Tips for Eliciting Submodalities

Tips for Eliciting Submodalities


Choose your state…the best state for you is one of fascination…be interested.

  • Establish rapport
  • Use appropriate language for the context. Submodalities are everyday experiences, so use everyday language and everyday examples to help people see, hear and feel their submodalities.
  • Presuppose there are submodality distinctions. Do not ask someone ‘if they have a picture’ as this introduces doubt. Ask instead ‘what picture do you have? If the person is not aware of a picture or has difficulty with making the submodality distinctions, then use the ‘as if frame’ if you could see the picture what would it be like? Alternatively, you could pace and lead by saying something like ‘I know you are not aware of a picture, but pretend there is one and if there is, what is it like?
  • Be direct. Help them to see, hear and feel the submodality distinctions. Ask them to see what they saw and hear what they heard. Avoid phrases like: try to make the picture bigger. The word try elicits difficulty and effort. Can you make the picture bigger? The answer to this question is yes or no and that’s it, they need take no action. Presuppose they can and tell them to do it. (Please make your picture bigger) Presupposes they have a picture and they can make it bigger.
  • Keep a lively pace. Elicitation changes the experience as the other person becomes aware of it, so the submodalities may shift during the elicitation. If you are long-winded, you risk them changing even more. Use a brisk voice tone and tempo; do not give the person time to be confused. The first answer is usually the most precise.
  • Elicit don’t install. Do not suggest submodality distinctions, rather just give the client freedom to explore their subjective experience and find what they have. Do not presuppose it will be the same as yours.
  • Look and listen for non-verbal clues, submodality accessing cues are the same as you would expect if the person was really seeing, hearing and feeling on the outside. So, if a person looks into the distance on their right, then their mental picture is probably far away to their right. If they move their head back. It is probably close. If they cock their head to their left, then the sound is coming from their left.
  • Use your own body language to help the client. There are universal patterns of body language and voice tone you can use during elicitation. In general, if you raise your eyebrows, people will take that as an invitation to speak. If you lower them and look away, it is seen as an invitation to shut up.



  • One universal body language pattern is related to tonality. If you raise your voice inflection at the end of a sentence, it is usually perceived as a question.



When you keep your voice level, it is usually perceived as a statement.




If you inflict your voice tone down at the end of a sentence, it is usually perceived as an order.