Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Influencing with intention and NLP

A member of our NLP Community Forum recently posted a question along the lines of “NLP is so powerful that I feel like it gives me an unfair advantage so I end up not using it when I’m influencing people – how can I get around this?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this, so I thought I’d blog it with two levels of answer:

Level 1
- You cannot NOT communicate. You cannot NOT influence. Even remaining still and silent will have an effect.

- NLP is very powerful, but bear in mind that we do a lot of this stuff (Eg rapport) naturally anyway. My sense is that Erickson modeled embedded commands from his clients. NLP is not so much something that has been invented, as it is something that's been observed and then innovated with.

Having said all that, NLP offers a very powerful set of tools for communication, influence & changes, so...

Level 2
- Check in with your intention. What’s your purpose for doing whatever you’re doing? What goes around comes around, so it’s a good idea to put out good stuff.

- Notice the responses you’re getting, & change what you’re doing where necessary.

- Have fun, play, experiment. A sense of curiousity, fun & adventure is often infectious, & brings with it its own rewards.

- Leave people feeling better than you found them.

Enjoy exploring!

Best wishes
Jamie Smart

Friday, 21 December 2007

Reboot your neurology & wave goodbye to hesitation with the pizzawalk & urban sprinting

A few years ago I published an article called "How to wave goodbye to hesitation" which detailed a technique called "The Pizzawalk" which I use to help people overcome hesitation & rejection-anxiety.

Anyway, I found this fantastic youtube clip today, called "Urban Sprinting".

While I am absolutely NOT endorsing the activity in the clip, it has a strong spiritual connection to pizzawalking, & made me laugh like hell. The pizzawalking article is re-presented in full below.

This Week’s Tip

This is the final part in our exploration of ways for you to overcome the last of the three obstacles to mastery…

- over-reliance on focal vision

- internal dialogue

- a feeling of hesitation

Last time, we looked at ways to quiet the chattering monkey. Today you have the opportunity to say a fond farewell & wave goodbye to feelings of hesitation, but before you do…

He who hesitates…waits

As Richard Bandler, (bona-fide genius & co-developer of NLP) says "He who hesitates…waits…& waits…& waits…" Almost everyone has situations where you would like to do something, but find yourself hesitating. I’ve heard Bandler describe hesitation as one of the main barriers to learning, & he focuses a great deal of time & energy on helping people to overcome it.

Would you like fries with that

One day in London, I was on the tube on the way to train some telesales people, helping them to overcome ‘sales call reluctance’ (ie. not wanting to pick up the phone & dial.) I was reading the book Change (by Watzlawick, Weakland & Fisch) & came across a story describing how Watzlawick helped a student who had been unable to complete his thesis due to anxiety. He told the student "Go into three shops over the next week & make an absurd request." The student did so, reported a shift in attitude, & finished their thesis shortly thereafter.

I loved the idea, & thought it might be useful with the reluctant telesales team, but I knew that I couldn’t ask them to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself. I said to myself "You have to do this now", & as soon as I got off the tube, I went into a well-known fast-food hamburger joint outside the station. I joined the queue, looking around at the other customers. My heart was pounding like a drum; even though I knew rationally that I was in no danger, my neurology was responding as though I were about to stick up a bank.

When I got to the counter, I looked at the person behind it &, with a straight face, asked for a ham & pineapple pizza. She looked confused and said "What?" I repeated my request. She said "We don’t sell those." "This is a chinese restaurant isn’t it?" I replied. She said no, I said thanks anyway and left. I felt like I had just knocked out Mike Tyson – I felt invincible!

Now, before you send me loads of email saying how childish this is, & how it isn’t really NLP - I know. But the result was amazing. In the days following, I did several similar acts. Each time, my physical response was diminished, but in other areas of my life, the opposite happened. I started to exhibit less hesitation and more wanton ‘go for it’ than ever before!

Thrilled with my success, I invited the telesales people to do similar absurd acts, and they reported similar liberating results. I knew I was onto something.


