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Pacing & leading [Full Explanation & Techniques]

Pacing & leading [Full Explanation & Techniques]

Following and leading aka pacing and leading… A leader or a coach can only lead towards a desired result after he has first followed himself. The official NLP term is Pacing & Leading. This is one of the topics during an NLP training. Read along to learn all about it right here in this article.

Pacing & Leading explained: follow first, then lead

  1. Follow first. Show empathy, understand the model of the other person’s world. Reflect on that, repeat or paraphrase their problem or idea. Show that you also sympathize when the other person feels something negative. Build rapport  and test if you have rapport. You do this by changing something in your communication and checking whether the other person agrees.
  2. Only now can you lead towards a solution. Now you can ignite the other with positive traits, resources, skills, states of mind or solutions. Note: you have to do this congruently and certainly. For example, if you want to pay someone in a restaurant the bill, don’t hesitate. Then you say definitely and leading: ‘No, we are not going to do that. I’ll pay the bill. ‘

Following and leading is an important way and element of changing a person’s state of mind. First make report, which is to follow. Then you can lead slowly by assuming a desired state of mind yourself. Slowly lead to the desired state of mind with your speaking pace, volume and energy.

Following and leading must be trained. Report exercises help with this, as they also make strong use of this principle. As you build rapport, you will fully understand the point of view of the other person.

  • “This is how I see it. How do you see it?”
  • “How do you see that?”
  • “Tell me what you think about it.”
  • “What makes you think differently from me?”
  • “So if I understand correctly, you say x, x and x. Could you also imagine that… could also be right?”

Then explain that position better than anyone else could ever do. Only now can you lead. Now you can present your own ideas.

  • Interesting that you say that. I think differently, do you want to hear my take on this?
  • I hear what you say, and intuitively it is for me like {your own experience}.

You follow and lead eloquently through the agreement frame

follow and lead pacing and leading

There are a number of words you want to have in your vocabulary. Do you want to emphasize the principle of following and leading in your language? Then use words like:

  • I appreciate … (follow) And … (lead)
  • I agree … (follow) And … (lead)
  • {Repeat what the other says} … (follow) And … (lead)
  • I respect … (follow) And … Because … (lead)

Here you will learn more about the agreement frame.

Read this next:  Teamwork is overrated: Pros & cons of working together

Language forms of ‘follow, then lead’

Pacing current experience (telling truths)

Pacing, or following, is tuning into the current experience. The client’s experience (preferably measurable and external) is described, against which no resistance is possible, because there is no discussion about it. As with visualizations, you make sure that you are not precise but remain vague. The word ‘maybe / maybe’, and other language softeners , also help not to mismatch too much: “Maybe you can see the blue sky.” Whatever the client does, everything is fine. Utilize that.

Pacing precedes Leading, because you are building yes momentum first. This has the same effect as what sellers do. They try to get the customer to say yes several times by asking questions. The traditional yes-ladder of salespeople is very outdated. Thanks to pacing, the client develops an internal “yes, yes, yes”.

  • You sit in a chair.
  • You feel where your body touches the chair.
  • You can feel your hands overlapping.
  • You can feel the movement of your fingers.
  • The temperature of your face.
  • You may hear the sounds of other people in the room.
  • You hear the sound of my voice.
  • You sit here and listen to my voice …
  • You feel the texture of your clothes on your skin …
  • You see … you hear … you feel …
  • You can also say in negative: “You don’t have to …”
  • Pace their thoughts too. “You came here and you thought what is this again?”
  • While we’re sitting here now …
  • While you’re looking at me like this …
  • And while you inhale … And exhale … you can enjoy it even more …
  • As you feel the weight of the book on your lap …
  • While you hear that plane fly by …
  • As your eyes continue to read the words on this page as you look at it and from time to time you may become aware of the thoughts in your consciousness or those feelings in your hand or down there in the soles of your feet , you might also begin to wonder if you can think about how beautifully you can “pacify” someone’s experience.
  • Okay Debbie, maybe you will become aware of your breathing and experience it. And the more you focus on your own breathing, the more you may focus on feelings you wouldn’t normally feel, maybe the feeling in your left arm, maybe resting comfortably, and other essential normal natural sensations like your heart rhythm . And you notice more and more. And see where it takes you.
  • Context: you have met in a library. ‘That’s right … Those realizations will come … Especially if you meet here in the library …’

Piggyback/Compound Suggestion/Pace & Lead

follow and lead

After pacing you can start leading with a suggestion. The suggestion hitches a ride on the pacing part. The great thing is that when you are pacing and you let the client focus on a particular experience, that automatically also provides a good basis for the trance needed for the NLP exercises.

Use causal modeling (see next section) and other linking words to smooth the sentences.

  • In a moment you will blink, and as soon as you blink you will see that you are learning on a subconscious level.
  • When you go to the kitchen, close the door immediately behind you.
  • At some point you will exhale and as soon as you exhale, you will see that you will learn on a subconscious level.

