Author Archives: Daniel Smith

Respect their Model of the World

11 Jan 13
Daniel Smith
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My son politely asked me to feed him. Being very adorable, I’ve tended to agree to such requests; Though as he is almost ready to start kindergarten I figure it’s about time that he fed himself more and relied upon me less. I had just been pointing out the names of the different fingers and this time, his mother suggested that he ask his fingers to feed him.
Much to my surprise, he did. And “they” did!
Trying to persuade him that he “should” feed himself could have been painful and frustrating, yet by respecting his model of the world, we got our outcome easily and quickly.

You never know where Presuppositions of NLP can manifest!

Happy New Year!

01 Jan 13
Daniel Smith

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You probably have your own way of bringing in the new year. Maybe you watch the fireworks, or a movie, or get together with friends. Some people like to set “resolutions”. I find the notion of re-solution as being a bit too close to repeatedly solving something, but I do like to prepare for the new year. Below is outlined what I’ve used in reviewing the year that has been and preparing for the year ahead, consisting of a series of states and corresponding questions. I hope that it’s useful for you:

State 1: Clarity
What happened in the past year?

  • What were the magic moments; these are those amazing times, the experiences that you want to remember because they were wonderful.
  • What did you accomplish in the past year? What are you most proud of?
  • What were any other big events? Anything else that was strongly positive that you want to repeat or negative that you would want to avoid.
  • What were your best decisions of the past year?

State 2: Certainty
Identify anything in your life that was once a dream. Think about any goals that you have accomplished, experiences that you made happen, physical objects that you once desired; You are after a state of certainty and confidence.

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Success through NLP using Points of View

25 Jun 12
Daniel Smith
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While NLP can be used to achieve many things, sometimes it is useful to have a concise explanation of what NLP does and can do for you. With this in mind, I produced this article: Success through NLP.

Please enjoy!


How can I close the deal?

01 Mar 12
Daniel Smith
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One of my participants recently asked me:

One of the challenges I’m having is in the area of closing in business… how does (present) a context that is comfortable and not overly aggressive (but that still gets the deal done)?

And it is a challenge for many people. What do you think?

You might try putting yourself in their shoes. Deeply connect with everything you can about them – their mannerisms, their attitudes, their style of thinking, even their posture as they are distorting your proposal. Then step back and ask yourself, “If I was , what would have to happen in order for me to ?”

There are likely to be emotional and rational issues to consider; Reasons to act and reasons not to act. This could help you better frame your proposal, respond to their concerns and position yourself regarding the key issues.

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How are you? How do you feel? How do you want to feel? How do you want to be?

14 Jan 12
Daniel Smith
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We are training our son to sleep in his own bed at the moment. Having grown accustomed to having his mother beside him, always ready to sooth him back to sleep, it has been a challenging transition for him. And he isn’t afraid to share that he’s upset, so our whole household has shared the experience of him screaming, crying and begging for his mother.

The first night was hard. It took several hours before he dropped off to sleep, only to awake again around dawn. The second night was also hard, though he more quickly came to understand that he was going to be sleeping in his own bed. The third night? We’ll find out tonight 🙂

My son’s feelings are largely an effect of his experiences. If I throw him up in the air, he’ll laugh. If I feed him some ice cream when he asks for it, he’ll smile. But even at this early age, it’s not a simple cause-effect relationship: If he’s in the ‘wrong mood’ and I throw him up in the air, he’ll still be crying when I catch him, and he won’t always want ice cream.

As we grow older, the relationship between how we feel and our experiences becomes more and more complicated. While one of the common presuppositions of NLP is “the meaning of communication is the response that you get”, if someone is angry with you for making fun at them, telling them that it’s their decision to feel bad or their fault that they are angry with you might not help you very much!

But you do have a lot of choice about how you feel, don’t you?

And if you want to change how you feel, you can, can’t you? I love playing music to ‘manipulate my state’ – there are some songs that I can listen to that will transform how I feel in just moments. Smells are powerful triggers too, as are seeing people or even just remembering something.

In NLPese, we talk about anchoring: Triggers that are used to access particular states. These triggers – these anchors – can take many forms, go across sensory systems, and powerfully affect our subjective experiences.

If you ask someone, “How satisfied are you with your life?” on a scale of 1 (terrible) to 10 (ideal), you will get a score that is one of the most widely used measure of life satisfaction. Amazingly enough, your mood determines more than 70% of your result!

Most of us aren’t taught how to choose how we feel.

But we can learn.

We can learn to use a negative experience to trigger a resourceful state.

We can learn to harness difficult people and confronting conversations.

We can learn to respond to difficulties and obstacles with tenacity and determination.

