Conversational Programming – but ‘but’ ain’t good unless …

Published: March 23, 2014

Antano Solar John is the creator and developer of the most advanced technologies to design and fast-track personal evolution and an investor in startups that have access to cutting-edge solutions for personal excellence.

You would have heard probably somewhere in your communication lesson not to use the word ‘but’. And if you paid a premium for that piece of information, someone may have even told you, “that’s what ‘NLP’ (Neuro Linguistic Programming) says!”

Agreed. ‘But’ is a terrible word most times. But it is a very powerful word when used properly. You have probably been reading my blog series on the Conversational Programming and on how to change beliefs, use language to influence, and so on.

One of the most powerful claims Neuro Linguistic Programming made was derived from the work of Noam Chompksy. Chompksy established every word we speak has what he calls a ‘deeper structure’. A set of complex connections and patterning that support the meaning of that word to that person. NLP on top of this made a very powerful claim that every casual word we speak comes from a very organized and a set of super rapid and fast internal processes. This is great because it means now you can know more of a person from their language, even more than they know about themselves.

'but' represents two different sorting principles at the deep structure
‘but’ represents two different sorting principles at the deep structure

So, how is all this related to the word ‘but’? Well, simply put, there are some individuals who have specific structures of internal processes and you can actually use the word ‘but’ to slide in anything into their belief system. I am going to coin a name for them and call them the ‘two toners’. And you need two things to make this work. One, identify two toners. Two, know how to slide in a belief using the word ‘but’.

Identifying a Two Toner

You can easily find a two toner from any of the following traits:

1. They actually use two tones in every sentence. Da da da da da (pause) La la la la la.
2. They use the word but very often themselves.
3. They say something first and  say something else immediately that means the opposite.
4. They speak in two-two sentences. One builds up something and the second sentence changes the entire meaning.

Actually, you will find a lot of these people, if you pay attention. What it means is that they have two very different sorting algorithms (it is NLP’s way of saying priorities). Or they are having simultaneous incongruence (they exhibit two emotions at the same time). Now, none of this means that the person is bad or has a problem. It only means at that moment they have a very interesting way of structuring their own thoughts.

Sliding in a Belief

Ok! You have identified a ‘two toner’. Now, what to do with them? Very simple. Leverage the full power of the word ‘but’. The brain responds to conventions way faster than our consciousness can understand what is going on. For example, if you were to just speak to someone with every sentence ending with an upward intonation, the other person will give you nods as if they are answering to a specific ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, and most people will not be conscious of this.

So, what happens when you use the word ‘but’ is that the brain is programmed already to take and accept one of the two phrases, the one before the ‘but’ or the one after the ‘but’. Conventionally, that is how people use ‘but’.  I want to … but I cant …
And by growing up in an environment where everyone uses the word ‘but’ to have two opposite statements, the brain patterns to ‘accept’ one of the phrases much much before it consciously processes the meaning.

Let me give you some more examples:

Example 1: I just met a ‘two toner’ and I want her to become curious about me. Then I would say, “You are going to be very curious about me, but you will be curious only after you get to know me, today.”

Let us examine what happens with that sentence. There are two possibilities.

Possibility 1: The girl already is curious about me. In which case she will agree to the first part of the sentence and completely ignore the second.

Possibility 2: The girl is not curious about me. In which case she will not agree to the first part and her neurology and her brain are already primed to ‘accept’ the second part. And so, way before she consciously understands the second part of the sentence, part of her, the other than conscious resources, has already accepted the suggestion that she is going to be curious about me today.

Example 2: Brenda is a young girl. And she is with the interviewer. And the interviewer is a ‘two toner’. So Brenda goes, “You will certainly hire me but you will hire me next week.”

Again in this case, if the interviewer already had the intention to hire her, then he will agree with the first part. And if he had no intention to hire her, he would agree with the second part. And both of them are in Brenda’s favor.

Is it so simple?

Well, most things in life are, when you know how to do it, when to do it, and with whom to do it. So, don’t just believe me. Give it a fair shot and let me know how it works. And if you are a two toner yourself, enjoy using it to program yourself. After all, you do completely agree that this works but you have to demonstrate that this works to yourself first!

Is this just for the word ‘but’?

No. Fundamentally, I believe all generalizations are false, including this one. They say  don’t use the word ‘if’ and use ‘when’ instead. They say, don’t ask close-ended questions. And many even claim the roots of such nonsense comes from Neuro Linguistic Programming. NLP doesn’t say that. It only says that each word and every phrase has a structure and a purpose. When you understand that you will know how to leverage the full force of each of every word you use, in a way that works!

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The Antano Solar Voice  is one of the most cutting-edge blog and podcast in the world with fresh insights from validated life experience. The Solar Voice season 1 podcast has been ranked #3 in Apple iTunes News & Noteworthy. And the posts have been published in over a dozen publications including Business World, YourStory, Hindu Business Line, Economic Times and  many more. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page. And to read the past article, check out the blog page.

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  1. Hi Antano,
    I was wondering how to use this “Sliding in the belief” in myself. I am in general not a two toner person, but at times I get double minded on some of the life decisions. Can I use this in such condition, if yes how.

    1. Ok. So, you get double minded on some of the life decisions. And what you are really asking is – what NLP pattern can I use to be certain of whatever decision you choose? Is that correct?

  2. Wow.. that was amazing! I really enjoyed reading through this page. I used to be structureless, and when I got structure, I would say every single word (so that each word would be structureless )and people would think I am intelligent. Now, I use words that have some structure and I have noticed that many people use words that have an internal structure. It’s really nice to do it this way. I think people who have a deeper character use words that have more structure. People who are effective or assertive have a deep structure in their words.

  3. Hi Antano, very interesting and useful blog. Enhances my beleif on power of positive framing of sentences. And after attending uPwithNLP, finding it easier and more interesting to read your blogs. Thanks !

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