NLP and the T.A.T.E Model

The T.A.T.E. Model is great for identifying what accounts for success or failure in how we do things. We use it in our NLP Practitioner courses and it’s simply an adaptation of the famous T.O.T.E. model which was published over fifty years ago by Miller, Gallanter and Pribram.

Simply put, the TATE enables you to identify 4 elements in how someone does something i.e. in their strategy or programme for doing something.

  1. Trigger: How to you know when to begin doing something – and what is your goal or objective?
  2. Action: Once you’ve begun what exactly do you do – and how do you assess your progress towards your objective?
  3. Target: How clearly have you defined this objective – so that you’ll know when you’ve reached it?
  4. Exit: What do you do when you’re finished?

A walk in the park

Let’s apply the TATE to examine your strategy for going for a refreshing walk in the park.

Trigger: what lets you know this is a good idea – and when, where, and for how long will you walk?

I’m feeling sluggish. I think I’ll go for a walk in the park. I’ll make it a refreshing rather than a very leisurely walk.

Action: How do you do it. When you’re walking in the park how do you so it? Fast? Slow? How are you assessing progress against your Target

I’m in the park and I’m walking and it is refreshing. So I’m doing fine.)

Target: When? (I’ll leave now). Where? (Richmond Park in Greater London) and for how long (about 30 minutes). How? (Brisk rather than leisurely pace.)

Exit: return home and do something.

This outline is pretty straight-forward and obvious – and not particularly enlightening. So let’s apply it to an important everyday event…

Eating and the TATE

Let’s imagine our old friends Jack and Jill have different strategies for eating.

Trigger: how do you know when to eat?

Jack: Whenever I feel hungry, or bored, or watch TV, or think of a favourite food, or pass a shop sell food which I like.

Jill: When I feel hungry.

Action: What do you do when you begin the activity? How do you assess progress?

Jack: It tastes so good so I just wolf it down and search for more – and virtually any food will do at this stage. I know I’m done when I cannot eat any more – because I’m so full.

Jill: I like to savour my food. So I eat fairly slowly and with attention to the taste and to how I feel.

Target: What’s your objective?

Jack; Once I begin there’s no stopping me – I have to clean my plate, for a start. Then I’ll often see if there’s anything nice in the fridge or the cupboard.

Jill: Once I recognise that I am no longer hungry I’ll stop eating – even if there is still food remaining on the plate.

Exit: What do you do when you’re done

Jack: Usually I’m so full the best I can manage is to get to the settee and relax with a few cans of lager.

Jill: I like to move around doing things when I’ve eaten – helps the food go down – or I’ll sometimes go for a walk.

The results of these two strategies

The TATE model enables us to unpack or model someone’s strategy for doing something. In the case of Jack and Jill the results of their two different strategies, over time, will be dramatic. At each of the four stages in the TATE we can identify critical differences but let’s consider just two of these:

(1) The difference in their originating Triggers:

  1. Jack’s eating is triggered by anything or nothing
  2. Jill’s trigger for eating is feeling hungry.

(2) The difference in their Targets:

  1. Jacks Target, or signal to stop eating, is when he is full – and certainly no food is left on his plate.
  2. Jill’s Target is quite simple (and is not shared by many of us) i.e. to no longer feel hungry.

The application of the TATE

One benefit of the TATE is that it enables us to identify areas-for-improvement in our strategy for doing just about anything at four stages in the sequence. And we can use it to model people who do something particularly well so that we can take bits of their successful strategy and use these to improve how we do something.

For example, If Jack were to replace even some of the elements from Jill’s strategy the results, over some months, in terms of health, weight, body size, and self esteem could be quite significant…

1 Comment

  1. Caron King on 24th May 2011 at 6:04 AM

    Thanks Reg – a great reminder! The challenge for me has always been recognising when I am really hungry versus when I ‘just’ require a state change.

    And then, of course, with so much time on the road, access to healthy, satisfying food (rather than instantly gratifying fuel) is often much harder than I would like. Time to remember that there is an opportunity to plan for looking after number 1 just as much as there is for planning how to look after & meet the needs of the others that I interact with when I’m travelling.

    Just what I needed – thank you!