Transcript: Cracking The Code 04: The map is not the territory. 29 Dec 2006

Thom wrote his book "Cracking The Code" on the air: This was the fourth week, covering "the map is not the territory, the meaning of communication is the response you get".

Cracking The Code 04: The map is not the territory, the meaning of communication is the response you get. 29 Dec 2006

Cracking the COde

For this hour, this third hour, I've written a number of books over the years and have never done this before. In fact, to the best my knowledge, nobody's ever done this before. We're gonna try it out and see how it works out. Berrett-Koehler, the company that published Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class - and what we can do about it, my most recent book, Berrett-Koehler wants to publish and another book by me. This one will be out in the fall of 2007; it'll be out in about nine months and the title is "Cracking the Code: the Art and Science of Political Persuasion" and it's about the things that I've learned in psychology and advertising and marketing and Neurolinguistic Programming, the whole spectrum of stuff. I'm an NLP certified and licensed trainer. Well, I don't need to go through the whole credential thing.

But in any case, and we've been doing this for a couple of weeks now, talking about, you know, basically going chapter by chapter talking the book through on the air; basically writing the book, you know, live, and then Sue's transcribing it and puts it up over on our message board and people can read it and comment on it and then we're going to edit it and hopefully have a book when we're all done, in addition to the writing.

Last week we were talking about motivation strategies; how people internally motivate themselves and how we can motivate our politicians and how politicians and movements and activists can motivate others. And the need for both the moving away from pain motivation; that is the sharp stick, "Woho, look out!" motivation - that's useful, but how over the long term that can also exhaust you - and the need for moving toward pleasure motivations which are much, much weaker, but also much more irresistible; that is, they are more like gravity than like lightning. You can't resist gravity even though it's one of the weakest of the four primary forces of nature.

And I'd asked last week for callers to call in, somebody who had an easy time getting out of bed and somebody who had a really hard time getting out of bed, and we grafted the strategy of the person who had an easy time getting out of bed over to the person who had a hard time getting out of bed by saying. "Hey! Instead of just using the moving away from pain strategy, why don't you try using the moving toward pleasure strategy as well?" And that was Pete in Madison, Wisconsin, listening on WXSM. And Pete's on the line. Pete, what happened?

[Pete]Well, it was interesting. The night that I did it, I made the list, actually in my head and then reviewed it the next day and I discovered that my energy was up, my ability to deal with even a couple of somewhat difficult circumstances was up because I had made this, because I had made this list which included seeing my family together for the first time in a while, which was going to be a good circumstance. And it's not like it made the other stuff go away. It just created another type of focus. Now, unfortunately, after that my self-sabotaging skeptic kicked in and I didn't think to do it at night and the days were kind of ho hum and I think that the skeptics had something along the lines to say like "Well, you know, this is OK but all these other things are still bad" and so this also not only directly helped me with the experience of having a different focus but helped me to realize a self awareness part of myself to work on to kind of keep the energy going and I also, sort of as a tangent to that, am realizing how much, when I talk to people about issues is, "Hey, this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong", which are good things, but they're all moving away from pain strategies, instead of "Wouldn't it be cool if, wouldn't it be nice if" kind of thing. So this helps in several different ways, actually.

[Thom] So, this is called a generative strategy. That is to say, it helps produce more like itself and most positive strategies, by the way, you know, when you learn a new skill it becomes generative; it produces more of itself. That's great. Peter, are you finding it easier to get up in the morning now?

[Pete] Absolutely, yes, yeah.

[Thom] Cool, and one of the things that you just said that a lot of people don't get is that we all have multiple parts to ourselves; none of us are just one single homogenous person. We're all different people. First of all, we're all different people in the world. I mean, I'm a different person on the radio than I am with my kids, than I am with my wife, than I am with my mother, than I am with my friends. We have different facets of our personality that we allow to come out. But there's also within us all these different characters. It's not that we have multiple personality disorder. A person with multiple personality disorder has all the different characters inside them just like you and I do. The difference is that when one of their characters takes over, the rest of them have amnesia; they vanish, whereas with you and I, we can actually access our other parts.

