Chunking or the Hierarchy of ideas

Taken from Andy Smith Podcasts Practical NLP Podcasts

Because we can only process 3 or 4 chunks of information at any one time we have to make preferences for the level of information that we choose to hold at any one time. Personal levels of chunking.

Metaprogram: Specific (Concrete) or General (Abstract)

Chunking up questions to get to the big picture or what’s really important may include: What is that/this an example of? In general there is more agreement at the higher level of abstract because it is easier for people to remember the broad principals that they are in agreement with. What is this an example of? What is this part of? For what purpose?Why is that important to you? Chunks up to the intention or values involved. When you hear an abstract comment or phrase you have to go inside to make sense of it. Almost a trance state. Mentioning “Learnings and Resources” was a great way for ME to allow the client to select the best that they had.

Questions to investigate more detail about a subject may include: Give me an example of that or types of this. What are examples of this? What part of the ………. When discovering what an abstract thought means to somebody like say “Better Productivity” it could be useful to ask What does this mean to you? What will this mean in practise?

The lower and more detailed you get the greater the chance of disagreement and scope for contradiction.

Higher levels are more powerful because they include and involve all the lower levels as well! More leverage and more choice and more flexibility are key to eanring more money.

Feel Felt Found

That old classic ..

Andy Smith

The standard formulation of the objection handling technique goes like this:

  1. Tell them “I understand how you feel”. This is intended to tell the customer that you have heard them, and can empathise.
  2. Tell them about someone else who felt the same way initially. You’re telling the customer that they are not alone, and that things can change.
  3. Then tell them how that person found that when they did what you wanted/bought the product, they got what they wanted. 

For example:  ”I understand you feel that there are cheaper competitors around. One of our biggest customers felt that way initially, but when they tried the service they foundthat they saved 55% on their cost base.”


“Some people feel Mercury in Retrograde is the cause of all kinds of weirdness.”

 “I know a lot of people felt that way until they decided to take charge of their future no matter what obstacles present…”

…and found that no matter how much random weirdness occurred, it was still up to us to follow through on all our responsibilities and promises.”

In order to craft ‘Feel, Felt, Found’ patterns effectively, you have to accurately identify what it is that the person is feeling or believing (‘Mercury in retrograde’ in the first part of the pattern) and identify something else they want or believe that is more empowering or useful (follow through on your responsibilities) for what was ‘found’. Effectively you are building a bridge from the objection to a more useful expectation. The belief or desire in the ‘found’ section has to be important to the person for this pattern to work. If they don’t value it, if it doesn’t carry some kind of emotional charge, the pattern will have no power.

useful tip for strengthening the ‘found’ part of the pattern, particularly in a business context, which is to personalise the ‘found’ example with real life statistics and figures relevant to the customer, so that they can form a clearer, sharper picture of exactly what they could gain if they go with your product or service.

A possible alternative is to
use Think – Thought – Found, for that group of people who use
rationalising strategies rather than feelings (in appropriate contexts).

Behaviour Breeds Behaviour right?

There’s an old saying within the Cabin Crew World that goes like this:

“Behaviour Breeds Behaviour” and I’m not really sure where it came from so I thought I’d have a deeper look at it for my own amusement.

I guess if we consider the blueprint of behaviour then of course two people or more in a dialogue must influence the others by their behaviour. The way people rect to our behaviour will depend therefore on their state, physiology and map of the world.

Check out Shelle’s “The Customer is bothering me”.
Diane’s work on not getting on with somebody.
Disassociation and dissociation.
10 questions may help.

Displayed behaviour: aggression , negativity, feeling disrespected and belittled if we slip into a defensive approach.

What to be aware of: your own state and posture. Your initial reaction. Your outcome. To be dissociated from your emotions will help to keep calm. This will send signals that you are a leader and can actually help out here. Be aware of the big picture time wise and how this episode fits into the big scheme of things.

