The concept of Sleight of Mouth came from Robert Dilts who observed and then modeled the persuasion skills of Richard Bandler, co-founder of NLP. Dilts was able to develop the Sleight of Mouth patterns as a result of discovering the methods Bandler and other famous communicators used in their day-to-day communication.

While there are several Sleight of Mouth patterns they can sub divided into four basic types:

  • Change meaning
  • Change cause
  • Comparisons
  • Change logical level

The 15 Sleight of Mouth patterns

  1. Hierarchy of Criteria

    To be effective the response must relate to the real values of the person you’re talking to!

    Don’t you think its more important to concentrate on what your objectives are now, and how NLP could help you achieve them; rather than rely on past opinions?

  2. Consequence

    A consequence of that view is that some of your people wont get the best development opportunity that’s available to them.

  3. Another outcome

    The issue here is not whether its appropriate for your whole company; which it isnt; the issue is whether its very appropriate for some people in your company.

  4. Metaphor / Analogy

    Would a football coach that studied how the best footballers scored goals not be appropriate for a football club? Business NLP is about how the best business people achieve results.

  5. Redefine 1

    Its not inappropriate for your company; it just needs to be implemented properly to get the best results

  6. Redefine 2

    Business NLP is about producing best business results; are you really saying producing better business results is not appropriate for your company?

  7. Chunk Down

    (Most of the Meta model can be used)

    What particular parts of NLP are not appropriate for your company? How specifically are they inappropriate?

  8. Chunk up / exaggerate

    So you mean that learning and improving performance will never be appropriate for your company?

  9. Counter example

    Isn’t it possible that one aspect of Business NLP will be appropriate for your company? There is at least one area of your company that could benefit isn’t there?

    What would be appropriate for your company?

    Who would Business NLP be appropriate for?

  10. Intent

    My intention is not to sell you something inappropriate; its to save you money and increase your effectiveness. Business NLP may be able to help you with both these.

  11. Model of the world

    That may be 100% true from the experience youve had so far; however would you be interested in the experience of people from similar companies that have found it appropriate?

  12. Reality strategy

    What would you know if Business NLP was appropriate to your company?

  13. Apply to self

    That’s an inappropriate thing to say; knowing how many other companies have benefited.

  14. Change Frame size

    It may seem that now; however when you look at the potential benefit of how Business NLP can help you with changes over the next five years; you’ll see how necessary it is.

  15. Meta Frame

    You’re only saying that because you don’t know if you can handle the impact Business NLP will have. I can guide you through that to achieve the results you want.


There are many different responses that can be used:

  1. Reality Strategy: How do you know that being late and caring are the same thing?
  2. Model of the World: Some people believe that caring is displayed by the quality of the date and the outcome.
  3. Counter Example: We both know people who always show up on time but yet are complete idiots when they’re here.
  4. Intent: It’s not my intention to be late or not care. I just want to give you the best quality time.
  5. Redefine: I wasn’t late. I was stuck in traffic
  6. Chunking Up: Are you implying that the most important aspect of our date is arriving on time?
  7. Chunking Down: Specifically, how is being late and not caring the same thing?
  8. Metaphor or Analogy: If a fire fighter is late for dinner because he’s putting out a burning building, does that mean that he doesn’t care about his wife’s cooking?
  9. A Different Outcome: The real question isn’t if I’m late or if I care. The real question is how well I treat you on our date.
  10. Consequence: If I wasn’t late then I wouldn’t have been able to get you this present.
  11. Hierarchy of Criteria: Wouldn’t it be more important to concentrate on what happens during our date rather than my punctuality?
  12. Self-Apply: I really wish you would’ve cared enough about me to let me know earlier.
  13. Changing Frame Size: Within time, you’ll see that I’ve given you more happiness than anyone else who’s more punctual.
  14. Meta Frame: Lots of people are now valuing quality time over being punctual. I thought you’d be more understanding.