And so, one of the things you might want to ask, and I don't want to go through the whole exercise with you on the air right now, but it's a fascinating therapy thing and in fact there's a book about this that Steve and Connirae Andreas wrote, well actually, there's several about this whole thing.

You might want to ask that part of you, or the skeptical parts of you, what is that they really want? What are they trying to accomplish? And odds are, you'll get an answer that has something to do with like, you know, "we want the best for you". And then ask them, "Well if you had that, what would be more important than that?" And just do that question, go through that question a few times until you get down to a fairly deep level of, "OK, this is what we really are trying to accomplish as a goal" and then ask the creative part of you if it can come in and help brainstorm with the part of you that's obviously trying to keep you safe and protect you, you know, from all those bad things out there. If that creative part can cooperate with those, you know, ask the parts if they will cooperate with each other, they'll actually answer you.

[Pete] Oh Yeah.

[Thom] And get them working together so that you can have both a moving away from pain strategy, cause one of the most important things we want to do is never get rid of strategies but we want to add new ones, and you can have moving toward pleasure strategies as well; makes life a whole lot easier to have both. And you become more facile, you become more competent, you become more multifaceted by adding strategies. Make sense?

[Pete] Absolutely. So you're saying, in other words, that the creative part can help to reassure that part that even if we do something different, that doesn't focus on an all-or-nothing strategy, it's still going to create the safety that the skeptical part says, is that right?

[Thom] Sure. Well, you know, in fact, right now, why don't you ask your skeptical part "Hey, would you will be willing to talk to my creative part?"

[Pete] And that would say, "Sure!".

[Thom] OK, you heard that inside?

[Pete] Yeah. Absolutely.

[Thom] OK. And now ask you creative part, "Are you willing to talk to my skeptical part?"

[Pete] Yes.

[Thom] OK. And now, why, don't you just ask your creative part if it would just toss some ideas to your skeptical part that might help the skeptical part solve problems even more effectively and let's say three of them, real quickly. And every time one of those ideas just flies by, let your conscious mind notice it.

[Pete] Hmmm. Well, you know what, why don't I do this in private? Because I know you have to move on and I'm not sure I can quite go through this right now.

[Thom] Yeah. OK. Yeah.

[Pete] But I'll definitely keep the ideas in mind, for sure.

[Thom] Yeah, try that process and check it out. Thanks a lot, Pete, for the call.

[Pete] Thank you. Peace.

[Thom] Good to hear from you. Indeed. See, and now see what happened was, another part said, "Hey, wait a minute, maybe we don't want to do this on the radio", which is cool.

OK, here's our lesson for the day, what we're going to talk about today. The map is not the territory. The meaning of communication is the response you get. These are two fundamental notions that are in some ways interrelated. The map is not the territory, the primary, the core notion here is that each one of us has a map of reality; each one of us has a sense, an understanding of how the world is. And it's not how the world is; it's just our map. And every person's map is different and so in the political realm for an activist or for a politician, the challenge is understanding what the most, what the consensus map is; what the map is that most people share.

And some would suggest, you know, the think tank folks would suggest, that one of their jobs is to actually help create maps. In other words, you have the territory for example, of when people die, if they have great wealth, the transfer of that wealth to another person, actually just like as if they're alive, if you transfer wealth to another person it's a taxable event, so it's called the estate tax. The estate tax, that word is the map; the territory is the actual transfer and the tax that's associated with it.

But, you know, Frank Luntz came along and said, "Hey, let's change that map to 'death tax'. And by simply changing the map, even though the territory's the same, the meaning seems to have changed. So, this is item one.

And item two is that the meaning of a communication is the response that you get. In other words, you put out a communication if you say something to somebody; you ask somebody to do something or whatever: what you think you said, and how they react, may be two different things and how they react is the real communication. So if you want to know what your communication is all about, notice the responses you're getting. And there's a political side to this too. And we'll talk about how this all works right after this break.