What to avoid : sounding patronising, being defensive and trying to explain the situation which come as a knee jerk reaction by most folk who care about what they are doing. These customers seem to hit our hotspots which automatically generates a defensive response. Suggesting that they “keep calm” which will possibly exacerbate the situation.

What the customer needs: To feel validated and listened to. To be heard out and to feel that their pain has been has been acknowledged.

How to behave : be compassionate for a few minutes which will calm them down.
Where are you from?
How long have you been “x” ?

Awareness of negative people


What can you learn about them?

Refrain from becoming the rescuer. While people can try to get you down, you’ve a choice in how you react to them.

Find something about them that you find attractive, worthy of praise or that simply that you like.

“Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.” ~Shirley MacLaine

As Jim Rohn puts it – “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. What this quote means is that who you spend your time with has an impact on the person you eventually become.

“The people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.” ~Peaceful Warrior

Think positive thoughts yourself. Reflect back the light in your heart. Because if you offer the slightest glimpse of negativity towards them, they will feed off that energy. Try coming at them with the positive mindset you wish they had. Expect the best in them. You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t try to solve or fix them. Just aim to help them now.

Respond rather than react. Keep away from Rescuer mode.

Negative people often gravitate toward others who react strongly–people who easily offer compassion or get outraged or offended. I suspect this gives them a little light in the darkness of their inner world–a sense that they’re not floating alone in their own anger or sadness.

People remember and learn from what you do more than what you say. If you feed into the situation with emotions, you’ll teach them they can depend on you for a reaction. It’s tough not to react because we’re human, but it’s worth practicing.

Once you’ve offered a compassionate ear for as long as you can, respond as calmly as possible with a simple line of fact. If you’re dealing with a rude or angry person, you may want to change the subject to something unrelated: “Dancing with the Stars is on tonight. Planning to watch it?”

OK Coral – ask yourself why you are  interacting with this person.

Research shows that people with negative attitudes have significantly higher rates of stress and disease. Someone’s mental state plays a huge role in their physical health. If someone’s making life difficult for people around them, you can be sure they’re doing worse for themselves.

“Being positive is like going up a mountain. Being negative is like sliding down a hill. A lot of times, people want to take the easy way out, because it’s basically what they’ve understood throughout their lives.” — Chuck D.

Being negative does seem like the easy way out sometimes, doesn’t it? It’s so easy to tear down, criticize, feel hopeless, and identify what’s wrong with the world. (Wow! Even just writing that sentence bummed me out!)

The truth is that our culture has elevated negativity to an art form. It’s clever and hip to find the flaws, to poke holes in or fun at what others are trying to create. As soon as a new program, policy or fashion comes out, critics race to see who can create the most scathing review.

Our news is filled with everything that is wrong in the world from crime to civil unrest to the latest scandal in Hollywood. Even people with the best intentions “wage war” on drugs, childhood obesity or global warming — using fear, disgust and hate to fulfill a well-meaning agenda.

The truth is that we’re all wired to be negative people.

The most primitive part of our brains, the amygdala, is a bad news genius. It ferrets out every little bit of possible negativity and brings it to our attention. Why? Because it’s tasked with securing our survival and acts as our early warning signal for potential threats. So whether it’s the loudmouth at the bar or unrest in a foreign country, our brain will bring its laser focus to anything that has the remotest possibility of harming us.

And our brain will chew on that negativity like a dog with a favorite bone. We’ll even feel a kind of satisfaction as we do it — because our primitive brain is telling us that this focus is making us safe.

Many of us have worked to gain control over this propensity to slip into the negative. We know that constant negativity impacts everything from our physical health to our financial success.

But when we’re around particularly negative people, it’s easy to get sucked in! Like hanging out with people who are sick with a virus or cold, it takes a strong immune system to ward off the effects of negativity.

So how do you build that strong immune system to avoid being infected by negative people?

