The Gold in Anchoring

Frequently advanced students of NLP seem to forget or pass over the benefits and strengths of Anchoring.  Perhaps because of its simplicity, perhaps because it’s taught early on in most NLP programs.  Whatever the reason, overlooking the effectiveness and ease of anchoring is a very big miss.

So the next few weeks I’ll be exploring some of the ways in which anchoring can benefit us, and how we are affected by anchors presently out of our awareness – and what you can do about that.

This was brought to mind by a couple of articles in the mainstream press.   Couple of salient points from the article Fighting a War Against Distraction :

  • The average knowledge worker switches tasks every three minutes, and, once distracted, a worker takes nearly a half-hour to resume the original task, according to Gloria Mark, a leader in the new field of “interruption science.”
  • Interruptions and the requisite recovery time now consume 28 percent of a worker’s day, the business research firm Basex estimates. The risks are clear. As one top executive told me, “Knowledge work can’t be done in sound bites.”
  • Employees who are routinely interrupted and lack time to focus are more apt to feel frustrated, pressured and stressed, according to separate studies by Ms. Mark and the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit group.
  • Under deadline pressure, workers produce creative work on days when they are focused, not when they are scattered and interrupted, a study published in the Harvard Business Review found.

In fact the author of those points, Maggie Jackson, has turned this issue into a whole book.

As Katie Hafner writes in another New York Times article“I have checked two e-mail accounts at least a dozen times each, and read eight messages. Only two were relevant to my task, but I responded right away to all of them. My sole act of self-discipline: both instant messaging accounts are turned off. For now.  This sorry litany is made only slightly less depressing when I remind myself that I have plenty of company.
Humans specialize in distraction, especially when the task at hand requires intellectual heavy lifting. All the usual “Is it lunchtime yet?”

(And did you really need to follow the links and read the complete articles? 😉

How can we start to deal with this using some very simple NLP?

Like many early users of software, I learned the hard way the verity of the old saying “Jesus saves – you should, too.”  As fragile as software and hardware was at the time, it became a habit to hit “control s” every few minutes or at the end of every paragraph and certainly every time someone walked up to my desk or the phone rang or an email popped in.

What’s the difference between this and being able to step right back to what you were about to do next when you’re interrupted, as we all are more times than not?

The save function is only saving what we’ve already done.  What’s needed to save your sanity is to save what you were about to do next.

This is a great way to use anchoring.  I remember John Grinder using anchoring to great effectiveness in presentations when he was interrupted by a question.  John would stop, almost a freeze frame, step aside from where he was standing, answer the question, and then step back into the same spot, and pick up right where he had left off.

He had trained his unconscious to hold his next move in that physical position, to associate what was the immediate future with the physical location in which he was working.

This is a brilliant example of the use of spatial anchoring, a form of kinesthetic anchoring.

You can do the same thing, and enjoy the same sense of control over your interruptions even if you’re not a big time presenter on a stage.

It’s as simple as one more step before responding to an interruption.  A little practice will go a long way here.

As in my example with saving my work from the uncertainty of primitive software (and isn’t it still?) all you need to do is set a “save” anchor for yourself.  Hey, if your computer deserves that, don’t you?

Just practice a simple physical gesture, like the “control s” mentioned above. The important difference is to visualize and/or say to yourself what your next step is.  Then use your physical anchor.

After you’ve happily dealt with the interruption, move back into the physical space you were in before, and “fire” the anchor.  Will this work the first time?  Partially, in most cases.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, your response will improve every time you use it.

Given how many times we’re interrupted on an hourly basis, you’ll have dozens of chances to practice this every day.   So your opportunity to practice and enjoy the change will go on day by day.  And won’t your friends and co-workers be intrigued by the difference in your peace of mind and effectiveness as you master an issue that bedevils almost everyone?

And if you’d like a great review of the basics of Anchoring, here is Tom Best’s Introduction to Anchoring. (exerpted from The NLP Portable Practitioner Training)

Note: the video doesn’t seem to run in the Firefox browser. Workin’ on it, boss…now it runs in FF – in fact, it autostarts, so use the slider to wind it back to the start. Works great in IE, tho 😉

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0 thoughts on “The Gold in Anchoring”

  1. Tom describes this process that John Grinder does when John gets interrupted. and Tom calls it kinesthetic anchoring. yet I respectfully suggest that its not kinesthetic anchoring at all but rather spatial anchoring. there was no touch(kinesthetic)involved. its was all changing position on the floor anound him

  2. Thanks, Jim. Yes, I would call this more precisely spatial anchoring, a form of kinesthetic anchoring – and so I’ve noted!
    Tom

  3. Given how many times we’re interrupted on an hourly basis, you’ll have dozens of chances to practice this every day. So your opportunity to practice and enjoy the change will go on day by day. And won’t your friends and co-workers be intrigued by the difference in your peace of mind and effectiveness as you master an issue that bedevils almost everyone?

  4. Pingback: Bookmarks about Nlp

  5. Pingback: Spatial Anchoring Fun | Focused Awareness

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