I remember Richard Bandler was one of my teachers in this stuff years and years ago and in fact wrote the foreword to one of my books on this topic. And Richard used to tell some extraordinary stories and had some really cool tapes and, well actually, there's a variety of sources of tapes of Milton Erickson doing therapy, and well not just therapy, just the whole thing. And I remember one time Milton Erickson was telling this story to Milton Rossi, as I recall, I may have the first name wrong [Ernest - ed.], it's a tape that I listened to about twenty years ago so I'm doing this from memory and probably badly paraphrasing it, but basically he said, he had this kind of odd voice and he was an old man at the time, in a wheelchair, and Erickson says, "This guy came into my office one time and said you know, doc, I know that…" Milton Erickson, by the way, was probably America's most famous medical hypnotist; he was a psychiatrist in Phoenix and a brilliant man.

And he says, "This guy came into my office and he says, 'Doc, I know that I should eat spinach because I know that it's good for me, but I hate it. Can you hypnotize me so that I'll eat spinach?' and I said, well yeah, sure, I can do that. And he says, 'Can you hypnotize me so that I'll eat spinach once a week?' and I said yeah, if deep down inside somewhere you know it's good for you, yeah, probably, no problem. 'Can you hypnotize me so that I'll eat it twice or three times a week?' And I said yeah, probably. And he said, 'Can you hypnotize me so that I'll eat it every day even, if I wanted to?' And I said yeah, if you wanted to. The guy thinks about it for a minute then he says, 'Nah, forget it' and I said, why? And he says, 'Because I hate spinach'. "

And that's that catch 22. And the key to this, this gets back to this notion that the meaning of communication is the response you get. If we're the communicators, then we have to employ multiple modes of communication. We talked about that last week and the week before.

For example, John Kerry in the last election which in my opinion Kerry won, but, you know, without getting into the fraud in Ohio, nonetheless, Kerry constantly talked at the level of the head; everything was abstract and everything was highly visual, well not everything, but the vast majority of it.

George Bush constantly talked to level of the heart; in that debate the heart will almost always win because fundamentally people make decisions; the end of the decision-making process is always checking your feelings before you decide something. People who are highly disconnected from their feelings or people who have, you know, physical pathologies: brain disorders that disconnect them from feelings, have a very, very, very difficult time making decisions.

So, it's not, it's not what people say they want - this is the spinach story, Erickson's spinach story - it's not what people say they want; it's what they do to try to say what they want. For example, people are afraid to change jobs and lose their health insurance but they will say that they don't want the government making their health care decisions because that map has been put out by the health insurance industry.

Remember the Harry and Louise ads? "Well, the map is, you don't want the government making decisions about which doctor you can go to." Now, that was never part of the Clinton health care plan but that was the map that everybody got. That wasn't the territory but that was the map that everybody got.

So, if we're going to address somebody we have two choices: one would be to recalibrate the map; to fix the map. The other would be to address what they're actually doing and talk at the level of what they're doing, not at what they're saying. What they're saying is, they don't want the government making their health care decisions, but what they're doing is, they're afraid to change jobs because they are afraid that they will lose their health insurance, or a preexisting condition will no longer be covered. So, let's talk about, let's address, let's do something about, let's hold up to the light the issue of the inability to move from job to job and carry your health insurance with you and know that you're covered no matter what; that this whole preexisting condition thing is nonsense. In other words, address how they're acting, not how they're speaking.

This is what Ron Wyden did recently when he started talking about legislation he wants to introduce in the new Congress that would require health insurance to be absolutely portable and that everybody be insured. I'm not endorsing that; I'm just saying, you know, this is dealing at the level of what people do rather than what they say.

So how do we know, how can we decide, "Hey, this is my candidate; this is the guy, or the man or the woman that I wanna vote for and work for and become an activist around?" And if we're an activist, how can we help communicate to other people, "Hey! Here's something you should consider, this is an idea you should look at, this is a story should know, this is something you should get fired up about?" How can we do that? We'll talk about that right after the break. 27 minutes past the hour. Thom Hartmann here with you, going through our new book: "Cracking the Code".


I remember when I first, the way I first learned about this, back in 1978, I was the executive director of a residential treatment facility for severely abused kids, emotionally disturbed kids in New Hampshire, the New England Salem Children's Trust, which is still there. In fact, we started a school for ADHD kids about ten years go, the Hunter school, is the web site for that.