First, release your own toxins. This means releasing your emotional baggage, the triggers that make you susceptible to negative energy around you. Maybe you’re still hurting from a relationship that ended badly. When you’re around a person who constantly complains about his spouse, you fall into a deep funk. Your reaction is caused, not so much by that negative complainer, but by your own unhealed wound.

So start building up your emotional immune system by releasing any past negative emotions like anger, fear, sadness and guilt. In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), I teach people to use techniques like the Mental Emotional Release process to do this.

Does healing old wounds remove all negative emotion from your life? Of course not! But it releases the ancient baggage that caused you to be overly sensitive to negativity in your present experience. It allows you to respond appropriately rather than becoming infected with the negative emotions around you.

Next, try some reframing. Reframing simply means to see something in a different way. For example, you might see critics as a powerful judges of your worth. But another way to see them is like poet Brendan Behan views them: “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.”

How about a reframe around those who claim that the sky is falling? I have chosen not to watch the news for years now. But my son was recently following the events in Ukraine. “Dad, we’re about to go into World War III!” After a few discussions about whether this was really happening or not, I said to him, “Ethan, it may or may not be true. But I can’t do anything about it. So my plan is to keep living my life in the best way I can. If I spend my time worrying, I won’t be able to do my best. So I choose to not worry about it.”

Once you have cleared your old baggage and used some reframing to change your perspective, you may feel centered enough to address the other person’s negativity. It’s okay to come out and respectfully say, “I appreciate your opinions on this. But I just don’t see it that way and would like to change the subject to something more uplifting.” Does this always work? No. But when it does, it can open up new possibilities for both of you.

But what do you do if you’ve cleared your own negative baggage, used your best reframing, and told the other person how you feel, yet you still find yourself dragged down when you’re around that person? Here’s where you make a choice.

As I mentioned, I’ve chosen to not read or watch the news. I’ve also chosen to limit my time with certain people in my life. Just like I no longer eat junk food and no longer hang onto old grudges or bitterness, I’m conscious of the company I keep on a regular basis. Even though my emotional immune system is pretty strong, if I’m going to become infected by someone else’s mood, I prefer to be infected by optimism, confidence and joy.


“Rather than pointing fingers at those horrible cheaters “out there,” it’s time to own up to the cheating we do in our own lives. Because when we cheat, we’re basically saying, “I’m not good enough on my own. I can’t do this thing.” We’ve given up on ourselves and our potential to stretch to meet the challenge in front of us. We’ve decided that winning is more important than the person we could become by striving.”

Dealing with limiting beliefs


Basically two types of structure:
He’s late so he doesn’t care.
People who work hard at school get on better in life.
A means B
A causes B
Chunk down and ask a question.
If you don’t control people things won’t turn out well.
And how do you control their heart rate?
Language patterns – words.
A because B seek out the verb and turn it back to the belief itself.
If A then B.
If you don’t look out for yourself nobody else will.
How’s that working for you?
How’s that belief looking out for you?
Use time frame. When you were born/were a child? When you are not there. When you are dead?
Ooh I can’t do that ! (Only one side of the equation)
So why is it like that?
How do you know?
How is this a problem for you? Will all give more information.
What purpose has this belief been serving up until now? A nice presupposition and will hopefully unearth the positive intention.
I’m shy. I’m crap at learning.
I know that sometimes you …….
feel shy in new situations but
I know that you sometimes feel that you don’t learn as quickly as others but



“We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Look back in your own life and notice how often you have gone through the same experience.” -Louise L. Hay
Last month, I talked about limiting decisions, how they can be formed and how they negatively impact our lives. (If you missed that article, check it out) I asked you to start unearthing your own limiting decisions by asking yourself a few questions:

What are the results you’ve produced in the various areas of your life?
Where are your results not in alignment with what you really want to be, do or have?
What area of your life have you really tried to improve but, no matter what, things just didn’t get better?
Your limiting decisions are hiding out in the areas where you’re producing results that you don’t want.
Your limiting decisions have shaped everything you do. They have prevented you from seeing opportunities and maybe even discouraged you from trying at all. Time to bring them out of hiding! Once you do that, you have choice.