A few years ago, I became interested in Tony Robbins & went to one of his weekends, eagerly anticipating the fire-walking, which I had heard so much about. I was really looking forward to it, and Robbins did a great job of building up the anticipation, but when the time came, I found it impossible to actually believe that walking on the hot coals was in any way dangerous. As a result, walking across them didn’t have much impact on me as a metaphor for overcoming fears in other areas of my life (though I know it really works for some people.)

By comparison, THE PIZZA-WALK EXPERIENCE costs nothing, can be done virtually anywhere, and is incredibly powerful. So…

1) Identify a few of the areas in your life where you hesitate and would like to just go for it.

2) Choose a commercial premises (eg. shop, restaurant, petrol station) and make an absurd request (ie. ask for something they definitely don’t sell) while keeping a straight face. Be polite, safe and non-threatening.

3) Repeat twice more in the course of a week.

4) Look forward to the situations where in the past you would have hesitated, and enjoy your new responses.

One of my clients used to have difficulties asking women out on dates. I sent him out to a burger joint to get some Italian food. Within the week he had a date and now has a full diary. This stuff works!

For those of you who are worried about the person behind the counter, in all the times I’ve done this, their response has been anywhere from bemused to very amused, but never frightened. The key is for you to be non-threatening and polite (ideally coming across as a bit confused.) For those of you who are thinking this is pointless, foolish or humiliating – you probably need this more than most J

Why does this work?

Our central nervous system is set up to protect us from dangerous situations. Many of us have been heavily conditioned against making mistakes (by teachers, parents, peers etc.) and code mistakes as dangerous. Yet making mistakes is an incredibly important part of learning, growing and exploring. A willingness to make mistakes is an absolute must for anyone who wishes to become skilled at NLP (with me, I used to be almost phobic of making mistakes, but no more.) The Pizza-walk Experience seems to help you eliminate this unhelpful response. There are lots of other NLP techniques which can reduce hesitation & increase ‘go for it’, but this one’s the easiest & quickest to communicate in writing. By the way, obviously there are times when it’s useful to hesitate (eg. when about to step into a busy street.) Keep those.

More advanced

This is also great for playing with beliefs around money. I was in Egypt a couple of years back, and found that you are expected to haggle over the prices of items in shops – it’s a cultural norm. When I returned to the UK, I went into a large DIY shop, picked up £300 worth of expensive equipment and offered them £40 for it. Once again, my neurology responded as though I was in a dangerous situation, even though I was perfectly safe. By doing this, though, I was able to start changing my beliefs around money (Stuart Wilde’s book The Trick to Money is Having Some is where I got this idea.)


Re-wire unhelpful hesitation responses in minutes with today’s tip…

1) Identify a few of the areas in your life where you hesitate and would like to just go for it.

2) Choose a commercial premises (eg. shop, restaurant, petrol station) and make an absurd request (ie. ask for something they definitely don’t sell) while keeping a straight face. Be polite, safe and non-threatening.

3) Repeat twice more in the course of a week.

4) Look forward to the situations where in the past you would have hesitated, and enjoy your new responses.

Next time

Please…send this tip on to as many people as possible. People in our society are way too afraid of looking silly, and they deserve to be liberated from this terrible affliction. This will help them to have more of what they want in their lives.

The key with this is to DO IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The results of this will amaze you, and the sooner you start, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits. Remember, reading about it just isn’t the same as when you do it. Be safe, be considerate, have lots of fun and amaze yourself. J

Best wishes,

Jamie Smart

PS Click here to watch a youtube video of me explaining the pizzawalk

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Uncover Hypnotic Obstacles to Success

Our beliefs shape our perceptions, our actions, & the results we get. On our new NLP Community Forum ( someone asked "How can you uncover unconscious limiting beliefs?" It's a great question - after all, if they're unconscious, how do you know they're even there? Limiting beliefs are an example of "post-hypnotic suggestions", & when you uncover them, you can accelerate your results by a huge factor.

Here's a quick & easy way you can use to uncover limiting beliefs, ideas & attitudes in a certain area (I'll use 'money' as an example, but it will work for anything).

