(Originally Published at Evermore Instructional)
Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP.
Only a handful of people have ever even heard those words, much less studied the topic. However, NLP is at the heart of all persuasion. Advertisers, Politicians, and all skilled persuaders employ NLP on a daily basis, whether they know it or not.
NLP is the study of particular words, phrases, and patterns of speech that shoot past the conscious mind’s “guardians” and dive straight into the subconscious. These words influence people because they allow you to reach the part of the mind that actually controls decision making.
What’s that, you say? You think that you make all your decisions based on reason? Are you sure about that?
Most people live their lives in a sort of autopilot. They decide on what to eat not by a rational process, but because they just “feel” like they want to eat a certain kind of food. Car salesmen know that people decide what car to buy before they’ve really heard the details of the vehicle or looked at the sticker price. Politicians cling to slogans and emotional appeals because they know that it’s easier to get people to “feel” their way to a political position rather than think through the pros and cons of every course of action.
“No Child Left Behind.”
“Make America Great Again.”
“The things they don’t want you to know.”
These simple phrases have driven a host of people over time. Who can oppose helping children, or making our country great? And don’t you want to know the secrets that “the man” wants to hide from you?
This is NLP, and I can show you a few patterns that can make you 100% more effective at communicating your ideas.
Did you know that a sentence doesn’t have to make sense for you to believe it, because we know that a sentence with a certain word allows us to trick your mind into thinking it’s a reasonable sentence?
Read that question again as two disconnected statements right quick:
A sentence doesn’t have to make sense for you to believe it
Sentences with a certain word trick your mind into thinking they’re reasonable
The word “because” turns these two unconvincing statements into one convincing one. You probably didn’t internally ask “why is that” when I wrote the question, because I gave you a reason. That reason may not make sense on its own, but when I combine the two thoughts together they can bypass your critical mind fairly easily.
The word “because” is the single most powerful word in the English language, because it works.
If I string a bunch of thoughts together, and those thoughts aren’t totally disconnected from one another, and you aren’t sitting there being 100% critical of the arguments presented, your mind can begin to accept what I’m saying because it’s simply overwhelmed and has to make decisions about what to do with the information I’ve presented to your brain.
This can produce what Igor Ledochowski, a renowned hypnotist, calls the “hypnotic blitz”. The average person can only actually hold between 4 and 10 distinct pieces of information in their heads at one time, which means that a stream of thoughts presented as one piece can begin to enter your subconscious mind without being critically challenged because the conscious guardians are simply overwhelmed. I may not know for sure which individual pieces will stick the most clearly, but if I can inundate you with enough of the right ideas quickly enough and repeat them often, I can be sure that you will take into your mind all the most important thoughts that I direct at you.
This is the same idea that beer commercials employ. They show you a bunch of colorful images very quickly, all of them pleasant, and they implant their product in these scenes. No matter how hard you try to focus, you quickly become overwhelmed, and the idea that beer = happiness, or beer = fun, or beer = hot chicks begins to sink deep into your subconscious. If you’re exposed to these commercials often, the idea will set up very deeply, which encourages your usual decision-brain to drink to gain these benefits.
3. “Did you know”, and other suggestive phrasing
Did you know that many people don’t realize how easy it is to slip a thought past your critical mind? Most experts agree that framing a statement as a truth that you haven’t realized yet encourages you to treat it as true. As you may have begun to realize, it’s a matter of perspective.
If I tell you “all people are idiots”, you will likely recoil as your conscious mind judges whether or not my statement is actually true. However, if I tell you that “most people don’t realize how easy it is to trick people into accepting something”, you can begin to accept it as true without thinking through the reasons why or why not it is true.
This is the secret behind the “weasel words” that most people use incorrectly. When I say “some people think”, or “most people don’t know”, or “experts agree”, you subconsciously embrace the truth of the statement before you begin to actually question it. This guides you toward embracing my ideas, even when you wouldn’t naturally accept them.
But that’s just my opinion. You can decide whether or not you are ready to accept the notion that you probably believe a lot of things without having thought them through.
4. The False Choice
You can choose whether or not you want to use these words in your daily conversation to become more persuasive. Some people aren’t ready to accept that people are just that shallow and easy to manipulate, which is just fine for them.
While that statement, on its face, is pure choice, it’s actually not. I state that you have some option, that you can make a choice, but before you can choose you have to accept what I’m saying into your mind. Once the thought is in there, I can guide you toward accepting it by suggesting that the only real reason you wouldn’t make the choice I want you to make is because you’re just not ready, or you’re too stupid, or something else that you don’t want to be true. Your mind betrays itself.
As kids, we were all exposed to “all the cool kids are doing ______”, or “only losers do _____”. While a choice is technically there, you only really want to choose the course of action that makes you cool, and you don’t want to do something that makes you a loser. It’s a false choice, because your desires override your critical thinking.
The subconscious always beats the conscious mind. Always.
Combining these techniques
None of these things work perfectly by themselves. If you’re really committed to a course of action, no amount of “that’s what Hitler would do” will disuade you. However, if we use these techniques together, we can improve our odds.
Suppose I want you to think that beards are sexy (which they are). I could dig a worm into your brain with a statement like this.
“Lots of people aren’t fully in touch with their own natural instincts, because they don’t want to accept the truths that come with understanding that you’re part angel and part animal. We all know that only men can grow full beards, and a beard is a sign of high testosterone and powerful masculinity, which means that only the most manly men are able to wear a beard. Most women find beards very attractive, even if they aren’t fully aware of just how attractive they are, because the animal instincts know that only manly men can grow beards, which means that a bearded man must be very manly. You don’t have to think that beards are extremely attractive to realize that a bearded man must be extremely attractive to most women, which is why so many of the “sexy men” we see in movies and on television either have a full beard or pronounced stubble, which is about as attractive as a full beard because the animal mind knows that clear stubble is a sign of that same manliness. Some people are more attracted to stubble, and some people are attracted to a well groomed beard, and some people are more attracted to the sort of lumberjack look, but it’s clear to most people that beards are extremely attractive to the animal nature that we all share.”
If you were previously obsessing over the clean-shaven Edward Cullen, you’re probably at least somewhat more interested to a bearded Hugh Jackman than you were a moment ago. And, as time goes by, the thoughts that I’ve just shared with you will ferment in your subconscious mind, to the point that you might just begin to find beards much more attractive than clean-shaven people. This is the power of persuasive language.
Now that you’ve become aware of some of the common persuasive language employed everywhere, you will probably start to see it everywhere. That gives you a slight edge over everyone else, because being aware of hypnotic language allows you to become able to build up defenses against the subconscious power of those words and patterns.
You can either choose to use these techniques and become more persuasive, or you can not. It’s entirely your choice.