And one of the first psychologists, cause I was the administrator; I was the guy who raised the money and made the program work and one of the people that I had to hire was a psychologist for the program. And one of the first psychologists that I'd hired was a guy who was very into this stuff; Bandler and Grindler and NLP and all this, Dr. Charles, and he had all these tapes of Erickson doing therapy and other things, and I was fascinated by it. And then I left, I'd gotten into that in 1978; we had sold an advertising agency in Michigan to move to New Hampshire to do that work, and then in '83 when we left that work we ended up back in Atlanta in '87, in Atlanta, started another ad agency and ran that until we sold it in '95 or '96 or whatever it was and retired and moved to Vermont and then started this radio program.

But during that time that we were living in Atlanta Louise and I decided to get back into this; learn more abut it and we were taking a course, this half-year long course in neurolinguistic programming, NLP from Leif Roland at the NLP center of Atlanta, great guy, psychologist in Atlanta, and it was one of these, you know, Friday night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday for 6 months kind of things. And there were, I think, pretty much everybody on the course was a health care professional except for one person who was a real estate agent wanting to learn how to use this for sales.

And there was one point, and Louise and I were both in the class, and was one time when Leif, the guy, you know, Dr. Leif Roland, turned to me and he said, we were talking about, you know, the map is not the territory and the meaning of communication is the response you get. And he turned to me and he said, "Thom, how do you know that you know, or how do you when to know that you know that Louise loves you?" - my wife, to whom I've been married for 34 years now.

And, you know, so, how do you know when to know, that is, what is it gives you that moment of certainty that you know with certainty that Louise loves you? And I tell this story, by the way, with Louise's permission. And I thought about it for just a half a second. I mean, I knew right off the top of my head. I said, you know, when she touches me, when she walks by and puts her hand on my shoulder, she, you know, anything like that. If she touches me I feel loved. Now, I'm not going to psychoanalyze why that is; it's just how I'm wired.

So then he turns to Louise and says, "Now how do you know, Louise, how do you know when to know that you know that Thom loves you?" And I'm sitting there waiting for her to say, "Oh, when he hugs me, when he kisses me, when he says 'I love you'", something like that. Those things that make me feel loved. And she says, "When we have coffee together in the morning, read the paper and talk about the day. And I'm like, "What?" I mean, I'm not, you know, I drink coffee now but back then I didn't even like coffee and I'd always tried to, I couldn't figure out why Louise always wanted to have these morning "Let's have coffee in the morning and sit and read the paper". And, you know, I'm just like, boom! "It's morning and I'm ready to go. I've got a list of a million things that I'm going to get done today".

And I'm like, "But what about, you know, when I hug you, or touch you and, you know, and when I kiss you?" "Oh, that's all nice but, you know, I know that you love me when you'll sit and have coffee with me in the morning and discuss the day and discuss things that are meaningful to both of us. And again, we could psychoanalyze why that is, you know, that was something that she did in her family as a kid and my mum hugged me a lot, who knows? Doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter.

So we made a deal. She said, "I'll hug you more often if you'll have coffee with me every morning". And I said, "Cool, I'll have coffee with you every morning and we'll talk about the day if you'll, you know, come by and give me a kiss whenever you leave or, you know , touch me when you walk by." And so, both of us gets to feel loved.

Now, how do we translate that into politics? How do politicians know what we want? Well, we have to let them know. Again, this gets back to the notion that we don't elect leaders in the United States, we elect representatives. So we have to say to our politicians, "This is what I want". And beyond just saying, you know, "Here's the words", we have to do it. When we get back to this thing of don't just listen to what people say; also pay attention to what they do. It's very often, in fact usually, more important to catch people's words, ah, to catch people's actions, to see that, hear that, feel, get a sense of that, know what they're doing.

And so on we have to be attending to our politicians and what they are doing and demanding specific action from them. I think that's one of the reasons John Edwards went down. I mean, a very smart guy; he's got it, probably intuitively. Went down to New Orleans and he's like "We're down here working to help people in the 9th ward and we're asking America to join us in this work". That's doing it; that's not just talking about it, and it's also demonstrating the utter failure and incompetence of the Bushies and the whole conservative idea that, 'well, if you just turn it over to the private market and keep government out of the way everything would be wonderful'. No, sorry, it doesn't work that way.