1) Choose the area to explore.

2a) At the top of a blank piece of paper, write "Money is..."

2b) At the top of a second blank piece of paper, write "Dealing with money is..."

2c) At the top of a third blank piece of paper, write "Wealthy people are..."

I find it useful to include aspects relating to identity (eg wealthy people are, fit people are, successful people are) as well as the thing itself (money is, exercise is, healthy eating is, success is, work is etc).

3) Taking one sheet of paper at a time, complete the sentences as many times as you can, with whatever ideas pop into your mind.

For example, a person might write:

- Dealing with money is boring
- Dealing with money is dull
- Dealing with money is important
- Dealing with money is something I should be doing

4) As you look at what you've written, notice which statements have some "energy" or "charge".

5) As you notice these feelings, say "Thank-you" to them. It's not about judging the beliefs / ideas / attitudes as good or bad. They've all served you in some way until now. What you resist persists, but what you thank feels acknowledged, & can start to shift & change.

6) You can practice your NLP meta model & other questioning skills to play with the ideas you've written down, with a sense of fun & play.

7) On a seperate sheet, write down several new, empowering beliefs that you'd like to adopt.

For example:

- Dealing with money is fun
- Dealing with money is easy
- Dealing with money is a straightforward habit, like brushing my teeth

If brushing your teeth is not yet a straightforward habit, it's probably worth sorting this out before dealing with your money beliefs :-)

8) You can, if you wish, burn the original sheets of paper as a symbol to your unconscious of releasing those old ideas (remembering of course to keep all their positive intentions).

Have fun!

Jamie Smart

Friday, 30 November 2007

Fantastic New NLP Book, "The Rainbow Machine"

I'm currently reading a wonderful new NLP book called "The Rainbow Machine: Tales from a Neurolinguist's Journal" by Andrew Austin (available from

I first met Andy on an NLP course back in the late 90s, & again on various Frank Farrelly workshops (Frank is the creator of Provocative Therapy, & a huge influence on the field of NLP).

I was struck then by Andy's good humour, passion, irreverence & skill, all of which come across in his superb book. Recommended reading!

As it happens, videos, audios & articles from Andy are soon to be appearing on our new NLP site, - watch this space!

Jamie Smart

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The hidden link between NLP, lager & motivation

Someone asked me the question "How does the NLP idea of stating goals in the positive work with people who have an 'away from' motivation?"

Put simply, people who have "away from" motivation are motivated to avoid what they don't want (Eg. an accountant focusing on avoiding mistakes, or an insurance assessor focusing on avoiding paying out cash).

In contrast, people who have "towards" motivation are motivated to move towards what they want, or the benefits of getting it (Eg. an entrepreneur who is focusing on creating a certain lifestyle, or a teacher who is focusing on their students being able to demonstrate certain skills.)

The question above was raised in response to the NLP idea that a "well-formed" goal should be stated in the positive, ie. saying what you want rather than what you don't want.

Here's an analogy.

Two chaps walk into a pub, both wanting a pint.

Biff wants a pint because he’s had a rough day at work, & wants to stop feeling stressed (an “away from” motivation).

Skip wants a drink because he’s celebrating closing a big deal, & wants to lift his mood even higher (a “towards” motivation).

But when the barman asks what they want, they both say “A pint of lager”. They recognise intuitively that saying something like “To not have a dry mouth” will not get them what they want. They realise that in order to get what they want, they need to state their goal in the positive, telling the barman what they want rather than what they don't want.

The two men have different “motivation directions”, and that’s absolutely fine, but they still state their goal in the positive in order to get an effective result.

Let me be clear: Biff has not changed his motivation direction; it’s still “away from”. It’s his GOAL that’s stated in the positive.

(By the way, neither Biff nor Skip has received any NLP training. They are not aware of metaprograms, & haven't in fact given any of this any conscious thought. Their neurologies have automatically sorted all of this out without them even thinking about it consciously).

The distinction is between the goal, & where the person gets the motivation to achieve it.

It's never too late to have a happy childhood!

