A Hitchhikers Guide To Communication & Persuasion

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Some NLP stuff

Because of the mention of “Mass Formation Psychosis” linked to hypnosis I wrote a discussion article about it and this led to some Puffins interest in Neuro Linguistic Programming and its role in Persuasion. So I agreed to craft an article about it.

This is a “dip the toe” article that covers a lot of territory without any great depth. It’s a “taster”. If you like it the ask for more and which areas interest you.

From  previous articles:-

 Neuro-Linguistic Programming was the creation of Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the early 1970’s and is a combination of understanding how the brain processes information to create both conscious and subconscious patterns of behaviour and how language is the way we represent our relationship to the outside World. Bandler & Grinder also studied the hypnotherapist Milton Erickson and incorporated into NLP his language patterns for eliciting information and creating trances. The skilled use of hypnotic influenced language can be employed to make better persuasion and communication. Its most powerful use in business is in individual coaching to change limiting beliefs and in creating confidence, energy and motivation.”

In 1993 I ran some of the first courses in the UK applying NLP Communication and Persuasion techniques in business.

I have done a lot of work on how I might construct speeches, advertising copy and writing that conveys a message I want to put over and one that bypasses your conscious mind and embeds ideas in a more powerful and persuasive way. I can usually detect how these ideas about persuasion have been used in advertising for 30 years.

NLP founders and originalists created many techniques for making changes in behaviour like “Six-Step Reframe” and these prescriptions create an aura of manipulation around NLP and its psycho-baloney. Well, a lot of it is! But, is it wrong to manipulate people if it helps to cure them? It’s a philosophical and moral question.

I don’t “do NLP” anymore but I know how to do lots of stuff and the stuff I use day-to-day is all around language skills developed by the Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson contributions to the field of NLP. (I also use it in arguing. Can you tell?)

NLP has analysed how and what excellent Communicators and Persuaders do and then tries to teach those skills to other people. Preferably to people with a lot of money! There is also a more sinister technique of embedding suggestions in speech derived from hypnosis. Not so much Persuading but implanting suggestions using hypnotic language and t\by he way words are delivered.

OK, I’ll leap into the “naughty stuff” because I know that’s what you really want. And I will give you some simple, day-to-day techniques.

Now!, ….  pay careful attention…. I’m going to tell you a story … and you will … be intrigued….. and fascinated in how it worked out …. on that that warm….lazy day last summer.

Are you in trance yet? (Actually, you have been in an altered state once you started reading.)

The Ericksonian hypnotic method is a conversational form. Erickson would simply talk to his subject and they would go into a trance which he would then deepen and then deliver a post-hypnotic suggestion. Erickson would mark out key embedded suggestions he wanted to convey with gestures of some sort. Limited because he was in a wheelchair. Sometimes it would be a story he would tell with embedded homilies and analogies that he decided the subject could make use of at their sub-conscious level.

In the above example I emulated the pacing and delivery of the story with “…..”. What I can’t emulate in text is the intonation and emphasis within the delivery. I can’t emulate the slowing down as I get deeper, and deeper, just relax,  into the story. But you will have to accept from me it works.

There is an embedded suggestion “be intrigued and fascinated”.

Why am I using this as an example for Persuading? Have you listened to any speeches by American politicians? They tell stories, for example “I met a young soldier, Joe  and his wife, Sarah, from Talahasee who told me that……”. Now you have the interest of soldiers and families with soldiers. You have now induced some Rapport. Rapport is, being in sync with someone, being on the same page, sharing the same interests and empathies and is a way of persuading. We are convinced by people who are like us. Please Like Us!  Its what good sales-people do.

Stories are trance-inducing. And in trance you can embed those suggestions and with Rapport you can deliver a powerful message. How often have you been reading a book and a chapter later you realise you have no idea what you’ve just read. Why? Because your eyes just follow the words like a train on the rails but your mind is elsewhere, often in day-dream based on a theme of the words you just read. That trance is no different whether you listen to a deliberately crafted speech or read a book. Once in a trance you can be manipulated or healed/fixed.

Time for a real story:-

We invited a company to propose for a new kitchen. One of the salesperson’s was a woman who trained dogs. As soon as she saw Harvey she was all over him. Next time she came around she brought treats for him. She got him to sit.  She overdid the Rapport thing and we couldn’t stand her.

It is an example of how obviously trying to gain Rapport can back-fire.

Here’s some more “naughty stuff” that you have to imagine are delivered with a particular pace, intonation and delivery. I have placed the embedded suggestions in bold and to be said in a different tone to emphasise. A master at persuading would also mark out the emphasis with some hand gesture and note the ambiguity of the word “by” these are obviously sales pitches:-

“We have enclosed a brochure so that you may  consider our product

“If you  use our service ……..”

“If you can agree to our proposal I’ll assign a project manager right now!”

“.. so I said “it’s OK by me!”.

“Perhaps  you will call me  when you have studied our proposal.”

“If  you  have the time  to  call me now   that I have …….”

“If,  like me,  you believe in “

“I believe  you should offer me this job  because.”

“Smithers and company  employ me  to  ……”

“You’ll find shirts  by our trousers  display on the first floor”

“The hokey-kokey 2000 is described  by our product  manager as ……”

“The hokey-kokey 2000 is  the right price  for the market place.”

“I notice you were looking at our i5 model  by the i7 with the special offer. Will you  be interested  in looking at some other machine or would you like to  sit down and try it out.”

Another Persuasion device is “Pace, Pace, Lead”, Salesmen use the “Yes, Yes, Yes” pattern where you get someone in a “Yes” frame of mind. Here is my example with an embedded suggestion:-

“John I understand you and I have a different opinion about how we can solve this problem.(Pace)

 In the past we have had differences and, one-by-one, we have managed to come to a mutual agreement.(Pace)

Let’s see if we can find ways to compromise today  because we need to move onto some other areas of discussion.”(Lead)

Now, let’s do some Hitchiking. This device is about getting someone to carry out a task that if you asked them outright then they may be reluctant to do it. But find something they are already committed to doing………

A command is hitchiked if it is attached to some other statement that is true and preceded by ‘until’, ‘when’, ‘as’, “Since”. If it is true then it’s also Pacing and then Leading. It’s power is that by being linked to something that is true it is harder to refuse.

“I see you are busy (Pace). When you are through, would you come to my office?”

Since you are going to the bar (Pace), could you get me a packet of crisps?”

When you go into town (Pace) would you buy me a newspaper”.

I will leave you with something to think about. I told you I have done work in how to deliver embedded suggestions in text, specifically advertising copy. Did you ever wonder why advertisers started using different fonts and sizes with the advertising script distributed in a non-linear way? Could it be that they want the subconscious mind to pick up ideas and suggestions you won’t get from a linear reading?  Because the different fonts and sizes allow you to arrange those words in ways where a block of text can convey a message or idea.

© Lugosi February 2022