So, in the political world as activists or as politicians or as people who are being proactive, we need to figure out what is the territory that we want to accomplish. What does it actually look like? Oh, we want to accomplish a national health care system and we think that a single payer national health care system is the territory that we want to get to. What's the map for that? It's going to be different for different people. For some people it's going to be, "Oh, I don't have to worry about losing my job". For other people it's going to be, "Well, you know, I have plenty of job security, I wanna know that I can pick my doctor". Or, you know, "I want to know that I'm going to have access to the same kind of health care as, you know, Bill Gates has access to"; that kind of thing.

Making, figuring out what the various maps are that people have and then applying and saying, "OK, this map, this map, map A, map B, map C, these are all different maps of this territory. And we're going talk in the language of, or show the pictures of, or give the feeling of these different maps so that everybody gets it."

And then when the communication that you get back is the behavior change that you want, whether it's on the part of your politicians, or if you're a politician or and activist whether it's on the part of the voters, you know, people actually showing up to vote, for example, or getting involved in an issue, you know that you've communicated effectively. It's not about just saying the words.

This also gets into the whole issue of how people make decisions; the decision-making process. Typically, people make decisions with a process that includes multiple parts. For example, they will make a picture in their mind of something, then they will have an internal conversation about it, and then they will check out their feelings and based on those feelings they will make the decision. That's you know, a simple decision-making process; an actual mechanical process.

And you can watch this from the outside. You can watch somebody. See them look up; they're making a picture. See their eyes move side to side; they're having an internal conversation. They look down; they're checking out their feelings. And then they make a decision. This is something that they teach increasingly in sales classes, for example.

In fact, I remember one time, Louise and I walked into a car dealership, this is the year that we moved to Vermont. This is about 12 years ago and we were leaving Atlanta and we were trading in our car and we wanted to get a car that, we had bought a house that was on a half mile long, dirt road, dead-end driveway up the side of a mountain and we needed a four wheel drive vehicle. And so we walked into this dealership and this guy comes over, this salesman, right, he comes over and introduces himself and then he says to me, he says, "Would you like something to drink?" and I said, "Sure". And he said, "Well I've got Coke, I've got Pepsi, I've got Sprite, I've got orange juice, I've got cranberry juice, what will it be?"

And then he steps back and I'm watching him stare at my eyes and I'm thinking. "Oh geez, this is one of those guys who took one of those sales courses, cause what he's going to do is if my eyes go up and then I go side to side and then I go down; if he extracts from me that my decision-making process is to make a picture, have a conversation and then check out a feeling, then when the time comes to sell the car, he's going to say to me "Just imagine how good you're going to look just driving down the street in this car telling yourself what a great deal you got on it and knowing in your gut that it was the right decision"; visual, auditory, kinesthetic, right. He'll feed back to me my own decision-making process.

So I thought, just for fun, I looked up, I looked down, I looked side to side, I looked up, I looked side to side, I looked up, I looked down, I looked side to side, I looked up, and at this point this guy is starting to walk backwards. He's like "Whoa, wait a minute".

But there are some people who have these very, very, very complex decision-making strategies that don't serve them well. Sometimes, you know, in restaurants for example, we have a friend who would, you know, you sit down in the restaurant and by the time everybody else's food has come, she's just figured out what she wants off the menu. Cause she every single item, she's applying the same decision-making strategy that she would apply to 'who shall I marry?' to 'what shall I have for lunch?'

I used to have a fairly complex decision-making strategy around restaurants as well and Richard Bandler blew me out of it one day in London. I'll tell you the story of that when we come back from this break and how we can use that in the political arena.


So here's the story I was going to tell you. I was in London. Richard Bandler had said that he would write the foreword to a book that I had written about NLP and, well, all this kind of stuff and attention deficit disorder; it's called "Healing ADD" and he said, "But I'm not going to sit down and write it". He said, "You bring a tape recorder over to London and we'll sit down in a restaurant and I'll dictate it". And I said, "OK, fine".

So I hopped on a plane and flew over to London. And he was teaching a workshop and so we had like, you know, 45 minutes or something for lunch and so we walked 5, 6 blocks down to this restaurant and we sit down. We don't have a lot of time, right. We sit down, the waiter hands us a couple of menus. Bandler says, "Stick around" to the waiter, "Stick around". And so the guy just stands there for a minute. Bandler just scans, you know, skims down through the menu really quickly and then says, I'll have this" and he points to something on the menu and hands it back to the guy.

