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Milton Model

The Milton Model is a model from a set of language patterns that originated when Richard Bandler and John Grinder modeled the successful work of Milton Erickson. They discovered that Milton Erickson used abstract language patterns to:

  • Tune into the minds of others through rapport
  • Bring the other in a different mood
  • Distract the other from conscious thoughts
  • Help the other gain access to his or her unconscious sources to gather information

Because the language patterns are ambiguous by nature, and are deliberately kept vague they easily connect (match) to the experience of the listener. With the help of the Milton Model you can put people in a trance-state. (And you can take them out with the Meta Model language patterns.)

The following language patterns are in the Milton Model:


1. Mind reading
Indicate that you know what someone is thinking or feeling without indicating how you know.
"I know you're wondering ..."

2. Lost performative (eternal truth)
Provide a value judgement without telling the listener who made that value judgement.
"And it's good to ask yourself ..."

3. Cause & Effect (A>B)
Implies that one leads to the other. The one is the effect of the other.
a) B is the effect of A.
b) If... then...
c) If you ... then you...
"If you buy this product today then you’ll be much happier!"

4. Complexe equivalence (A=B)
Suggesting that two things mean the same thing, when they don’t necessarily are.
"That means ..."

5. Presuppositions
By creating assumptions in your language you can have people begin to think that something is true without ever having the chance to question it.
"You have learnt a lot from your past mistakes."


6. Universal quantifiers (all or nothing)
Words with universal generalisations without reference to its name.
"No-one knows that" or "That will never happen"

7. Modal operators
words that imply either necessity or possibility, and forms the rules in our lives.
"You can learn that..."


8. Nominalisations
Verbs that are frozen as a noun. A process is secured immediately which means that there is little or no choice possible.
"This gives you new insights and understanding."

9. Unspecified verbs
Verbs that do not specifically indicate how concrete is acted or worked.
"That's the way..."

10. Tag question
A question that follows an assertion and is intended to eliminate resistance.

11. Lack of referential index
A statement that is not linked to the experience of the listener by removing the source of the statement. The noun or the topic discussed, is not specified.
"People can, you know ..."
"That is easy to learn."
"How they said it made all the difference."

12. Comperative deletions
In which a comparison is made without the other part of the comparison being mentioned.
"The film was much better"
"And it’s more or less the right thing…"

13. Pace Current Experience
Where the experience of the interlocutor (measurable and external) is described in which resistance is not possible.
"You sit here and listen to my voice ... "

14. Double Bind (two meanings/twofold explanation possible)
A statement that has a double message hidden.
"And that means your unconsciousness is here today and can hear what I say. Since that is the case, you learn from this and your unconsciousness probably knows more than you think you know and it's not good that I tell him, learn this or learn that, let him learn in his own way, in the order he prefers to learn. "

15. Conversational Postulate
This pattern has the form of a question that a "yes" or "no" answer is possible. If I want someone to do something, what should be present or true so that the person does this, without being aware of it. It gives you the opportunity to say yes or no and prevents an authoritarian attitude. This pattern is also called "command in question form" (see intonation patterns).
"Can you close the door?"
"Do you feel this as something you understand?"
"Will you tell me what's going on?"

16. Extended Quotes
Linking the tables of citations where statement of others are recorded and making it unclear exactly who said what.
"Last week I was with Robert and he told me about his training in 1983 in London, when he spoke with someone who said he found it hard but found support by him and said ..."

17. Selectional Restriction Violation
Suggesting properties of a noun that the noun cannot posses. Example by showing feelings to objects while only humans and animals have feelings.
"The walls have ears in this office!"
"A chair can feel ..."

18. Ambiguities
A) Sound (phonological)
Two words with different meanings sound the same.
pair en pear, wood and would, bare and bear, principle and principal, wait and weight etc.

B) Syntactic
Where the meaning (syntactic function) of a word cannot be directly determined from the context.
"There were many graves on the estate."

C) Scope
When the linguistic context cannot be determined how a part of a sentence refers to another part of the sentence.
"Speaking to you as a child ..."
"The old men and women ..."
"The weight of your hands and feet ..."

D) Punctuation
Ambiguous use of punctuation, pauses in unusual places and incomplete sentences.
"I want you to notice your *pause* hand *pause* me the bottle".

19. Utilisation
Use everything that happens or what is said, make it usable in the context in which you work.
A customer says: "I believe I still doubt myself." You say: "It is good to believe, as long as you still believe you will achieve your goal, then this will happens."

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