NLP has been under attack over the last few years. Without very much research in the scientific arena, I've found few people believing it to be credible. In fact, it's SO incredible, I decided to learn it.

Over the last 14 years, my investigations have paid off with a new kind of philosophy of life and living. But more importantly, I've been exploring the use of NLP strategies in top leadership training with my own country's armed forces.

One of the predominantly powerful strategies is the use of Anchoring, or the conditioning of responses through visual, auditory or kinesthetic means. Anchoring has been quite controversial from the ethical standpoint. Knowing how we use it, how exactly do experts use it?

It's as powerful as it is useful. Leaders need special strategies to create loyalty, generate persuasive messages, and even create opportunities for others to take over leadership. In many instances, anchoring can also be used to enhance credibility.

I'd recommend anyone who is in a leadership capacity give one anchoring strategy a shot.

I've encountered many leaders who are shunned by others on first sight. In fact, I happen to work with some of them. They are the kind who look like they'd tear you apart if you said something wrong. And indeed, some of them do just that.

In exploring the "likeability" model of rapport, I've found that the fastest way to enhance someone's leadership capability is to simply change the angle of communication and use: humor.

What does humor entail?
How does it create "leadership"? Isn't it in conflict with what real leadership is?
Is it possible to learn how to be "funny"? Or, Stuart, are you just trying to be funny? (pun intended)

Looking at things, I've found some basic strategies to employ.

#1 - Memorize and replay past "funnies".

There's a common method that I use in speaking to others where I anticipate what people will say, and then block off that pathway. For instance, when I ask a question such as "so what do you expect to gain out of this seminar", it's a typical question, and I have had so many possible answers, I can draw on previous funny responses from previous audiences. This is also applicable from the standpoint of funny experiences you have had in the past. Just say "the last time someone answered this question..." and complete the statement with a story. Chances are if someone laughed in the past, the new audience you have will laugh again.

This is such a great way for leaders to generate empathy from the audience and get lots of support. Talk about your past experiences that were funny, possibly some that were embarrassing. A note here is that the sense that you're "human" and "one of us" is more important than the embarrassment. Use this to get the audience to be one with you, laugh with you and still respect you.

#2 - Exaggerate the mental movies.

This is a great strategy when you are speaking one on one. Everyone who does not finish their sentences are targets immediately. Play out the sentence. PLay out the mental movie in your mind and then let your imagination run awry.

If someone says "...and then when we stepped into the bathroom...", finish the sentence! Say something that's out of the ordinary that will change the frame of attention. If you calibrate enough, you should be able to anticipate what the person is about to say. If the finishing sentence is "... and realized there was something wrong with the light..." you could replace it with "... and realized that we weren't wearing anything..."

A good way to do #2 is also to pretend to hear something incorrectly. "I'll bring her a glass of water" could be deliberately interpreted as "I'll bring her a lot of fungus". This works best with larger groups or if you are in a slightly noisy environment.

This application to humor is often in a dialog. You may want to do this less in serious discussions because people could interpret you as not being able to take things seriously! Instead, do this in a large group discussion or a dialog with an individual or small group in informal settings.

There are more application areas for humor, but I'll let you test these two and see how you feel about them. In the meanwhile, any other ideas can be posted on my blog at

Author's Bio: 

Mr. Stuart Tan, MBA (Western Michigan), BA (Hons), S.D.C.G., is the Executive Director of the Adam Khoo Learning Technologies Group (AKLTG) Pte. Ltd, and the Managing Director of Ultimate Alliance Consultancy Pte Ltd. He has been a trainer since 1994 and has focused on the development of personal excellence, performance enhancement, leadership and communication development, with his background in Management, Psychology, Linguistics and Counselling.

He was Asia’s youngest licensed trainer of NLP in 1997. Stuart received his trainer’s license in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) from the founder, Dr. Richard Bandler, in 1997 and 2005, and has also been trained by Robert Dilts of the NLP University with updated skills and knowledge in the field of NLP in 2004 as an NLP Training Consultant.

In 2007, he became the record holder in the Singapore Book Of Records for the longest personal endurance feat when he ran his Charity Telemarathon for 36 hours non-stop in aid of the Make-A-Wish Foundation (Singapore).

Stuart co-developed the Patterns of Excellence program, and the motivational learning programs, SuperKids and “I am Gifted, So Are You”. He is the principal developer of the Internet Marketing Academy, a powerful curriculum for developing online business knowledge.

He is the bestselling co-author of the book, “Master Your Mind, Design Your Destiny”, and the national bestseller, “Secrets Of Internet Millionaires”, where he relates his experience in building a $400,000 revenue stream through online marketing methods. With his expertise in online media, he coaches and trains business executives in the area of online marketing and branding strategies.

He is also the developer of several major personal success programs, including Presentation Dynamics, Attracting The People You Like, Accelerated Whole-Brain Reading, Emotional Management for Success, Brand Yourself Online, and the Internet Marketing Academy Intensive Workshops. He also certifies Practitioners and Master Practitioners in NLP.

He is also the developer of the Coaching Methodology, Solution Synthesis, which helps individuals achieve their goals. He has actively coached business owners and managers to achieve their business, personal and interpersonal goals.

He has been teaching members of the public and various organisations about NLP and its effects on peak performance, including the National SEA Games Team for 2007, The Yellow Pages, Prudential, NTUC Income, Motorola, The Malaysian Institute Of Accountants, the National Community Leadership Institute, the National Parks Board, the Ministry of Manpower, the Ministry of National Development, the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) and the National Council for Social Services. He was also the lead consultant for a project for the SAF Shooting Contingent (SSC), where he developed a methodology of transferring learning from expert shooters to novice shooters. The SSC became champions for the ASEAN Armies Rifles Meet, 2002.

As a celebrated Toastmaster in Singapore, Stuart has taken part in and won many national level (Area/Division) speech competitions. He also is the 1st runner-up of the Toastmasters International, District 51 (Pan South-East Asia) Impromptu Speech Contest, 2001, and Champion of the Toastmasters International District 51 (Pan South-East Asia) Evaluation Speech Contest, 2002.

He is also a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), USA, the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress (AAETS), and is Certified in Acute Traumatic Stress Management.

He has been interviewed and featured in various media such as Live 938FM, NUSS Graduate Magazine, The Aspirant, Today and The Graduate.