to do whatever it takes to make change last. maybe in a loser's model of the world that's true.SleightofMouth. Intent I know your intent is to avoid wasting your energy on futile pursuits. Reality Strategy How would you know if that weren't true? How many counter-examples would you need to convince you? Model of the World Well.org and www.Ericksonian.it's not worth doing. but what you're doing is avoiding any progress at all.It won't last .means .com . Meta Frame You're only saying that because you're trying to avoid taking responsibility for you own state of mind. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 24 www. major change often starts with small steps. In my model of the world.

Chunk Up (exaggerate) So if a change doesn't last for all eternity a person might as well do nothing ever and just stay in a painful situation? Chunk Down How specifically do you know that? How specifically do you make positive changes worthless? Metaphor/ Analogy (two examples below) That's like saying relationships won't last so it's not worth dating or falling in love.org and www. Hierarchy of Criteria Isn't it more important to make any change even if it may be minor. So a migraine sufferer shouldn't take an aspirin because the relief is temporary? Another Outcome The real question isn't whether it will last or is worth doing .com . what if it does last? Thousands of people will tell you it has for them.the real question is how long will you avoid change because of fear? Consequence Having a belief like that will keep you from ever doing anything because you are always focusing on what won't work rather than what does. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 25 www.Counter-Example So even if we accept the possibility it might not last forever. make it first. rather than to reinforce the old pattern of behavior that is creating the painful situation in the first place? Apply To Self (Evidence) Well then. don't make change last.SleightofMouth. is something temporary never worth doing? Besides.Ericksonian.

org and www. is it? Redefi ne (Evidence) It's not that it won't last. it's just that it's fast.Ericksonian.com . in the bigger picture any change from a destructive pattern is worth doing because it leads to new patterns. it would look like the diagram on the following page. • Remember. If you need it again you just do it again.Change Frame Size Well. the complete belief is divided into two bits. The two are not equivalents.SleightofMouth. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 26 www. Graphically. Redefi ne (Value) It is worth doing because it works. Apply To Self (Value) Aren't you worth doing whatever it takes to change? What you have been doing isn't working.

Sleight of Mouth in Icon Graphics ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 27 www.org and www.com .SleightofMouth.Ericksonian.

com .Here it is with the belief example we've been looking at specifically: ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 28 www.SleightofMouth.Ericksonian.org and www.

com . ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 29 www. laid out graphically.Here are all the patterns for the Cause/Effect.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.

And here are all the patterns for the Complex Equivalence.com . laid out graphically. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 30 www.Ericksonian.org and www.SleightofMouth.

but personally. I find it just a little daunting to try to grasp all those patterns when presented as a whole like that.Now. That's what we'll do now in part two.SleightofMouth...Ericksonian.org and www. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 31 www.com . I'm much more able to grasp them when they’re presented one at a time. I don't know about you.

you need to know where you’re leading a person. Science these days we can slow death indefinitely. to do sleight of mouth. Alternatively. suppose the person with whom you’re dealing has the belief. but now most people live from today’s modern therapies. You need to know what belief you want them to adopt.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH PART TWO If you don't know where you're going. but it’s a choice.com . You have to make a choice about where you’re going to lead the person. “Well. and choices are what you have to make. but what specifically do we want to lead them to? We could say. you'll probably end up somewhere else Now.” Or we could say. For example.SleightofMouth. you can also use sleight of mouth to reinforce a belief that’s already there and is a good one but that perhaps hasn’t yet become sufficiently entrenched. It’s great to use the “agreement frame. cancer causes death? No. you need to know where you’re going to lead them. you’ll be OK. Or you could say. perhaps you want them to believe that alternative therapies and a positive mental attitude are what will help them prevail. As we mentioned earlier. “Cancer causes death. if you do exactly what the doctors tell you. “Hmm.org and www. It’s worth repeating here that sleight of mouth is not limited just to changing beliefs. OK.” This would not exactly be my first choice. it just causes diminution of one’s quality of life. it doesn’t cause death.Ericksonian. that used to be true.” We know we don’t want the person to believe that.” (See appendix 1) But once you’re pacing them so nicely. in order to begin to formulate the sleight of mouth patterns. So you’ll want to lead them to that way of believing and doing things.” The underlying idea is the same: do what the doctors tell you. “Hmm. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 32 www.

for example.e. We also know where we want to go. “It’s not that you’re just an OK bike-riding expert now. So now what? What do we do with this information? Now is the time to utilize those sleight of mouth patterns.org and www. So you can use the sleight of mouth patterns. They’re 50-years-old.Ericksonian. you learned very quickly. I’m not so bad. that someone has just learned how to ride a bike for the first time. We know what it is. Let’s say they took lessons to learn how to ride a bike.com . All of this ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 33 www.. you’re a modeler and you can model any behavior and learn that. Good for me.SleightofMouth. we know where we want to take them. they never learned how to ride a bike and they’ve felt bad about themselves their whole life for this reason. and B means C. you’re going to notice that some of these patterns are familiar to you. A equals (or causes) B. And as you do that more and more. as well as changing the belief from A to B. They might think. We have it as a complex equivalence or a cause and effect.” You can also redefine the key ideas by saying. So now we’ve got their belief. That’s fine.” You could use sleight of mouth to reinforce that positive belief by saying something like the following: “Yes. I’ve learned. Once you’ were given the opportunity and you focused on it. We have it in the formula that we want.” In this way you can begin to generalize much more broadly than just that one definition they’ve given themselves. As we proceed. they feel pretty good about themselves. “OK. both to reinforce a belief that just needs to be made better.Suppose. you’ll find that that’s a pattern that really becomes you. In other words. after all. I’m OK. I’m not such an inept bike-riding failure anymore. Having acquired that skill. we know what belief they have and what belief we think would be better for them – i. that is good. The idea is that we’re going to give them names and put them in locations so we can get hold of them easily and know exactly where they are. you'd never had the opportunity before. and isn’t it more important to focus on your successes rather than how long it took you to learn? Because.

I need an itemized bill.Ericksonian.SleightofMouth.preliminary work has been crucial for getting us to this stage. So they hired this expert to come in and do some troubleshooting. please.000. This guy comes in carrying a little black bag with him and he starts walking around. reading gauges and stopping and listening some more. “OK.” So the important thing is knowing where to tap. The guy reaches up with his wrench and taps the valve about a quarter of an inch. and pulls out a wrench. he walks down this corridor. It reminds me of the story about the guy who knew where to tap. The story is about a multi-billion dollar aircraft carrier that was built and it just wasn’t working right. The rest of it is easy. “For tapping on the valve. All this preliminary work has been about figuring out where to tap. pulls out this little pad. writes on it.999. For knowing where to tap. Up above him there’s a pipe with a valve in it. It’s been about determining the entry point for the belief and where we can make the most elegant shifts in the other person’s belief system. puts down his little black bag.com . especially if you know these patterns. reaches in.000? I don’t think so. $1. $9. The guy puts his wrench back in the bag. He’s looking and listening. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 34 www. an hour maybe? You tap on a valve and you’re done? $10. and hands it to the admiral. this billion-dollar aircraft carrier that’s been making all sorts of terrible noises suddenly starts to hum. that’ll be $10. “Excuse me? You’ve been here for what.00.org and www. All of the sudden.” The guy says. please. “OK. says. It’s just humming away perfectly with everything in sync. goes up to the admiral.” So he reaches in his black bag. Finally. The admiral looks at it and it says.” And the admiral says.

which is found in the upper right hand corner of the chart. we'll take these patterns in groups of five. In order to make things easier. The stated belief is EITHER a cause effect statement OR a complex equivalence.SleightofMouth. We’ll then proceed around the chart in a clockwise direction. We’ll use this same pattern on four different beliefs so you can see how that pattern works no matter what the belief might be.org and www. we’ll display them in the form of series of “Pattern maps” in order to make them easier to remember.Ericksonian. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 35 www. In each case. As we examine the patterns. We’re going to start with one belief and one pattern.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH The Patterns Mapped Now we’re going to go through these patterns one by one. "The Classic Examples" by Dilts and Epstein. We’ll then go on to another belief using the same pattern.82.com . You'll find the complete Pattern Maps for these four beliefs on pages 78 . The first group of five patterns will start with the Hierarchy of Criteria. the stated belief we're arguing with is in the center of the page in the darker squares.

you use the patterns in whatever order works best in a particular situation.SleightofMouth.com . Rather. This is not to imply that there’s any sort hierarchy to using these patterns.Ericksonian.CHUNK ONE PLEASE NOTE: We’re going to start with the pattern in the upper right hand corner only because you’ve got to start somewhere. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 36 www.org and www. There isn’t.

Hierarchy of Criteria The symbol for the “ Hierarchy of Criteria. It’s very much like a listing program written out.org and www. The first belief we’ll deal with is one of the classic Robert Dilts examples: “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person.that the person will respond to.” The hierarchy of criteria response to that could be. so you give them a whole bunch of things that they could pick from and they’ll pick the value that actually works for them.” pattern is drawn in a shape that resembles the 10 Commandments tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain.com . “Don’t you think it’s more important to be genuine or honest than to tell people only what they want to hear?” Now.a hierarchy of values -. There’s a veritable shopping list of possible responses listed there.SleightofMouth. The pattern deals with a hierarchy of criteria -. it could be kind of overwhelming to a person. you may have noticed that I left out some words that are included in the diagram. If I had included all the responses that are written in the diagram. The Commandments express a system of values that are arranged in a kind of hierarchy. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 37 www. But it could also work. That’s why the 10 Commandments tablet makes such a nice symbol for the hierarchy of criteria pattern.Ericksonian.

. In all of these cases.The next belief we’ll work with is. “Your being late means that you don’t care about me. . It’s also important to note that in any communication.com . “Isn’t it more important to fulfill my responsibilities to the people who are depending on me than to be punctual?” We have one more example: “Nuclear arms cause strength.?” In other words. .” Going once again to the upper right-hand corner of the diagram.SleightofMouth. “Don’t you think it’s unmanly or unfair or dishonorable to bully people by using excessive force when they are unarmed or unprepared?” Now I’d like you to notice something here. we’ve been using the pattern in the form of a question. you know. rather than to focus so much on one’s own death?” Are you beginning to see the pattern now? The third of our sample beliefs is. protection and safety. The hierarchy of criteria response to that belief could be. . I think it’s more important .” Look at the same pattern up in the upper right-hand corner of the diagram. For that reason. the effect would be quite different than if you were to speak the same words in a conciliatory tone. “Don’t you think it’s more important to focus on what would make life worth living and how to make it more worth living for everyone. If you were to speak with a sarcastic tonality. . “Isn’t it more important . there it is in those tablets.” But by phrasing it as a question. you could also phrase it as a statement by saying something like.org and www. whether involving sleight of mouth or not. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 38 www. a significant percentage of your message is delivered by means of your tonality and your physiology. “Cancer causes death. the language is softened up a bit and creates more of a sense of a discussion rather than of a lecture. the language has started with either. Certainly. . “Don’t you think it’s more important .?” or. for example.” The hierarchy of criteria response might be. .Ericksonian. your communication could have very different effects depending on what tonality you use and the way you present yourself. “Well.

As an example. To his consternation. Of course. Turn On.” In fact.com . Both of these men were very intelligent. and he coined the phrase “Tune In. by contrast. Gordon Liddy. it’s much easier to pick a value that you know works for them. but they operated out of very different systems of beliefs and values. unfair. It was created back in the early 1980’s by Robert Dilts for none other than Timothy Leary. G. such an argument might work. What he values instead is detached. would likely not mean a thing to him. In that event you can use the shopping list of different values and let your listener pick one. The two would visit college campuses and debate one another on such things as nuclear arms proliferation. G. Perhaps you’ll hit one that works for them out of three that don’t. protection and safety. but they were both very intelligent. and dishonorable. if you know their values. There’s an interesting history behind this example. consider the belief we used above that says. Liddy was kind ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 39 www. one of the Watergate conspirators.” If you’re talking with a very scientific person with a very analytical mind. Liddy had actually arrested Leary during the heyday of Leary’s drug use in the 60’s. Timothy Leary. an argument that centers on values like unmanly. Leary kept losing their debates. was the quintessential “hippie. but chances are that those aren’t values he really cares about. and the effect can then become that much more powerful. believe it or not.org and www. of course. Gordon Liddy was.Another thing that’s important to notice about the hierarchy of criteria is that in some cases you get a kind of shopping list of values. scientific thinking. this was a very odd pairing of people.SleightofMouth. Drop Out.” He promoted the use of LSD back in the 60’s. He was a very tough ex-Marine and former FBI agent who placed high value on martial virtues such as manliness and honor.Ericksonian. Also. At that time Timothy Leary was on a college lecture circuit with. “Nuclear arms cause strength. In short.

we change some of the words in order to suggest other meanings. Just remember the story about tapping on that valve.org and www. In order to illustrate what I mean by this. “Isn’t it more important to focus on getting my job done effectively to help the people that are depending on me than to be punctual?” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 40 www. you might have to give the person the shopping list that we mentioned earlier and take more of a scattershot approach to winning. he was hitting Liddy right where he lived. it makes your effort that much more powerful. Employing Transformational Vocabulary It’s also important to note here that some of these patterns use what could be referred to as “transformational vocabulary. an ex-Marine. protection and safety. One of the patterns that worked best for this argument was the hierarchy of criteria because Liddy. But Leary was smart enough to go to Robert Dilts and ask for help. use them. he argued the very opposite. Together they created this pattern map to help Leary argue that nuclear arms don’t cause strength. The lesson here is that if you know the values of the person with whom you’re speaking. placed high value on honor. and he was winning these arguments every time. If you don’t know the values. “Don’t you think it’s unmanly. unfair. and dishonorable to bully people by using excessive force when they are unprepared or unarmed?” In other words. Leary exploited this by saying things like.” In other words. but he was not stupid at all. and it was an extremely effective tactic. “Your being late means you don’t care about me. you’ll see the response. Instead.com . let’s look again at the example.” If you go up to the hierarchy of criteria pattern that we just learned a few moments ago. If you know and can tape in the right place.of an unusual character in his own right.SleightofMouth.Ericksonian.

