NLP Language Patterns and Techniques for Communication & Persuasion

(And a bit about how to win complaint arguments)

Lugosi, Going Postal

“It’s a kind of Magic”

Lugosi, Going Postal

One of the Dark Arts associated with NLP is the aspect of Persuasion which is taken to mean “getting someone to do something they didn’t want to do”. It is true that by using certain NLP challenges you could change stonewalling into a more positive outcome that you desire.

Many of the language patterns used in NLP to “Persuade” come from counselling and Ericksonian hypnosis (described in earlier articles). Many of these techniques work. I base that on the number of times I have managed to transform my complaints into apologies and compensation for bad service. I seem to have developed a Barrister personality without ever having studied the law.

Lugosi, Going Postal

“The Disrupter – Confusion Rains (sic)”

A technique in Ericksonian hypnosis is to induce confusion and then make a suggestion. When someone is confused you interfere with their standard program for coping with the immediate reality and at that moment of confusion you can insert an idea that has more potential for success than if you let someone continue in their script. When you take them off-script you have Disrupted their standard patterns and NLP suggests that when someone is confused they are open to take a suggestion that allows them to continue down another set of programmed behaviours.

To try and win arguments:-

“Disrupt your opponent by asking questions or making points they don’t expect to have to deal with”.

Lugosi, Going Postal

Take the example of demanding a refund from a customer obstructionist representative:-

Them:- “Sorry sir, we can’t offer you a refund”

You:- “What would happen if you …. give me a refund

I’ve not only introduced a challenge that asks a question outside of the script but I have also introduced something called an “Embedded Command”.

The Embedded Command is “give me a refund”. It is delivered by a slight pause after the word “you” and with a slightly emphasised tonality and speed of delivery. It also introduces mild confusion because, normally, you would say “gave me a refund”. Instead you change it to a positive instruction to “give me a refund” and NLP suggests that this instruction bypasses the conscious mind of the other person and embeds a suggestion to give you a refund.

The challenge is also a confusion because the representative has already told you it’s impossible so why would you ask “What would happen if you did”?

This comes from therapy and counselling. The client says:-

“I can’t speak to her”

and you respond:-

“What would happen if you did?”

The axiom for Persuading is:-

“Never give up. Ask Disrupting questions because they destroy scripts. Even if the question seems illogical your target often feels obliged to handle your questions in order to stick to their rules and procedures for handling customers and not to be rude”

After your first intervention you don’t know where the interaction will now proceed. What you do know is that you will have to get a response. You now have to play it by ear.

My favourite continuation for a stonewall that reaches an impasse is to ask:-

You:- “Well if you can’t give me a refund, who can?”

They will often answer “no-one”.

That answer is a lie. It has to be. Surely the Managing Director can order a refund for you.

You:- “I bet the MD can order a refund for me. What is his/her name and phone number”

I usually work down a hierarchy of management:-

“What about the Customer Service manager, your supervisor? Who can order a refund?”

To predict the possible outcomes after that challenge would involve a flow-chart the size of the Universe. Sometimes they will say:-

 “I will have to speak to my supervisor”

I always ask them to put me through to their supervisor because they can’t possibly represent me and I need someone else to try and Disrupt.

“I wanna car please. Will that be red or green Sir”

Persuading is not only encouraging someone do something they didn’t want to do but it’s also helping them to do something they would like to do, but in your favour.

My classical examples have to do with a car salesman. When a customer enters a car showroom or car lot you know they are looking for a car. A great NLP device for selling anything, a car or an idea, is simply ask for their strategy? It’s so easy. Simply ask something like:-

“How would you know if a car was the right one for you?”

“What are the most important features of a car that makes you say ‘this is the one’?”

Any salesperson who asks:-

“Can I help you”?

Has just asked a question to which the answer can be “No” and has wasted a question. At least try something like:-

“Is there something here you might … be interested in“?

Lugosi, Going Postal

“Just tell me what you want and sign here”

People tell you their buying strategy if you ask. Once the car salesman has asked:-

“What are the most important features of a car that makes you say ‘this is the one’?”

They have to listen to the answer. NLP shows that experience is programmed through our senses:-

  • Seeing – Visual
  • Hearing – Auditory
  • Feeling – Kinesthetic
  • Taste – Gustatory
  • Smell – Olefactory

It is suggested  people can be primarily “Visual”, “Feeling” or “Hearing” (or Visual, Kinesthetic and Auditory using NLP nomenclature). That is, they have a preference for processing information and decision-making based on what they see, how they feel or what they hear. This may also be represented by the language they are using at the time.

  • “I see what you mean”
  • “I hear what you say”
  • “I feel I understand”

To an Auditory person they may tell you about the great sound system they want in the car. A Kinesthetic person may emphasise the feel of comfortable leather seats and a Visual person is interested in the looks of the car. If they tell you it has to have good fuel consumption then they are interested in specifications.

The good salesman feeds back to the customer their selling strategy based on the words they use and the information they provide by their language.

No point in emphasising the appearance of a car to someone who is Kinesthetic who may not be as impressed with fuel consumption as they are with the boot space.

“I’ve bloody well spent ages on this presentation and you will listen”

When I worked in various positions in IT and Technical Sales I would prepare a presentation with  great slides and riveting script. Most presentations are Broadcasts. They aren’t Communication and they aren’t a rewarding use of your time or that of the client.