We can learn to accept reality rather than fantasizing that things were different.

You can learn to choose how you feel.


How you feel profoundly impacts how you live, relate and work. After all, if you can change how you feel, you can transform your state of being. What if you could learn to put yourself into the driver’s seat rather than being a victim of circumstances and outside influences?

Here are a few strategies that can help:

  1. Rhythm: Think about a challenging situation, relationship or context. Maybe someone that you work, or when you are at the gym, or even when you’re trying to sleep. You might notice what sort of rhythm that context seems to have; Or maybe it’s so erratic that it seems to have no rhythm at all! Then create a rhythm – something simple or something complex – that seems to “make sense” for that situation. Even something very simple to start with can make a huge difference. Take on this rhythm, maybe by clapping or even dancing, and maintain this rhythm as you start to think about the challenging context. When you lose the rhythm, just pause and regain the rhythm before going back to the context.
  2. Music: Listen to a piece of music while you think about the context. You might even try a few different styles of music, noticing what difference each makes to how you feel. Some of us have specific states that are really useful for us – these “high performance states” can be really powerful; you might try getting access to those states in situations when you need them.
  3. Modeling: Some people can do things that you wish that you could do. One of my past clients was intensely self-critical – and even self-critical of being self-critical – and he asked me how other people who were less successful than him could still be ‘content’ while he was feeling inadequate. So I asked him to study them. Get to know them and find out, how do they do it?
  4. Questions: Ask yourself about how you could feel how you want to feel. For example, if I want to feel “grateful”, I could ask myself, “What do I feel grateful about right now?” And if you can’t think of anything, you can change it to, “What could I feel grateful about right now?” And of course, you can just replace “grateful” with any other emotion that you like – excitement, joy, love, delight, passion, peace or anything else you would like to feel.

We are surrounded by teachers in the world around us. I was once told that when I met someone who was excellent, that I should recognize what it was in them that was excellent, and strive to emulate or copy that, and upon meeting someone with had a character failing that bothered me, that I should strive to amend that defect in myself.

Being able to choose how you feel – what Carmen Bostic St Clair refers to as State Choice – is one of the most direct ways to upgrade your performance. You’ll be amazed at how easily you can start to notice the change.

Getting what you want

20 Dec 11
Daniel Smith
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Earlier this week, I was asked whether I could share a secret for successful negotiations and “getting your own way”.

As I replied, the most important ‘secret’ is to know what you really want.

In other words: Know your outcome.

It’s the first step of the old USF (Ultimate Success Formula) or NSF (NLP Success Formula) – Know your outcome, Take massive action, Notice the results and Adjust until you get your outcome. It’s also one aspect of OPA (Outcome-focused, Purpose-driven, Action plan) that Tony Robbins advocates: Know your outcome, Connect with your purpose, and Take action.

And not just the surface of what you want, but your intention.

Nobody just wants to lose weight, or get married, or make more money. Instead, they want what they think they’ll get from having those outcomes and goals – to be more healthy or more attractive, to feel more security or love, to have more fun or adventure. Someone with intense focus on what they really want is immensely powerful because they align themselves behind that outcome in negotiations and in daily decisions, while being far more flexible in finding alternative ways to fulfill their intention and get what they’re after.

Without knowing your intention, it’s easy to get lost or fixated on obstacles. Connecting with your intentions, mission, values and purpose help you remember “why” you are doing something, so that when those obstacles arise, you can enjoy more resilience in overcoming whatever challenges come your way.

So as you prepare for the annual “New Year Resolutions” when you can review the year that has been and the year ahead, I’d encourage you to pause for a moment to reflect, and connect with your intention. And what you want that intention for – not “why” you want something, the reasons, explanations, stories and excuses, but specifically what you think it will give you.

And if you can focus on what you really want, you just might get it…

A few NLP techniques that are relevant here include: Grinder’s Outcome-Intention-Consequences, n-Step Reframe, Well-Formed Outcomes, Core Transformations, SCORE/ Emergent Discovery, Timelines, Outcome Accelerator Pattern…

Conversational Reimprinting

07 Dec 11
Daniel Smith
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Earlier today I was speaking with a woman about a conversation that she had with her father many years ago. In the conversation, he told her that he was proud of her – that she was so smart that she could have been a doctor or a lawyer or anything, and that she chose to go into business. Although his intention was to communicate how proud he was of her, all she heard was “but you failed”.

It got me thinking about how often we find ways to justify our beliefs and validate our doubts. Even when all evidence is against us!

Holding onto beliefs despite contrary evidence can be useful. Believing that you can succeed in the face of setbacks is the basis of resilience.

