Dr Richard Bolstad is Transformations Principal Trainer

Educated Commitment: The Purposes of NLP Training

by Dr Richard Bolstad and Margot Hamblett

Isocrates and Demosthenes

In the fourth century BC, Isocrates and Demosthenes were considered the greatest political orators in Athens. Their styles could not have been more different. Isocrates was a publisher of pamphlets whose aim was to educate, to encourage people to learn and to make clearer judgements based on their learnings. As a speaker he had a smooth, regular style, but he despised extravagant claims and orators who distorted the truth to gain some effect.

Demosthenes, on the other hand, was interested not so much in what was "true" at present, as in what could be "made true" by the actions he advocated. Accused at times of dishonest dealings behind the scenes, he was none-the-less admired for his ability to convince others to dream great dreams, and go out and act on them. Demosthenes' speeches were dramatic, varied in style, and motivational. The story goes that when Isocrates spoke, people said "Great speech!", but when Demosthenes spoke, they said "Let's march!" (Saunders, 1970, p 13-21).


The Educated Commitment Model

Do NLP Trainees Change?

In your eagerness to share NLP with the world, are you with Isocrates or Demosthenes? (Perhaps today we might say, are you with Wyatt Woodsmall or Tony Robbins?) Do you focus on education or commitment? We believe that both are equally important, and in this article we want to consider how NLP training can be used to enhance each. We will explore the research on both learning and persuasion; how to get people to remember the metamodel or the four keys to effective anchoring(?)�& and how to get them to actually apply these in their lives outside of the training room. For us as NLP Trainers, there is a very simple reason for clarifying these things: we want what we do to work! We'd like to think that, six months after an NLP Practitioner training, people still remember some of what we taught them, and actually use it in their lives.

Does NLP training actually result in change? Some degree of answer to this question is already available. In 1990, a study was made of 54 people attending a 21 day combined NLP Practitioner / Master Practitioner training run by Ed and Marianne Reese near Amsterdam (Duncan, Konefal and Spechler, 1990). The study involved a questionnaire called the Personal Orientation Inventory, which assesses a number of variables related to "self-actualisation". This term was originally used by Kurt Goldstein and Abraham Maslow to refer to the way that healthy human beings continually search for ways to maintain and enhance the sense of "self". The NLP researchers noted that "self actualisation" is a concept closely linked to the ability to 1) be aware of and 2) make connections between ones internal representations (VAKOGAd), internal state, and physiology (ie Self actualisation is related to: 1. self-awareness and 2. self-control).

Developed by Shostrom and Shostrom, the Personal Orientation Inventory had been administered to a number of other individuals before and after experiences such as encounter groups, Gestalt therapy groups and Assertiveness Training seminars. In other studies, groups which focus on interpersonal issues rather than intra-psychic issues actually have resulted in a lowering of "self-actualisation" on this scale, but most personal growth or training groups lead to an increase in the quality. The 18 NLP Master Practitioners already had high scores on the self-actualisation scale before starting Marianne and Ed Reese's training. This is consistent with them having already completed a personal growth group experience, and having maintained the changes. Both Practitioner and Master Practitioner groups increased their scores over the time of the current training.

Qualitative Evidence

A great deal of qualitative evidence suggests that NLP Practitioner training delivers other, more concrete results. As NLP trainers we sustain ourselves with this kind of written feedback from our trainees:

"Immediately after my training I established what has proven to be a successful vocational rehabilitation business with 12 colleagues working for me in 6 different locations. I could not have achieved this success without the outstanding NLP strategies." -Stu Macann, Manager, Wellington, New Zealand

"NLP has had an impact on my life both professionally and personally. At school, I have had students go from achieving 0/10 in spelling tests to achieving 10/10 and moving up 2-3 levels in a week. Even more important is the effect this small success has on their overall confidence and attitude towards themselves and school in general. I'm now involved in sharing the skills in training sessions with other teaching staff." -Julie McCracken, Secondary Teacher, Christchurch, New Zealand

