Eleven years ago I completed my qualification in NLP and hypnotherapy. As much as possible, between clients and training, I have kept up with other learning opportunities and one of the courses I attended with Ian Rowland (who is a cold reading expert) called “applied cold reading”, really brought together a jumble of different skills I had developed.

I would describe ‘applied cold reading’ as the ability to make informed statements about someone else and position those statements in a way that minimises your chances of being wrong or rejected.

This skill used in combination with what I had learned in NLP – mainly in the area of sensory acuity has proven to be extremely helpful in making people feel at ease and as if I am fully in control and understanding of their situation.

Sensory acuity is your ability to notice subtle shifts in someone that could indicate a change in how they think and feel.

For example, noticing a flicker in the corner of their mouth or a narrowing in their eye lid could all demonstrate a change in, what we refer to in NLP as, state.

A state change is helpful to notice as it could be that you just said or did something that set off a particular thought or feeling. This could help you identify extra details about the problem or highlight a window of opportunity in pin pointing the solution that the client had perhaps not consciously discovered just yet.

I like to acknowledge these changes as I see them and as questions like “What was that? That thought you just had? The thing you said to yourself in your head and didn’t say out load to me – what was it?”

This usually surprises people a great deal. They begin to get the feeling that I am somehow reading their minds. The truth is I am not. I am reading their body and then drawing symmetry between what they ‘show’ me and other information I have collated from them at an earlier time.

If you notice that someone furrows their eyebrows in a certain way and tells you that they ‘thought it was distasteful’ (it doesn’t matter what it is), then later on a different subject perhaps you ask or suggest something and you get to see the furrowed eyebrows again, say to them “What is it about that that you find distasteful?”

They will probably be surprised at your reaction. If you are feeling more brave, you could say “And you find this distasteful. Tell me about that.” In the second instance you are not phrasing as a question which needs their verification, instead you are telling them how they are feeling, which will elevate how they perceive your skills to a higher level.

The challenge is ‘turning off’ this brilliant skill. Most hypnotherapists and NLP practitioners have to remember to leave their tool kit at the office and be a ‘normal’ human again when they interact with their friends and family. It can be a little frustrating when your loved one tells you that they know what you are thinking and unless someone has come to you asking for help, you should resist the temptation to give them unsolicited feedback and advise. After all, the best solutions come from within the person who has the challenge in the first place.

By Gemma Bailey