Consequence Pattern Now let’s look at the next pattern: the "Consequence Pattern.com . “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. I’d do them. then who would tell us our faults?” In the next example.” is being said to you by someone who’s accusing you of saying mean things. The idea is that in using the pattern you’ll be talking about the consequence in time of having the particular belief you’re dealing with or the consequence of having not taken a particular action.org and www. “Cancer causes death. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. a person says. our first sample belief is. This is to indicate a movement in time. “If there weren’t bad people. You’re using sleight of mouth to defend yourself.” Or.” You want to ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 41 www." This change has the effect of diminishing the strength of the initial accusation.Ericksonian.SleightofMouth. This happens in many of the various examples offered. The symbol for the consequence pattern is an arrow.” Keep in mind. As before." On the pattern map you’ll find the consequence pattern by moving clockwise downward from the hierarchy of criteria. Here are some of the many possible responses you could give based on the consequence pattern: “I’m only saying these things to make them better. so it helps to bolster your side of the argument.” “If I didn’t say mean things. Notice it and use it.Notice that in our response we changed the word "lateness" into "punctuality. going from left to right.

you’re suggesting to them a negative consequence of holding onto that belief. “Well. Either way.” You can see how some of the patterns are about the consequence of holding the belief. “Your being late means you don’t care about me. “You know. You can use the consequence pattern to help the person change their belief by helping them see the consequences of that belief or of the behavior based on that belief.” you’re once again being verbally attacked by someone.Ericksonian. if I hadn’t been late. Some of the patterns are about doing or not doing a particular behavior based on that belief. it’s the consequence of something having to do with the belief.SleightofMouth. “Believing that nukes are the only way to be safe can lead to weakness because we fail to see other possible choices. protection and safety. which makes people act irrationally. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 42 www. beliefs like this tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies because people stop exploring their choices and options.” In other words. I might have lost my job.” You could also say.lead them out of that belief. having a belief like that probably does make caring or not caring just a matter of time. This belief leads to paranoia. but I cared too much about you to risk it. The consequence pattern might point to a response like.org and www.” That’s a really good one to demonstrate. In the next example. “You know. So let’s move on to the last of these four classic Dilts examples: “Nuclear arms cause strength.” A consequence pattern response might be.com . so you might use the consequence pattern to say something like.

Just close your eyes for a minute and imagine the pattern map right there in front of you. When I first learned how to do sleight of mouth patterns with Robert Dilts. Then move down in a clockwise motion to the arrow going out to the right. do that now. you’ll stop and write out your examples.SleightofMouth. You’ll get these patterns anchored for yourself so you’ll be able to access them and use them when you need to. Reach up with your left hand and your right hand and just touch that “A equals B or A causes B” image in the center.com . With each pattern we do. If you do that as well. the consequence pattern. three feet wide by two feet high. you’ll find that the patterns become engrained in your brain. but they were blank. In that way you’ll engrain them in your brain. See it in your mind and touch it. I took the patterns home and photocopied 20 of these blank pattern maps. The shapes were all there. That’s all we’ve done so far. I then came up with my own examples. Get this spatially anchored in your brain. In fact.Ericksonian.org and www. Then reach up with your right hand to the upper right-hand corner and touch the hierarchy of criteria pattern. You’ll be able to look up and see the pattern map as a Plexiglas screen right in front of you. I did one a day for 20 days. but I want you to do this for all the patterns that we discuss. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 43 www.A Learning Suggestion At this point I’d like to suggest that the best way for you to learn these patterns is to write out your own.

isn’t it? The next example is. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person.” The third of our four standard examples is. In effect.” Another outcome: “Whether I’m late or uncaring isn’t the issue. but rather what causes life and health? Let’s focus on that. The issue. we shift attention away from whatever topic the other person has brought up and onto something else entirely. The next one is called. Do the ends justify the meanness?” That’s a very cute little verbal sting there at the end.Another Outcome Now let’s get back to the patterns. “ Another Outcome.SleightofMouth. Let’s take a look at our first example. you’ll find the “another outcome” pattern in the lower right-hand corner. “Cancer causes death.” One possible “another outcome” response could be. but rather whether we can meet each other’s needs in this relationship without laying any unnecessary trips on one another.” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 44 www. “Your being late means you don’t care about me. it’s like changing the subject. “The real issue isn’t what causes death. rather.org and www.” Going clockwise around the pattern map. “The issue here is not whether I’m saying mean things or whether I’m a bad person.” A response based on the “another outcome” pattern might be. In using this pattern.Ericksonian. is what responses your communication elicits.com .

Ericksonian. you’ll recognize that both Erickson and Jesus used stories. Or number three. whether what we’re trying to protect is worth protecting. you say in effect. but we’re not talking about that. “That’s not the real issue. they were parables.” Here’s a possible response: “You know.org and www. In this pattern we’re going to be using metaphors or analogies to ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 45 www. the real issue isn’t whether nukes make us safe. teaching tales. but rather. Number two. Let’s focus on this instead. “Nuclear arms cause strength. For Erickson.com . With this pattern. But there’s power in the stories.” So that was another outcome. whether there’s a better choice. For Jesus. or if you’re familiar with the teachings of Jesus Christ. they were therapeutic metaphors. number one. whether we’re acting honorably and logically and not just out of fear.” Metaphor or Analogy Pattern The next pattern we’re going to go to is a delightful pattern called the " Metaphor” or “ Analogy Pattern. It’s a very powerful pattern because it provides you with an elegant way of changing the subject and kind of sidestepping the other person’s whole argument. You might be right about what you said.” Now if you’re familiar with Ericksonian hypnosis. protection and safety. The really important thing is this other issue.SleightofMouth.And the last example.

but through the changing of her beliefs and. The immune system might not realize the danger before it’s too late.” By the way. long life after her diagnosis. She was not given a particularly good prognosis. a bad diet. Finally.” Response: “You know. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. cancer is like a grassy field and your white cells are like sheep. protection and safety.com . our last example: “Nuclear arms cause strength. with this pattern you’re using a metaphor or analogy to illustrate your rebuttal point. “Would a dentist be bad or mean if they told someone they had a cavity?” The next example: “Cancer causes death. again. I’m told that this particular metaphor was used directly by Robert Dilts while working with his mother who had cancer a number of years ago.Ericksonian. So this is an actual metaphor that was used to help someone overcome their belief that cancer causes death and move on to some healthy choices. she lived a good. and that can be a useful thing. other things. it would reach ecological harmony again.” Response: “Well if a surgeon is late for dinner because he’s saving someone’s life. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 46 www.” Here’s one possible response: “Nuclear weapons are like cancer. But if you concentrate on growing and adding more healthy sheep back into the field. etc. The next example: “Your being late means you don’t care about me. Stress or excessive chemotherapy.SleightofMouth. does that mean he doesn’t care about eating?” There’s a kind of joking quality in this example.” A metaphor or analogy might be.” So. of course. So let’s take a look at.illustrate our side of the argument or to illustrate the belief to which we want to lead our client.org and www. reduce the amount of sheep in the field and the grass gets overgrown and turns to weeds.

” You can redefine one side of the belief as follows. We can illustrate this by recalling our first example. “I’m not saying mean things. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person.” Thus.Ericksonian. I’m expressing my point of view. The idea of this pattern is that we’re going to redefine the meanings of the very words that are used in the belief. you’re redefining “mean things” as “telling the truth.org and www.” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 47 www. I’m stating the facts.” It’s represented on the pattern map by two squares located beneath the main belief. I’m telling the truth.com .SleightofMouth.Redefine The next pattern we’ll be working with is called “ Redefine.

I was delayed. “It’s not that I don’t care. “It’s not that nuclear weapons protect people. Beliefs like this that bring depression are what are dangerous.SleightofMouth. you could redefine death.” The next example is.” Redefining the first side gives us.” Let’s move on to our next example.” We could also play the sympathy card: “I’m unhappy. “Cancer causes death. it’s the fact that they deter people from taking aggressive action. I’m honest. What other things could stop people from wanting to take aggressive action?” Redefining the second side suggests. “late.” A redefine on the other side might be. I’m genuine. protection and safety.” One redefine could be.” In this instance you’re redefining the word. “Nuclear arms cause strength. “Cancer doesn’t cause death. I’m not as sensitive as you. “It’s not that cancer causes death. “Nuclear weapons don’t cause safety. it’s the breakdown of the immune system that causes death. I’m just flexible.” If you want to address the second side.com .org and www. it causes loss of hope or fear. it’s that I show my caring differently. So let’s explore ways to bolster that.Ericksonian. which creates fear within people who don’t ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 48 www. “I’m not a bad person.” Here’s our next example: “Your being late means you don’t care about me. “I’m not late. they cause death.You can also redefine the other side of the equation by saying.” A redefine on the first side might be.” and turning it into “delayed.

It suppresses the immune system.com . And that brings depression and that’s what’s dangerous. A equals C.Ericksonian." So to take one of our examples as an illustration.” One way you could represent this pattern to yourself generically in a kind of formula would be to say. cancer causes loss of hope.have such weapons. “Cancer doesn’t cause death. “A doesn’t equal B. A causes C and that's D. stated as a cause/effect the equation would be.SleightofMouth. so they have to sneak around.org and www. and that’s D. "A doesn't cause B.” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 49 www.” Or.

and don't move on until you do this. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 50 www.SleightofMouth. So now is the time for you to make up your own examples. The only way to accomplish this is by practicing.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH Chunk 1: Play Time Now that we’ve described the first group of patterns.Ericksonian. The goal of this book is for you to master these patterns.com . Write them in the boxes. it’s important that you practice using them by writing your own examples. Here's a sample complex equivalence for you to practice on. to have them at your finger tips to use in your real life.org and www.

©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 51 www. this section of patterns starts with the “Chunk Down” pattern and the “Chunk Up” pattern.SleightofMouth.com .SLEIGHT OF MOUTH CHUNK TWO Speaking of chunks.Ericksonian.org and www.

The chunk up pattern.Ericksonian. for example. Alternatively. the chunking up pattern should really be called something like the “ exaggerate pattern. the name ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 52 www. we could go to the type of car like Maserati. In the case of cars. The point is that in chunking up we’re getting more general. On the other hand. and we chunk down from that. if we were to chunk up from cars.org and www. cars are just one example of many modes of transportation. If we take a category of something. however. we’re not really becoming more general.” Nevertheless. we might even get to different types of movement. Whenever you ask for more specific information. or Lincoln Continental. etc. like cars. this more specific information could be things like steering wheels. is a little trickier. That is. so the name is misleading. In other words.SleightofMouth. To explore this a little further. You can see.com . As you’ll see shortly. that’s chunking down. or whatever. I believe the chunking up pattern is misnamed because in using the pattern we’re not really chunking up in the strict sense of that term. then. while in chunking down we’re getting more specific.Chunk Down These patterns are a lot of fun. Chunking down is incredibly simple. we might go into something like modes of transportation. that chunking down is very simple. tires. let’s forget about sleight of mouth for a moment and just think about this idea of chunking down. we’re getting more specific information. In fact. Chunking up from there.

SleightofMouth. the B. Don’t care? How. “How specifically am I saying things that sounds so bad or to whom?” This might be one of the easiest of all of the sleight of mouth patterns to understand. you could ask.” For example.org and www. you can chunk down in either the A.com . Notice.” Some chunking down responses might be. you could say things like. “How specifically?” A somewhat more elaborate application might be. “How particularly. all you have to do is say. The first one is. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. please. specifically? How specifically does lateness mean not caring? How do you draw that correlation between them?” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 53 www.“chunking up” has become standard for this pattern.” Here are some ways to chunk down on this belief: “Which cancers. “Late? Define that. so we’ll continue to use it.” To use the chunking down pattern on this belief. specifically? How specifically does it cause death? Dying? How.Ericksonian. Let’s look first at chunking down in the context of each of our four example beliefs. “Your being late means you don’t care about me. Thus. “How do you know it means that? How specifically does it mean that or make that happen?” The next example: “Cancer causes death. do you mean that?” The next example is. or how exactly. or the meaning. specifically?” It’s worth mentioning here that there are lots of other words you could use instead of “specifically. however.

“Someone slips up and happens to be irritable in their communication. First. Second.” we’re saying. “I wasn’t saying mean things.Ericksonian. that one-two punch of diminution and exaggeration is facilitated by the notion of transformation of vocabulary that I mentioned earlier in reference to the hierarchy of criteria.Here’s our last example: “Nuclear arms cause strength.org and www. I just slipped up and was irritable in my ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 54 www. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. " Chunking Up" (or the “ Exaggerate Pattern” ) is a little bit different. the bombs or the missiles?” Chunk Up or the Exaggerate Pattern As mentioned previously. protection and safety. then they’re doomed to be evil for the rest of their life?” There are actually several things going on here. in terms of the A equals B belief structure as represented in the NBS. Go back to the first of our examples.SleightofMouth.com . To my mind.” Here’s one way a chunking up response might look: “So you mean if somebody slips up and happens to be irritable in their communication. it’s one of the most fun patterns of all. So instead of saying “mean things. the chunking up pattern has us verbally diminish the “A” part and then wildly exaggerate the “B” part.” Chunking down responses: “How exactly do they make us safe? How do they specifically protect us? Which nuclear arms are we talking about.” That diminishes the “A” part.

Finally. then. since nukes and weapons cause safety. taking the first part of the A equals B and diminishing the A part verbally and then wildly exaggerating the second side. in a sense. We begin with the diminishing and end with the exaggerating. The chunking up pattern.” “Well. starts with the diminishing and then follows up with the exaggerating. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 55 www.SleightofMouth. we also say.communication. “Nuclear arms cause strength.Ericksonian. then let’s give them to all the peoples of the world so we can all be safe. protection and safety. “So if anyone ever does that. It really is.” “Are you saying that the most fundamental aspect of our relationship is simply a matter of time?” This is not necessarily recommended for use in a real life relationship. they’re doomed to be evil for the rest of their life?” That’s a massive exaggeration of the “B” part. Do you see how it works? Next example: “Your being late means that you don’t care about me. Let’s move on to the next example: “Cancer causes death. but it’s kind of fun to think about.org and www.com .” On the other hand.” That’s chunking up.” Here’s one way of using the chunking up pattern on this belief: “Are you saying that a change in mutation in some small part of the system is going to automatically cause the destruction of the entire system?” It’s that same pattern as before. and you can see how it’s not just getting more general. It’s a lot of fun.