"As a psychotherapist, my obligation is to help clients change in the ways they request. Professionally, my work has just taken off. What a gift it is to be able to remove a person's phobia, relieve a past trauma, halt an eating disorder, obliterate a sense of abandonment, enhance self esteem, instil a sense of purpose in someone's life, and much more." -Jeff Saunders, Psychotherapist, Christchurch, New Zealand

However, in talking with NLP graduates, we have also come across people who have barely thought about NLP since their certification. These practitioners lacked one or both of the two essential training outcomes: either they didn't learn the material, or they weren't committed to using it. Related to these missing pieces, they also have not installed useful learning strategies, or usefully altered basic presuppositions about their life. Most of the things we want from NLP training could be considered under these four headings: Memory, Commitment, Learning Strategies, and Self-actualisation.

Facilitating Memory

If it's memory we are after, then we know a great deal, from research, about how to get it. Firstly, memory is unrelated to intelligence test results. At the University of Texas, a study was done where slides were shown to viewers, and then re-shown with some new slides mixed in. Viewers were to press a lever when they recognised a slide from the first set. Human adults and five year old rhesus monkeys both got 86% correct! (Howard, 1996, p 242). When people don't remember, it is not because they are too "dumb". It's because they don't use their brains the way people who remember do. In every case of a person with exceptional memory, the person's mental capacity has been shown to be within the normal range. In every instance, the exceptional memorisers have discovered and used some very simple memory techniques.

Joan Minninger (1984) points out that the entire gamut of memory techniques can still be summarised in the 3 points made by the scientist Erasmus in 1512 AD: intend, file and rehearse. As a trainer, these principles translate into:

  1. Have students identify what they will be learning and why it's worth learning.
  2. Teach students how to file memories in ways that they will be able to retrieve them.
  3. Have students review information repeatedly after first exposure to it.

Having students identify their intention for learning involves getting them to set individual learning goals at the start of any training. It also involves answering what we have termed "the why question" before each teaching segment (Bolstad, 1997). In an overview of 400 separate studies of goalsetting, E. Locke and G. Latham (quoted in Jensen, 1995, p 79) showed that setting specific and slightly challenging goals always led to better success in the task required. Mobilising students' interest in the subject is not just an intellectual process. It floods their brain with chemicals such as adrenaline and enkephaline, which act as "memory fixatives" (Jensen, 1995, p 85). Even injecting these chemicals into rats before learning studies will increase their memory (though we recommend the motivational route as safer than the intravenous one).

Techniques For Filing

Throughout history, there has been some development in the techniques of filing, the second of the principles for memory. For example, we now know more fully that our mind's files are linked to the particular psycho-physiological states we are in when we compile them. If you drink coffee while studying, it helps to drink coffee before sitting the test (Howard, 1996, p 250). In NLP terms, all learning is anchored. We also know from George Miller's studies that there is a neurological reason why learning is best chunked in sets of seven plus or minus two (712) bits (Howard, 1996, p 230). Short term memory handles only one such set of five to nine information bits at a time. The production of long term memory involves the making of links between different sensory areas in the cerebral cortex, and links to the deeper areas of the brain (Howard, 1996, p 242). Memory techniques are ways to deliberately create such links. Ensuring that memories have significance in relation to other areas of ones life also creates such links. This is why "meaningful" phrases are easier to remember than nonsense ones, and facts about a place you want to go on holiday are easier to remember than general "geography facts" (this last fact also draws on the first memory principle - "intend").

Mind maps are a recent addition to the field of memory techniques. Companies like Boeing say that the use of mind maps has enabled them to reduce training time to one tenth or less (Buzan, 1993, p 170). Memory peg systems and Mnemonics are far older methods, and account for the "super-memory" of people such as the Russian "S" (Buzan, 1991, p 15). "S", studied by Dr Alexander Luria, could recall an entire speech, word for word, after a 30 year interval. Mnemonic and memory peg systems take advantage of the fact that a multi-sensory experience is easier to remember than a word or number. For example, if you wanted to recall the three keys to memory (intend, file, rehearse), using memory pegs, you might first notice that the number one (1) looks like a pen, the number two (2) looks like a swan, and the number three (3) looks like a woman's breasts. You could then create the sounds and images of a pen writing intentions, a swan in a filing cabinet, and a woman rehearsing putting on her new bra repeatedly. Later, to recall the three points, simply see the three numbers (123) in your mind, and the pictures/sounds that go with them. If you wanted to use a mnemonic, you might remember memory as a FIR tree (File, Intend, Rehearse).