When I became more aware of NLP language patterns and techniques I did something radical. Before launching my slides and script I would go over to a whiteboard and ask them:-

“Could you please tell me three things that are most important to you for you to accept our proposal”

Why should I waste my time and theirs giving them a scripted presentation in which there are three items that most interest them but which  get lost in a canned presentation along with things they aren’t interested in. Obviously, you need to feel confident to go off-script and pull out only relevant slides.

There you are, emphasising the compact nature and appearance of your PC when all they are interested in speed. I will 100% guarantee that post-presentation most of you will say “I wish I had, or hadn’t, mentioned…..”. Why bother with “Regret” when you don’t have to?

There’s something else here. Presentations are like another scripted program of behaviour. “I speak and presen, and you sit there and listen”. But, if you start out by asking them what’s important you have gone against the expectation that you will perform to a script and, instead,  arouse their interest and involvement from the first moment. The discussion and argument about the “three things” will give you so much information about their decision strategy that you will have an advantage. You also learn who are the main players in the meeting and you can use that to your advantage by speaking with them:-

“Bob, you emphasised how important the first year pay-back will be. Well, as you can see from this slide….”

“Tony, you wanted to know about the various processor options…..”

Lugosi, Going Postal

“Anchors Aweigh – Juggling imaginary balls”

In presenting there is another NLP idea called “Anchoring”. An Anchor is something that reminds you of something else. If I raise my hand it might remind you of when a school bully hit you and you hit him back, then he picked up a stick but you kicked it out of his hand, then your mate Billy joined in, and…………”

And all I did was raise my hand. That’s an Anchor for that fight you had 30 years ago in the playground.

I used Anchoring a lot in meetings. You will be familiar with:-

“On the one hand…. but on the other hand”

Think about that for a moment. How can a point of view be “on one hand” but an opposing point of view be “on the other hand”? The idea pre-dates any NLP use of Anchors by hundreds of years I suspect. But I think the idea is the same.

I used to actually and visually stack ideas onto my hands. I might raise my right hand whilst talking about negatives but use my left hand for the positives. I make sure I’ve got more positives on the left hand. At the end of a presentation I might put both hands together in a clasp, with the left hand covering the right, and say something like:-

“So the positives of the proposal more than outweigh the negatives?”

Maybe I would keep patting the right hand with the left. All I know is that I win far more than I lose. I’ll take 0.5% help if that’s all it gave me. Putting both hands together is known as “Collapsing Anchors”. It takes two experiences and collapses them into one, in the hope that the positives wipe out the negatives.

But I did something I think was more powerful. I would anchor different ideas to places in the room. As presenter I am allowed the freedom of the room. If something negative took place where I’m standing I make sure I don’t stand there again because that might trigger the negativity of the moment to others in the room.

I also know from colleagues that when I used my hand anchors to them I was literally juggling concepts in the air and in their imaginations it was as if they were real jugglers balls. I just seemed to have a way to make people hallucinate.

Lugosi, Going Postal

“Change the channel my pet, I ain’t getting this”

The main point I have to make is that:-

“Broadcast is NOT Communication”

I am reminded by a line from The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel:-

“A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”

Broadcast comes at you faster than you can actually process and code into your belief system in real-time. If we didn’t have prejudices and preferences we wouldn’t be able to make sense of the World. As we hear Broadcast the information gets sorted into our belief system into a well-known phrase or saying.

You are broadcasting on the BBC but they are receiving on Sky. You have to find out how to switch your selling pitch to Sky by listening to what’s important to them.

Distortion is where your receive some information but you take a different meaning. It screws Communication because, while you are responsible for “Transmit” you have no control over “Receive” and “Understand”

Irrespective of a stream of facts to the contrary people will still decode communication transmissions into their existing beliefs.

So, when you tell someone something that you think is obvious and they take an alternative meaning or conclusion,  they aren’t “idiots” for not understanding you. It’s their perceptual filters, experience and beliefs that lead them to conclusions. They aren’t being deliberately awkward either.

Lugosi, Going Postal

“I believe you – thousands wouldn’t”

Beliefs are ALWAYS genuine and held with a positive intent for YOU. The conclusions you reach based on them may not be borne out by facts. How can you change a belief that is so embedded in someone’s mind? Belief’s are like glue in the mind and hold together several linked concepts.

The question I like to use is:-

“How do you know that to be true?”

I know from my experience of challenges to beliefs on blogs (not too far from here!) that people get angry if you ask that question. Why? Because it’s a whole belief system glued together and people get rattled if you question it. You will most likely get abuse for daring to challenge them. But, it’s a very powerful question to Disrupt belief systems to try and persuade someone to believe something different.

There is so much more to write about which I will save for another time.

Lugosi, Going Postal

“Summery – you know sunshine and thunderstorms”

In conclusion:-

  1. “Disrupt”, challenge answers that don’t get you to the outcome you want.
  2. If you want to know what the customer would buy, Ask Them?
  3. To challenge Beliefs ask “How do you know that to be true”
  4. You aren’t Communicating, you’re Broadcasting.
  5. People Understand by re-coding your Broadcast into their Belief system. That is why people reach different conclusions.

And finally. My “Best Question In The World”:-

“So, what needs to happen for you to..  be interested .. in our proposal/idea?”

Get their strategy!

© Lugosi 2018

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