Persuasive Techniques To Influence People
Post on 02-Apr-2015
Persuasive communication mastery is an invaluable skill not only for use in NLP but for life in general, especially if you're a person who likes to make an impact on the world rather than a person who just goes with the flow. Many of the most powerful, influential and successful people throughout history were made so by the very fact that they were such artfully persuasive communicators. From a personal development standpoint learning to utilise your communication skills with volition is fundamental to producing your desired outcomes with ease and finesse. If you're a leader your ability to communicate persuasively and effectively will play a major role in convincing others to follow you. If you're a coach or a therapist your communication skills will help to determine whether your client makes effective changes and achieves break-through results. If you're a sales person, your ability to communicate effectively may be the major determining factor in convincing you prospect that your product or service is right for them. In this section of the site we're going to focus primarily on the use of language - the Linguistic element of Neuro Linguistic Programming.
When we look at the world through a window we see a particular view. Look through another window, even a small distance from the first and although the world outside the window remains the same, your unique view of it through that second frame may be subtly, or radically different from the view through the first frame. More importantly for our purposes here, your thoughts and feelings about the two views and the internal representations resulting from the two experiences are likely to be equally different. Similar results can be achieved linguistically using linguistic frames, and if you're familiar with the common expression 'it's not what you said, it's how you said it' then you are likely to appreciate just how useful linguistic frames can be in inter-personal communication. Using linguistic frames we can adjust the meaning of one language structure by framing it inside a second language structure, and this is something you probably do every day without realising it. In the following examples we'll examine ways to utilise linguistic frames to:
Disagree with another person's point of view and get them to agree with our point of view without them even being aware of it (agreement frame).
Satisfy another person's request by giving them something other than what they asked for (purpose frame).
Move a person from a stuck state by getting them to think in new ways and imagine doing the very thing don't want to do or think that they can't do (what if frame).
The fourth indicator of rapport is our ability to pace and lead the person we are communicating with. The agreement frame is a linguistic tool that we can use to verbally pace the person we are communicating with and then lead them to where we want the communication to go. The agreement frame takes one of the following forms:
I agree........and........ I appreciate........and........ I respect........and........
For the purposes of our illustrative example let's consider an imaginary communication between two characters - A and B. A says: We've got so much work to do to complete this project. We're going to have to work late to get everything finished on time. B says: I understand how you feel, but I've had enough for one day and I'd much rather go home now and finish things up tomorrow. For the purposes of our example we're going to assume that A's response to B's disagreement is to feel displeased (remember - the meaning of your communication is the response that you get). B could have elegantly achieved his desired outcome - going home for the day - in such a way that A was more likely to feel agreeable, simply by wrapping an agreement frame around his disagreement as in the following example:A says: We've got so much work to do to complete this project. We're going to have to work late to get everything finished on time. B says: I agree that we have a lot to do, and I think that if we go home now and recharge our batteries we'll finish the job in half the time tomorrow.
Let's look at some of the fundamental differences between the two examples. In the first example B may as well have said 'I understand how you feel , but my wants and needs are more important than anything else and I'm going home'. In the second example B uses one of the agreement frame forms mentioned above - I agree........and........ Firstly B avoids claiming to understand A. The fact is that as B's model of the world differs from A's model, B could never truly understand A. Claiming to understand another person whilst at the same time holding a belief or opinion which differs from theirs is like to result in a polarity response in that person i.e. in this case the polarity response is likely to be no - you don't understand! Thus by avoiding claiming to understand A, B presents less opportunity for resistance and avoids the polarity response. By agreeing with part of A's communication B begins to pace A by acknowledging A's model of the world. In the second example B the continues to pace A by replacing but with the and part of the agreement frame. Linguistically the word but is known as a negation operator. Used in a sentence the word but negates everything that comes before it. In this regard but is a very powerful word. Ever been on the receving end of a stream of positive communication and thought to yourself 'wait for the but...wait for the but...'? When the but comes along it negates all the positive aspects of the communication and we're left with the negative. The agreement frame wraps neatly around any negative in such a way that overall the communication is received in a positive light. So far B's second communication has two pacing elements - I agree + and. The final element of the agreement frame switches to leading the person we are communicating with in the direction of our desired outcome i.e.
I agree........and........(X) I appreciate........and........(X) I respect........and........(X)
Where X is our desired outcome. On the following pages we'll examine some of the other tools we can add to our linguistic toolbox to boost our inter-personal communication skills further still.
The purpose frame is a linguistic tool which we can use to satisfy the purpose of a person's request without necessarily giving them what they actually ask for. Whilst that may sound manipulative or akin to some form of trickery, it really isn't. The purpose frame is elegantly designed to produce win-win outcomes. The form of the purpose frame is very simple and to illustrate it we'll use two imaginary individuals - Billy and Johnny. For our purposes Johnny will be using the purpose frame to address a request made by Billy.
Billy makes a request (X) of Johnny Johnny responds - (X), for what purpose? Billy responds - (X) for the purpose of (Y). Johnny offers an alternative to (X) that satisfies Johnny's purpose of (Y).
Illustrative examples don't have to be dull and boring - let's inject a little tongue-in-cheek humour:-
The eskimo asks his boss for underfloor heating in his 'igloo-office' Boss replies - underfloor heating, for what purpose? Eskimo responds - so I can have nice warm feet! Boss replies - okay, I'll supply you with some extra-thick socks.
