This morning I was reminded of a concept that blew my mind when I first learned it…
The concept? Well, it’s from one of the world’s most highly-regarded Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) trainers and thinkers… Robert Dilts.
Dilts is known for all sorts of contributions to NLP. But the one I want to focus on today is something called “Logical Levels.”
In short, we interpret the world on all kinds of different levels. Both our internal and the external world.
And how we interpret the world on different levels can make an impact on the other levels — but only in some contexts. (We’ll get to the selling applications in a minute.)
Let’s look at the levels first…
The six logical levels Dilts laid out are…
— Environment, where you are, what’s around you
— Behavior, what you do
— Capabilities, your abilities and talents
— Values/beliefs, why you do things, your understanding
— Identity, who you are, how you see yourself
— Spiritual, your mission and purpose in the world
At the top of the list is the most superficial level. The most external. And the easiest thing to change.
At the bottom is the deepest level. The most internal. And the hardest thing to change.
In general, the deeper you get, the more “internal” the logical level is, and the harder it is to change.
And yet, that’s only one interesting thing about this list. Because the levels are related in a completely different way.
You see, much of NLP is about change work. Like therapy, helping people change their thoughts and feelings to get along better in the world.
Dilts recognized something important about the logical levels. Namely, that if you change a deeper level, it will often have an impact on everything above it. However if you change a higher level, it frequently has no impact on the deeper levels.
In fact, if the higher-level change is in conflict with a deeper-level “truth,” the higher-level change will often revert to something more closely aligned with the person’s truth at the deeper logical level.
(We’ll get to the selling bit in a minute — I promise it’s worth the wait!)
An example of using the logical levels in change…
Let’s start with the very basic…
Let’s say, for example, that someone has a problem controlling their alcohol consumption. Dig a little deeper, and you realize they have a stocked liquor cabinet at home, and live next door to a bar and around the corner from a liquor store.
If they clean out their liquor cabinet and move somewhere that it’s not all so accessible, they’ve changed their environment, and may be able to better control the excessive consumption.
Taking that one step further, you could look at their behavior patterns, their habits, and realize they always stop in the bar for a drink after work. Even if they did all of the above but still stopped in the bar at the end of every day, they’d likely still have challenges.
If you dug a little deeper, you might realize that they valued the camaraderie they got from the regulars at the bar. And in order to create real change, you may have to supplant that value with one of getting camaraderie elsewhere.
At the most difficult level of change, but most impactful, let’s say this person is “born again” — in a Christian or non-Christian sense — and decide that they have a new purpose in life that requires them to stop drinking. That would likely have a huge impact on the habit — even if they never moved where they lived in the first place.
Another example, from my life…
Back at the beginning of September, I weighed just shy of 210 pounds, and I wasn’t happy about it. It was the most I’d weighed in my adult life.
I made an important change to my environment. I bought a scale for the first time, to have in my home. Previously, we hadn’t had one.
In addition to getting the scale, I changed my behavior. I decided that every morning, right when I woke up, I would weigh myself and put the weight into a Google Sheets spreadsheet.
I already knew from a previous experience a few years’ back that I had the capability to lose weight. I’d done it before by tracking my calories.
But now I had a value that it was important to bring my weight much closer to what was considered to be in the “healthy” BMI range.
I also re-established my internal representation of myself — my identity — as someone who treats their body well, stays fit, and makes healthy food choices. It’s not a diet (behavior). It’s who I am (identity).
And, I recognized that staying fit and healthy gives me the energy I need to accomplish the things I want in life, including doing good work in the world.
By changing ALL these levels, I’ve been able to drop my weight quickly (in about 140 days so far) by about 20 pounds.
This is powerful stuff…
Now, here’s how this applies to selling…
If you want to apply the logical levels to being a more effective copywriter, marketer, or salesperson, there are two ways…
First, find the deepest logical level where you have a match, and sell to that. In other words, selling stock picks falls somewhere around the behavior level — you’re looking to change the stocks that an investor buys. But if you position yourself as a value investor selling to other value investors, suddenly you’re connecting on the much deeper identity level.
By finding the deepest level and making sure you resonate there, you’re able to really connect with your reader and changing all the higher and more superficial levels (including buying your product) becomes much easier.
Second, by stimulating change at deeper levels, you’re able to create bigger breakthroughs. Now, this comes with a big warning. What I’m proposing is difficult. Getting someone to make a change in their environment is easy. Getting them to change their identity is near impossible and will be met with extreme resistance. However, if you do it, you’ve just created a customer for life. (This makes me think of sports fans. Once someone becomes a fan, they’ll buy and buy and buy and buy. Because it’s an identity.)
I’ve got more to say to complement this lesson, but time is running short so it’ll have to wait for an upcoming issue!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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