I'm thinking, "Oh, he must have been here before; he must know what's on the menu" and I'm looking at things on the menu and I'm making pictures in my head and I'm having conversations, right. I'm looking at the, "Well, what about that veggie burger. Well, I don't know, maybe it's got gluten in it. Well what about that, you know, well, this has cheese, I dunno, it's not good for my heart, maybe" and I'm having all this conversation.

And Bandler says, "Come on Hartmann, make up your mind" and I'm like "Well, you know", and I'd only read like half the menu. And he's like, "Come on, we don't have all day here, make up your damned mind". And so, you know, I just pointed at something, you know, something looks good, I pointed at it and I said, "I'll take that". And so the waiter takes my menu and walks off kind of looking back at us like "Whoo! What's going on there?"

And Richard says, "I'll bet you were sitting there thinking about things, you were making pictures in your head, you were having conversations with yourself, you were trying to decide what was good for you, and what wasn't good for you and what was going to be tasty and all that kind of…" And I was going, "Yeah, yeah". And he says, "It's just lunch in a restaurant". And I said, "Well, what do you mean?" And he says, "You need a different decision-making strategy. You need a simpler decision-making strategy for when you've got to get a quick lunch". And I said, "Like what?" And he says, "Well, I use biofeedback". And I was like "Biofeedback?" And he's like, "Yeah, I look at the menu and whatever makes me salivate, I order".

And I'm like, "Oh yeah, OK". He says, "Yeah, that saliva, that's your biological system feeding back to you that it wants to eat something". And I'm "OK". So I actually do that now. I look at a menu and I notice what makes me salivate the most, and if it's not something that's totally outrageous or something outside the realm of what I will eat, that's what I order. It's really simple.

So, the moral of the story, the moral of the story is that we need to have a series of decision-making strategies, we individually, we all need to have, you know, multiple decision-making strategies, and most of us do. Highly functional people have quick, fast decision-making strategies for relatively unimportant things and long, drawn out decision-making strategies for really important things.

I have a friend who's a psychiatrist, who teaches psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School who tells in public the story of how, the first seven women that he dated, he asked each one of them to marry him. This is a guy who needed to learn, and ultimately did in his life, and he tells the story in the context of having ADD, but really it's a story of not having a decision-making strategy for something really important. Not having ever, you know, sat down, paid attention and learned how to have a multiple, a multi-step decision-making strategy. And that's something, you know, as parents we want to teach our kids and, you know, as friends we may want to teach others.

But the bottom line of all this is that at the end of every decision-making strategy there is biofeedback. There is a feedback that comes back to us and says, "Yeah, that's the right decision". And it's always biological. It's always physical. If you think of any decisions that you've made in your life, particularly big important ones, but even small ones, there is some biological cue. Usually it's a gut feeling. I mean, it's literally a feeling of some kind. You may not even notice it. You may just have the words for it. You may say, "Yeah, I had a feeling that was the right thing" and think that you're speaking metaphor, but actually you're speaking literal truth.

So what does this mean for promoting political change? What it means is that if we can interpret the territory into a map which contains the language of feeling, if we can cause people to have a positive feeling associated with the territory, then our communication will be effective. This isn't about convincing people that up is down. This is simply about being an effective communicator. We're talking about taking people who are incompetent communicators and making them competent communicators. You can't change somebody's mind in a way that's inconsistent with what's good for them, ultimately. I mean, you might be able to for a short period of time, but over the long term a false part, look what's happening, you know, 26 years of conservative economics; it's disintegrating right in front of us, 'cause it's not good for us over the long term.

So know that at the end decisions are always made based on, "Oh yeah, that feels right" and so this is one of the reasons why George Bush, frankly, is a brilliant communicator, oddly enough, because he always talks at the level of feeling. And, you know, ideally that's where you end up. Where he's an incompetent communicator, is he doesn't put in the pictures and the stories that lead to the feelings and he doesn't do it the whole way, but a feeling communicator will always beat an intellectual communicator, any day.

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