One of the key skills taught as part of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the use of anchoring. An example of anchoring was discovered by Pavlov when he found that dogs could be conditioned to salivate in response to stimuli such as a bell, an electric shock or a visual trigger if the stimuli was repeatedly applied at the same time the dog became aware of food.

Anchors may be set in any of the main senses and some of the most powerful natural anchors occur with words. In addition the anchor may be due to an external stimuli or an internal stimuli such as self talk or visualisation.

Anchors can be set to trigger states such as confidence and or sequences of behaviours. They can be exceptionally useful in increasing the chances of behaving appropriately in any current or future situation.

Tips in using anchors

1) It’s really easy to anchor a powerful state, it’s almost impossible to anchor a weak state. The ability to create or notice naturally occurring strong states or amplify weak states is one of the most important skills in anchoring.

2) Anchors are best when they are unique and specific. While you can usefully ‘stack’ anchors of complimentary states using one location, one image or one voice tone to make them more powerful, normal practice is to keep them specific.

3) Anchors are best set just before the state peaks, when the intensity of the state is still rising

4) Anchors are reinforced by repetition. Even a weak anchor can be make effective by continual repetition

5) Individuals often have a sensory preference for anchors. Some will prefer a touch anchor, while other will prefer a auditory anchor while still others will prefer a visual anchor. In addition taste and smell can also be powerful anchors.

6) In language anchoring words and ideas can be as simple as connecting the word with the idea using the conjunction ‘and’. Using the word ‘and’ can connect ideas and states linguistically that are not linked in reality.

Combining Anchors

In NLP Courses three main methods of combining anchors are normally taught:

1) Stacked Anchors where similar and complimentary states are anchored to the same trigger to create a more powerful state

2) Chained Anchors where a specific sequence of anchors is triggered, each one firing the next

3) Collapsed Anchors where two dissimilar anchors are fired at the same time neutralising the weaker anchor or creating an integrated state.

Anchors are Universal

Anchors happen naturally all the time and are part of being alive. Learning to consciously develop some of our own anchors is a step on the road managing ourselves and giving us more choice. Being aware of the anchors we create for others is a part of understanding how we influence.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Beale is one of the UK's leading NLP Trainers and Business Coaches. For further details see Michael's website on NLP Practitioner Courses. In Addition Michael runs the NLP Forum.