This memory technology (now called "Accelerated Learning") is based on the same awareness of sensory systems that is central to NLP. Oddly, many NLP trainings still use very little of it. Amongst the things we could change are:

Finally, repetition is the third of the three keys to memory (intend, file, rehearse). The most successful learning results occur when information is reviewed a short time after initially being presented, and again the next day, after sleep. Sleep itself is an important part of the process of "fixing" long term memory, and reducing students' sleep by only two hours reduces recall significantly. Sleep loss has been the key factor in several famous human error accidents such as the 1979 Three Mile nuclear reactor accident and the 1987 Challenger Space Shuttle explosion (Jensen, 1995, p 51). NLP style trainings which promote sleep reduction may do well in increasing commitment; but they do not increase learning. A certain level of relaxation is essential to short and long term memory.

Facilitating New Learning Strategies

Of course, one of our aims in NLP training is not merely to teach facts, but to enable students to install whole new learning strategies. Just how easily a new learning strategy can be installed is shown by a now well known piece of research done at the University of Moncton in Canada. (Dilts and Epstein, 1995, p. 409). Here four groups of pretested average spellers were given the same spelling test (using made up nonsense words they had not seen before). Each group had different instructions. Group A was simply told to learn the words. Group B was told to visualise the words as a method of learning them. The two other groups were told to look in a certain direction while they visualised. Group C was told to look up to the left (an eye position which NLP claims will help visual memory). Group D were told to look down to the right (an eye position which NLP claims will help connect with kinesthetic feelings, but may hinder visualising).

Group A scored the same as their pretest. Group B scored 10% better. Group C scored 20-25% better. Group D scored 15% worse! Of course, this study supports two NLP claims: a) the eye position a learner uses decides which sensory system they can effectively process information in; and b) Visual recall is the best sensory system for learning spelling in English. Even more exciting, it demonstrates that students can be successfully taught (in 5 minutes) to use the most effective sensory strategy. For a kinesthetic learner who had been a poor speller, this would result in an instant improvement of 35-40%. Interestingly, in a final test some time later (testing retention), the scores of Group C remained constant, while the scores of the control group, Group A, plummeted a further 15%, a drop which was consistent with standard learning studies. The final difference in memory of the words for these two groups was 61%. That is, the brief instruction to look up left and visualise installed a new strategy which increased long term learning by enough to shift a learner from "the bottom of the class" to high achievement.

The ability to remember and apply information involves quite a different strategy to the ability to question it or to discover new information. Remembering and applying information is what is known as a "deductive" process. Questioning and discovering new information requires an "inductive" process. This difference was at the heart of the renaissance of science in sixteenth century Europe. It may yet prove to be at the heart of a renaissance of education in our twenty first century. To understand the difference between inductive and deductive thought, Bertrand Russell (1996, p 209 and p 527-530) uses the example of human mortality. In Europe up until the 16th century, the fact that a particular person (let's call him John) would die was very simply proved. In the Bible, God had decreed that humanity would return to the dust from which it came. John is an example of humanity, so John will die. This is deductive reasoning. From the general principle, the specific fact can be deduced. If I tell you that when people look up it assists their visualising, then you as an NLP student can deduce that if you look up, you will be more able to see pictures in your mind.

