'Chunking Up' and 'Chunking Down' are just NLP terms for concepts that people use every day. However NLP is the study of human interaction and of the way our minds interpret that information. I find it truly fascinating that thanks to the efforts of Richard Bandler and John Grinder; the forefathers of this young study, we now have the ability to significantly cut down on the time it takes to change ourselves or birth positive change in others! But that's a topic for another article.
Anyway, I would like to share with you the concepts of chunking up and chunking down. Simply it is the way we collect information. Think then of information on a scale; at one end you have something that exists and at the other spectrum you have something specific. Let me move you along the scale with a BMW Z4.
To chunk up just ask: 'What is it?'
A BMW Z4 is …
A luxury coupe …
A car …
A way of transportation …
You see what happens? We went from a specific car to an abstract concept of 'freedom'!
So How Can I Use It?
A concept is not useful to us, unless we can apply and benefit from it. The main benefit is an improved interaction with those around you. Relate for a minute with this story; once upon a time you wanted a friend of yours to listen to your experiences or problems, but instead they just kept interrupting you with their interpretations of events and unwanted advice. Maybe it bothered you, maybe not, but the point is, everyone does it, and many people are bothered by it. Chances are; you have talked when your friend just wanted you to listen. Another common blunder is prematurely taking sides in an argument, only to later regret saying some rash things. Now you'll learn how to chunk up to create a strong connection and show that you can really listen, and truly understand the person you're communicating with.
When your friend shares with you his / her problems in a relationship, you can chunk up to: 'People don't always do what we would like them to', or 'Sounds like you have a hard decision to make!'
Or maybe when your coworker complains that despite his expectations he hasn't been promoted, you can chunk up to: 'Managers make decisions we do not agree with', or 'Rewards and recognition isn't always given to the best person'.
Maybe you're already doing this naturally in your day-to-day life, and for that I applaud you. Communicators with this skill are one-in-a-thousand! I for the longest time thought that it was up to me to problem-solve for my friends, and make them feel better. But in my own life I realized that whenever I have something that I want to share I turn to the friend that listens to me in an unbiased way, rather than the ones that immediately give me advice. I, like most people, think that I am smart enough to make my own decisions, so instead of hearing advice that I can come up with myself, I just want someone to understand my situation.
When you chunk up you do just that! You communicate that you can take a step back, and see the situation in the way that your friend sees it. Your phrases are not banalities, instead they give the person you're talking to a way to hear what they need to hear. They will chunk down to find the meaning they want.
By the way, it's the favorite technique of fake psychics / mediums. They throw out a chunked up phrase like 'I sense that you have experienced loss', and the audience chunks down to find their own meaning:' Yes! The other day my dog Fluffy ran away! ', Or' Yes! I'm trying to find my estranged sister! '
Remember how earlier we came to the conclusion that everyone is guilty of saying the wrong thing when really they should be listening? Well here is an example of what may happen: when your friend tells you that they suspect their loved one of cheating, and you chunk down to calling that person a 'Cheating _____!', Your friend, once the suspicions are proven unjust, will only remember the 'blank' you used to describe the person they're in love with. Do you think it will be you they will turn to next time, or invite to their wedding? Probably not!
However you can chunk down in a way that helps you, rather than hinders. You can use this technique to gather more information. So if for example you're a contractor, or planning a party, or purchasing 'some bread and milk', you can avoid a potential headache in the future by finding out exactly what the person wants. Because your idea of what 'basic supplies' are or what kind and how much bread qualifies under the category of 'some', is often different than another person's.
Remember that our experiences are always different. No two people, watching the same show, sitting side-by-side in the audience can ever have exactly the same experience from that show. It may be similar, but in some way it will be different. Ask for specifics to get the information you require, because if you come back with something other than what the person had in mind, you may be accused of not understanding, or more frequently not listening. That, both in personal and professional relationships, is never a good thing!
Chunking down by the way is a technique commonly used by car-salesmen. The salesman will often ask you where you will go, how you will drive, what you will do in your new car; so that you can imagine yourself enjoying and experiencing the car in your lifestyle. That of course will get you to buy it! The image of some car getting you to work every day is very different from the image of aa gray Mustang sitting on your driveway, waiting to take you to your cottage on a warm, sunny Saturday morning, down an empty highway, where you can speed just enough over the speed limit to experience true freedom and happiness!
Want a Mustang yet?
Thank you very much for reading, and please remember that; knowing is not enough, you must apply!