I was responding to a post on the forum recently where a fellow-NLPer was asking about a demonstration of a timeline technique he'd seen a video of me doing on the site. His question related to the "removal & replacement" of memories.

(Declaration of interest: is a new NLP site I've launched that includes videos, audios, articles & an online forum).

There's a classic NLP technique called "Change Personal History" developed by Bandler & Grinder. You know how if a person's feeling blue then they seem to remember sad memories etc, whereas when you're feeling happy, you remember the good times & have a generally sunny outlook?

That seems to be because feelings act almost like an indexing mechanism - when you type "Frank Zappa" into google, it brings back all the websites sorted by which ones reference Frankie. When a person accesses the feeling called "fear of public speaking", the brain seems to sort for all the memories that go along with it.

This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective - those memories may hold valuable information on how to deal with the situation.

The "Change Personal History" technique takes advantage of this, accessing a number of these related memories along a timeline, then goes back to an early reference experience. Once there, the goal is to change the MEANING of the experience. The memory data (ie what "really" happened) remains unchanged, but we look for ways for the explorer to alter / upgrade / resource the meaning of the data - to make new meaning of it.

This then has a domino effect as successive memories are revisited "from this new perspective & bringing all this info with it".

This is, in essence, the nature of ALL timeline work as far as I can tell - changing the meaning of the data. Memory is archival - write once, read many times. The original data remains unchanged, but the meaning we make of that data is forever negotiable.

Of course, the specific methods & representations used to influence that meaning can vary from the very direct ("So, with all the resources of the adult you, what new meaning can you make of that now, from this new perspective!") to the less direct ("So, as you look to your past experience, notice which memories are glowing, & which are dark, & sprinkle healing fairy dust on all of them!").

That latter one may sound as though I'm being tongue in cheek, but I'm not really (well, maybe a little then), but the reality is that they are both just ways of getting someone to influence their internal meaning-making mechanism. One will work better for one person, the other for someone else, & all points in between & beyond too!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Eliminate Problems with the Legendary Unsticker

I was working on the navigation for a website last week, but I kept getting stuck. While it didn’t seem like an overly complex task, there were lots of options & details to be catered for, & I kept running up against a brick wall.

After trying my default approach (“Think harder!”) for a while, I decided to take a different angle, & use an approach that always helps get things moving when they’ve been feeling stuck: The Legendary Unsticker.

The first step for using the Unsticker is this: Think about your problem and define it in a single sentence. The sentence I came up with was this:

I have been having difficulty coming up with a rational & solid structure for the website that will appeal to people, be useful to them & be logically organised.”

Then I started using the Unsticker. The Unsticker is the creation of NLP Trainer & published NLP author, Peter Freeth. As well as being a superb NLP trainer, one of the things I love about Peter is the creative & innovative way he applies NLP (that’s part of why I asked him to be my co-trainer in Salad).

Here’s an example: Peter doesn’t focus on solving problems – he focuses on “breaking” problems so the problem doesn’t work anymore!


Here’s how it works. When a person says they have “a problem” or that they’re “stuck”, what they’re really saying is “When I think about this situation in this way, I can’t see/hear/feel a workable solution.”

From an NLP perspective, problems don’t tend to exist in “the world” but in a person’s map of the world. When they enrich their map, the “problem” disappears (see my article NLP Presuppositions Part One – Maps & Models for more details).

The Unsticker uses carefully designed questions to influence the way a person represents their problem. As the internal representations of what used to be called a problem begin to change, the person no longer experiences it as “a problem”, & solutions begin to emerge. Cool huh!

You can take it for a trial run at

Before you begin: Think about your problem and define it in a single sentence. You might even like to write it down – it can be kind of fun to look back at something you used to perceive as a problem & realise just how easily you have made changes.

I used The Unsticker for about 15 minutes, making a few notes as I went along. Then I started creating the navigation design with renewed vigour, & a sense of fluidity. I was no longer stuck!

Next time you notice that you’ve been perceiving something as a problem, have a go on The Unsticker & enjoy discovering just how quickly you begin to notice new solutions & possibilities emerging.