So how to identify those pesky devils? First, what do you say to yourself about that area? For example, if you’re having trouble finding a relationship, maybe you explain it with something like, “Women only want men who have a lot of money” or “Guys are only interested in younger women.” Anything you say to yourself to justify why it isn’t working out for you is a limiting belief.

Will that belief sound true to you? Of course! It will sound perfectly reasonable and valid and you probably can come up with lots of evidence supporting it! But it’s still a belief that is getting in the way of what you want. So unless you’re willing to totally give up on your goals and desires, it’s a limiting decision that you don’t want to keep around.

Sometimes limiting decisions are not that conscious. Maybe you’ve learned to squelch your negative thoughts before they get revv’d up, and you’ve have gotten good at positive self-talk. So you don’t hear any limiting beliefs in your head. But you’ll know you’ve still got a limiting decision lurking if your emotions are negative about that area.

For example, if you’re bogged down with financial pressures, how do you feel about it? Anxious? Angry? Hopeless? If you stay with that emotion and acknowledge it for a moment, you’ll find the limiting belief right beneath it. For example, anxiety might be saying, “What will people think of me?” Anger might reflect “Life isn’t fair to people like me.” Underneath hopelessness might be, “I’m just not strong enough or smart enough to figure this out.”

Now that you’ve dragged some of those limiting beliefs out of the closet, what do you do with them? In the Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) I teach, we have several specific processes to unearth and eliminate limiting beliefs. I can’t teach them fully in this article, but here are some steps to get you started:

Step 1: Write the limiting belief down. Play detective and follow your thoughts and emotions to discover the limiting beliefs that hold you back. Put them on paper and stare them in the face! You might note how strong each belief is and what emotions they elicit in you.

Step 2: Acknowledge that these are beliefs, not truths! This is often the hardest step. “But, but, my limitations are real!” Here’s the place where choice comes in. Which are you more interested in: defending your limitations to the death or achieving your goals and desires? As author Evelyn Waugh wrote, “When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them.” You choose.

Step 3: Try on a different belief. Use your imagination and try on a belief that is aligned with what you want. It might be something like, “My financial difficulties in the past have taught me so much that I’m fully prepared to handle them now!” Or, “Now that I’ve been in an unhealthy relationship I’ve learned what to look for in a happy, loving partner!”

The trick is to go beyond just saying it. You want to really step into this new belief and feel how it feels. Done thoroughly, Steps 2 and 3 will go a long way to dismantling your old limiting decision.

Step 4: Take different action. This might feel scary, but act as if your new belief is true. In other words, if you really are the kind of man women adore, how would you act at parties? Who might you ask out? If you really are capable and have learned a tremendous amount from past financial difficulties, what steps would you take? If you really are the kind of person who eats healthy food, what will you put in your grocery cart?

If you avoid taking any steps based on your new belief, you will just feed your old limiting belief. Taking action, even the smallest step, will help solidify your new un-limiting decision. Your first steps don’t have to be perfect, just headed in the right direction. And be sure to acknowledge yourself when you’ve taken that step.

Ready to release

“Your intellect may be confused but your emotions will never mislead you.” ~Roger Ebert


Ah, those pesky emotions! Doesn’t it feel like that sometimes? We all enjoy the positive emotions like love, happiness, pleasure, delight, and confidence. But then their counterparts show up, like anger, sadness, disgust, and fear — and suddenly, emotions are no longer so welcome.

Modern psychology emphasizes that we can consciouslycontrol our emotions rather than letting our emotions control us.

Sounds good, but I prefer the idea that we can work with our emotions. The word “control” smacks of grabbing our emotions by the throat and beating them into submission. It can be easily misinterpreted (and I think it has been) to mean that emotions, especially the inconvenient negative ones, should be kept locked away in some hidden room. Out of sight, out of mind.

