NLP techniques

Recognising and developing your senses

Associating with the experience

NLP techniques throughout this website will refer at times to your senses:  to seeing mental pictures, hearing sounds, being aware of your feelings, smell and taste.  

The more you associate each of your senses with an experience, the more you re-experience it and the more effective it will be, for example, in creating NLP anchors. 

NLP techniques - senses

You must learn to heed your senses. Humans use but a tiny percentage of theirs. They barely look, they rarely listen, they never smell, and they think that they can only experience feelings through their skin. But they talk, oh, do they talk. 


 Michael ScottThe Alchemyst


Making the image

When you ask someone to make a mental picture, a few people say they cannot do it.  Think about that for a moment.  

Can you make a mental picture?  Try remembering the colour of your front door.  Imagine what your favourite food looks like.  Can you do that?  Most people won’t have a difficulty with those requests.

It stands to reason though, doesn’t it, that we all make mental pictures or we would not be able to find our way home.  We wouldn’t know where our house was and we wouldn’t know what it looked like. 

NLP techniques – pictures and gestures

I expect you know the saying, “A picture paints a thousand words”.  Whenever I have been presenting a case in court, I take every opportunity to produce a picture or to use gestures with a witness.  

The gesture, of course, is for two reasons, one to form a picture in the court or jury’s mind and, secondly, to analogue mark (or anchor) the point I am making. 

The more vivid the picture I can make, the more impact it will have upon those who have visual preferences.  You see, although we each have the same senses, and whilst we use them all, some of us respond better to one sense than another.  So if your preference is visual, a picture may have the greatest impact upon you.

NLP techniques - preferences

As a court advocate it is important for me to use techniques that impress themselves upon those who have preferences, particularly, for sound and feelings. 

If I wish to draw attention to an impact that the defendant’s car had with my client’s car, in addition to any visual gesture I will tend to describe it as “crashing into”, or better still “smashing into” rather than “colliding with”, at the same time emphasising the words “crash” and “smash”.   

It will be of equal value to draw out the witness’s feelings about the collision and how he felt afterwards.  By emphasising the pictures, the sounds and the feelings, I will thus cover the range of preferences that the listeners’ have.  If it is possible to bring in tastes and smells, so much the better.

NLP techniques - metaphor

One of the great advantages of metaphor is the ability of a good story-teller to evoke strong mental pictures, sounds, feelings and even tastes and smells in the mind of the listener.  

We have all experienced hearing someone describe delicious food only to feel the saliva building in our mouths at the same time.

Our senses are extremely powerful, and the more we use all of them the greater our perception is likely to be.  Try carrying out some experiments yourself, first of all, to improve your visualisation or mental image.

NLP techniques - exercises

Look at any object that happens to be near you as you are reading this.  Notice its colour and shape.  Close your eyes.  Once you have closed your eyes, think about and remember the image of the object.

Think about its colour.  Was it light or dark in colour?  In your mind’s eye brighten the colour and make it more vivid.  Imagine a shadow falling over the object and see what that does to the colour.  Now imagine the sun shining upon the object and see how much brighter it becomes.

NLP techniques – closer and farther

In your mind’s eye bring the object closer so that it becomes bigger.  Again, in your imagination, bring it right up close to your face.  Does it make you feel any different?  

Now try mentally pushing it away and make it smaller as you do so.  See the colour drain from it as it recedes.  Does that make you feel different still?

By doing this, you will learn how to control images that you make.  Imagine yourself floating out of your body and looking at the object directly from above and from different angles.  You could also imagine yourself lying on the floor looking up at it.

Whilst writing this page, I carried out this exercise myself with a mug that is standing on my desk.  It has a handle and is blue on the outside and a rusty-pink sort of colour on the inside.  It is also less than half full of tea.

NLP techniques – changing the angle

In addition to those angles mentioned above, I tried mentally turning the mug inside out and upside down.  The different images and feelings I was able to experience were quite remarkable, although I couldn’t help but see tea pouring all over my desk when it was upside down!

As a hearing experiment I also tried tapping my fist on my desk, closing my eyes and recreating the sound in my mind, first, as it was and then louder and gradually softer.  I imagined the sound inside the room and then coming from outside the room.

You can try this exercise yourself in a variety of ways.  I tapped my fist upon the desk.  You may choose to remember a piece of music or the sound of the voice of someone you know.  Get your memory to recall the sounds at different volumes and from different directions.

NLP techniques – the brain remembers

We also remember our feelings.  Those of you who are regular gym goers and do weight training know how it works.  

When you move up a weight and perform a few reps of an exercise, at first it seems more difficult.  Tomorrow and the next day it seems slightly easier and you are able to perform a few more reps.

Soon, the weight feels comfortable and you are able to move up another notch.  Gradually, your brain remembers lifting at that weight and builds muscle to strengthen you.


NLP techniques - senses

NLP techniques - touch

We all understand touch.  If when you speak to someone you touch them on the arm, there is an immediate feeling of warmth between you.

Try sitting down and thinking which parts of your body are touching what, and then consider if any parts of your body are particularly comfortable or uncomfortable.  Which parts of your clothes are touching where? 

Now that you understand a little more about your senses, when you are performing any exercises for an NLP technique that you read about on this website, try to utilise as many of those senses as you can.  Intensify and diminish them as appropriate and see how you can affect your feelings in any given instance.



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