NLP in the World of Espionage

Rintu BasuModelling9 Comments

This article is about a template for particular metaphors. You can use it to draw people into your story in a deep and powerful way and it is very easy to use.

A Worked Example

If you have not yet seen Kingsman: The Secret Service yet I highly recommend that you do. Before I go on though the language is a little coarse and there are some quite brutally violent scenes in it. But both are inherent to the plot and neither should dissuade you from going to see this remarkably good film unless you have particular issues with either.

There are a couple of reasons that this film is worth seeing with an NLP head on. Firstly right in the middle of the film they discuss and demonstrate the use of NLP. In a two minute sequence you get to see how certain members of the NLP Persuasion community use their skills. You get to see how effective it could be but also the inherent weaknesses and how to defend against the more manipulative elements of people using their skills in this way.

Obviously this is scripted and an inherent part of the film. But certainly I was taken aback by the fact that in a short clip they managed to demonstrate some clear techniques, how they should work, why they might not work and how to call someone out if you thought they were using this sort of stuff with you.

Story Telling Techniques

But there is also another more subtle reason for going to see this film. In a recent article on metaphors I suggested that one of the best ways of really learning about metaphors is to study some story telling techniques. You can click through and read the article right here.


One of the reasons Kingsman is such a good film is because it follows almost beat for beat a particular template called the Heroes Journey. Joseph Campbell suggested that many narratives from around the world follow a certain pattern which he wrote up in his book Hero of a Thousand Faces.

The basic idea is that we resonate with the idea of the Hero’s Journey at some deep level. Possibly because the construction in particular to how we see the world or simply because we are so familiar with it. But for whatever reason the base concept does seem to reach us on some level.

A half hour on Google and the Wikipedia page will give you lots on The Hero’s Journey but my favourite write is Christopher Vogler’s book The Writer’s Journey. Vogler deconstructs several films and books showing how this template applies.

If you really want to get under the skin of this concept just take a couple of films where the template is applied wholesale and just compare and contrast them. Three films spring to mind straight away; Kingman, the original Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Frodo, Luke Skywalker and Eggsy all follow the Hero’s Journey. Just by watching a few films and comparing notes you will have the concept down pretty solidly.

But How Do I Use This?

Check out my previous article and notice that I give out a cut down version of the hero’s journey as my own template for a change work metaphor. We already know that metaphors are a powerful persuasion tool. And perhaps if we use a template like the Hero’s Journey we can reach people at a much deeper level.

Taking the base template I could then start to develop persuasive metaphors in all sorts of different directions. Here are a few examples of ways I’ve used the Hero’s Journey:

  • Writing bio’s for individuals and companies as if they have been through / are going through the journey
  • Written testimonials and reviews of products as the resource that the hero uses to overcome the challenge
  • Explained my coaching process to a prospect as if they would be going through a hero’s journey type process
  • Presented the development of new products as if they are going through the Hero’s Journey

What Impact Does this Have?

I can say having used the template a lot means I can quickly structure powerful stories. I don’t often use completely fictional stories. Because I tend to use real life stories and events I often have to restructure them to properly build them to be interesting. The hero’s journey template helps me to do that in a meaningful way that keeps the story dramatic and still allows me to build the persuasion elements that I want to build into it.

The template does a lot of the work for me. For example it paces where people are currently at, take them through a path of challenges, give them the resources they need to meet the challenge and as a result grow and develop.

I have noticed when I use this template in presentations I find it very easy to draw people into the story. As you get better at the structure you get to be able to add more in or take bits out to create the right sized and feel to the metaphor and you are developing it for effectively for your audience.


I’ve been clearing out and rearranging the office this last week and I have found a handful of Persuasion Skills Black Book USB Cards. Both the Persuasion Skills and the Job Hunting ones. So I thought I would offer them out again as a one off.

You can find out more about either of them here:


But you will need to hurry. I only have a few of each and once they are gone they will be gone until I reorder towards the end of the year. If you want one of each then drop me an email. I will save on the postage so will send them out for $100 for a pair.

Meanwhile Back at the Story

Whilst I don’t mention it specifically in either book the Persuasion Skill Black Book contains several examples of the Hero’s Journey and the Persuasion Skills Black Book of Job Hunting has several testimonials structured this way as well as a process for developing your CV / Resume in this fashion. Let me know how you are using the Hero’s Journey in the comments below.

9 Comments on “NLP in the World of Espionage”

    1. Rintu Basu

      I don’t think it was as simple as that Drew, I think they were pointing out strategies and how they can be subverted, interrupted and played with. The strategies they used can work and they have major flaws and this is just a film for entertainment rather than a documentary on persuasion tactics. So in that sense they were making fun and that is not a bad thing.

      Hope that makes sense.



  1. krishna

    this was brilliant sir u have taught us that its important that we notice the techniques as it provides greater understandings of the skills we learn we can notice in anywhere from movies from books debates even talking the more u notice the better u can apply in diffrent situations thaks for this insight

    1. Rintu Basu

      Yes Krishna,
      All the original NLP stuff came from modelling natural behaviour and I think a great place to be is just observing things and asking yourself how you can use that.
      Great observation.

  2. Cristina

    Dear Rintu,

    it is wonderful this article !

    Thank you very much for introducing to your
    deep knowledge about human behavior and how
    how much benefits brings to everyone which study NLP.

    I´ve read both of your wonderful books and aplyed your techniques when selected a new career path.

    Thank you very much, Rintu !

  3. Michael

    Hi Rintu,
    I’m an NLP beginner and am really enjoying the Persuasion Skills Black Book. I love receiving your email articles too. I booked tickets last evening to go to see Kingsman tonight, which I’m looking forward to; so imagine my surprise and even greater anticipation about the film after receiving this article from you this morning saying Kinsgman includes excellent scenes on NLP!
    Kind Regards,

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