How To Use NLP Strategies to Learn the Inner Approach to Anything



“By concentrating on precision, one arrives at technique, but by concentrating on technique one does not arrive at precision.” — Bruno Walter

You have programs for everything you do.

Your programs consist of sequences of thoughts and behaviors triggered by a stimulus.

Key Takeaways

I think strategies are one of the most important concepts in NLP. I’ve used strategy elicitation to change some bad habits, build critical thinking skills, model success, and bake in some routines for effectiveness.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Improve a strategy, copy a strategy, or create a new one. Strategies are your recipes for success. Use stragey elicitation to figure out somebody else’s success.
  • Identify the details of thoughts, feelings and actions. Don’t just going through the motions. It’s more than the mechanical act of performing a task. Success depends on precision. Normally, you just notice behavior. If you don’t know the sequence of thoughts and the details such as the internal dialogue or visuals, you limit your success. This applies whether you’re improving a strategy, copying a strategy or creating a new one.
  • Identify your strategies that work and don’t. Knowing is half the battle. Your best habits are your best recipes. Capture them for future use. Identify the habits you need to change.
  • Use strategies to change habits. When you fully understand the pattern of your bad habits, it’s easier to change them. Since they are habits, it’s likely you’re on auto-pilot and you’re not conscious of all the subtle sequences of thoughts, feelings, and actions that support your habit. When you make the pattern explicit, you can change the recipe more effectively.
  • Create new strategies for success. Do you have a new skill you want to learn? Is there an area of your life where you might have potential, but you need some strategies? It’s a perfect place to practice strategy elicitation.
  • Model the best. Find mentors for something you want to be great at. Practice eliciting their strategies.
  • Focus where you get the most return. You can tweak and tune all your habits or you can focus on the vital few. I recommend to focus on the few habits that hold you back and on the few habits that will take your game to the next level. You likely have a few unique skills that separate you from the pack. Rather than try to make all your good skills great, make a few of your great skills outstanding.

Strategies are Internal Programs for Achieving Outcomes

In NLP terms, this is called a strategy for achieving an outcome. Really, this is an internal processing strategy.

If you know about the components of an internal processing strategy, you can change it, copy an effective strategy from somebody else, or create a new one from scratch.

In Brilliant Nlp: What the Most Successful People Know, Say & Do, David Molden and Pat Hutchinson provide a technique for eliciting a strategy.

Why Strategies Matter

Strategies matter because they are the internal keys to success.  If you’re ineffective at something, chances are your internal strategy isn’t working.

Via Brilliant NLP:

“A common reason why some people are not good spellers is the strategy they use. Poor spellers often try to pronounce words with their internal dialogue. Anyone can be a good speller – you only have to learn an effective strategy using visuals of words and not just what they sound like. 

Ineffective strategies prevent people from achieving so many things. How well do you manage your finances? What about the presentations you have given? How well do you communicate with people at work? Are you a good cook? How about the way you make decisions? Can you maintain positive and fruitful relationships?”

Summary of Steps for  Eliciting a Strategy

When you elicit a strategy, you discover a sequence of thoughts and behavior, as well as values, beliefs and meta-programs. Molden and Hutchinson outline steps for eliciting a strategy:

  • Step 1. Choose something to change
  • Step 2. Find the Trigger and Write the Steps Down
  • Step 3. Check the Strategy

Step 1. Choose Something to Change

Start with something that you want to improve.   This could be changing a habit or improving your decisions, or improving a skill.

Via Brilliant NLP:

“Choose something you do that you would rather not do, or something you would like to improve upon – for example, motivating yourself, stopping procrastinating, improving your decision making, giving up smoking.”

Step 2. Find the Trigger and Write the Steps Down

Map out your strategy.  To do so, find the trigger or event that kicks off the process.  For example, maybe opening the refrigerator triggers when you choose what to eat or drink.   Write down the strategy or steps that you go through.  Include writing down the thoughts you think.  Include writing down how you feel.
Molden and Hutchinson provide a set of questions to find the trigger:

  1. How do you know when to do this?
  2. What lets you know you are ready to do this?
  3. What do you do as you are preparing to ….?
  4. What steps do you go through?
  5. What happens next?
  6. Then what happens?
  7. How do you know when you have succeeded?
  8. How do you test whether you have succeeded?
  9. What lets you know if you have not yet succeeded?

Step 3. Check the Strategy

After you’ve written your strategy down, go back and walk through it to see if you’ve missed anything.

Via Brilliant NLP:

“When you have elicited the complete strategy repeat it back to check for anything missing. If you want to change it, the place to do this is at the trigger point, . The object is not to remove the original strategy but to create an alternative choice, as the strategy may be useful in other contexts.”

Examples of Strategies

Molden and Hutchinson provide two different examples of strategies for a decision to buy:Dennis’s strategy for deciding to buy:

  1. Visualize myself using it (internal visual)
  2. Do I really need it? (internal dialogue)
  3. If yes, research the model/type/make/price (internal visual)
  4. Who shall I ask for an opinion (internal dialogue based on external reference meta-program)
  5. Ask Jack and Bob (external auditory)
  6. Yes, that feels right (kinesthetic)
  7. Where shall I buy from? (internal dialogue)
  8. Consider Internet/shop/mail order (internal visual)
  9. Yes, that feels right (kinesthetic)
  10. Buy!

Beverly’s strategy to buy:

  1. That would look great on me (external visual)
  2. Try it on (external kinesthetic)
  3. Looks good, feels good (external visual and external kinesthetic)
  4. Buy!

Try It Out

If you’re not achieving the outcomes you want, change your strategies.

Borrow and learn from the best of the best that already have strategies that work.

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  1. Very good information, thank you for your article. I plan on using it in my own life and with others when possible.



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