It gets even more interesting when there is no discussion at all about the pacing part. You build up a yes-set of a number of credible things, which can be checked because they can be observed in our current experience, for example, and you then add your suggestion. So start plausibly: list things that everyone agrees with. You can list several things for the pace part, such as thoughts, emotions, beliefs and the sensory experiences (VAKOG).

“It is {fact}, {fact}, {fact} and …”

  • The sun will shine again tomorrow, you will breathe again and {suggestion}.
  • It’s not evening yet, you’re still awake thinking about all these NLP exercises and looking forward to how much you’ll enjoy the next class.
  • You’re listening to the sound of my voice, and you’re taking this course, and you’re thinking your thoughts, and that means …
  • The sun is shining, it’s warm, it’s a beautiful day, so let’s go for a swim.
  • With every breath you take, you become more and more aware of the natural rhythms of your body and the pleasant feelings you develop.
  • In a moment you will blink and as soon as you start blinking your eyes will feel heavier.
  • You must have stood next to a group of trees at some point in your life. And as you stood there looking at those trees, you could see the branches and leaves, and you could smell the scent that surrounds them, feel the weather, the temperature of the air, you could even feel a breeze, and hearing that breeze you would see the branches and leaves reacting with movements to the wind, and you could look to the left to see a big hippo there.
  • Example of a leader validating everyone’s experience at the start of a meeting and then providing leading suggestions: “{Pace pace pace…} and we are all here to put all of our effort in this meeting, we are all a part of this , we learn this material and it makes a difference. ”
  • PACE You are listening to the sound / tones of my voice and you can notice the colors in the room, while you can feel your arm in the chair LEAD and you can relax, and you will be able to feel the sense of accomplishment , and you will be able to recall your pleasant experiences, and you can recall a specific pleasant memory.
  • PACE And the next time your eyes close, LEAD simply let them stay there and experience a growing sense of relaxation.
  • PACE And while you breathe in and out LEAD you enjoy a growing sense of security.
  • … And on the next exhale, just close your eyes gently …

“It is {fact}, {fact}, {fact} and …” then use a complex equivalence.

  • You are sitting, or standing, or lying down, you hear things, you see things, you feel things and that means that you are learning at full strength.

Naming all possibilities

No resistance is possible because you mention all possibilities. At the same time, the idea does reach the client.

  • Soon you will really understand this. Maybe that will happen soon, and maybe it will take a little longer, and maybe you won’t even think you’re getting it. Let that be a sign that you are learning at the deepest unconscious level.

Causal modelling

This pattern actually belongs to cause and effect. These are connectors between credible tracking aspects of a sentence, and subsequent suggestions in which you lead the client. They also help you connect your sentences fluently.

  • And… ..and… ..and… .. For example: It is almost evening and you can hear the rain tapping against the window and {one more truth} and {one more truth} and there is a rhino in the hallway.
  • While, after
  • During…
  • When…
  • Because
  • The more…
  • Ensures, causes, produces


  • You sit in that chair, and you nod, and you listen to my voice, and you wonder how this could be important to you.
  • As you take that note, you may wonder how this skill will affect your future, even as I continue to talk. Very well.
  • Before I get into the next topic, ask yourself how important it can be, even while I’m telling you.
  • And you sit, and you can think about this, and continue to listen to the sound of my voice, and in the meantime you already start making connections …
  • Chris, sitting there you start to wonder how this would be important to you, and you might wonder how this can make a difference in your job and help you with what you do, and while you think about it , you could also think about areas in your life that you haven’t thought about yet, while these skills can help you very well there too.
  • As you become more accustomed to using your language strategically, you may find yourself increasingly elegant with these techniques in all kinds of situations.
  • To relax while you learn … and learn while you relax …

Utilization: lead by following

See the following article for one of the best NLP techniques: utilization.

Exercise – The Pen

  1. Hold a pen with another person. The pen only touches the tip of your index finger, and the tip of the other’s index finger on the other side. Move the pen together and feel free to make large movements.
  2. After a few minutes, try to follow both.
  3. After a few minutes, try to lead both.

Exercise – Recognize Following and Leading

In all kinds of situations, recognize who is following and leading. Also on TV. Find out who was in charge of the conversation. what the degree of rapport had and what the moderator could have done to make more rapport.

Exercise – Leading (after pacing)

  1. A and B are back to back, so away from each other.
  2. B calls A. You’re going to have a phone call. For example, B talks about something A likes. Tips: “Tell me more about it. How? What do you like about it?” Person A does not think about NLP for a moment and is just himself.
  3. The task of B is to first follow (pacing) for a while, especially the speaking rate of A but also his tonality, volume, etc.
  4. Then lead. B talks faster for a minute, then slower, then faster, then slower again. The conscious of A does not notice this, only the subconscious. If B has done well, it will be easy to control A’s rate of speech in this way and vary it from fast to slow when B does the same.
  5. Person C observes and also pays attention to the body. In addition, C tells what B did to make a report, at which moments B started leading and what the effect was. C also watches the time, so he can give signals to move to the next phase if it takes too long.
  6. Switch roles.

You can also choose to sit across from each other and just see each other. B builds rapport and then leads A to a behavior of his choice. This can be anything, for example the body or the voice. Do this subtly and smoothly.

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!