Inductive Learning Strategies

Sir Francis Bacon was the first European scientist to clearly state that this way of ascertaining facts was limited. He suggested another possible way to determine whether our friend John is mortal. We could check several people who were born 150 years ago. We might then find that they have all died. We could then, from these examples arrive at a general principle: namely that within 150 years of their birth, everyone dies. The resulting principle could be tested in a more deductive way, and applied to John. This process was called by Bacon "inductive reasoning". Sadly, the result of inductive reasoning is never as certain as the result of deduction. After all, we might one day find a person who was 160 years old. And then we would have to alter our theory. But the big advantage of induction is that you can not only check old theories with it, but you can discover totally new truths. I can have students observe for nonverbal cues which occur when visualising is being done, and thus discover new sensory accessing cues, never written up in the NLP literature before.

"Unfortunately" perhaps, new NLP students do not generally want to discover "new truths". They want to learn the "rules" we've found out already. This phenomenon is discussed in one of our previous articles (Bolstad, 1997). Experts in a field (and that includes NLP trainers) are deeply interested in inductive learning in that field; in expanding the frontiers of knowledge. They are tempted to try and make new students function in this way too. New students, according to the research by Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus (1980) do not have the sensory distinctions to identify new information in this way. In NLP training, this suggests that deductive learning is most effective early in Practitioner training, and inductive learning could become increasingly relevant at the Master Practitioner level. At that level, an exercise could be run with the instruction "Sit down with another person, and, over the course of a five minute conversation, identify what other non-verbal cues are related to visualisation in this person." Such exercises not only invite students to create new knowledge; they also install the strategy of inductive reasoning. To maximise learning (without necessarily predicting what will be learned) the uncertainty generated by such inductive exercises is valuable. Research suggests that learner involvement will be at its best when the learner is "confused but not yet frustrated" (Jensen, 1995, p 167). For Practitioners, deductive tasks do that anyway. For Master Practitioners, inductive tasks may be more effective.

Facilitating "Self Actualisation"

One day the two authors were talking about the immense skill that NLP Practitioners have, and how great it would be to get a group of NLP Practitioners together for a kind of "group therapy". A friend of ours, also NLP trained, said "Well; you already do that. It's called a Master Practitioner course." Actually, that's what the study of Ed and Marianne Reese' training demonstrates. There is a "hidden curriculum" of the NLP Certification trainings which installs the presuppositions of NLP in the actual lives of the trainees. The new vocabulary of NLP (phrases such as "at cause", "intention", "chunk up") supports and validates this change.

A number of comparable trainings achieve this same result. As an example, consider another fast growing, international, personal development technology; the "Forum". Landmark Forum (which evolved in 1985 from Erhard Seminar Training or EST) delivers a series of seminars averaging 4 days in length. The content of the Forum training is a series of 150 reframes, which Landmark refers to as "distinctions". Steve Zaffron, Vice President of Development in the Landmark Education Corporation, defines a distinction as an idea which, "opens a new way of relating to reality because reality is experienced differently for the person realising the distinction." (Wruck and Eastley, 1997, p 8). For example, just as in NLP a core "distinction" is between Map and Territory, a core distinction in Landmark is between "what happened" and "what it means". A survey of Forum graduates 3-6 months after their initial training found that seven out of ten rated it "one of life's most rewarding experiences". Nine out of ten considered it "likely to have enduring value for me." B.J. Holmes, Landmark's Director of Marketing and Communications emphasises "We are in the business of selling a product of Transformation."

The NLP Practitioner Results

We in NLP could say the same. To check the comparable impact of NLP training, our organisation followed up people who had completed Practitioner training with us 6-9 months previously and asked them the same questions, in the same format, as Landmark. In our graduates, 8 out of 10 rated the NLP Practitioner Training as one of their life's most rewarding experiences. 95% said it had improved their ability to reach career goals. Nine out of ten said it had helped them clarify goals, values and strategies, and the same amount said it had helped them cope with a particular challenge or problem. 100% rated it as well worth the cost and 100% said it had specific practical value for many aspects of their life.

