The Sleight of Mouth Patterns of Intention and Redefining

Identifying and acknowledging the positive intention of the critic, and turning the criticism into a "how" question, is an example of a type of 'verbal magic trick', using Sleight of Mouth to shift attention from a problem frame or failure frame to an outcome frame and feedback frame. It results in the transformation of a critic from a spoiler to an advisor. The process is based upon two fundamental forms of reframing that are at the core of the Sleight of Mouth patterns: Intention and Redefining.

Intention involves directing a person's attention to the purpose or intention (e.g., protection, getting attention, establishing boundaries, etc.) behind some generalization or statement, in order to either reframe or reinforce the generalization.

Redefining involves substituting a new word or phrase for one of the words or phrases used in a statement or generalization that means something similar but has different implications. Substituting a positively stated phrase for a negatively stated one is an example of "redefining."

The Sleight of Mouth pattern of Intention is based on the fundamental NLP presupposition that:

At some level all behavior is (or at one time was) "positively intended". It is or was perceived as appropriate given the context in which it was established, from the point of view of the person whose behavior it is. It is easier and more productive to respond to the intention rather than the expression of a problematic behavior.

Applying the pattern of Intention would involve responding to the positive intention(s) behind a particular generali zation or judgment, rather than directly to the statement itself. As an example, let's say a customer comes into a store and shows interest in a particular item, but states, "I like this, but I'm afraid it is too expensive." To apply the pattern of intention, the salesperson might say something like, UI hear that it is important to you that you get good value for your money." This serves to direct the customer's attention to the intention behind the judgment that something is "too expensive" (in this case, the intention of "getting value"). This helps to shift the customer from responding from a "problem frame" to that of an "outcome frame."

Tnlention

Objection

Outcome Frame

Problem Frame

Outcome Frame

Problem Frame

Focusing on the Intention of a Limiting Judgment or Statement Helps to Shift From a Problem Frame to an Outcomc Frame

Redefining would involve saying something such as, "Is it that you think the item is overpriced, or are you concerned that you cannot afford it?" Here, the statement, "I'm afraid it is too expensive," has been redefined in two different ways, in order for the salesperson to gather more specific information about the customer's objection. The first redefinition substitutes "think" for "afraid" and "overpriced" for "too expensive."

The second redefinition substitutes "concerned" for "afraid" and "cannot afford it" for "too expensive." Both reformulations mean something similar to the original objection, but have different implications, which serve to place the customer's judgment back into a "feedback frame."

"Thinking" and "being concerned" are in many ways very different from being "afraid." They imply cognitive processes more than an emotional reaction (thus, more likelihood that something will be perceived as feedback). "Overpriced" as a redefinition of "too expensive" implies that the objection is a function of the customer's expectation of what the store should be charging for the item. Redefining "too expensive" as "unable to afford it" places the source of the objection as the customer's concerns with respect to his or her own financial resources and ability to pay for the item.

The redefinition that the customer chooses provides important feedback to the salesperson. Depending on the customer's response, for example, the salesperson might decide to offer a discount for the item (if it is perceived as "overpriced") or work out a payment plan with the customer (if the concern is with "affordability").

Thus, redefining is a simple but powerful way to open up new channels of thinking and interaction. Relabeling "pain" as "discomfort," is another good illustration of the impact of the Sleight of Mouth pattern of redefining. It has a different impact, for instance, to ask a person, "How much pain are you in?" and "How much discomfort do you feel?" Often this type of verbal reframing automatically changes people's perceptions of their pain. A term like "discomfort" contains within it the embedded suggestion of "comfort." "Pain" has no such positive twist.

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