A Powerful Unconscious Resource
Anchoring is one of the most useful nlp techniques developed by Bandler
and Grinder, it's a method for using the powerful unconscious resources
of others to get the responses you desire.
It is the process by which a memory, a feeling or some other response
is associated with (anchored to) something else. Anchoring is a natural
process that usually occurs without our awareness. For examole, when you
were young, you undoubdtedly participated in family activities that gave
you great pleasure. The pleasure was assssociated with the activity itself,
so when you think of the activity or are reminded of it you tend to re-experience
some pleasurable feeling. In this way anchors are reactivated or, triggered.
NLP Anchoring Examples in Everyday Life
Here are a few examples:
Flicking through an old family photo album stirs pleasant memories
and some of the feelings associated with them.
An old love song re-awakens a romantic mood.
The smell of freshly baked apple pies brings back memories of a
happy care-free childhood.
The Power of NLP Anchoring
NLP anchoring is a process that goes on around and within us all the
time, whether we are aware of it or not. Most of the time we are not aware
of it, which makes it a much more powerful force in our lives. NLP training
enables you to take counscious partecipation in establishing/removing
anchors within yourself and/or others.
Anchoring is also used by skillful film makers to evoke suspense in
the audience. Think of your own psychological changes that occurred when
you heard the soundtrack’s amplified, pounding heartbeat rhythm
in the moments leading up to each of the appearances of the huge killer
shark in the movie ‘Jaws.’ What anchor was established in
you by the crescendo of the sound of the music meeting the shark? Did
your heartbeat increase? Did your palms begin to sweat? Did you have to
see the shark, or was the thumping music enough to start your slide to
the edge of your seat?
Leitmotivs —recurring themes— in music and literature also
serve to restimulate a previously established response.
This same anchoring process appears naturally and spontaneously in our
dealings with others, and often determines the outcome of these interactions.
An Example of NLP Anchoring From Real-Life Salesmanship
Before taking a client to see a house, California real estate dealer
Gael Himmah always visits the property owners for the purpose of discovering
the ‘emotional appeal’ their homes particularly hold for them.
Who else could better know? “what,” he asks, “do you
like best about your home? What features mean the most to you? One answer
given in an especially run down house, led to an incident that reveals
the powerful effects of the emotional recollections.
His question to the women of the house led to a trip into the kitchen
where she pointed proudly out of the window towards a colourless, run
down garage. In the springtime, “I plant sweet peas in that bed.
There’s something in the soil, and the temperature against the side
of the garage, we’re not sure what causes it, but the sweet peas
grow all over the side of the garage and onto the roof and they’re
the biggest sweet peas anyone has evcer seen. People from all over come
to see our sweet peas,” she explained.
Himmah now had his emotional feature neatly tucked away, and before
too long he had the house sold to another couple. Some time later, he
returned to find out from the new owners just what had prompted them to
buy. In this case, however, he was not prepared for the husband’s
“Do you now what you’ve done to me?” he asked, his
voice seething with menace.
“I just wandered how you like your new house?” I countered.
He wasn’t having any. “Do you now what you’ve done
to me?” he repeated.
“Not really,” I said. It was a totally honest statement.
I didn’t have the slightest idea what he was talking about. Buyers
can get strange.
“You and your damn sweet peas,” he exploded. “That’s
all my wife could talk about after you showed us this house. Those damn
sweet peas. When she was a little girl in New Jersey, she and her mother
used to plant sweet peas and Iceland poppies every year. They took care
of them together. She hadn’t seen sweet peas since we moved to California
ten years ago.”
“This spring,” he went on, fire in his eyes. “I’m
going to have to send an airline ticket to my mother in law in New Jersey
and she’s flying out here and she and my wife are going to plant
those damn sweet peas and she’s going to stay all summer with us
to watch them grow.” By this time he was breathless, the thought
of his mother in law’s prolonged visit working him into a rage.
How We Anchor And Are Anchored
When we are with another person which experiences some strong emotion,
whatever we are doing or saying becomes associated with that emotion.
Usually this process occurs at the unconscious level. Subsequently, whenever
we do or say the same thing in the same way in his presence we will tend
to re-stimulate for him/her some portion of the previous feeling.
Being aware of this phenomenon through knowledge of neurolinguistic
programming enables us to be aware of the kinds of responses we are anchoring
in others, how we are doing it, and conversely, what kinds of responses
are being anchored in ourselves and how. This awareness enables us to
anchor for mutually productive outcomes.
How To Elicit Desired Responses With NLP
The process of eliciting and re-eliciting desired responses from bosses,
clients, friends, or spouses is a fairly simple one. Ask the particular
individual involved to recall a past experience that is likely to contain
the desired response. For example – if you want the other person
to experience a pleasure response ask him/her to recall a pleasant incident.
In doing so, the person will bring up, with that memory, many of the feelings
felt at the time of the incident.
The purpose of eliciting certain responses is to establish a more favourable
and receptive ground for communicating your ideas effectively. The person’s
state of mind – his/her feelings, the things he/she is attending
to (both consciously and unconsciously) will be of critical significance
with regard to how they receive your ideas and suggestions. By eliciting
the kinds of responses you want when you present your idea, you increase
the chances of having your idea favourably received and acted on. This
will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever tried to sell anything,
but even the most sophisticated salesperson often ignores this basic fact.
The Process of Anchoring With NLP
1) Wait for the desired response to occur spontaneously, or evoke the
response by making appropriate suggestions or by asking questions such
“What excites you about…..?”
“What do you like about…..?”
“Can you recall the last time you felt….?”
By asking the other person to recall a specific experience, some of
the feelings associated with that memory will be reactivated and can then
2) Anchor the response with the following nlp technique: when the response
reaches its peak anchor it with some behaviour of your own, such as one
or more of the following:
Verbal marking (“That’s a great story!”)
A touch on the other person’s arm
A sound, such as snapping your fingers, or a particular expressive
3) Trigger the anchor at the desired moment by performing exactly the
same action as in step two (in the case of the verbal anchor, you might
change the wording to “Let me tell you a great story!”
In any case, the anchor here is primarily the word ‘great’
and should itself suffice as an anchor).
‘Practice Makes Perfect’
NLP anchoring, like any new skill, requires a certain amount of practice.
Practice anchoring good feelings on your family, friends and business
associates. It will make both them and you feel good. It will also enable
you eventually to do it unconsciously and appropriately to create a more
receptive climate for your ideas and suggestions.
When you’ve learned to time your anchoring correctly, you should
be able to anchor a response with only one attempt. In the meantime, just
enjoy the pleasure of practising a new skill that will give you and the
people you live and work with many happy hours. With experience, you will
be able to effectively and appropriately anchor responses without even
thinking about it, which is the ultimate goal.
An effectively established nlp anchor will last until some stronger
emotional event intervenes to weaken the response. If this happens, simply
re-establish the anchor in the same manner.
A Word of Advice...
As nlp anchoring is such a powerful process, and therefore of all the
techniques known so far offers the greatest opportunity for misuse —manipulation
in the negative sense of the word— you are advised to be particularly
careful when and how you use it. Remember misused tools have a habit of
boomeranging or blowing up in your face. Your self-respect is one of your
greatest assets, if you lose it, you really do lose a lot.
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