Studies on groups in a variety of settings (W. Reddy and K. Lippert, "Studies of the Processes and Dynamics within Experiential Groups", in Smith, 1980, p 56-84) reveal a number of factors which contribute to the development of self-actualisation in such trainings. We know that persons who have a high drive for goal achievement and greater energy tend to do better in such situations than those who are seeking support or "learning about themselves". Regardless of the type of group, the skills of the person in charge also largely determine whether participants will have a positive outcome. In training that extends longer than a weekend, carefully directed and structured trainings deliver better results, and are described more favourably by participants than less structured trainings. Trainers who are able to make closer emotional contact with participants achieve more success near the end of longer trainings, but less near the beginning. This is related to the research supporting Schutz' theory of group development (Bolstad and Hamblett, 1998 C), which holds that groups go through a life cycle where the appropriate focus shifts from creating a sense of inclusion, to creating a sense of equal control, to creating a sense of intimacy. Summarising the implications for trainers, we could say that trainers enhance self actualisation by:

  1. Encouraging people to focus on goals and achievement.
  2. Structuring the training carefully.
  3. Shifting from an initial focus on creating a sense of inclusion, to a focus on creating a sense of participation, and finally to a sense of closeness in the group.

Facilitating Commitment

A significant part of the achievement of enhanced self-actualisation in the training setting results from what has come to be termed in training "commitment". Success Magazine's Dan Greenberg (1998, p 71-2) describes his experience of a Tony Robbins seminar, and notes that Robbin's demands for what he calls commitment are continuous. "Robbins often ends his statements with "If you agree with that, say "Aye!" and the crowd echoes back, "Aye!"(?)�&. Before the break we're told to stand, face our partners, and make a pledge to keep one another's energy at peak; we repeat this at peak volume like a command from a marine drill sergeant." And again, "Robbins leads us in a repetitive, responsive group incantation: "Now I am the voice! I will lead, not follow! I will believe, not doubt! I will create, not destroy! I am a force for good! I am a leader! I will defy the odds! Step up!"

Clearly, Robbins does not assume that he has gained commitment simply as a result of the person attending. He constantly asks the person to verbally state their commitment, and has people check up on each others' actions to ensure they are consistent with this commitment. Robbin's continuous rhetorical questions also require people (answering him in their minds as they listen) to affirm commitment. The final result, in terms at least of people continuing with his trainings, is convincing. It's hard to find someone else in the training field who is as good at getting "commitment" in that sense (over a million people have attended his seminars, says Greenberg).

For the Landmark Education Corporation, a related notion is "enrolment". "Enrolment is generating a possibility in another's listening such that they step into that possibility committedly and act." (Wruck and Eastley, 1997, p 12). This is not the same as coercing or persuading someone -it is measured by the creation, by the person themselves, of internal representations of a new life possibility, and by their willingness to act until these internal representations are matched in reality. As an example of the Forum's ability to "enrol", consider their actual enrolment statistics. 20% of those attending an introductory evening (usually brought by a previous Forum trainee) will attend the Forum. By the second ("Advanced") course, the rate of enrolment for the third ("Self expression and Leadership") course is 80%. This result is built into the structure of both evening sessions and basic courses - fully a quarter of the time on the basic course is spent in enrolling participants in the next level of training. Of course, many of the 80% who do not enrol after a basic course evening may find the pressure on this introductory evening offensive. The end result for Landmark, however, includes a very high number of "enrolments" (in both senses of the word) from each evening.

Landmark has another feature which supports "enrolment". During the training sessions, there is time when participants can make phone calls to people in their family, friends or colleagues, and put their new learnings into action immediately. This creates an even stronger level of external involvement than Tony Robbins' pledges to another training participant. Between training sessions, Forum participants are also set homework tasks which involve them in interacting with others using their new "distinctions" (Wruck and Eastley, 1997, p 9). Follow-up on their completion of these tasks is quite confrontational, comparing convincingly with weight reduction groups' "Pig of the Month" awards. In each case, a considerable "away from" motivation (to use the NLP term) is applied. Commitment-focused trainings (and here I'm including both Forum and Tony Robbins' seminars) are also heavy on modal operators of necessity. "Turn your shoulds to musts!" Robbins exhorts (Greenberg, 1998, p 70).