” Or you could ask.SleightofMouth. though. myself. Remember. People die of many other things than cancer. by the way. “Well isn’t it possible to say mean things and not be a bad person?” Or.” Counterexample response: “You know. “Have you ever heard of anyone who has had cancer and lived?” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 56 www.org and www. most medically treated cancer patients die from the severity of their treatment rather than from the cancer itself.com . “Isn’t it possible to be a bad person and not say mean things?” Example number two: “Cancer causes death. Maybe you will. it’s having all of them at your fingertips that gives you the real power. is one of the patterns that I discovered I did very naturally.” A response might be.Ericksonian. there are more and more documented cases of people who have had cancer and are surviving just fine. we come to the left-hand corner. So let’s take a look at the counterexample pattern for “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. the " Counterexample." This.Counterexample Continuing to progress around the pattern map. or maybe you will find other ones that you’re just naturally good at. too. In fact.

This example illustrates the fact that you can use the counterexample pattern in two ways.org and www. protection and safety. “So.Ericksonian. protection and safety. or you can ask questions and help the person draw from their own references and resources. it’s sometimes even more powerful because they’re bringing up their own arguments for themselves. of course. “Your being late means you don’t care about me.” you might say. Next. are nuclear weapons the only way you can be safe?” “Is that the only cause that can have that effect? Is that the only way that could ever happen?” You ask that as a question and let them answer it because. “Nuclear arms cause strength. “Nuclear arms cause strength. Let me give you an example. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 57 www. Next.com .” You could say. You can offer counterexamples that form a statement. If you can do the latter. and they’ll come up with their own counterexamples.SleightofMouth. Sometimes that’s even more powerful. “Is it possible to create safety without nukes?” Another very effective way of doing counterexamples is to exaggerate the premise of the person’s statement and ask it as a question.” Response: “Is it possible to have nuclear weapons and not be safe?” Or. “Isn’t it possible to be late and still care?” Or conversely. If someone says. So if you ask them the question. “Isn’t it possible to be uncaring and punctual?" I think so. it’s not the only way to be safe. they come up with an answer that can be even better and more powerful than the statement you might have given them.

I found myself losing! How could this be when I was so clearly right? His point of view was that he and she were soul mates and were meant for each other. many years ago. So I called up the guy and confronted him with this betrayal. How could he have done such a thing? I was morally outraged and knew I was right. I was livid. I was a wee bit upset. I'd been away over the holiday and. I knew this argument would be a slam dunk. no matter how fast he throws it.org and www. People will hit him every time. I should have known that.Part 1 It was a few days after Valentines Day. while I was gone. people often resort to old patterns? I was falling right into this phenomenon and my old patterns were not working. Truth be told. too. The thing is.True Life Confessions . I have never been one to give up easily. as I argued more and more with this guy. He believed this made normal rules not apply. Now I'm sure you know that if you do the same thing over and over again. when I found out several days later.SleightofMouth. under pressure.com . my at-that-time girlfriend had secretly begun a new relationship. Of course. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 58 www. however. Perhaps you can appreciate that. Did you ever notice that. Amazingly.Ericksonian. It would be like a baseball pitcher who always throws in the same spot. Especially since her paramour had supposedly been a mutual friend of ours. you’re likely to get the same results. It’s always the same pitch. Especially since the reason I'd been away is that I'd been attending an NLP Master Practitioner training with Robert Dilts and Todd Epstein where they'd taught Sleight of Mouth.

you’ve got to have different approaches to take. This illustrates the point that one of the reasons sleight of mouth is so powerful is that there are so many different patterns to choose from. I decided to make an effort actually to use other Sleight of Mouth patterns I'd just learned. I was able to step back in my mind and get a perspective on what I'd been doing in this argument. you’re going to notice that some of these patterns are familiar to you. As you start learning the sleight of mouth patterns. It can be a spaceship or an underwater vehicle. you’ve got to have sliders. not because he’s the biggest and strongest or fastest or quickest. I realized I'd been doing the same two patterns over and over again. To my shock and amazement.Ericksonian. It was like the old pitcher had suddenly thrown a curve ball. I sometimes use the analogy of James Bond being a powerful guy. Some of the ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 59 www. I visualized the Pattern Map in my mind and picked one of the patterns pretty much at random. He’s got the fountain pen that is actually a breathing apparatus for swimming under water. but because he has the most toys. try something else.org and www. Remembering the NLP adage that if what you're doing isn't working. He’s got that car that does any number of things.So finally. If you’re always doing the same thing over and over again. He’s got the wristwatch that does any number of things from satellite positioning to all sorts of stuff. So you’ve got to have change-ups. So many different possibilities are available to him that of course he’s going to win. I'd been using Counter Example and Hierarchy of Criteria. People will hit him every time.com . you’re going to get the same results and then become predictable like a Major League pitcher who always throws in the same spot. he was thrown for a loop.SleightofMouth. almost as a last resort. no matter how fast he throws the ball.

You need to be able to use all the patterns that are available to you. Get this spatially anchored in your brain. Close your eyes for a minute (after you read the directions.get this spatially anchored also.com . Practice Session: Close Your Eyes Practice that now. the two Redefines. See it in your mind and touch it. It’s going to make your use of the patterns much.Ericksonian. Reach up with your left hand and your right hand and just touch that “A equals B or A causes B” image in the center. Chunk up and Chunk Down.patterns are ones you’ve already been doing. the consequence pattern.org and www.. much more powerful. Then reach up with your right hand to the upper right-hand corner and touch the Hierarchy of Criteria pattern. and do the same thing . ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 60 www. of course) and imagine the pattern map right there in front of you. Then move down in a clockwise motion to the arrow going out to the right. This helps to spatially anchor the patterns in your mind.. Counter Example. Actually use your hands and reach up into the space in front of you as if you are touching a large Plexiglas representation of the Pattern Map. the Another Outcome.SleightofMouth. Sleight of mouth gives you strength in having more than one choice. You also have to be able to step back and look at the patterns as if they are on a wall chart or on something like a clear piece of Plexiglas that’s in front of you so you can grab hold of the patterns and utilize them.see it in your mind and touch it. the Metaphor. Continue with all the patterns learned so far. .

They must have an intention behind it.” Once again. That’s why this is called the “ Intent Pattern. My intention is to protect myself. “My intention is not to be mean.” or the “ Intention Pattern.” Let’s look at. you could say something like. there must be a reason for what they said.com .” “Since your intention is to create safety and protection.SleightofMouth. defending yourself. but to teach you something. to finish my work so I could spend the highest quality time with you.Intent Pattern Now looking at the pattern that has the arrow going to the left. but rather.” For the belief example that.Ericksonian. to make you better. “I know your intention is to prevent false hope. we’re stepping back and looking at the intention behind the person saying that particular argument. “Your being late means you don’t care about me.” you could say. protection and safety. but you are preventing any hope at all. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person.org and www.” Next example. it’s still kind of indicating time in a way because in a sense. “Nuclear arms cause strength. Let’s find some good alternative choices. “My intention wasn’t to be late or uncaring.” And the last example here. If you take that step back and think about it. I’m sure you’ll join me in finding as many choices and alternatives as possible. “Cancer causes death.” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 61 www.” You might say to the person. to be realistic.

With this pattern, of course, you’re going to have to do some mind reading and say, “I know your intention is this or that or the other thing.” You might not really know. You might be hoping; you might be fishing. If you can hit it, that’s great. If you know what their intention really is, you might just wonder to yourself what would cause them to believe a thing like that. What would cause them to think this way? “OK, I know your intention is such and such.” If you can just do that, you can create a nice intention sleight of mouth example.

Model of the World

Let’s continue around the pattern map. The next one up is “ Model of the World.” A model of the world response for “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person” could be, “Well, it might be mean or bad in your model of the world, but in my family, that’s how we showed that we cared.” I had a friend once who married this woman, and they came from very different families and very different models of the world.

In his model of the world, when they argued in his family, they got intense. They raised their voices. They emoted. They told what their true feelings were loudly. It was expected they would do that. For them, that’s simply what one does in an argument. The worst thing you could do would be to walk away. Instead, you handle it, you get intense until it’s handled, and then it’s done.

Now his new bride came from a family where they never did that. They were a very proper family and if anyone ever raised their voice, that was the
©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 62 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

worst thing that could happen. So, of course, if you raise your voice, it means you’re getting out of control. In that event you must leave the situation and come back later and talk about the matter rationally when you have your emotions under control.

So these two people got married. Eventually, of course, they had their first argument. Guess what happened. He starts getting intense. He starts raising his voice. That’s the worst thing that could happen in her model of the world. So, of course, she leaves to make it so that everyone could have an even temper when they come back. But leaving is the worst thing you could do in his model of the world, so he chases her and makes it even more intense. The situation escalates like this. It’s very interesting, very comical, really, from the outside. But it probably didn’t feel that way from the inside.

Let’s go to the next example, “Cancer causes death.” In the model of the world, you could say, “Not all medical people hold that belief. Many people believe that all of us have some mutant cells all the time and it’s only when the immune system is weakened that it becomes a problem.”

The next example is, “Your being late means you don’t care about me.” “Well, many people I know judge caring on the basis of sensitivity to another’s feelings, not their awareness of time.”

And the next example, “Nuclear arms cause strength, protection and safety.” “Well, you might call it safety and protection. I call it paranoia and fear.” Again, the model of the world pattern deals with the reality that the person lives in. What might be true for you might not be true for them.

©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth

63 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

SLEIGHT OF MOUTH
Chunk 2: Play Time Let's have some more fun writing our own patterns and playing with a different belief. This one is a cause/effect.

©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth

64 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

a strategy is defined as a mental sequence used to achieve a goal.com .org and www.Ericksonian.” Reality Strategy In NLP. Strategies are usually described in a sequence of sensory-specific terms of the ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 65 www. Continuing clockwise around the pattern map. we find the “ Reality Strategy.SleightofMouth.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH CHUNK THREE Now we come to the third and final group of patterns.

then she compares that with what she knows about the people from her past experience of them.” “How do you represent that belief to yourself?” If the person doesn’t know anything about NLP. A "Reality Strategy" concerns how a person creates a sense of reality in their mind. You could say. whenever Alice hears gossip. that’s going to be the kind of example that puts them into a deep trance. “Cancer causes death. That is how she decides to believe gossip or not. “Well. of course. protection and safety. how do you represent that in your mind? How do you understand this to be real that it’s bad or mean? And the next example. how specifically do you know that in your mind?” Or.” You can ask questions about how they know it’s real or not? So “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person” offers the following reality strategy rebuttal. “How do you represent that belief to yourself?” It’s an interesting question. and decides whether the gossip is plausible or not.SleightofMouth.representational systems and submodalities employed. One of my favorite questions follows right on here. “Oh. that’s true. “How specifically do you know that it’s bad or mean that I said them?” In other words. In NLP. then she pictures the people involved in her mind. “How would you know if it weren’t true?” That’s such a great question. they have to start searching their mind’s files to find out how they would know if it weren’t true.” You could say. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 66 www. she first listens to what's being said.com . “How do you know that lateness and caring are equivalents?” The reality strategy for “Nuclear arms cause strength. imagining them doing what was said. that’s called a strategy. that’s real. “How would you know if that weren’t true?” You can always come back to that one. The next example: “Your being late means that you don’t care about me.Ericksonian. So if the person says. As an example. by the way.” could be.org and www. And.

In some situations. There are a lot of examples of this throughout history. and if you’re not naturally a punster. and one being applied to the B side. Other times it might not be so obvious.SleightofMouth.org and www.” Or “Take the log from your eye before you talk about the moat in somebody else’s. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 67 www. it might take a little stretch to start getting into these and understanding these. the easier it’s going to be. Therefore.” “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Like the “redefine” pattern. So you see two examples of this same pattern. which is to say it can be a pun. really fun because it can also sometimes become nonlinear. You’ll get it as you go along. “Physician heal thyself. He said. one being applied to the A side. It can be really ridiculous sometimes.Ericksonian. you might find this right up your alley if you’re a punster or if you’re a person who loves to do plays on words and find different meanings in that way. it’s fun. Jesus Christ liked to do this.Apply to Self The next pattern is the “ Apply to Self” pattern.” Now this is really. The more you do it. Just go with it. the apply to self pattern can be applied to either the A side or the B side of the NBS. We can just use the words and go off in a very non-linear way. it will be immediately obvious as to how you can apply the belief back to the speaker. You’re applying the belief to the person expressing the belief.com .

