In our contemporary culture success in the business world can be emotionally, intellectually and physically taxing for the employee. It is critical, that as members of the business management world, we construct a conscious awareness of those techniques that can enable us to most effectively thrive in the workplace.
An uncommon, yet highly successful method of managing work stress has been cultivated through research surrounding Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Widely popularized in the pop culture novel by Jordan Belfort’s “The Way of the Wolf Straight Line Selling: Master of the Art of Persuasion, Influence, and Success,” olfactory anchoring is the practice of the individual controlling experiences, the external environment and stressful situations through the internal representation of that event. According to research by Lieder, “Anchoring is based on the premise that people have all the resources they need for behavioural change.”
The individual’s engagement with the world around them can be deeply enriched by associating olfactory memories with negative outside experiences. Pleasant odours can trigger specific positive moods subconsciously. The central reason that smell functions so efficiently is because these odours get siphoned through the olfactory bulb, which is located near the amygdala and hippocampus, which processes emotion and memory. Ultimately, the individual can locate a smell that anchors them back to a certain experience, state or emotion. Anchoring is a process that enables the individual to gain control over their drives, behaviours and attitudes. As a process, it establishes a positive state at the unconscious level and empowers the individual to choose, alter or positively enhance a specific state of mind.
It is most common in our everyday experiences to engage with aromas unconsciously. Primarily, olfactory anchoring is the process of establishing a conscious anchor (external stimulus or smell) that evokes a chosen emotional state (or internal response.) In other words, in situational pressures, where anxiety, stress or apprehension arise, the individual could simply elicit a certain smell to alleviate that tension and evoke confidence. The individual controls their state of mind, automatic responses and enhances a positive attitude towards success. Bandler explains, “the anchor needs to hit you all at once but it also needs to stand out in a dramatic way.”
Anchoring can be broken down into a three-step process:
Step One: Choose A State (Present State of Behaviour)
The individual acknowledges a negative, problematic or emotional situation and brings it to the forefront of their consciousness. The most appropriate period for this is at the peak of the negative experience. According to Belfort, “…anchoring is a forward-looking process that’s proactive in nature.”
Step Two: Set Your Anchor (The Desired Outcome or Target Behaviour)
The individual acknowledges a positive situation that is surrounded by a specific smell or olfactory experience. Belfort comments that to achieve this state the individual must “take a picture in your mind’s eye and alter it so it becomes more powerful to you emotionally.”
Step Three: State of Certainty (Altered State of Behaviour)
The individual attempts to access both experiences at the same time. There is an integration of the two situations. However, during this experience, the olfactory scene is superimposed onto the negative experience to elicit a positive response. The central aim of the exercise is to transport the individual to a different time and a different place. The individual is able to take negative information and transform it into a positive experience.
The physical workplace, stressful experiences and culture of the business context can be controlled through altering the cognitive processes. Olfactory anchoring functions as a space for conscious acknowledgement and positive reflection. It enables a vast change to negative feelings in the workplace, utilising the repetition of this three-step procedure to enhance mental, spiritual and emotional states of an employee’s daily interactions. According to Dr. Dheeraj Mehrotra the premise for anchoring is that the individual has their own unique “approach, attitude and skills” to have a positive effect on everyday workplace interactions and relationships.