There is a simple principle behind Robbins' pledges and shouts of "Aye", and the Forum's phone calls and homework. The principle is that once people have engaged in some new behaviour, they tend to keep doing similar behaviours, in order to seem congruent (to themselves, and to others). In the field of social psychology there is considerable research on this phenomenon (Myers, 1983, p 44-69). For example, usually, 46% of Toronto residents asked to contribute to the Cancer society fundraising drive actually do so. However, in one study residents were asked, on the day before the drive, to wear a lapel pin advertising the fundraising. All those approached agreed to do so, and the contribution rate from these people, the next day, was 90%. Having done one behaviour (wearing the pin) they were twice as likely to complete other similar behaviours later. Similarly, after agreeing to sign a simple "safe driving" petition, Californian residents were three times more likely to agree to have a large, ugly "Drive Safely" sign put in their front yard. In sales, this is known as the "foot in the door" phenomenon.

Verbal Commitments

Interestingly, the first action need only be a verbal or written statement, in order to generate other related actions. Steven Sherman repeated the Cancer society research, but merely phoned people up the day before and asked them whether they thought they would be willing to donate time to the society (by working as a collector). Almost half said yes, presumably wanting to appear helpful. When the actual Cancer society organiser called a few days later, the result was a 700% increase in collectors (Cialdini, 1993, p 58). American prisoners of war in the Korean conflict provided perhaps the most dramatic instance of this phenomenon. Their captors asked them to copy written statements critical of America. These written statements were then posted up for other prisoners to read. After writing them, several hundred soldiers actually became critical of their own army, and twenty one refused to return to America after the war (This process led to the original coining of the term "brainwashing"). In sales, many companies utilise this principle by running competitions in which a person writes a "testimonial" beginning "I like the product because(?)�&". Amway Corporation was one of the first large companies to take advantage of the idea with its own staff, by requiring sales personnel to write their own individual goals down and state them publicly (Cialdini, 1993, p 67).

Statements creating commitment can be encouraged without the influencer even asking for them. When groups are allowed to talk about the decisions they face (as a group or in pairs) people are more likely to act on their positive intentions. In the Second World War, United States government Committee on Food Habits representatives travelled around the USA attempting to convince housewives to cook the less popular cuts of meat, in order to provide more food for the war effort. Only 3% of those attending their presentations, and receiving the glossy recipe books actually changed their behaviour. Next, they changed their strategy, and after a brief presentation had the groups discuss whether they would be willing to change to use more of these meats. This increased their response rate to 32% (Franzoi, 1996, p 239-240). Stephen Franzoi (p 546) explains "group discussion allows members to make explicit promises as to how they will behave, and these promises act as a binding "contract"."

Once useful new behaviour is established (for whatever reason) it tends to create its own justifications. A study in Iowa (Cialdini, 1993, p 83-85) looked at attempts to influence residents to reduce natural gas consumption. Those in the study were first given information about how and why this important conservation process could be done. All agreed to "try" to save gas, but gas use remained the same that year. The next year, a section of residents were given the same information, and told that if they did save gas, their names would be published in the newspapers. They saved an average of 422 cubic feet of gas each over the next month. At that point, they were told that the newspaper advertising had been cancelled. Would they now stop saving? Not at all! In fact, over the next few months, their gas savings exceeded the original month! Though initially motivated by the publicity, they had now found other reasons why they felt good saving gas. Their new behaviour, once started, continued and was self-supporting.

In summary, then, for a trainer to establish commitment involves having course participants take action (verbally, in writing, in roleplay or in real life situations) that:

  1. Is completed while they are at the training.
  2. While small, is consistent with the change they want to achieve.
  3. Is observed and even discussed by other course participants.

The result of doing this repeatedly through a training is life-transforming change.

Isocrates or Demosthenes?