“Saying mean things means you’re a bad person.” You can see how we’re applying the criteria to each side. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. “Bad people always tend to find only the bad in others. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 68 www.” The idea is that you’re playing whatever they said right back to them.Ericksonian.com .Let’s start with our first example. “Saying mean things? Well that’s a pretty mean thing to say.” The first example on the left side could be.org and www.SleightofMouth. So let’s take the same example.” and apply it to self on the second side.

com .org and www. It’s a little non-linear. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 69 www. “Are you sure that’s a safe belief to hold onto so strongly?” In all these examples. very punny and that’s OK.” The A side might be. as well.” And the B side. “A really caring person would be able to overlook a little tardiness now and then. deadly belief. Sometimes when you’re doing sleight of mouth.SleightofMouth. but the words are very similar.Let’s go on to the next example. protection and safety. you’re applying the criterion to the self on the first side. but it’s also pretty content-oriented. a single rebuttal won’t be enough and the apply to selves can either be just perfect or they can knock the other person off balance a little bit. “That belief has spread like cancer over the past few years.” I love this one on the first side. “Nuclear arms cause strength. Let’s take a look at. On the second side you could say. there’s that transformation vocabulary.” Again. you can see how they can be applied to the criteria. Apply to self can be very subtle.” A really caring person could overlook that. It can only lead to a dead end street. what’s a deadly belief? What’s a dead end street? What’s that have to do with cancer? It doesn’t really have anything to do with cancer.” Now. and in some of them a little bit less directly. “Cancer causes death.” Applying to self on the second side might result in. It would be interesting to see what would happen if it died out. “The fallout that this belief might have as a byproduct could be as devastating as an atomic blast if it bombs. I wish you’d cared enough about me to tell me earlier. dead end and death. When that happens.” One response might be. Hey. but some of them perhaps a little bit more directly than others. it’s just a little tardy. “That’s a pretty deadly belief to hold onto.” Again. “Well now you tell me. just go with it. And the last example is. “Your being late means you don’t care about me. but useful.Ericksonian. There are some other examples that could be very non-linear. “A little tardiness? I might have been a half hour late. Some of these other examples might not be so much.

so the sky is behind him. It’s called " Changing Frame Size.org and www. you see the boy in full uniform and realize that he’s a member of the Hitler Youth. but as you look at it in a bigger picture.” The scene is set in an outdoor café.SleightofMouth. Finally. probably 16 or 17 years old. but it’s a great example of changing frame size. touching scene.” How might we respond in a way that changes the frame size? “Well it ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 70 www. Let’s look at our examples. The scene is just chilling as you pull out like that. The people in this outdoor café are all sitting in terror. a closeup of this young.Ericksonian. It’s a beautiful. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. trying not to show their fear. and as it does so.com . He’s very forthright looking. In the first frame. You then see that the armband has the black Nazi symbol on it. There’s a great example of this in the film. The boy starts singing with this lovely voice something about the sun in the valley is summery warm.Changing Frame Size We’re moving on now to the next pattern. it’s very different. with blonde hair and blue eyes. more and more of the picture is being shown until you see that he’s got a red arm band along his arm. beautiful looking boy." and it’s located right in the middle of the pattern map at the top. the stag in the forest runs free. The camera keeps panning back. “Cabaret. it’s one way. Changing frame size is like taking a larger viewpoint. as the camera pans back even further. Then the camera starts panning back and you see that he’s dressed in some sort of brown uniform. He’s looking up in the sky and singing a song. and it starts with a tight shot. The camera angles from the bottom up. and so on. almost innocent and inspired.

” Changing frame size: “Better late than never. what their motivations are behind what they’ve said.” And finally. Yet overall. With the warm caring reception I get when I do get here. I think of this pattern as representing a kind of God’s eye view. Your statement may be true in this context.com . it was necessary to say those mean things. I ought to be risking my life to get here every spare minute.” You can think about changing frame size as a change in context. in order to help make things better. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 71 www. It’s as if you were up above it all. changing frame size is looking at things in a bigger picture.” Changing frame size: “Well for how long or how many nukes or for whom. but if you look at the bigger picture. Another way of thinking about it could be that you’re like a great psychiatrist. you’re really asking for an examination of the different context in which the statement might be true or not true. Or a change in frame size could address same action over time. we’d never have any hope of finding a cure. it might well be different. from what?” You can see with those particular questions. “Cancer causes death. but if you look at the bigger picture. It’s really about claiming to know what the person’s thinking.” Next example: “Your being late means you don’t care about me.SleightofMouth.Ericksonian. Meta Frame Now let’s go on to the " Meta Frame" pattern. “Nuclear arms cause strength. you’ll see it was necessary.may seem mean now. but in a different context.org and www. protection and safety. you can just get inside. “It may seem mean now. like Sigmund Freud and you can just know what a person’s really thinking. looking down from the heavens.” The next example is. It’s up at the top of the pattern map and is drawn over all the other patterns. “Is that a belief you’d like your child to have? If everyone had that belief.” We could change frame size by saying. Changing frame size is looking at things in the bigger picture.

Ericksonian. These are professionals here. depending on how you say these things. This could be dangerous.” Tonality could make that into an okay statement. you’re just saying that because you’re over-sensitive or you don’t understand. but they might come back after they’ve cooled off a bit and say. However.” “Well.” Here’s one possible meta frame response: “Well. You adopt the stance that you know the other person’s true motivation for believing as they do. sometimes it can be so powerful that.” It might not be likely. and you give it to them right in their face. it could happen.SleightofMouth. “Nuclear arms cause strength. track and test all of the complex variables that contribute to the life and death process. or personal power to change people and protect yourself without intimidating or coercing others. You’re imperceptive.com . the other person might not be immediately receptive. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. you’re stuck in your own way. if you’re right.org and www. “You know what? You’re right.” Or. but it could happen.” “You’re only saying that to cover the fact that you don’t have the understanding. I do create those unrealistic expectations and then. technology or debate skills. protection and safety. And lastly. It’s not necessarily a pleasant choice all the time. blame other people. It could also make it into a nasty kind of statement. you’re just feeling that way because you build unrealistic expectations about other people and then blame it on them when you get disappointed. the meta frame is the place where you’re acting like God. and I’m sorry.Let’s turn now to our examples beginning with.” Our meta frame response might be. “Your being late means you don’t care about me. “I’m the only one that cares enough about them to say these things. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 72 www.” To reiterate.” Now look at “Cancer causes death. Here’s a case in point.” Don’t try this at home. “You have that simplistic belief because you don’t have a model that allows you to explore.

SleightofMouth. You have the right. Go ahead and write right inside the boxes.com .Ericksonian.org and www. it's your book. Right? ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 73 www. It's all right.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH Chunk 3: Play Time Now let's have some more fun writing our own patterns and playing with a different belief. This one is a Complex Equivalence.

the "Intent" pattern." Followed closely on its heels by a "Reality Strategy.. so.org and www. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 74 www.) to connect one pattern with the next and hitting him with every pattern I could think of as fast as I could think of them. It was a great segue to my next pattern. and.True Life Confessions .Part 2 Remember my story about the Valentines Day learning experience? When we last saw our hero. I wasn't sure I even fully bought myself.Ericksonian.. "Besides. blah blah blah." I said. I said. I had an entire arsenal available to me! So before he even responded to that new pattern I'd used. besides. how would you know if you really weren't soul mates?" I was using connecting words (like because. since. “Because you know.” Which. we’re not even talking about whether A equals B or not. by-the-way. I had just had the epiphany that I could employ more than one or two patterns.. I went to "Another Outcome. What we’re talking about is C equaling D. actually. we'd made the point that one of the reasons Sleight of Mouth is so powerful is that there are so many different patterns to choose from. "Since I'm sure your intent is to do the right thing." I said.SleightofMouth.com . etc.. But it didn't matter.

did win the argument.com . The point is this: Use more than one pattern.And pretty soon. The names haven't been changed to protect the innocent because they haven’t even been mentioned. It’s immaterial. . and ultimately. I was starting to win this argument.Ericksonian.org and www. . the tide had turned. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 75 www.SleightofMouth. It was a long time ago in a different universe. I’m not going to tell you details about what was said.

com .SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 76 www.

You will then be able to step back and look at the patterns as if they are on a wall chart or on a clear piece of Plexiglas that’s in front of you.org and www. That's why I suggest you frequently practice the visualization exercise we did earlier.com . much more powerful. so you can grab hold of these suckers and utilize them. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 77 www. It’s going to make it much. You’ll be much better off if you have them all. you'll need to be able to use all the patterns that are available to you.SleightofMouth.Ericksonian.Practice Session: Close Your Eyes In order to really do Sleight of Mouth and be persuasive.

Ericksonian.SleightofMouth.The Classic Examples of Sleight of Mouth created by Robert Dilts & Todd Epstein * Copyr ight by Rober t Dilts 1984 -.Repr inted with per mission ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 78 www.com .org and www.

©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 79 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com .

SleightofMouth.org and www.com .©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 80 www.Ericksonian.

©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 81 www.com .org and www.SleightofMouth.Ericksonian.

Ericksonian.com .org and www.©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 82 www.SleightofMouth.

Ericksonian.com .org and www.SleightofMouth.Home Study: Blank Sleight of Mouth Pattern Map ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 83 www.

" but the author elaborated on it a little bit for clarity of meaning.Hey Doug. is there anything you feel a need or desire to focus on today? . actually. yeah. What am I missing? . It's Phil.me! I'm just totally disorganized.Yes I am. Great to hear from you. The specific details of the situation and the names have been changed to protect confidentiality.OK.SleightofMouth. You call right on time. before we delve into today's agenda. but my office is a mess. I owe it all to you and your brilliant coaching. . .(Answering phone) Good Morning. So why is that? What makes it that way? ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 84 www.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH SOM in Action .-) ] . . yeah. You haven't missed a scheduled appointment.com .Well.the scouts? . Thanks for being so punctual. . I'm on top of it here cause I'm paying you and I really want this to work. Stacks of mail. You seem pretty together. . . I can't find anything. . [Editor's note: the actual transcript here was "no problem.No .org and www.I see.Hey Phil.So Phil.Ericksonian. It's interesting to me that you say that because in the little time we've worked together that hasn't been my experience of you. . I've got piles of papers everywhere.Well.A Real Life Example This is an edited transcript of a real life Coaching session between a Personal Success Coach (let's call him Doug) and a client (let's call him Phil). and it's really frustrating. .Really? You're totally disorganized? .Hmm. I need help with organization.Well. Which organization is that .

- I dunno. It's just too much. I get tons of junk mail, catalogs... - And when you get junk mail you just pile it on your desk?

- Yup.
- and then it breeds and multiplies?

- Exactly!
- You've got to sterilize them first. Practice safe mail. Wrap them in plastic bags first. Cold water helps.

- Right.
- So let me see if I understand... You're saying that if the mail comes then you put it on your desk and that means you're disorganized?

- Uh huh, but it doesn't with end with the mail. I've got piles of papers, books, magazines, receipts, whatever.
- and it all goes on your desk?

- Well, on my desk or some other piece of office furniture.
- Ah ha. The picture is becoming clearer. Do you have filing cabinets?

- Ha ha ha ha (crazy sounding laughter)
- (Chuckling) pretty full, are they?

- I can barely open them.
- How long would you guess since the tomb's been opened?

- God only knows.
- Whew. Ok, so... If your mail or papers or receipts or whatever comes in, then you put it somewhere in your office where it remains for some time, and that means you're disorganized?

- Yes, I'd say so.
- Well, it's hard to argue with that. You've got a considerable pile of evidence to support your claim. Maybe you should just cart it all to the woods some place and burn it. Start over.

©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth

85 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

- I've thought of that.
- I bet you could get the scouts to help you with that.

- Ha.
- You know, I'm curious about something. How is it that you are always right on time? That requires some degree of organization, doesn't it?

- Yeah, but that's different.
- How do you figure?

- Because it's easy. You just pick up the phone.
- Easy for you. I have many clients for whom it seems impossible.

- hmmm.
- Really. Somewhere around 10-after I usually call them.

- ok.
- Why do you suppose it's easy for you?

- Because, if it's an important appointment, I'm always on time.
- Always?

- Pretty much always, yes.
- So what do you think it means about your organization vis-a-vis appointments?

- (tentatively) That I'm organized?
- Yes! So it's not that YOU'RE disorganized. It's that you need better strategies in certain areas. And remember, if you are organized in any area, then you can be organized in ANY area you choose. All you need do is discover appropriate strategies for those particular areas.

- OK (pause) I think I followed that. - so how do we do that?
- Now THAT's an excellent question. That's exactly the sort of modeling question that makes NLP so effective.

- So what's the answer?
- We'll get to that in a minute, but let's just stop for a second and be sure we're
©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 86 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

clear on this... Earlier you'd said that if the mail came and you dumped it into your office it meant you were disorganized. And you also said that if you have an important appointment then you're always on time for it and that means you are organized.

- When it actually means I'm nuts.
- heh heh, well let's not jump ahead. NO! Because you can't be both organized and disorganized at the same time. If you are organized in any area, then you can be organized in any area IF you learn how. And that's the first question you asked, wasn't it? "How do I do that?" Clearly you have a highly organized intellect and you'll be able to apply that to this challenge, won't you?

- OK, so what's the first step?
- See what I mean? Asking what's the 1st step is a perfect strategy question. You're a natural. ANALYSIS The previous example shows how seamlessly both the meta model and Sleight of Mouth can be employed conversationally.

At the beginning of the conversation, Phil said he was totally disorganized. Clearly that is easily recognized as a belief statement, but it is only a piece of the whole and we don't know what piece. So instead of doing the obvious and asking the easiest meta model question - like "How specifically are you disorganized?" I presented him with a counter example to indirectly get him to expound on his conjecture. He became more specific and and offered more details. In so doing we discovered that he wasn't "totally disorganized," he was disorganized in a certain context under certain conditions. It was the papers in his office area. So we asked "What makes it that way?" This is a question that usually elicits the cause. We almost didn't get it though. At first his answer was a non-committal "I dunno," but he went on to say he received a lot of junk mail.

