An NLP technique for changing beliefs

Sleight of Mouth - Verbal Aikido

Sleight of Mouth is a kind of verbal Aikido - a method to confront and change arguments that was developed by Robert Dilts and Richard Bandler within the field called Neurolinguistic Programming, NLP.

The method is systematic and relatively easy to apply - it is based on 16 ways to meet an argument or fundamental belief. This article is a short introduction.

Just like in Aikido, the underlying principle is to turn your opponents energi back on them, in a non-aggressive search for a way out of deadlock, opening the door to a new perspective or solution.The framework it builds on is saying "yes" in different ways, followed by a "and" or "but" and one of the 16 possible categories of counterarguments  (intention, consequence, hierarchy etc).

The structure is more or less this:"

I understand/respect/appreciate the intensity of your belief, AND/OR..."

Just like in Aikido you don't know which of the 14 counterarguments will do the job in a give situation, the aim is to have as many pre-trained options as possible.

Here are some examples of applying Sleight of Mouth on an argument/belief/statement  

"Cancer causes death!"

1. Meet the intention of the argument
"I know your intention is to prevent false hope, but you are preventing any hope at all. Let's find some alternative choices"

2. Point at the consequence of the argument
"Beliefs like this tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies because people stop exploring their choices and options..."

3. Redefine the argument
"It's not cancer that causes death, it's the breakdown of the immune system, so lets explore ways to boost that..."

4. Focus on a new outcome
"The real issue isn't what causes death, but rather what causes life and health. Let's focus on that"

5. Apply the argument to the argument
"That's a pretty deadly belief to hold onto - it can only lead to a dead end street..."

6. Give a counter example
There are many documented examples of people that have survived cancer. ,  people die of other causes - have you heard of anyone who had cancer and lived?"

My colleague Doug O'Brien in New York has written The Users Guide to Sleight of Mouth, a great book from a skilled teacher - buy it.

If you are interested in knowing more about Sleight of Mouth, let me know.

Further Reading