So far, we have presented commitment, self actualisation, learning strategies and memory as complementary goals. That's the way we consider them to be used most effectively. For you as a trainer, it's also important to know that some "presenters" have a strong focus on one goal and an avoidance of the others. This difference became obvious in ancient Athens, when Philip of Macedonia began to gather the northern Greek cities under his control. The response of Isocrates was to write to Philip in 346 BC, proposing that he consider becoming a sort of defender of unity and peace in Greece. Philip's greatest success would then be the admiration of future generations, he said. Isocrates, in presenting this proposal, acknowledged "I hope you will go through and examine all I have written, and if you find any weakness or inadequacy in it, you will put the blame on my age, which may reasonably be excused."(Saunders, 1970, p 166). In other words, he advocated a careful consideration of his proposal, rather than simply acceptance.

Between 351 and 341 BC, Demosthenes, on the other hand, spoke forcefully to the Athenian senate about the need to wage war against Philip. He said, "We have no choice. We are left with the one most just and unavoidable course, which speakers like this deliberately overlook. What is that? Resistance to aggression."(Saunders, 1970, p 236). Demosthenes' rhetorical questions, away-from motivation and modal operators of necessity are not designed to engage considered decision-making. They demand commitment. If the risk of Isocrates approach is that he never insists on action, the risk of Demosthenes' approach is that he only insists on action.

Dan Greenberg (1997) has trained with Landmark Forum, NLP trainers and others. Commenting on Tony Robbins, he complains, "Am I in a Tony Robbins seminar in New York in 1997, or have I stepped through a time warp into a Hitler Youth rally in Berlin in 1937(?)�&. In pure energy and charisma Tony Robbins ranks up there with the best of them. But although his seminar was dramatic and lively and energising, the following day I woke up to the recognition that little of what I learned there had stayed with me." Robbins had motivated him, but not installed in his memory the tools to motivate himself. On the other hand, the Iowa gas conservation study (above, Cialdini, 1993, p 83-85) and the Committee on Food Habits study (above, Franzoi, 1996, p 239) show that giving people information, by itself, is not enough. In both those studies, lectures simply turned uneducated non-responders into educated non-responders. And there are certainly trainers who focus on information in this way. We have both attended NLP training (at the trainer level) where nine hour days were used to do an "information dump" without a single exercise or discussion to engage commitment.

By contrast, here is another example of someone we'd consider to be both using and demonstrating the results of the Educated Commitment model. Here, one of our NLP graduates describes her own teaching of NLP skills.

"The programme I run is called "Fresh Start" and was established at the beginning of 1996 because there was a big problem in the area about what to do with "at risk" teenagers(?)�&. We work to change the beliefs that they hold about themselves, particularly by looking at how they can go about improving their ability to learn. We do all of this through the outdoor skills and also learning to juggle, stuff like that from my NLP training. I teach them the memory-pegs and NLP Spelling Strategy too, so they can visualise to spell and read and do maths and suchlike. They like that, because no-one ever showed them specifically how to use their own brain properly before. They learn the NLP attitude that 'if it is possible for someone else to do something, then it is possible for me to learn to do it too'. Then I show them some of the NLP and accelerated learning tools to actually do it. In 1996 we got about 40% of students actually go back into the classroom and stay, which is a really, really good result. Most of the other approaches that have been tried with these kids counselling, police, getting heavy with them - none of that stuff has worked anything like that well." -Karyn Chalk, High School Teacher, Christchurch, New Zealand

Summing Up

We have considered four ways in which participants change as a result of NLP Practitioner training. In each case, we suggested guidelines that can enhance the achievement of that outcome.


Learning Strategies:

Self Actualisation:


Memory by itself is of only academic importance. Commitment by itself is the stuff of which cults are made. But these four outcomes together create something extraordinary. For us, this "educated commitment" to transformation is the measure of training success.


Dr Richard Bolstad is an NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer who has worked with clients individually and as a trainer of groups since 1990. He can be contacted at PO Box 35111, Browns Bay, Auckland, New Zealand, Phone/Fax: +64-9-478-4895 E-mail: learn@transformations.net.nz Website: http://www.transformations.net.nz