I tested the cause effect by asking, "So when or if you get junk mail, then you put it on your desk?" He said yes, so that was our cause/effect. I then tested the whole NBS and asked, "So, if you get mail, then you pile it on your desk and that means you are disorganized?" He agreed but offered a fuller picture by
©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 87 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

" Then I immediately began using Sleight of Mouth to open up some new ways of thinking about the situation. I also want to impress on him that he just needs a new strategy for this circumstance of office paper management and to encourage him to believe that it's easily accomplished. of course. "if you are organized in any area. I don't want to use Sleight of Mouth to make him believe the opposite of his current belief. then you can be organized in any area you choose when you find the right strategy.org and www. "No.com ." and "counter example" again. Rather.SleightofMouth. I've included this example because it's kind of an interesting situation. So we revised the NBS to "IF any printed matter arrives THEN I put it on some surface in my office and that MEANS I'm disorganized. The patterns used in this example were "counter example. It's not one of those situations where one person says "X is good" and the other person says." It's not that simple. I want him to adopt the attitude that he's totally capable of being organized by virtue of the evidence of other circumstances where he is.saying that it wasn't just junk mail but a variety of printed matter.Ericksonian. X is bad. I also overtly stated the belief I was attempting to lead him to. I don't want him to believe he's NOT disorganized and that leaving his office in dysfunctional chaos is OK." ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 88 www. which was." "redefine.

how may I help you? She . It might be fun to test yourself and see if you can name the patterns. as well.com . In the classes I teach on SOM we often conclude the class with an exercise where two class members play-act that they are a couple experiencing relationship issues and a third class member acts as their marriage counselor. Canny readers will notice that the occasional Ericksonian Hypnotic Language pattern is mixed in. I don't know what to say. C . This tactic seems to work quite well. Each participant is assigned certain SOM patterns and must stay within those patterns for the duration of the exercise . it is also a profoundly effective tool for conflict resolution.Hi. Any similarity to a real couple is purely coincidental. The following imaginary conversation is an example of how that might go. In the example below you will see the meta model in use and at least one example of each Sleight of Mouth pattern. The couple are meeting with the counselor for a session to sort out their differences. Now .Oh my.Ericksonian.SleightofMouth.It's a pleasure to meet you. She . listing the patterns used. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 89 www.Conflict Resolution Although SOM is often thought of as a persuasion skill employed to win arguments. At the end of the section will be the key.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH SOM in Action . Please notice how the counselor occasionally strings more than one pattern together in a row. Smith. Each time a pattern is used there will be a superscript number like this1. He .Please have a seat.org and www. Counselor: Good morning Mr and Mrs.

let me ask you. more intimacy? He . It's like a farmer who's planted a crop .Well.org and www. do you agree that you just aren't close anymore? He . How do you even represent a belief like that in your head?6 ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 90 www.4 He . That's responsible book keeping.(Silence) C . Smith. I think.Yes.That's a lot of crop! What farmer ever waits five years for a crop? You've never harvested anything." I call it going deeper into debt. Smith.. what would "more closeness" look like? What would you see.com .Never? What about that trip we took to Aruba last January?3 She -Your "working vacation?" I don't call putting a trip on a credit card "reaping the rewards of investing. both of you have made the effort to be here.Wow. maybe go to the shore once in a while.Great. If one thing could be improved in your relationship.there's a long time between the planting and the harvesting.2 He .I'm only in debt until these business investments I'm involved with start paying off. C .Ericksonian.so you want more closeness. C .well that would be a first. then we could take some time to be together. what would you hear.That would be nice. yes. More intimacy? She .He . So Mrs.Well. C . what might that be? He/She .Mrs Smith? She .. if he were not so deeply in debt. C .And you want more closeness.And Mr. C . what would you feel differently that would indicate you were having "more closeness?" She .If there was one thing that could be made better .We're just not close anymore.OK . it's that I know how to position my corporate earnings and losses to get the maximum tax write off possible.SleightofMouth.I do.It's not that I'm going deeper into debt.1 She .5 She . He .

No we don't.Excellent.. what first drew you to Mrs. trust is earned. (pause) Now open your eyes and see that same person is right here with you now. do you? He . Smith.13 What you both need to do is find some new ways of responding to each other and to begin to appreciate that the issue.14 The good news is that this is totally doable. intimacy is built. the charm. let me ask you.So Mr. Now just stop for a moment...7 Because when we stop and look at the bigger picture. really. You both agreed that more closeness and intimacy was your major outcome. Be there now.He was charming and funny and so handsome. learn from the past so you preserve the goodness that's there while you rekindle the old flame and move into a better future. And I know your intent is to rekindle that passion and intimacy with each other again. the humor. Smith? She .. now. The real issue is how to forgive the past. take a breath and remember those times. The only ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 91 www. won't you?10 He . He. is not who's right and who's wrong. the energy.com .How specifically can we do that here in the present when she constantly puts me down?11 She . Smith. so it's worth taking the time and making the effort to make this relationship as beautiful as it can be. now close your eyes. you'll never have more intimacy and it could end up even worse. Isn't it more important to focus on the areas of your relationship that promote that goal rather than on areas of your disagreement. stop .as if looking through your own eyes. C . Smith. Mrs.please.org and www. Smith? Remember back when you were first dating.Ericksonian. Remember one of your first dates or a special time early on and float back there now in your mind's eye. and the sound of each other's voices.No.I loved her energy and vitality.Great. what drew you to Mr. C . I really think you're responding that way because you're both stuck in some old patterns of responding that come across as condescending and certainly not going to foster intimacy.Let me just stop you there for a moment. if you continue in the same way you have been going for all these years. She . and you two have really invested a lot in each other. be there now and feel those feelings of attraction. And Mrs.Now if I could just stop us there for a second..C .You mean anytime I make a suggestion about how you can improve you hear it as me totally emasculating you?12 C . She was always up and engaged in life.8 Besides. so let's find ways of doing that together. See things that you saw then now . the vitality. hearing the sounds you heard then.SleightofMouth.. C .9 You don't want that. both of you.

Sure C .SleightofMouth.Excellent.com . See you next week. I think we have made some excellent progress today. Thank you both for being open and willing to change.org and www. THE PATTERNS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Metaphor/Analogy Apply to Self Counter Example Model of the World Redefine Reality Strategy Hierarchy of Criteria Change Frame SIze Consequence Intent 10 11 12 13 14 Chunk Down Chunk Up (exaggerate) Meta Frame Another Outcome ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 92 www. Smith? She .Yes I am. That's all the time we have for today. C .question is are you both ready and willing to do that? Mr.Mrs. Smith? He .Ericksonian.

Becoming a Wizard I’m reminded of the story of The Magus. and they’ll go from one pattern to another pattern to another pattern to another pattern to another pattern. It gives us the ability to influence other people in their belief systems. followed by the consequence. by James Fowles. In order to do that. I first read it when it was used as a preface to Patterns 1 by Bandler and Grinder. When we get down to it. It’s a story of a prince who grows up in a kingdom and his father. asking questions.SleightofMouth. giving statements on a variety of different things that happen all at once. Go through the whole set. You’ve got the complete deluxe tool kit. we have to start asking ourselves questions about what we believe and why? What is a useful belief. etc.org and www. Sleight of mouth gives us the ability to be flexible with belief systems. The patterns will come out fluidly in a variety of different ways. I'll be paraphrasing. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 93 www. keep in mind that the order in which you use the patterns in real life does not have to be the same as the order in which they’re listed on the pattern map.com . as opposed to a non-useful belief? And how do I change my own beliefs? When you start getting into things like that. I want you to write out that belief and then write down responses to it based on all the different patterns we’ve examined.. When we realize that. As you do so. it can get pretty unsettling for some people. it really begins to show us that belief systems themselves are flexible.Ericksonian. followed by another outcome. I want you to find a belief about something that comes up in your world so that you’ll be armed and ready to use the sleight of mouth patterns the next time you encounter that belief. Write out the hierarchy of criteria. Now it’s up to you to use it and to master it. etc.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH Moving Toward Mastery So that’s the presentation of sleight of mouth.

It was just like basic presuppositions. three things you must remember. What are those strange and beguiling creatures on those islands?” The man said.” The boy said. He didn’t really understand what those things were. 18. And even more puzzling were these creatures that inhabited those islands. Standing on these cliffs overlooking the ocean he saw an incredible broad expanse of water he’d never seen before. then there must ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 94 www. He said.old enough to strike out and have some adventures of his own -. son. They looked kind of like those mythical islands he’d heard about.” He grew up believing these things. And there out on the ocean were some land masses. One day as he got older. those land masses?” And the man said. “Islands? I didn’t think they existed. wearing a long black robe with his sleeves rolled up. “My boy.he left the kingdom. can you tell me what those things are out there. went through the hillsides on his horse. sir. those are princesses. There are no princesses. he came to the end of the land and came to the ocean. It had always been true. has told him of three truths. dramatic looking man. And the boy said. So what were they? He was confused. there are no such things as islands. “Excuse me. So he didn’t know what they were. He was a very tall. Then along came this man walking along the shoreline.SleightofMouth. He went wandering. just knowing that this is true.org and www. He was just riding through the forest and came out the other side. but he knew they didn’t exist because his father had always told him so. those are islands.com . but he knew there couldn’t be any princesses because his father had always told him so. little bodies of land out there. They were close enough that he could see they were pretty interesting. he was about 17. “Certainly.” The boy replied. or 19 -. They looked an awful lot like princesses. One day. “My goodness! Well if there are islands and there are princesses. “As you grow up.Ericksonian.the king. and there’s no such thing as God. he was puzzled. He didn’t ever question it.

real princesses. father. eventually. he looked him in the eye. He’s a magician. yes. have been deceived. and I met and spoke to God!” His father laughed a little bit and then he said. “I’m afraid. my boy. he was. He still saw those islands and there were still beautiful princesses on them. black robe?” The boy remembered back and said. you have been deceived. xv John Fowles] When he saw his father. Ask him. as a matter of fact. I saw real islands. He went running back to his kingdom and said.” The man said. that was a wizard and you have been deceived. those aren’t real princesses.also be a God. good lad. [page xiv. This God person. no. They were not real islands.” The king said.” So the boy goes back home.org and www. “By any chance. they were." ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 95 www. “Father. but you. And the boy accosted him and said. but an illusion created by that magician. That was just an illusion.Ericksonian. but only a magician?" The king smiled and rolled back his sleeves. son. “Actually.” And the king said. “Yes. those are real and I am God. Those aren’t real islands. “I know who you are. were his sleeves rolled up?” The son said. was he by any chance wearing a long. Those are illusions. You’re a magician. over the mountains. You fooled me. I am God. "Father. my son. the man came walking along the shoreline again. and he’s very troubled and very confused. and back to the cliffs.” And the man bowed and said.” The boy was quite impressed with this.SleightofMouth. It was pretty interesting that this illusion would still be there. is it true that you are not a real king. “Yes. He’s no king. You don’t live in a kingdom. “Well yes. "Yes. you’ll never guess. Your father all these years has told you he’s a king. they were not real princesses. “Well that was not God. I'm only a magician.” So the son left the kingdom again and went back out through the forest.com . but.

" "The man on the other shore was a magician. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince. too. my son. the truth beyond magic. "I will kill myself. The prince was full of sadness." "You see. now begin to be a magician." "I must know the truth.SleightofMouth." he said. "Very well. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses.com . The prince shuddered. "you." "There is no truth beyond magic. "I can bear it." said the king." The king by magic caused death to appear. He said.org and www." said the king.Ericksonian." ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 96 www."Then the man on the other shore was God.

" Nobody ever persuaded him because he always seemed to have something ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 97 www.SleightofMouth." Bandler might reply. Dilts was an early student of Bandler and John Grinder. and would assist at their NLP certification trainings. the person who put that up there was probably trying to be nice. if you go around just naively believing that people are trying to be nice all the time. Richard would sometimes challenge the class to see how persuasive they could be using their new NLP skills. When people would say to him. the co-creators of NLP. if there was a flower arrangement on stage. Bandler was an excellent actor and would play his part with conviction.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH OUTRO-DUCTION A Brief History of Sleight of Mouth Robert Dilts created Sleight of Mouth back in the late '70s and early '80s while exploring belief systems and how to change them. he might say. I want that person identified. He would adopt a belief system that was clearly inaccurate and perhaps irrational. As an example. in that he applied this most essential NLP skill to Richard Bandler's remarkable ability to win any argument. They probably thought you'd like them. "Hey.com .Ericksonian. You could say that Sleight of Mouth is the result of Dilts modeling the modeler. During these trainings.org and www. and challenge his students to get him to change it. and I want them out of this seminar now!" Now. you're bound to get stomped on because you'll have no defenses. who put these flowers up here? Everyone knows I'm allergic to them so someone's out to get me. "Gee Richard. "OK.

This reminds me of a story.else to say. They didn't have a zero. The Romans couldn't multiply or divide with their number system. start with a single line for one (I) and two lines is two (II). And they could have a column for ones and a column for 10s. one more convincing than the next. the "Consequence Pattern. I made that part up. It wasn't until Arabic numbers came around where they had a zero. as you probably know. This system worked pretty well but it had its drawbacks.. three lines is three (III).com ..) Over the course of many similar trainings. A "V" was five and an "X" was ten.Ericksonian. with Bandler repeating this exercise with a host of different adopted beliefs.SleightofMouth. Dilts noticed that Bandler would come back to the same patterns of responses.org and www. Pretty soon people were siding with Richard and looking for the saboteur. Back in the Roman Empire. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 98 www.'" then you can more easily notice other consequence patterns. the Romans didn't have a symbol for zero." Naming Names Have you ever noticed an interesting thing about names. in the ones column. so they didn't represent it. names it the "long-tailed blue Lampides boeticus. So Dilts gave this pattern a name. that they could track nothing. Then they could have one in the 10s column and no thing. Labels are good things for this purpose. then you can track it? A scientist discovers a new Butterfly. Roman numerals. Why bother? There's nothing there." and all of a sudden people are seeing the "long-tailed blue Lampides boeticus" everywhere. So it became a whole new system because they'd labeled something differently. "That's a 'consequence pattern.. a zero. a symbol that meant no thing. So if you say. and so on.. One was a pattern of response in which Bandler would describe the consequences of a belief or action (as in our example above). But the Romans didn't have a way to represent nothing. (Actually. He called it. that if you name something.

org and www.coined the term "consequence pattern. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 99 www. The possibilities are limitless.a judgment . We might notice something. Magic takes advantage of our brain's way of making sense of the world around us." the "redefine pattern. comes from Sleight of Hand. the "intent pattern. so we filter it. Sleight of Mouth was born because Dilts began to notice that he could employ these patterns. We can't possibly make sense of all that data. We distort. But the problem is when we filter things. think it's important and focus our attention on it. there's no real order or syntax to how they get used." he became able to track other times when Bandler used it. Our five senses take in billions of bits of information on a regular basis. When using the patterns you can start anywhere and go anywhere. He placed "A equals B" (or "A causes B") in the center and arranged the icons representing different patterns in a circular fashion around them. delete and generalize this information about the world around us. we usually start in a particular place because you have to start someplace.. too. Magic The name. He started noticing and naming other patterns Bandler used as well. we make an interpretation .So when Dilts .Ericksonian.SleightofMouth. It's just a circular layout.about what's important to focus on." etc. When learning Sleight of Mouth.getting back to more modern history now ." the "chunk down pattern. not a flow chart. Sleight of Mouth. That's where problems come up because we can make wrong interpretations. Finally Dilts took these patterns he'd named and arranged them in a iconic representation chart as you've seen in this book..com . Keep in mind.. meanwhile missing something else that is actually more important.

