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The Hidden Ability Technique

By on December 5, 2014

Admit it, we all have weaknesses, character flaws. Things that we don’t like about ourselves, perhaps things that we beat ourselves up about. But there is a simple (H)NLP (Humanistic Neuro Linguistic Psychology) technique that can turn these weaknesses into strengths in one easy step.

The technique is called the ‘Hidden Ability’ technique and was developed by John Overdurf, co-founder of HNLP. It involves identifying a ‘hidden ability’ embedded  in an unwanted behavior. For example, if your hypnosis client has a fear of flying, you could suggest that they are obviously good at protecting themselves. This positive ‘hidden ability’, self protection, can then be used by the client to help them to transform their fear, by keeping them safe from the fear for example.

Call it the silver lining of the problem if you will. That’s what researchers from the University of New York called the phenomena, the Silver Lining Effect. They suggested that participants in the study suffered from a negative personality trait, for example ‘impulsiveness’ and suggested that this characteristic was associated with a positive ability, such as ‘creativity’. So they would suggest to participants, “You are clearly compulsive, and that means you are also likely to be more creative than average”.

What they found was that this association of the negative trait, with a positive ability, actually boosted the participants performance on the positive ability. The link between the two things, compulsiveness and creativity, did not even need to be particularly strong or compelling to make the Silver Lining Effect work.

You can read more about their research below.

Holding a silver lining theory: When negative attributes heighten performance

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