5 Things To Observe To Discover What People Think


You may not know, but the 20th Century had its very own Merlin the Wizard.

His name was Milton Erickson, Dr. Milton Erickson. Dr. Erickson was a trained medical doctor and a hypnotherapist who had absolutely prodigious results with his patients.

The funny thing is: everyone thought that Erickson was a nice old man who said funny things. He would speak to his clients about tomatoes and their problems would disappear! But then videotapes were invented, and people started to realise what Dr. Erickson was doing. There are many things we learned about communication from Dr. Erickson (I will reveal what in subsequent articles), and what I want to focus on today is his most astonishing observation skill.

Not many people know that but Erickson had polio when he was young. He spent 1 whole year sitting in his mother’s kitchen watching people go by, and he could not move, the only thing he could do was to watch, and he developed some amazing powers of observation. He could see things that other people could not see. At age 18, he learned how to walk again by watching his baby sister learning to walk.

He would know exactly what was going on in his patients head. There was a particular woman client who did not show any sign, but when people asked him how he knew when she was in trance, he said, “Well, I knew because the pulse on her ankle slowed down”.

So what does this mean for us?

Think about it for a minute.

How useful would it be if you knew exactly what’s going on in someone’s head? We can use your observation skills in all areas of our life, whether you’re a coach or a trainer, a teacher, a doctor, a parent, a spouse, in business (with clients, with your boss), in sales, and in therapy as well. Using your observation skills, you can see whether you are having the impact you want, and utilise this information to get the results you desire.

The good news is that we now know exactly how Erickson did it! We know exactly what he was looking at when he observed people. So here are the 5 things to look at that will make a major difference in your ability to see difference in other people.

The skin colour: That is a shift from light to dark. The best way is to imagine that you are seeing people in black & white.

Skin tonus: You can look for the shine on the skin. You can notice the difference in light bouncing off the face even for ladies wearing make up. You can also pay attention to the symmetry of the face.

Breathing: It can change pace or location, fast or slow, or high or low in the body. Try it! Your breathing can be way right up on your chest, now around your rib cage, or you can be breathing way down deep in the belly. Fast to slow, down to low are not always linked but many times they are.

Lower lip size: Many people do not know that the lower lip changes from moment to moment. What happens is that the blood flows or not to the lower lip. Check the lines and the thickness of the lip.

The eyes: Focused or defocused and pupil dilation.

So what do you do with this information? The process is called “Calibration”, that’s a technical term which means that we compare between a baseline picture (i.e. the person at rest, i.e. before you have an interaction with them) and the change compared to that baseline.

Then you can notice the relationship between the 2 pictures and notice what is going on.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. If you exercise your observation skills all the time, you will begin to see things that people have not seen before, like a magician, like Milton Erickson; and as you practise more and more, you will become a master at this and you’ll be able to dramatically improve your results!

Want to learn the secrets to Erickson success? The NLP Foundation 1 day introductory course (July 11th 2009), and NLP Practitioner, Coaching & Hypnosis Certification Training (September 2009)

Categories : How To, NLP

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