" Of course. Attention is directed in one place. as by now you are completely aware.Ericksonian. too.org and www. but essentially that's what he's getting you to do. that's fun. by directing attention to particular frames of reference. "Now. thinking and appreciating.com . meanwhile. In Sleight of HAND a magician directs your attention. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 100 www. He says. it is a totally organic process.SleightofMouth. while the action is happening someplace else. He palms the coin and pretends to pull it from behind the kid's ear. he doesn't say that directly. As a Sleight of Mouth-matician. Sleight of MOUTH sort of does that same thing.In magic. He's doing something like making gestures with his left hand while. Sometimes it seems like magic and really. his right hand is secretly going into his coat pocket and getting a different card out. look here what my left hand is doing and focus all your attention there. you're directing your listener to another way of looking.

SLEIGHT OF MOUTH
Appendix 1 - The Agreement Frame I’d like to discuss now some things that are really important adjuncts to sleight of mouth. These are things that will make your sleight of mouth work much more effectively. One of these adjuncts is rapport. If you’ve studied NLP at all, you know rapport is part and parcel of NLP, and the idea of rapport is to establish and maintain a sense of connection with the other person.

When I describe and explain sleight of mouth patterns, I sometimes say things like the argument is formed in a particular way. When I do that I’m talking about the patterns from a logical construct point of view. The subtlety I want to add here is that although the use of a particular sleight of mouth pattern may take the form of a logical argument, you don’t have to be argumentative in your delivery of the pattern. You can have that sense of rapport while still maintaining your position.

Actors go through many months, even years, of training, where they look at a single line and discover how they can say it in a million different ways. The choices an actor makes in that regard are extremely important to the success of the eventual performance. The same thing applies to your use of sleight of mouth. If you’re going to say something like, “If you continue to believe that, you’ll never find any happiness,” you can say it in a way that drips with sincerity. Tony Robbins once said, “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

But seriously, you can make the same statement in a variety of ways. You could say it sarcastically; you could say it sincerely; you could say it with a great deal of compassion. You could just say it as if you were reading a menu. There are a million ways. So bear that in mind throughout all these communications. The impact of a communication depends much more strongly on how you say it

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than on the words themselves.

Another highly useful adjunct to sleight of mouth is called the “agreement frame.” Just for the record, I was taught the “agreement frame” by Anthony Robbins. I don’t know whether he made it up or whether he got it from someone else, but I learned it from him, so I’m grateful. It’s very, very valuable. The agreement frame is kind of like verbal Aikido. In the martial art of Aikido, when someone attacks you, you align with the attack. The agreement frame is very much like this.

Let’s say someone is going to attack you with their fist. A person trained in Aikido would respond by sort of stepping aside and helping the fist to keep going past the attacker’s point of balance so that the attacker ends up on the floor. It’s not like you try to block the fist or hit back at the attacker. Instead, you just redirect the attack somewhere else, and the floor is a great place for that attack to end up.

The agreement frame works in very much the same way. Rather than verbally blocking or directly confronting what the other person has said, you align with it. You say things like, “I agree with you. That’s true, you’re so right. And if you look at it from this perspective, it could be something different that you want to appreciate.”

©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth

102 www.SleightofMouth.org and www.Ericksonian.com

The Agreement Frame
I agree...and... I respect .... and... I appreciate ... and...
You can do this in one of three ways. First, you can say, “I agree with such and such and such,” and align with it in that way. Second, you can say, “I appreciate . . .” something about what they’ve said or about their intention behind saying it. Or third, you can say, “I respect . . .” again, something about their intention or what they’ve said.

There are endless stylistic variants that are possible with this. You could say, “I agree with you. That’s absolutely right.” Or, “I appreciate your point of view. It’s so good to hear somebody speaking their mind so clearly and honestly. And [blah, blah, blah, blah, blah] . . . .” Or you could say, “I respect your intensity of emotion with this. It’s great to see somebody who is really so passionate about what they believe. And [blah, blah, blah, blah, blah] . . . .” You lead from there.

The essence of the agreement frame is that the word “and” is what leads the other person from wherever he’s at to wherever you want him to go. By contrast, the word “but” has a very different effect in that it negates what came before. Most people tend to use the word “but” a lot. I know I use it all the time. Sometimes I use it intentionally because I mean to negate what came before it. A lot of times, however, I use it just because I’m not thinking about it and it just comes out. It’s a common habit.

When you’re using persuasion skills, though, you’re usually more attuned what exactly you’re saying. That’s a good thing. You want to be attuned to when you’re using the word “and” or the word “but” because sometimes you want to
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. From your perspective. I respect what you’re saying (I actually don’t). blah. the participants will forget the game and start saying.negate what came before what you said. The agreement frame utilizes this truth that people see things from their own perspective and that they’re right. “Oh.” As soon as they say the word “but. yes. It might be something about war.” You can appreciate or respect something about the other person or what they’ve said and then use it in the sentence or agree. And I know we’re both on the same side and we want to resolve this. I think you’ll begin to agree with me that there are other ways of looking at this that can be equally important. though. “You said but!” Interrupting the pattern in this way helps the first speaker regain his or her bearings.SleightofMouth. as well. you want to use the word “and” rather than the word “but. Hmm. you’re right. really well. particularly if you’re using the agreement frame. you don’t want to do that. I’m really glad that you brought that up. Well.’ Let me try that again. and I would encourage you to do that.” Earlier we discussed the idea that perception is 100%. In general.org and www. . blah] .Ericksonian. well I appreciate the fact that you’re a human ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 104 www. but [blah. When we do a workshop with sleight of mouth. or something like that. The agreement frame acknowledges that fact. Many times during this exercise. “Yeah. so let’s look at it from this perspective. I agree with you.” Or you could say. yes. you use the word “but. I agree with your position (or I don’t). we do an exercise with the agreement frame where we have the participants argue about an issue on which people usually hold passionate beliefs.” the other person is supposed to jump up in their chair and shout. too. “I appreciate what you’re saying. In those instances.com . I see it absolutely that way. It will work really. ‘Yes. from their perspective. I said ‘but. . “Look. you’re right.” Most times. They can then say. You can actually just come out and say. And if you look at it from this perspective. or abortion. then.

I could let you off here.” Perhaps you can create an exercise for yourself. . I don’t think you can necessarily do that exercise just on the streets. and use this exercise to train yourself to use the word “and” more often in conversations.SleightofMouth.Ericksonian. you find something you can agree with and then take it from there.” In other words. however.being and you have a right to breathe.” you can’t just shout.org and www. become more aware of the word “but. but there’s no bus stop. . ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 105 www. and . “You said but!” to the bus driver. . “I’m sorry. or get a partner to do this with you. If the bus driver says. You can.com .

” This model is a kind of simplified version of the Meta model. though.” Or you could say.” On the face of it. “What’s crazy? Who’s crazy? What do you mean by that?” The Meta model is comprised of a whole list of specific questions to ask in specific situations to recover this lost information. “It’s just crazy. This is a simplified version of it. People often generalize in their beliefs. If you’re familiar with that in NLP. “What do you mean by crazy?” That’s called an “unspecified noun. The Meta model and the precision model are ways of extracting or eliciting lost information from a person’s belief systems.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH Appendix 2 . and they delete information.Ericksonian.” you might want to say. They also do what’s known as distort. As an example.SleightofMouth.The Precision Model Below you’ll find a drawing with a couple of hands. if a person says. To continue with the above example.com . suppose someone says. “Crazy according to whom? Who says it’s crazy?” That’s called a “lost performative. this statement is not very informative. then you don’t need to look at this page. If you’re not familiar with NLP. It’s called the “precision model. here’s a brief explanation.org and www. We don’t really know what the person is talking about.” ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 106 www. “It’s just crazy. so we have to find out by asking questions like.

so all this information is right at your fingertips. On the middle finger of the right hand it says.e. and the Meta model is a way of getting it.” That sentence contains an unspecified verb because it doesn’t specify how he went to the store. “How did he go? Did he drive? Did he skip? Did he run? How did he go to the store?” We need to know information like this. of getting more specific information out of a person. even though the precision model is a simplified version of the Meta model. That’s what I mean by saying the precision model is a kind of simplified version of the Meta model. Second. it imparts the idea of the Meta model – i. I recommend that if you’re serious about learning NLP.Ericksonian. First.SleightofMouth.com . you should study the Meta model in its entirety. There are a number of good books available on the subject. The precision model tries to make the Meta model a bit easier to get a hold of. the precision model is a simplified version of the meta model. “He went to the store.As I mentioned before. to get your fingers on. On the finger chart you’ll see nouns on the index finger of the right hand. This is the category of unspecified nouns.” Consider. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 107 www. it helps us get the other person’s beliefs into the NBS structure that we need as a prelude to doing sleight of mouth. However. it’s still very useful for us for a couple of reasons. “Unspecified verbs. literally.. To recover that information you could ask things like.org and www. for example.

We’ll get to that in a minute.org and www. In this case it says. let’s just do the one that’s below the line. specifically?” “Who or what. Do this several times. specifically?” Again. Ultimately. Put it up so that your eyes are looking up at it.If you take a look at the precision model diagram. So put the diagram up there where you can see it. and it’ll be stored there more readily. reach with your right hand. and say the phrase that’s written on the diagram. Now go on to the left index finger. “Compared to what?” Squeeze your left thumb and say. squeeze your left index finger. “Compared to what?” Squeeze your left thumb and say. there are two lines with one sentence above the line and another sentence below the line. “Compared to what?” Reach over with your right hand and squeeze your left thumb and say. “Compared to what?” Do this while you’re looking at diagram. “Compared to what?” Keep doing that until it’s anchored. then you’re done. take this diagram and put it up on the left side of your body. Squeeze your left thumb and say. “Who or what. But first. According to NLP.com . specifically?” Do it over and over again until you’ve got it anchored in there. specifically?” Then go to the third finger. the upper left is where we usually store visual memories. How do you know if something’s anchored? You squeeze your thumb and see if it automatically comes up as “compared to what?” If it is. Put the diagram up there and you hold it up with your left hand so that your thumb is lined up with the thumb in the illustration. By doing this you’re encoding the information in three different modalities: visual. The phrase for that one is. “Who or what. “Who or what. the middle finger. Do you see that little phrase that says. For now. a left hand and a right hand. “Who or what.SleightofMouth. you’ll notice an illustration of two hands. If you look at the diagram. the hands will go together so that what’s on the left hand will coincide with what’s on the right hand.Ericksonian. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 108 www. auditory and kinesthetic. specifically?” See it and say it as you squeeze the index finger.

too many.e. “How. specifically?” “How specifically?” “How. keep doing this until all you have to do is reach over and squeeze the right thumb. That’s it for the left hand. every. and say. perhaps. never?” Keep doing that until the response is automatic. the fifth finger. too expensive.com . never?” Squeeze.” Squeeze the right index finger and say. You’re going to take your right hand and reach across your body and put it up on your left side. too expensive. specifically?” Go to the ring (i. “All. “All.. squeeze your right thumb with your left hand. “Too much. and say the phrase.” Squeeze. specifically?” Just as before. “Nouns. “Too much. squeeze the middle finger with your right hand and say.Ericksonian.org and www.” As before. Just anchor it in there so that when you squeeze that ring finger. As you squeeze that finger with your right hand. say the phrase from the diagram. “Too much. Now you’re going to do the same thing with your right hand. too many.” We’ll do the same thing with the right index finger. too many. The word for that finger is “Nouns. too many.” Squeeze. it’s an automatic response. see it.” Squeeze again and say. For the middle ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 109 www. specifically?” You squeeze it. It’s a little awkward. too expensive. too many. let’s go over to the pinkie finger. too expensive.SleightofMouth. too expensive.” Squeeze it again and say. fourth) finger. “What would happen if you did? What causes or prevents?” “What would happen if you did? What causes or prevents?” Finally. “How. but do it anyway.” Repeat until the response is fully anchored.“How. “Nouns. “What would happen if you did? What causes or prevents?” Squeeze. “Too much. “What would happen if you did? What causes or prevents?” Don’t worry about what this means for now. Squeeze that that finger with your right hand and say the corresponding phrase on the diagram. “Too much. and you’ll automatically say. Reach over with your right hand. “What would happen if you did? What causes or prevents?” Squeeze. every. You still want to be looking up to your left because you still have a visual memory of the diagram to your left.

