Milton Model

Tags: KC CT

Generalisation and suggestion

The Milton Model is a set of language patterns which allows suppressing specifics out of statements to generate permissive suggestion. The main idea about this is that by introducing Milton Model like generalisation you will let the listener fill in the gaps with his own experience. Doing so you increase chances that your statements fit in with your listeners views, because in fact he gives the meaning to your statement which was basically a container for him to fill. The advantage is that your container can for example include forms of processing, thus the listener will create meaning which can be transformed by your processes.

Here are a few miscellaneous examples of Milton Model like statements:

  • "Leveraging technologies generates value" (leveraging how? What value? Which technologies? …)
  • "We'll discuss the implementation details in phase 2" (presupposes implementation will take place…)
  • "I don't know if you want to succeed and which package you'll choose for this" (positive reply to embedded question followed with choice presupposition, …)

Generally these language patterns tend to give a smooth like talk, as they tend to exclude any specifics which could shock the listener. On the other hand, if abused of course, these patterns tend to generate "empty" speeches, empty of meaning, which in some cases can become suspicious thus ruining any influence effects because discrediting the speaker.

Some of these patterns put high emphasise on the analogue marking of the message. The basic idea is that the analogues are determinant during the meaning building process. For example, a message like "Please don't LOOK DOWN" ("LOOK DOWN" is analogue marked, for example by being said slightly louder, or with a harsher voice. Note this example also contains a negative command, but it didn't need to) will be interpreted unconsciously as "look down", and the person's present and future thoughts/reflections/decisions will somewhat integrate this. Here's another example : "you can decide to VOTE FOR ME if you want to live better".

The efficiency of these language patterns is rather accepted, for example the field of permissive hypnosis is based on these kinds of patterns. It can also be noted that some of these patterns can be found in the field of rhetoric. Other everyday experiences also corroborate some of these patterns, for example a simple "Don't think of a car accident" will likely make you think of a car accident.

Sets of language patterns

The Milton Model patterns have been identified and categorised in sets making them quite convenient to remember and use, as in most cases, once understood correctly, the name of the set directly gives a good idea of the included patterns.

Definitely, some training is useful to get fluent with these patters. This can be done in everyday settings (work, friends, family, …) quite naturally.

The complete list of pattern sets are:

  • Deletion (delete the how/who/when/what/etc., delete comparative references, delete statement, …)
  • Distortion (nominalise verbs, mind reading, cause/effect, complex equivalence, lost performative, …)
  • Generalisation (possibility/necessity, universal quantifiers, presuppositions, …)
  • Indirect elicitation (negative commands, analogue marking, embedded questions/commands, conversational postulates, obvious, …)
  • Ambiguous indirect elicitation (phonological, syntax, punctuation, scope, …)
  • Presuppositions (use time/ordinal/choice to shift from statements to acts, adverbs/adjectives, …)
  • Metaphor (affect properties to things that can't have them, quote fictive people, …)