Every Word Counts - A Deep Dive Into Language

October 15, 2020

Today, I’m conscious of language. Aren’t we conscious of language every day? Well, no, generally we are very unconscious about the language that we use and that we hear. We permit so many words to pass us by without really understanding what we have heard and when you do really listen at the conscious level, you discover levels of conscious and unconscious intention that would otherwise have passed you by.


Here's an example of what I mean. Recently,a friend of mine was going to get their hair cut. They knew the price of the service that they were going to buy and on examining the change they had in their pocket, realised that they were a pound short. So, they asked me, ‘Do you have a spare pound please?’ As I reached for my purse, I became consciously aware of the question that had been asked. I could have answered that question in a number of different ways:


‘Yes, I have a pound.’ Followed by no action.

‘Yes I have a pound and it’s not spare.’ Followed by no action.

‘No I don’t have a spare pound.’

‘No I don’t have a pound.’

‘Spare from what?’

‘What specifically do you mean by spare?’

‘Yes, do you want it?’

‘Will only a spare pound do?’

‘If it’s not spare, do you still want it?’

‘I will lend it to you.’

‘Yes, do you want to borrow it?’

‘Yes.’ Giving the pound.


Of course, I gave them the pound and this simple sentence really caught my interest and attention for some time afterwards. The fact that my friend had chosen to use the word ‘spare’ rather than ‘could you lend me a pound please?’ was very significant, I never got it back!


When we really study communication,it becomes shockingly clear just how much ambiguity is unconsciously built into what we say, even in the simplest of sentences. I could have responded a colourful variety of different ways to my friend’s request. My own interpretation of the situation prompted the simple action of handing over the pound. Would I have acted the same way if they had asked if I had a spare £10 or even £100? This is a simple illustration of how imprecise our language can be and how problematic this can be when we wish to convey more complex ideas through verbalisation.


As we all progress in our learning of NLP, which is essentially an advanced study of linguistic form and structure,you grow in your consciousness of language and how it’s purposeful use can have quite magical results. This is most true in our advanced use of hypnotic technique where every word has a purpose and an intention that you have created specifically for your client, or in the case of self-hypnosis, for yourself. Learning hypnosis at an advanced level, really brings linguistic labelling into your consciousness and encourages the use of language with purpose and volition. It’s so interesting to consider language this way and when you do,your own language becomes delicately honed with an intense level of precision which means your communications will always be received in the way that you intended them.


Every word carries meaning and value. To illustrate this, let’s look at a very small portion of a hypnotic suggestion, expertly written by the great Milton Erickson (Adapted from A.M Weitzenhoffer 1957).


Now, as you continue to sleep, I’m going to recall to your mind an event which occurred not long ago.’    


Let’s now break this sentence down into its linguistic components and discover the hypnotic purpose behind each word, carefully chosen for best effect:


Now:  Now relates to the present,it doesn’t bear on the past, or the future, it is safe and secure and brings the attention to the immediate.


As you: You introduces the client gently.


Continue: This contradicts now and takes the client into the future. It introduces an indefinite extension into the future and the client responds by focussing attention onto the future.


To Sleep: A command based upon the past, including the present and extending into the future. Causes a temporal shift for the client.


I’m: First person pronoun meaning the thing being done is being done by the speaker and that the client can remain safely passive.


Going: Brings both the speaker and the client into the future.


To Recall: Signifies the past and we are both going into the future, taking the past with us.


To your: Second person pronoun, emphasising that we are both going into the future taking the past with us.


Mind: A selected and very important part of the client, a part related to the past.


An: Meaning just one, a specific one and at the same time indefinite.


Event: Just one event, so general that it is impossible to easily accept or reject or do anything apart from accept an event.


Which occurred:  A narrative word, lots of things occur, especially minor things.


Not: If the client wants to reject anything, the word not gives them the opportunity. It is a decoy word to attract their resistances.


Long ago: Not now destroys itself as a negative word, it is highly specific in a generalised way. When is not long ago? Not long ago is real as we all have a not long ago in our lives. A weight of truth has been given which will continue through the suggestion.


It’s quite incredible and extremely interesting and useful that such a short sentence can hold so much deep structure and meaning, isn’t it? When you attend your NLP Coach Programme,we will empower you as a master of the conscious use of language and as a magical communicator. The effect of this learning on your personal performance across all contexts of your life will be profound and your desired outcomes seriously accelerated. It’s learning that you need to really succeed.

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