Is MLM training hypnotizing you? Read this.

“Mindset training” and “NLP” (neuro-linguistic programming) have been mentioned in many of our posts about MLM.  As we’ve covered previously, these are business and sales tools – ‘soft skills’ – that are not bad in and of themselves, but could be used for less than ethical purposes.  We loved Rebecca’s post about Mindset and MLM so, as she is a Mindset Coach herself, we decided to contact her and ask her a few questions about NLP & Mindset training.  Her website is here.


What is NLP/Mindset training?


Firstly, THEY are two different things.


NLP, neuro-linguistic programming, stems from studies aiming to demystify the art and science of excellence. The creators of NLP looked at a selection of very successful people who communicated, and studied what they all had in common. How do they communicate, where do they place their focus, how do they learn, how do they build relationships? From there they developed a series of surprisingly simple techniques to help us model the findings.


Mindset training or coaching looks at the beliefs you have about yourself and works on changing them until you are better able to reach your full potential. I describe it as getting your mind to work for you rather than against you, understanding that we have more choices than we are led to believe we have, that our intelligence and opportunities are not fixed. Basically I see mindset as empowering, removing limiting beliefs, and so handing back a whole lot of choice and control to my clients. The concept of mindset comes from the work of Carol Dweck, who researched what she called growth and fixed mindset.


However, I find that mindset has become a bit of a buzzword and I explain in the piece you linked to its limitations, especially in relation to MLM.  Read that piece here.


How do you learn it? 
Like anything else – you can buy books, training courses, study for qualifications if you like in NLP. And practice makes perfect.


Mindset is a little more “new”. I would advise starting by reading Carol Dweck’s book on the subject.


Can anyone learn it?


Yes, both mindset work and NLP techniques are beautifully simple.
I could confidently teach you a couple of techniques or concepts of each in a very short period of time.


How do people use it in sales?


NLP techniques can be used in many circumstances – as a coach I use it to help people communicate more confidently and also to reduce certain anxieties. I use the techniques more though as a way of helping me be a better coach – my NLP skills help me build rapport up with my clients and also help me “read” my clients more effectively – I can listen to what they say and what they don’t say in order to get a deeper understanding of where their issues lie.


NLP techniques are also used in sales, by most sales people whether they know it or not. Skilled users of NLP are able to quickly build up a rapport with almost anyone – and we buy from people we like. A sales person can also use NLP techniques to create pleasant associations with their products or services, tapping into what they pick up the client is looking for. Have you ever had a salesperson encourage you to visualise driving the car they are selling you, going into great detail? Or someone selling you a house inviting you to imagine yourself living there, painting you a picture of your new life? That’s NLP.


Skilled sales people also place themselves in a position of authority. Very subtley they will tip the balance of power in a conversation to favour them, and reduce the objections the client may have. They will pace and lead the conversation, rather than allowing the client to be in control. This sounds very sneaky, but most people who sell do this to a certain extent. But it is a skill which can be honed and perfected, making your selling irresistable. And NLP can help a salesperson get that skill.


Finally, for the purposes of this interview, the choice of language used in a sales pitch is really important. Sales “scripts” are developed by experts, paying great attention to the words used. In NLP we talk about “magic words”. There are also what we call “embedded commands”, which you probably won’t notice as being a command when you hear them, but they are designed to tap into your unconscious mind. Do you want an example? Don’t think about singing dancing crocodiles. (Did you just visualise a crocodile chorus?)


If we up the NLP skill level a little bit we can move on to the hypnotic use of language and tone. Have you ever found yourself almost zoning out during a sales pitch? Highly skilled users of NLP will repeat certain words or phrases, use specific key words and phrases repeatedly across the pitch and will speed up and slow down the speed at which they speak, changing the tone of their voice as they do it. In short, if you ever feel you have been hypnotised by a sales pitch then you aren’t going completely mad. They haven’t actually hypnotised you, or at least I hope not, but they have used certain techniques that hypnotists do use.


What about on video?


Yes, I would say that NLP techniques can be used on video. Perhaps not to the same effect as in person, as when watching a video it is easy to get distracted, or pause and come back to it.


Is there any certification required by government before you can use it?


No. Anyone can use NLP. When I was trained to use NLP I was also taught about the ethics surrounding it. Think of it as a scalpel – a tool that can be used to heal as well as harm. I don’t believe government regulation would be a good idea, and it certainly couldn’t be enforced. I would guess that any one of us use something that could be interpreted as NLP on a regular basis. Anyone that has any notion of sales, or who is naturally skilled at influencing others are most likely using something that could be described as NLP.


Using NLP in sales isn’t necessarily bad either – we have to be allowed to sell our products or services. It is when NLP is used to harm, to exert undue influence or to manipulate people that we step into a grey area. If I used NLP techniques to sell you a dodgy car or to recruit you into a Ponzi scheme, that would be unethical.



Yes, I think it is possible she felt as though she had been hypnotised but I doubt she was actually hypnotised. As I mentioned above some NLP techniques are based on hypnosis techniques (and vice versa) so a slight feeling of zoning out may have been linked to NLP. Perhaps the trainer used a specific tone of voice, or repeated certain phrases.

From what I know of hypnosis you need to be receptive to it, so I doubt you would unwillingly be hypnotised by a video. I am not saying it is impossible, but I think it is unlikely in this case.


 Thanks Rebecca, that’s very interesting.



  1. Funny that NLP is mentioned as if it’s a legitimate form of psychology- there may be something to some of it- however it is at least as cultic as some of the MLM recruiting! The idea that people favour different modes of assimilating (visual, hearing etc.) is not proven, nor is it proven that people can simple “model” another person’s behaviour to become like them- that is pop psychology at best!

    Better, more tested psychological explanations can be found in the works of Robert Cialdini as to how people are influenced and in the works of Steve Hassan as to how cults (such as MLMs) use persuasion techniques below the radar.


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