Sleight Of Mouth

Sleight Of Mouth

Part of the function of this Communicating Excellence web page is to make NLP , Hypnotherapy and Coaching resources freely available for your learning and continued development. Free resources are of course really valuable but there is no substitute for experience.

If you choose to attend either our Newcastle upon Tyne NLP Practitioner beginning September or our Hypnotherapy Diploma you will get the experiential learning of many reframing processes that you can use in all contexts of your life now, back to Sleight Of Mouth.

In the same way you have been learning about the structure of subjective experience before you learned NLP or hypnotherapy, you will have already learned about ‘sleight of mouth‘ or reframing. and you already know how to and how this works – even if you are not fully aware of the structure consciously. This is an exemplification of some patterns Robert Dilts coded from what Richard Bandler was doing.

I was introduced and taught Sleight Of Mouth (SOM) as some 15 coded interventions. SOM is simply simply re-framing. This is my recollection of the patterns Ian introduced me to which I recall come all the way from a Connie Ray and Steve Andreas training in the nineties.

First here is a list in no particular order of the labels and then you can continue with the examples of the patterns while your teaching yourself the meaning to the labels.

SOM Labels

  1. prior cause
  2. chunking up/down/sideways and ‘logical level’
  3. change the frame size
  4. redefine
  5. consequence
  6. counter example
  7. another outcome
  8. reality strategy
  9. intention
  10. model of the world
  11. switch referential index
  12. apply to self
  13. hierarchy of criteria
  14. meta frame
  15. metaphor


Lets begin with making use of an operating belief and this is a model that classifies all problems ( all enablings too ) as either complex-equivalences ( CEq) or cause-effects (CEf). If you ‘act as if’ this model is true then all SOM acts to redefine or re-frame or simply soften up the implied cause-effects and / or complex-equivalents.

Do keep in mind ‘how’ you might use your tonality when delivering the responses; Its both what you say and how you say it.

SOM Examples

Here is the form of the ‘problem’ and possible SOM interventions.

some problem
som application 1“, “som application 2“, “som application 3

The intervention may deal with the ‘whole’ problem in one go or it may deal with aspects of the problem. It is your job to determine where this happens. Remember the structure of the problem in this model is CEf or CEq, by changing just one aspect of a part, the relationship within the whole must change at some level.

Smiling in that way me means he doesn’t like me“.

This is a complex equivalence statement. Here ‘smiling’ MEANS ‘not like’ and this can be addressed like this.

  1. Address ‘smiling’. “That’s not smiling that’s just stretching his face
  2. Address ‘not like’. “The way he’s looking at you – he thinks your OK
  3. Address it all. “No my friend, that means he fancies you!


1. Prior Cause
Address / explore a perceived cause ( what came before ) of the ‘problem’

I can’t learn very easily

Yes, you don’t seem in the right mood yet
What makes you perceive it in that particular way
You seem to have very easily learnt to say things like that

2. Chunking
Occurs in time and or space.
Differences ( chunk down ) / commonalities (chunk up) /
additional examples (chunk sideways)

Feeling this way stops me having fun

But having fun is a type of feeling” – chunk up
What exactly are you feeling?” – chunk down
Then touch something that makes you laugh” – chunk sideways
Sure, not at this exact instant in time” – chunk down
That’s just your perception” – chunk up

3. Change the Frame Size
Explore a smaller or larger part / aspect of the original ‘problem’

being fat means nobody loves me

Who are you comparing yourself against?
Are you seriously claiming to think that no one has ever or will ever love you?
Your ears are skinny
What do you mean when you say love

4. Redefine
To offer ‘another’ meaning to all or some of the parts of the ‘problem’

Arguing makes me have headaches

Are you saying differing opinions aren’t always particularly comfortable for you?
Arguing means you feel strongly about it
That head tension can be a real bummer

5. Consequence
what ‘may’ happen over time resulting from the ‘problem’

My problems stopped when I met you

Muaha Ha ha ha that’s what you think!!
Maybe your life is less unpredictable now
You used to have fun figuring things out
Your not as adventurous as you used to be

This topic is continued in the Resource section

kind regards
nigel hetherington

www.communicatingexcellence.com
Excellence in Neuro-Linguistic-Programming and Hypnotherapy

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