” Once again. and saying.Ericksonian.” Let’s move on to the ring finger of the right hand. If you haven’t got it so the responses are anchored automatically. “Should. “Should. must. We have the right thumb saying.” and the left hand thumb saying. Finally. Clasp your hands together so they’re lined up thumb to thumb. specifically?” The right hand ring finger says. reach over and squeeze your right pinkie finger with your left hand. “Universes.SleightofMouth. the word is “verbs. Keep doing this until it’s just automatic.” The left hand index finger asks. “How. too expensive.” The left hand middle finger says. shouldn’t.” And so on. “Compared to what?” The right hand index finger says. specifically?” The right hand middle finger says.org and www. “Verbs.” Squeeze. “Verbs. shouldn’t. third finger to third finger. “Who or what. too many. then go back and repeat the ones that are giving you trouble. squeezing your right middle finger with your left hand.” Keep repeating as needed. etc. “Universes.” The left ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 110 www. “Should. ring finger to ring finger. Once you’ve got them fully anchored. “Nouns.” Squeeze. “Should. Now test your progress. must. take the left hand and the right hand and put them together. “Verbs. must. etc.” Squeeze the right pinkie finger and say. can’t. squeeze the ring finger of your right hand and say..” Squeeze. The words for that finger are. can’t. shouldn’t.com .” So you’re looking up to your left. shouldn’t. Notice what we have when we do that. “Verbs. index finger to index finger.” Squeeze. can’t. The word for the right pinkie finger is “Universes. must. “Universes. can’t.finger. “Too much.” Squeeze.

what would happen if we did? What causes or prevents?” The right hand pinkie finger says. “Well. “universes. “All. “Oh.” So the immediate response to “too much” or “too many” would be. you’ve narrowed down the other ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 111 www. “Everybody in your company has an attitude. “Universes.” Suppose someone says. who specifically?” Or if someone says. “That guy just makes me so mad. It should immediately flash there because a comparison is being made.hand ring finger says.” Your response would be some variation of. “Who specifically has attitude?” They might then explain that.” That’s a very different thing from everybody has attitude all the time. that’s terrible. “Well. you know to ask “Who specifically?” For example. “Too expensive? Compared to what? Compared to our competitors’ inferior product? That really wouldn’t give you value for the dollar. it’s too expensive. “Compared to what?” Of course. which you’ve anchored to the pinkie finger with the word.” your response might be. never. I can’t afford this. “Gosh. “Really.” The left hand pinkie finger says.org and www. what specifically is terrible?” This can be used in combination with generalizations. every.” Let’s say you’re in a sales situation and the person to whom you’re trying to sell says something like. and you just want to know it’s too much.” Your response would be. “Everyone?” The index finger response might be. you can make up your own sentences. compared to what? Too much what? Compared to whom? When you hear nouns that are unspecified.Ericksonian.” Your pinkie finger response would be. “Well that receptionist was short with me once. By using these Precision model questions.com . You don’t have to stick with the “Compared to what?” But that should immediately flash in your mind.SleightofMouth.

“Miracles are real. “I believe in this. People will say things like.” Or. the speaker will give you only the meaning part of the NBS. or it might go in the square.Ericksonian. “What makes it that way?” That will help you to recover the cause of the effect. The person might then answer with something like. Then you need to ask. Now that you have the Precision model and the Meta model there at your fingertips. I believe in that. That response gives you their square information.SleightofMouth.” They’ll just state the meaning part of their belief while leaving the other parts unstated. my friend is cancer-free. you don’t know in which part of the NBS that statement should be placed. We do that by asking the Precision model or Meta model questions. We said earlier that often a belief will be stated only in the circle part of the structure. You simply don’t know until you ask some questions. Let’s say someone says. let’s go back to the structure of a belief and see how that can be applied. “I believe in Santa. “I believe in miracles.” At that point you’ve got the whole belief: “My friend drank water blessed by a faith healer.person’s belief to something that’s much easier to handle with sleight of mouth. That caused the cancer to go away.” That’s their entire belief system on that topic.” That was one of our examples. and my friend is alive today. “How do you know that?” That question will recover their lost criteria. Those other components are in their brain someplace. That means miracles are real. she drank water blessed by a faith healer. Initially.com . ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 112 www. In other words. “Well my friend is alive today. but you don’t know what they are. “Well. They might then respond with something like. You might begin by asking.org and www.” That’s their circle statement. and you need to find out. It might go in the circle.” That’s how they know that miracles are real. Or. or it might even go in the triangle.

“Who says it’s bad?” or. “It’s poor. “This is the best.” or any other value judgments of that sort.” In terms of the Precision model. that kind of ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 113 www. In other words.org and www. the triangle to the square. Another example of this would be “comparative deletions. In addition. when you hear someone say something like... The sleight of mouth patterns will further that process. For example. “How do you know that? What makes it that way?” you’re going to uncover information that’s going to be useful for you. In fact. you’re already in a sense challenging the other person’s belief system.e. each of those two relationships can be the target of sleight of mouth patterns. The simple act of having to think about their belief in order to answer the Meta model questions causes the other person to loosen their grip on this belief system that they’ve been holding onto. It’s also important to remember here that a belief is structured as a cause and effect combined with a complex equivalence. People often will say things like. In a sense. Other sleight of mouth patterns operate on the complex equivalence component – i. you may have noticed that just by using the Meta model.The lesson here is that if you ask these questions. you’re already doing sleight of mouth just by doing the Meta model.e. the square to the circle. comparative deletions and the appropriate response to them are represented by the thumbs.” By asking the Meta model questions. the Meta model and sleight of mouth are both elegant ways of doing reframing.” or. they’re using what in the Meta model are called “lost performatives.SleightofMouth.Ericksonian. “Who says it’s crazy?” “According to whom?” you’re already asking questions that are going to challenge their belief. “It’s good. “It’s bad.” or. You must get information into this structure in order for you to be able to do sleight of mouth.com . Some sleight of mouth patterns operate on the cause and effect component – i.” Once again.” or “It’s crazy.

there’s really no such thing as a relationship. Suppose someone says something like.” or “I can’t. a “relationship” is really just a process of people relating to one another.” and “never. “Everybody hates me. Instead. a “relationship” is not a concrete object that you could put in a wheelbarrow and carry away.” “I shouldn’t. One great example of a nominalization is the notion of a “relationship. “How do you relate to that person?” The act of answering that question requires the other person to unpack the nominalization and describe it as a process.” When you think about it. It’s an activity. compared to what?” Again.” Modal operators also are often to be found in the cause and effect area of a belief ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 114 www. In order to recover that information. It’s something that people do rather than a thing that exists. You can challenge the universal quantifier simply by asking. you could ask.” Universal quantifiers often function as the cause of an effect.” In those statements the person is using a universal quantifier.” These show up in language as words like “all. Another Meta model distinction is called “nominalizations. As such.” or “Everybody is doing this. Yet another set of Meta model distinctions are called “universal quantifiers. In order to turn that nominalization back into its proper verb form.SleightofMouth. everybody?” A similar Meta model distinction is that of “modal operators. its place in the NBS is in the circle. “Oh. you could ask the Meta model question. That is.statement is a judgment. they are located in the triangle part of the NBS. simply by asking that question you’re already doing sleight of mouth on the person. That is to say this kind of statement represents the meaning part of a complete belief.com . “Well. As such.” “I must.Ericksonian. One of the features of such statements is that they typically do not specify to what the thing under discussion is being compared.” These are expressed by words such as “I should.org and www.” “every.” These are processes that have been made into nouns.

system – i.com . “What would happen if you did (or didn’t)?” We’ve now described several tools that you can use to extract information. We’ve discussed the Meta model. the Precision model. To challenge a modal operator.e. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 115 www.SleightofMouth.. you can ask.org and www. and our two basic questions: “How do you know that?” and “What makes it that way?” These tools all work together and enable you to take a person’s belief system and refine it in your mind so you can put it into the NBS structure and then do sleight of mouth on it effectively.Ericksonian. in the triangle part of the NBS.

” In other words.org and www.com . another person who was intrigued by this same topic was a Princeton mathematician named George Polya. It’s one thing to say. boom. It’s another thing altogether to profess belief in something that’s not strictly provable. an idea becomes plausible up to a certain threshold and then.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH Appendix 3 .” He wanted to see how things can became so plausible that at some point a person will say. You could argue maybe it’s a teacup or something. Back in the 1950’s. “I now believe this to be true. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 116 www.” if the cup is sitting there in front of you. Polya was curious about how people come to believe things that are not provable. I now believe it. Polya began investigating what he referred to as “plausibility.Ericksonian.” We’ll now look at several of them. but it’s a tangible thing. Polya was interested in what makes an idea so plausible that it can take a person up to and then over that threshold? The result of Polya’s investigation was what he called “patterns of plausible inference. How does that happen? In an effort to answer that question.SleightofMouth. “I believe in the existence of a coffee cup.Polya Patterns of Plausible Inference One of the things we’re interested in with sleight of mouth is how beliefs are held in place. In particular.

Polya: Patterns of Plausible Inference* 1.If a belief (B) presupposes (or requires as a precondition) some event or phenomenon and we verify this contingent event (C) then it makes the belief more plausible. 4.The likelihood that something will occur again based on its past performance (measured by occurrences ÷ opportunities). The degree of plausibility will be stronger if the contingent phenomenon would not probably occur in and of itself. The more something occurs the more we believe it will occur again. A. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 117 www. IF B implies C AND C is true THEN B is more credible.org and www. Verification of a Consequence .Ericksonian. 3. A. The degree of plausibility will be stronger if there is a lack of other probable causes. B.com . If the analogy cannot be shown to be true but it can be shown to be credible then it still increases the plausibility of the analogous belief. Contingency .A belief (B) is more plausible if an analogous conjecture (A) is proven true. IF B presupposes C AND C is true THEN B is more credible. Inference from Analogy . If something which is not very probable cause-effect occurs it tends to validate the belief which predicted it. Successive Verification of Several Consequences. Verification of an Improbable Consequence (Extremes). Meta Pattern: Probability .SleightofMouth.If a particular belief (B) implies a particular consequence (C) and we verify that consequence then it makes the belief more plausible (it does not prove it however). 2. B.

you go out with them a fifth time. and you bring them flowers again.” Thus.” and it is simply the perceived likelihood that something will occur again based on its past performance. measured by occurrences divided by opportunities. Polya. It’s called the “pattern of probability. Finally. Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning Vol. “Hey. the more we believe it will occur again. II.SleightofMouth. let’s say you go out on a date and you bring flowers to the person with whom you’re going out. Comparison with Random . 1968 The first pattern is quite straightforward.If a belief can be shown to predict a particular result with better than random accuracy then it is more credible. The fourth time you go out with them. the more that something occurs.IF B is analogous to A AND A is true THEN B is more credible. In other words. IF B is competing with C AND C is false THEN B is more credible.The plausibility of a belief (B) increases if a rival conjecture (C) is disproved. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 118 www. Princeton University Press. the more often something happens. 6. I’m supposed to get flowers. By way of illustration.Ericksonian. but this time you don’t bring them flowers. where are my flowers? There’s something wrong here. Patterns of Plausible Inference. *G. You go out with them a third time.org and www. The response you get on that fifth date is likely to be something along the lines of.com . and again you bring them flowers. Disprove the Converse . 5. you bring them flowers yet again. You go out with them a second time. the more likely we are to believe it will happen again.

closely related to the previous one. D. E. the degree of plausibility will be greater if there is a lack of other probable causes for B. that makes B more plausible. you verify several in a row. B’s plausibility increases.” This pattern is the same as the previous one except that instead of verifying just one consequence. I used to work for Anthony Robbins and I’ve done a lot of fire walks with him. then. Another example I like to use is that of acupuncture. that occurrence tends to validate the cause effect belief that predicted it. It’s important to note that the verification does not prove that B is actually true. the needle in your foot is ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 119 www.” This pattern states that the verification of a consequence of a conjecture renders the conjecture more plausible. that makes B even more plausible than if you had verified only C. Each time another consequence is verified.com . suppose that B implies C.” This one says that if something that is not very probable occurs. If you then verify that C.org and www. “You have a headache. it really does tend to validate all the cause-effect beliefs that Anthony has set up to prepare his students for the fire walk. A lot of people believe acupuncture. and you verify that C is true. They go to an acupuncturist and are told that.Let’s look at number two. An example of this that I like to use comes from the work of Anthony Robbins. C. The fourth pattern is called “verification of an improbable consequence. “verification of a consequence.SleightofMouth. if a particular belief. and F. It’s amazing.Ericksonian. and F are all true. In other words. Because that outcome is so unlikely to occur. it merely increases the plausibility of B. to walk across hot coals and not get burned. E. Also. implies a particular consequence. D. The third pattern. is called “successive verification of several consequences. and the reason they believe it is because they’ve had a verification of the improbable consequence. Thus. so I’m going to stick this needle in your foot. we get burned. B. A fire walk is a fascinating thing because everyone has the belief that when we touch fire. And because of these meridians that run through your body.

Here’s a more concrete. people have gone so far as to have major surgery done using acupuncture as the only anesthetic. Suppose further that in order for them to have committed the crime. They’re not there. So you’ve verified the improbable consequence. we’ve got veins. Suppose. we’ve got bones. and the whole acupuncture thing must be true. but where’s the meridian line? It doesn’t seem to exist. Let’s say Alice is accused of blowing up a ship. Incidentally.” Obviously. then it makes the belief more plausible. It would be hard to imagine a more dramatically improbable consequence than that. The inference that many people tend to draw based on experiences like this is that you must really have meridians after all. But then the needle gets stuck in your foot and your headache does goes away. that believe a particular person committed the crime. The fifth pattern is called “contingency. a certain precondition would have to have occurred.Ericksonian. it greatly increases the plausibility of whole explanatory apparatus of acupuncture that predicted it. The degree of plausibility will be stronger if the contingent phenomenon would not probably occur in and of itself. You can’t perform an autopsy on a cadaver and point out the meridian lines. The verification of that pre-condition increases the plausibility of the belief that they did indeed commit the crime. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 120 www. We’ve got nerves. You can see those things. A variation of this pattern is used all the time in criminal prosecutions. that doesn’t make any sense.SleightofMouth.org and www. right? So it’s not likely that anything is going to happen when the needle gets stuck in your foot.” This one says that if a belief presupposes or requires as a pre-condition some event or phenomenon and we verify that pre-condition.going to make your headache go away. so when it does indeed turn out successfully. for example.com .

he’s wrong. of course. I believe in New Jersey.SleightofMouth. a belief. is proven to be true.” The fact that this approach works so well is why we have such negative campaigning. Alice is a nice lady who has no criminal record and has never done anything wrong in her life. There was an election not too long ago. The seventh pattern is called “disproving the converse. Still. This happens all the time in politics.e. It’s interesting that much of science is based on analogy.. Now this. We often hear candidates say. lab rats are not humans. Our initial reaction might be that she couldn’t possibly have done this horrible thing. the inference is that it’s very likely humans will have the same response. in effect. He’s bad. works best when there are only two competing beliefs. where would she get the explosives? However. B. plausible – then it still increases the plausibility of the analogous belief. they’re still different from us in many ways. A. if the prosecution comes up with a receipt from Explosives ‘R Us showing that Alice did in fact buy explosives.com . where candidate A was running pretty solely on the platform.org and www. “Vote for me. be is more plausible if an analogous belief. I’m not him. Test animals have certain biological features that are similar to our own. and animal testing is depends upon analogy. it makes the belief more plausible. Despite these similarities. If you give drug X to a rat and he has a particular response. This is because so much of scientific research employs animal testing. If B is competing with C and C is proven false. but it can be shown to be credible – i. The sixth pattern is called “inference from analogy. I must be good.Ericksonian. So if you can prove the analogy. “Vote for me because my ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 121 www. That’s why the use of test animals is an analogy. Therefore. that evidence increases the plausibility of the belief that she really was guilty after all.” According to this pattern.” This pattern says that the plausibility of a belief increases if a rival belief is disproven.Now. If the analogy cannot be shown to be true. then B becomes more plausible. Besides.

