State elicitation is an important skill and part of many NLP Techniques. It involves the ability to experience resource and other states like peak performance strongly and cleanly. Identifying the structure of an experience is an important aspect of NLP Modeling, and NLP Anchoring. It also enables changing states.
Eliciting a strong example of a state is a key factor for successful NLP anchoring.
Managing and Changing States
We change state naturally many times each day. When experiencing an unresourceful state, you may not have set an appropriate anchor in advance. Being able to quickly elicit an alternate and more useful state is a powerful tool.
NLP modeling is the NLP process of skill development. When we decompose a skill or behavior, we find beliefs, physiology and the specific thought processes underlying it. Then we can make a blueprint and copy that person’s skill.
An important part of physiology and modeling is state elicitation. If we are asking someone about an experience in order to model them, they must be re-experiencing the state.
Traditionally, when we wanted to find out how someone is successful at something we ask “about” her success. This immediately puts the person into dissociated theory mode where they reflect on important elements.
If dissociated, she will give us the theory rather than describe what she is actually doing as if in the present. When someone is re-experiencing a state, we can find the “how” rather than the speculation.
For instance, if someone asked me what made me a good speller, I might say, “When I come across a word I can’t spell I look it up immediately” This is my strategy for being a good speller, and I might teach this as a process. Only if I am associated and in my “spelling state” will I notice that I see a picture of the word up and to my left followed by a feeling in my solar plexus that this is right.
State Elicitation Process
The best states to elicit are simple and clean. Many states are really combinations and need separating. For instance, I may get my package from Amazon and feel elated and guilty at the same time for spending so much.
They also don’t have to be earth-shattering experiences. For example, the state of calm I felt waking up 10 minutes before the alarm this morning is simple and clean.
- Access an uptime state in yourself if eliciting a state in someone else. You need aware and alert senses (NLP calls this state uptime). This is where your focus is on what is actually going on for the person rather than going inside to process (sensing rather than intuiting) or talk to yourself (Auditory Digital Processing). If doing state elicitation for yourself, skip this step.
- Search for the desired state by asking.
- Do you remember a time when you experienced that state or resource? For example, when I graduated I walked up on the stage and felt [invincible].
- What would it be like if you experienced that state or resource? For example, what if an alien gave you a magic [confidence] cloak?
- Do you know someone who is [patient]? What would it be like to step into them and experience that state or resource for a time?
- If you were the [most creative] person on the planet, what would that be like?
- Access the state yourself; you absolutely need to match it. If the state they are going for is calm for instance, you must be calm yourself. Have you ever had someone raise his or her voice and speak rapidly in an attempt to get you to calm down? We tend to catch others states, we respond to the states of others unconsciously. It’s a caveperson thing. When someone shouts “run” in an emergency tone, we respond or get eaten.
- Have the person re-experience the state. Circle of Excellence technique contains an example of re-accessing a resource state. Use present tense language that encourages association. For instance
- What do you see, how big, bright, colorful, close etc is the image?
- What do you hear, how clear, loud, close etc
- What sensations are you feeling? Where are they? What direction are they moving, pulsing, clockwise, anticlockwise etc? How strong?
- How are you breathing? Where is the breathing, how low, deep, slow etc?
- How are you standing? What is your posture, balance, center of gravity, weight like?
- What are you saying to yourself? What voice tone, volume, and speed are you using?
- Enhance the intensity of the state with appropriate submodalities and including all Representational Systems. For example, you might make the pictures more colorful and larger, increase the movement of Kinesthetic System Processing, or increase the pace of speaking.
- As an observer, you are noticing changes that will show the intensity or purity of the state. For instance, breathing, skin color and posture changes. If you are doing state elicitation for yourself make sure the state is intense enough for the purpose. NLP Anchoring for instance needs the state to be strong and at a peak.