But emotions – all of them – have a purpose and a wisdom. And studies have shown that tamping emotions down or shutting them away can create all kinds of problems, not the least of which are physical health problems. But the Hawaiians knew this centuries ago.

When the first Westerners came to Hawai‘i in the 19th century, they found a group of people who were almost completely devoid of mental and physiological disease. Why? Because the Hawaiians knew how to work with their unihipili to release stress and their “stuff,” all the repressed emotions and memories.

Unihipili is the name the Hawaiians gave the unconscious mind, and its literal translation is “little creature” or “little one.” If you saw something scurrying across the floor you might say, “Oh, look! An unihipili!” The Hawaiians believed that the unconscious mind was a little self that lived inside you.

This little self had several important jobs, one of which was to help you deal with your emotions. If you experienced something traumatic or something you didn’t have the tools to understand or process, yourunihipili would take the experience and throw it into a metaphorical black bag. Your unihipili then zipped that bag up and stashed it somewhere in your body – but it was never intended to stay hidden away forever.

As my teachers of Huna explained it, later you might consciously recognize that you have a black bag. You might opt to find the black bag and process the emotions within, then let them all go. But at other times, they believed that your unihipili, your unconscious, might decide that you’re ready to let go of the emotions or experiences before you consciously recognized them. So the unihipili would open up the black bag, causing all the emotions to flood into you so you could release them.

Have you ever had that experience? You’re having a good day when – Bam! – sadness, anger, or fear bubbles up. This is a signal from unihipilithat “You’re ready to let it go.”

As Westerners, we find that experience pretty disconcerting. We do everything we can think of to “calm down” or “think about something else.” We don’t see the upheaval as a positive signal from the unconscious that we’re ready to resolve the issue, but rather a signal that something is wrong with us. We medicate, we deny, and we avoid. We push those feelings back down below the surface.

But the ancient Hawaiians appreciated the flood of emotion and knew it was healthy and natural. If they felt sad, they would weep; if they felt anger bubble up, they would express it somehow and allow it to dissipate. They had faith that unihipili knew when the time was right, and trusted that they had the tools and techniques to handle it. They didn’t make a big deal out of it. They simply released the black bag and moved forward.

To the Huna way of thinking, the unihipili is working hard to preserve the body, to release anything that could upset the mind-body balance.  The unconscious mind knows that you need to remove the black bags of unreleased negative thoughts and feelings from your neurology before it makes you sick.  From the Huna perspective, this is the basis of all physiological disease, not germs or viruses or aging. Disease cannot be explained or fixed on the physical level alone without dealing with the emotional component.

The next time you feel a negative emotion well up inside, try something a little different. Rather than “coping” or ignoring it, take a moment to ask: “What is this trying to show me?” You may or may not get a clear answer. But still give yourself some time to really experience the emotion itself. Find a safe place to give the emotion expression. Then thank your unconscious for helping you to release it.

Dr. Matt

Brilliant Minds 10 Question Problem Solver


Summary: A very short set of questions that can be asked by a coach or friend to help shine a different perspective on a problem. A link to a video of Dianne Lowther asking the questions and a mind map link which may also help when working on your own. 

Most people who try this brief 10 question experience are very surprised and very pleased at just how effective it is.

There’s nothing to lose… this is a free resource and also available by clicking here  So I really encourage you to give it a try. Pick a problem you’d like to solve and let’s get started!

What I would like you to do is to ask yourself each question and then to think about your answer. Take as long as you need.

Please make sure that you have an answer to your current question before you move on to  the next question.

1 What’s the problem?

2 How long have you had it?

3 Why do you have this problem?

4 Who is to blame?

5 Why haven’t you solved it yet?

6 What do you want?

7 How will you know when you have it?

8 What resources do you already have that you could use to achieve your outcome?

9 When have you succeeded in something similar?

10 What is the next step?

I have also produced a mind map of the questions which you may prefer to work with by yourself, simply click to be taken to the file.