but with B out of the picture A had nothing left to offer. In the first one there are actually two patterns. You ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 122 www. Everyone knows you can program.Ericksonian.e. Firsthammer buying dried newts. let’s have a little fun with them. that meant that candidate A had no more platform.” He did succeed in proving he wasn’t candidate B. Here are the facts for the first question: “In order to prove Dr. turned into the Incredible Green Monster last weekend. His whole campaign had been. Rathbone and not Dr. To his surprise.” Suddenly. Now that we’ve learned the Polya Patterns.com . and he lost the election. When that fact came to light.” This pattern also is used in science a great deal. his opponent was a crook.” Interestingly. so see if you can get both of them. Of course. the plausibility of that belief is increased. It says that if a belief can be shown to predict a particular result with better than random accuracy. is a crook.org and www.SleightofMouth.opponent. he found a video with images of Dr. The opposing party then replaced the withdrawn candidate with someone better who actually had a track record and was a good guy. the gray matter). Candidate A had spent all his money on advertising that said. It has input and output channels. “I’m not candidate B. the other guy was gone. candidate A was right. The eighth and final pattern is called “comparison with random.” Which patterns did you spot?” Question number two: “Neurolinguistic programming is based on the proposition that because your brain is like a computer. and software (thoughts and beliefs). Firsthammer. hardware (i. “I’m not the other guy. deprogram. I’m going to present a couple of test questions and you’re going to try to figure out which Polya pattern is being represented. candidate B. and reprogram a computer.. candidate B withdrew from the race. Firsthammer’s assistant examined footage from the security cameras at the Witch’s Supply Store. Dr.

So next time I had an upset stomach. Ginger ale may be just as effective or ineffective as Coke for settling a stomach. “So is the only reason Dr. They make beliefs plausible.can do the same thing with a human being’s subjective experience.” Question three: “I never thought I’d believe it but since last week. People sometimes (maybe even usually) stop searching for answers once they’ve found one that satisfies them.” Question four: “People behave just like Pavlov’s dogs. They don’t prove anything. I drank a Coke.SleightofMouth. when you hear a Polya pattern. you can immediately start searching for ways to demonstrate to the person you’re trying to influence that their search for validation isn’t over yet. For example with our test questions.” Question five: “I was told that either drinking a Coke or drinking a ginger ale would settle my stomach.com . soon just squeeze their knee and they’ll feel that same emotion. If you squeeze someone’s knee at the same time that they’re feeling an emotion and repeat that like Pavlov.” I’m not going to tell you the answers to these test questions. So that’s why I know drinking a ginger ale will do it for me next time I have an upset stomach. you’ll remember their main function. Counterexamples work brilliantly with Polya and any complex equivalences.org and www. The important point is that once you start hearing the Polya patterns at work. but I couldn’t remember which one it was. no different.Ericksonian. but it didn’t work. whether or not it’s actually true. every time my dog Fido hears the National Anthem. Firsthammer could buy ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 123 www. they just increase plausibility. Firsthammer bought the newts. So as a sleight of mouth sleuth. he stands at attention and gets mistyeyed. You can figure them out for yourself. There may be many other reasons Dr. Fido may be responding to an inaudible to humans pitch that the stereo emits when tuned to the radio station that broadcasts the game. you could ask.

Ericksonian.newts is to turn into the Green Monster? Is it totally impossible that he might have purchased them for Dr.org and www.SleightofMouth. Rathbone couldn’t possibly have acquired newts on the black market? And that somebody else entirely was involved here?” This series of counterexamples injects doubt into the other person’s mind. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 124 www. Rathbone?” Or.com . By asking these the questions. you’re helping to loosen the person’s firm grip on this belief that might not be so useful to them. “Dr.

I was just saying things to help them. and (4) Change logical levels.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH Appendix 4 .” or “toxins that cause death.org and www. “It wasn’t that I’m mean.” We change the meaning a lot with that one.Ericksonian.” Or. I’m just 200 bucks. “It’s not mean.” or “overaggressive cancer therapies that often cause death.” You can change the causes by saying things like. Recall the example that says. “No.” You could use the change or challenge comparisons strategy by simply saying. it’s simply being honest. it’s the loss of hope that causes death. The strategies are as follows: (1) Change the meaning.SleightofMouth.” In other words. “Saying mean things means you’re a bad person. “Compared to what?” A more elaborate and potentially more effective response might be. “Compared to whom? Anthony Robbins charges $5. You could ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 125 www. (2) Change the causes. “Your service is way too expensive. The first of these strategies is aimed at changing the meaning component of the other person’s belief. The third strategy is to change or challenge comparisons. “Cancer causes death. That’s nothing compared to that. (3) Change (or challenge) the comparisons. You remember the example.000 an hour for a consultation.” That example illustrates the strategy of changing the meaning.com .Strategies for Using Sleight of Mouth Let’s look now at four basic strategies for sleight of mouth. Suppose for example that a prospective customer says. The second strategy is to change the causes. cancer doesn’t cause death. we’re rejecting the cause that the other person has identified and substituting different causes.

” The redefine for that was. “I’m not late. The effect of that shift is to diminish the culpability of the speaker.” You could also challenge another aspect of the comparison by asking.com .e. I was delayed. the last strategy is to change logical levels. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 126 www..SleightofMouth.Ericksonian.org and www. “I was delayed by outside forces.” That’s a shift in logical levels from identity to environment.” What the speaker is really doing in that redefine is taking what’s called an identity level statement – i. “In what way is it too expensive?” That question provides a slightly different angle on the comparison. This strategy was demonstrated perhaps most succinctly in the example.e. “You’re late” – and shifting it to an environmental level statement – i. Finally.. “You being late means you don’t care about me.buy a whole week for an hour of his time.

SleightofMouth.SLEIGHT OF MOUTH Appendix 5 .com . Robert Dilts has a fun and easy way of understanding logical levels that he calls the ABC’s of NLP.Ericksonian.Logical Levels Logical Levels have become a bit controversial in some circles of late.org and www. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 127 www. Critics have said Robert Dilts’ “logical levels” do not fit the conventional meaning of the term based on class inclusion as used in logical arguments or mathematics. That may well be accurate… AND… whether they fit the conventional meaning or don't fit the conventional meaning isn't this issue for our purposes here. We include them here because they are very useful in recognizing the way people hold certain beliefs and hierarchies. They also are useful in fully understanding some of Dilts' strategies when it comes to using Sleight of Mouth.

As a result. For example. you may have noticed that when we look at that person from the outside as he’s acting like a jerk. that fact exists at the level of behavior. is home to our beliefs about what we believe. designated in Dilts’s scheme by the letter B. They are beliefs concerning our identity." The hierarchical nature of logical levels can be illustrated with the following example. so he’s not really a nice person at all. “I believe that this is more important than that. The second highest logical level. a person can sometimes act like a jerk and yet still hold onto the belief that they’re a good person. we might think about him. Now.” It’s curious how the priority of identity over behavior gets reversed when we apply it to other people as contrasted to when we apply it to ourselves.SleightofMouth. as in the phrase "Who I AM. he thinks he’s a nice person.The first thing to understand is that logical levels are arranged in a hierarchy. “You know. The interesting feature of this hierarchical arrangement is that beliefs at higher logical levels in a sense trump those at lower logical levels. Perhaps an easier way to think about it is that this is the level that is concerned with values.” These are statements that express my values. Actions speak louder than words. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 128 www. is comprised of beliefs about who we are. In Dilts’s “ABC’s” scheme. the identity level belief trumps the belief about my behavior. If I nevertheless act like a jerk sometimes. The highest logical level. Interestingly. at least for our purposes here. but look at what he does. that honesty is more important than expediency. that definition might be a bit confusing.Ericksonian. the identity level is designated by the letter A. he says he’s a nice person. Because behavior is at a lower logical level than identity.org and www.com . Suppose I say. “I am a good person.” That’s an identity level statement in that it expresses a belief about who I am or what kind of person I am.

to be marked with the letter B. you’re really a good speller. that values themselves are arranged in a hierarchical order in which we rank some values more highly than others. The capabilities level is designated by the letter C. That’s why you did poorly on the test. Just think of D as standing for “do. The third logical level deals with capabilities. which happens to be D. Here’s an example of applying sleight of mouth to oneself. In other words. Alternatively.” Finally. but B was already taken. so we use the next available letter. whether applied to yourself or to others.org and www. It might help you remember this to note that my behavior is what I do. and you had a spelling test and did poorly on it. with whom I do things.com . They are environmental factors. You ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 129 www.Ericksonian. The very act of saying that value X is more important than value Y necessarily implies such a ranking. and they’re really. These are things that are outside me. such as where I do things. really good to know because the more you can change logical levels in sleight of mouth. the level of behaviors. when I do things. the letter E is for the environment. by the way. the more effective your use of sleight of mouth will become. etc. you could move up a level and talk about your behavior.SleightofMouth. So these are the logical levels. Pretend you’re in the fifth grade. That’s why the "hierarchy of criteria" sleight of mouth pattern works so nicely with statements at this level.It’s interesting to note. You might expect the next level down. and it was just an environmental factor that tripped you up. This is where we classify statements concerning what I’m capable of. One way you could preserve your identity belief that you’re a good speller might be to claim the room was too noisy and distracting.

The implication of that shift is that the client isn’t really depressed at all. if you’ve done poorly on more than one spelling test. “Oh.” or. so this one must just have been a fluke. Nice to meet you. Suppose someone comes to you and says. “I am depressed. he’s just acting that way. You can also use logical levels and sleight of mouth as a therapist.org and www. If a client says to you. and this is the only one I did poorly on.” you could say. really? I’m Bob.” On the other hand. evidence is beginning to indicate that my spelling capabilities need some work. ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 130 www. the power of each is enhanced. “Hmm. you might move up to the level of capabilities.” I’m still a smart person. “I am sick. When used in conjunction with one another.could say to yourself. what are you acting depressed about?” That’s a great response because it takes the client’s identity statement and shifts it down to the behavior level.” You could use the sleight of mouth pattern of apply to self by responding. I just need to learn a more effective spelling strategy. and that’s significant because behavior is much easier to change than identity. working as a professional people helper. “That’s a pretty sick thing to say. “Hmm. and I’m a good speller. this is the only test that I did poorly on. “I’m depressed. Tell me. In doing so you might say to yourself.” You could use a response based on shifting logical levels.SleightofMouth.Ericksonian. Logical levels and sleight of mouth are both powerful tools.com . All the other ones were good.

Robert Dilts's excellent book on Sleight of Mouth is called Sleight of Mouth: The Magic of Conversational Belief Change.Ericksonian. I'd like to thank my good friend.. and also helped redo and clean up some of the illustrations. who I asked to make the Table of Contents perform as hot links with the chapters and ended up making the entire book look really good. 1999. putting up with my seemingly endless revisions throughout the process.SleightofMouth.com . Robert taught NLP in such a way that I really understood it and. it must said that most of the information and charts contained in this book are compiled from or inspired by the work of Robert Dilts. NLP Trainer Jonathan Altfeld.Acknowledgments I would like to gratefully acknowledge the invaluable help of Aaron Spurling who not only edited this transcript but also gave many valuable suggestions concerning layout. but not nearly so well. Thanks also to good friend and NLP Trainer Kevin Creedon. Thanks to designer Phillip Devita who did the fabulous cover art. I maybe could have done it without him. CA 95005 ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 131 www. modeled excellence and integrity so truly I’ll forever be inspired to follow his lead. Most of all. CA. To contact Robert Dilts: NLP University PO Box 1112 Ben Lomond. the best wine with fish. Capitola. order of chapters. perhaps more importantly. Thanks to Serena Stean of Salad Seminars. Although everyone with whom I have ever studied has taught me much.org and www. who generously helped redo and clean up some of the illustrations. who's work "Knowledge Engineering" informed and deepened my understanding of the structure of beliefs and thus improved the quality of this book. and any number of things that have shaped the way this book has come together. Meta Publications.

NY 11215 718-768-4098 or toll free 877-362-7436 (DOBRIEN) e-mail: Doug@Ericksonian.Ericksonian.Ericksonian. under Dr.About the Author Doug O'Brien is a Certified Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. You can enjoy the finest in Neo-Ericksonian Hypnosis training and Neuro-Linguistic Programming.Ericksonian. assisting at their Certification training and at Mastery University. Take classes from: Doug O'Brien & Associates Center for NLP and Hypnosis 371 First Street Brooklyn. certified by The Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. and was a professional musician before becoming the New York Center Manager for Robbins Research International in 1987.org and www. Mehmet Oz. utilizing these techniques for behavioral change. For ten years Doug was a Master Trainer for Robbins Research International. Neo-Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and NLP Certification Training. he helped found the Department of Complimentary Medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in the mid-nineties.org ©2010 Doug O'Brien The User’s Guide to Sleight of Mouth 132 www. Doug is classically trained in music.com Also visit www.com . visit our web site at www. He also has a private practice.com www.SleightofMouth. Doug worked directly with pre-operative and post-operative patients on stress management and pain reduction as well as long term behavioral change to generate healthy living. *Photography by Gene Hirschel Doug now conducts numerous trainings around the country in stress management.info www. "Sleight of Mouth" patterns of persuasion.dougobriensblog. As a Hypnotherapist. In 1988 he founded NCI east (later Doug O’Brien and Associates) and devoted himself to creating and developing a Training Center for NLP and Hypnosis in New York.com For Schedule information and to register for classes.SleightofMouth.