NLP “Off-sters” and the shoulder squeeze

Being from a Sales background and knowing how to read behaviour to gain all important deals, I have studied body language and reactions to situations.

Some time ago I noticed that some people (especially in the Sales Arena) were just off. Somehow just not right or ‘genuine’. I couldn’t put my finger on what bothered me so much, but I did know it annoyed the hell out of me! I began to think of them as “off-sters”.

On closer inspection I realized these “off-sters” were closely monitoring my facial expressions and eye movements, I noticed them touching me often and repeating my name more than was necessary.

Emails became excruciating to read with my name appearing sometimes 5 times in an email of less than 200 words. Whilst I understand that using somebodies name can build a rapport, it becomes awkward when you want to scream at a colleague to stop.

The most awkward was face to face meetings, the constant use of my first name coupled with these “off-sters” wanting to touch me and validate me was excruciating.

Why the need to pat my arm? Why did they always want to leave me with a ‘shoulder-squeeze-maneuver’? Urgh.


I reached my limit when an “off-ster” starting copying my movements, speech and facial expressions , some may see this as a compliment but me? – Get me out of here!

I started researching and it wasn’t long before I found the source of all these “techniques” – NLP. Neuro Linguistic Programming has been around since the 1970’s and has created many schools of practice. A common theme across the schools is that of the ‘Programming’ of Subjects, using techniques such as “Anchors” and “Behaviour Transfer” to modify the Subject’s conduct.


There is plenty to find online and I researched a little to learn more about what was creating “off-sters”. Google NLP and you will find everything from Evangelists to one of the co-founders being cleared of murder.

One thing is for sure ….. it annoys the bejeezus out of me!

Does it work? Perhaps if you wish to stop eating so much or stop smoking it could help, but to modify my behavior – No Way.

I see the “off-sters” staring at my eyes, I know they are monitoring my movements, I recognise the shoulder squeeze maneuver is an “anchor” so that I remember them in a good light, I see it all and unbeknown to the “off-ster” everyone else can see that they are not quite right, they ask when they leave what was up with them – we just think they are “off”.

I have worked with sales directors using NLP as a sales technique, I have seen companies loose customers because of these “off-sters”, I have seen C-Level Executives leave the room to escape their name being used one more time or yet another shoulder squeeze. I have dealt with NLP Master Practitioners and honestly I would only recommend their service to somebody that cant give up a bad habit.

It comes across as condescending in the workplace – I am sorry!

Here is an excerpt of an NLP course:


Groups of three, Programmer chooses a situation:

  1. You want to breathe in rhythm with the person. If they are breathing quickly, pace them to slow down.
  2. Echo or parallel the person’s posture and movements. Don’t mimic, flow with them.
  3. Match the kinds of words your client uses: If a client says they can’t see things working out or can’t clearly picture the outcome, you should match the visual words so they will clearly visualize the conclusion.
  4. Go over everything the client said.

Mismatch as many words, processes, and questions you can.

Note: All of these Rapport Techniques should be used with subtlety so clients aren’t aware of your actions. Remember you want to be calm, centered, relaxed and positive. Remain focused. Think Creatively. Positively. Visualize Success!

What is the end goal of NLP?

The “goal” is to get a ‘client’ or ‘subject’ to change their way of understanding or behaving, to ‘modify’ their Neurological function to positively benefit either themselves or the ‘programmer’. If NLP is requested then I see absolutely no problem in a consultancy, however, if NLP is used upon an unsuspecting colleague, friend or partner then it is fundamentally immoral. In this case it is a another’s expense.

NLP eyes

I admit there are some great NLP Practitioners in the world, who can help you with any addiction you may have or with behavioral problems – this has its value in a consensual Practitioner/Patient relationship.

However, to those NLP “off-sters” who are trying to manipulate their boss, colleague and possibly lover, please please please STOP!

If you meet an “off-ster” and your juju-ometer is like a raging bull – flee! If you can’t escape them then ask if they would respectfully not use NLP Techniques on you. The most effective technique to use against “off-sters” however is to be Authentic and Professional. If you act professionally and are authentic in all your dealings then nobody can copy this or “anchor” you as you are already wholly anchored in your own capabilities.

Be yourself and all will be fine!

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