But there are sometimes that it can get in the way. Such as when the woman above believing that she had failed, despite her father’s encouragement and assurances of support! One of the easiest tools that you can use to give yourself more choice about how you feel about the past is the NLP technique called Reimprinting.

While seeming as complicated as it was powerful initially, you can learn to use it quickly.

Bruce Willis demonstrates the pattern in movie, The Kid, reliving a painful memory from his childhood. Initially he changed his responses to the events themselves. But when that didn’t work, he transformed his thinking by giving himself a gift of wisdom, understanding, and ultimately forgiveness. And that gift changed his life from that day forward.

We might not be able to change the past, but we can change the way that we feel about it. And we can certainly change the way that the past affects us today.

Note: Reimprinting can also refer to Change Personal History and Timeline Therapy-based techniques – different trainers can give the same techniques different labels or different techniques the same labels though the basis of the techniques is much the same in my experience.

When goals can fail you: Pursuing purpose above profit

17 Nov 11
Daniel Smith
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Satisfaction depends not merely on having goals, but on having the right goals. Failing to understand this… can lead sensible people down self-destructive paths.
Daniel Pink in Drive

Goals are powerful and useful. They can help move us forward and create a whole new world. Yet they only give us fulfillment to the extent that they are congruent and aligned with our highest intentions.

One study mentioned by Pink explored college graduates. Some set out into the real world in the pursuit of extrinsic rewards – to become wealthy or famous. Others wanted more intrinsic rewards – to improve their lives and to grow.

Two years later, some of those who wanted to be rich and famous had succeeded. Yet they only enjoyed the same level of satisfaction, self-esteem and positive emotions that they had while at university, while suffering from more anxiety and depression. Those who succeed in their quest to improve their lives and to grow not only enjoyed even higher satisfaction and subjective well-being, but lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Connecting with purpose is a powerful thing. One quick yet powerful way to explore our sense of purpose and connect with intrinsic motivation is the Outcome, Intention, Consequences process.

Cocktail Party effect

31 Oct 11
Daniel Smith
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With a sea of information around us, it’s important to learn to chunk and filter. We do this automatically of course – we learn to focus on the voice of the person in front of us, rather than listening to every sound from any direction. We learn to focus our vision on what is most relevant at that moment, and to shift that focus as is appropriate. And we learn to focus on the physiological sensations that are of most significance to the task at hand.

But haven’t you noticed that some people can pick up amazing details that other people miss?

In a very early NLP training John Grinder referred to an exercise to help enhance your abilities in this domain leverages the Cocktail Party Effect. Here is a quick description of some steps:

  1. Find yourself at a cocktail party, cafe, restaurant, on the subway or even alone in nature.
  2. Deliberately direct your attention to aspects of the sensory experience. Notice what happens when you attend to a conversation at the adjoining table. Or the next table over. Notice what happens when you focus right in front of you, then shift that focus to something that is happening across the room, then broaden your focus so you can notice an increasingly large panorama of the scene.
  3. Once you can notice the limits of your deliberate attention, start to stretch yourself. While carrying on a conversation with one person, match or mirror the body language of another person – or match some of the body language of one person, and some of the body language of another person. For instance, you might adopt the rhythm of the person in front of you, fold your legs like the person to your right and play with the napkin like the person to your left. Then take on the gross posture of someone else across the room. All while maintaining the conversation.

NLP has powerful skills, though it’s important to do the practice. Just learning the theory is great fun though if you don’t do the practice enough to habituate the skills (some call it getting it ‘in the muscle’), you risk being stuck having to think so hard about the technique that there’s no extra attentional capacity to allow for artistry.

What Went Well – and Why?

15 Oct 11
Daniel Smith
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One of the exercises from Flourish is something that Seligman calls “What Went Well”. Here’s how Marty explains it:

  1. Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well… The three things need not be earthshaking in importance… but they can be.
  2. Next to each positive event, answer the question: “Why did this happen?”

Simple process. And you can try it out yourself pretty easily.

According to his research, you’ll be less depressed, happier and addicted to this exercise six months from now.

They’ve been working to bring this style of thinking into classrooms. I wonder how different my school would have been if my teachers had asked each morning, “Children, what went well last night?”

BTW I refer to this exercise as “What Went Well – and Why?” (WWW+W). While this exercise is a useful tool to direct attention towards “positive” events, I think that a valuable part of the exercise, that broadens and deepens the impact, is the process of asking ‘why’.

Please note that this is one of the only times that I will ask “why?” In fact, most of the time, we don’t want to know ‘why’ – we want to know ‘what for’. But that’s a topic for later!