The Linguistic Torpedo!

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And then she fired the linguistic torpedo 

Ms S and I had been commissioned to run a team building workshop for a Technical Training department in one of those large multinational companies. The manager was new to the department and wanted to introduce some new training methods and had asked us to run a workshop on Accelerated Learning principles. While that was the published objective, the unpublished objective was to introduce NLP. 

The course was to be run in a modern mansion set in the country and, as I was waiting for the students to arrive, I sat on the trainer’s chair in the entrance hall that was to serve as our classroom. The students gradually arrived and said “good morning,….. Hello, my name is…” all except for one. As he walked past me, he said, “so I suppose this another stitch up by at the management, is it?” I thought to myself this one is going be a challenge! 

And so he proved to be. Let’s call him Fred. Fred proceeded to argue with almost every thing that we said. It went on for the next day and half. Then, at about midday on the Tuesday, Ms S was running a session when Fred came out with his usual comment “I’m not sure I can agree with that”, and Ms S had clearly had enough! And then she fired the linguistic torpedo! She said quite simply “No, I didn’t think you wouldn’t, would you?” 

Well, I was dumbfounded. I thought that doesn’t make sense and of course it didn’t – to me. The effect on Fred however was absolutely amazing he replied, “Well if you put it like that, I suppose you’re right”, and from that moment on was one of the most co-operative students we had in the room. That was first time I had seen the linguistic torpedo in action and I discussed it with Ms S afterwards, how effective it was, and a how, at the time, it seemed as if she’d gone off her head. She explained to me the theory behind that particular linguistic structure. It appears that extreme mismatchers have to turn things round in their head so it’s as if they hear opposite to what has been said. So if you say “oh what a pity it it’s raining” they would probably say something like “but the ducks like it.” Or “What lovely, hot, sunny day” they might reply “It’s pretty miserable in the Antarctic!” So whenever you say something positive they would turn it round to something negative and vice versa. Now of course this takes up brain processing time and if you give them a sentence that’s comprised mainly of negatives, preferably at least three, this will cause them to go into some sort of trancey overload and, by the time they have turned it round, it becomes very positive. And so do they. It certainly worked well on that occasion.

There was another time, when I was running a Practitioner training, and we were discussing the use of language and I thought the trainers in the room would find the torpedo useful, so I explained what you say and the effect it usually has. The next day we started with a discussion about overnight discoveries and happenings and one the students explained that he had used the torpedo on his mismatching wife and she did not say another word all night! Well, if that was his desired outcome, he really got it.

The message is “treat the torpedo like the ultimate weapon and only use it as the last resort”

If you have read the above tale you will have just experienced a simple example of learning by metaphor and that’s another story!


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