Thus the boss was able to satisfy the purpose/intention of his eskimo employee's request without actually providing exactly what was asked for. The added bonus is that the result is a win-win - our eskimo friend has nice warm feet and the boss keeps his employee happy and avoids the cost and inconvenience of installing underfloor heating.
What if frame
The what if frame, also know as the as if frame is used to negotiate resistance and limiting beliefs by assisting a person in considering more fully those possibilities, options and ideas which they may previously have considered beyond the scope of their abilities or the realms of possibility. The what if frame allows a person to suspend those limiting beliefs which have negative impacts on their lives and try on more useful beliefs, safe in the knowledge that they are only 'pretending' to believe something different and that they can easily return to their original belief if they wish. The intention is that by facilitating that person in trying on those different beliefs their rigid model of the world is given a good hard shake (or a gentle shake if that's more appropriate) and they push past their limiting beliefs in the direction of more useful beliefs. For the purposes of illustration let's imagine that you are coaching a friend or work colleague:-
Friend says - I could never get that promotion, I just don't have what it takes
You respond - Well, what would happen if you did get that promotion? If you had that promotion now what would you look like? What skills and abilities would you have?
Friend says - I could never tell her how I feel You respond - What would happen if you did tell her how you feel? What specifically would you say to her? What would her reaction most likely be?
Friend says - Nothing good ever happens to me - if it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all
You respond -What if something good did happen to you - how would you recognise it? Would you even notice if something good happened to you, or would you be too busy searching for bad luck?
Friend says - I can't think of one person who truly likes me for who I am
You respond - What if there are lots of people who do truly like you for who you are and you're too wrapped up in your thoughts to see those people in the first place - how are they ever going to show you that they like you?
The what if frame is not a complete intervention in and of itself. Rather it is a catalyst intended to trigger a chain reaction of processes in the subject to go around, over or through a limiting belief and begin to generate more useful beliefs and generalisations. If we think of the limiting beliefs and generalisations as a dam across the river of creativity and infinite possibility, the what if frame is the key process that triggers the collapse of that dam and releases the flow of generative change which acts to enrich a person's model of the world.
Say it the way you want it
Master communicators tailor their communication to suit the person they are communicating with in a number of different and subtle ways. One way in which they do this is by being aware of the other person's model of the world and of the internal representations their communication is likely to elicit in that person. One key aspect of this process is the recognition that the unconscious mind cannot process a negative or, in other words, we can't think about what we don't want to think about without thinking about it. Just take a moment to think about that. Confused? That's OK as confusion always precedes understanding. If someone said to you Don't think of a blue tree what's the first thing you think about? A blue tree - right? When you're told Don't think of a blue tree you have to think about the blue tree just to be able to make sense of the sentence and thus you cannot avoid thinking about what you are told not to think about. (You're thinking about it again, aren't you.) When you give another person an instruction or even a suggestion that involves negation such as:
Don't think about (X) Don't do (X) Try not to mention (X)
they have to think about the negative part of what you've said just to make sense of it. When we start to think about the negation we begin to imagine doing it and thus become more likely to do the very thing we are trying not to do! For example, when you tell a child Don't spill your drink, in order to process the sentence the child has to think about spilling the drink.
Whilst they are internally imagining spilling the drink they focus on their internal map of reality instead of paying attention to what's going on in current external experience. Having experienced spilling the drink internally and the associated consequences, they are likely to experience the negative kinesthetics that go along with that, resulting in increased muscle tension. They've now switched from calmly carrying the drink in a relaxed manner, concentrating on where they are going to clumsily carrying the drink in a nervous manner whilst paying attention to internal experience. Ironically, telling them not to spill the drink is more likely to produce that undesired result than if we'd said nothing at all - they probably hadn't even thought of it until we mentioned it! A better instruction would have been That's right, carry the drink just like that, nice and carefully or, with a simpler form commonly used with small children or when time is of the essence - the drink stays in the cup. When we say it the way we want it - state our outcome in the positive, tell the person what we want rather than what we don't want, we actually create internal representations in the person we are communicating with that significantly increase the chances of getting our desired outcome. Remember the rule and say it the way you want it!
"Speaking in quotes"
Speaking in quotes is a very powerful way to verbally convey a direct message or instruction in an indirect way. Quotes allow you to get your message across and neatly bypass any resistance that may arise from the person you are communicating with.
The first time I read about about this pattern (quotes) I remember saying to myself "This pattern is so easy you've just got to learn how to do it" and that's exactly what I did. When we wish to communicate clearly and effectively with other people we tend to be very direct in our communication. By being very direct and explicit in our communication we leave the other person in no doubt about what we want, what we want them to do, how we want them to do it etc. One drawback in this method of communication is that it can trigger resistance from the other person - they may not want to do what we ask or they may not want to do it exactly how we want them to. Now you may say "Nobody likes to be told what to do" and you'd be right. "How can we communicate precisely in a way that doesn't give rise to resistance?", I hear you ask. The answer is to put your communication inside quotes. Speaking in quotes is really easy to do - think of something you want to say, put it in quotes and attribute it to someone else:I remember watching a movie about a guy who could never make his mind up and his best friend said to him "....just stop wasting time and make your mind up already, if you don't like your choice you can change it later". Quotes can be used in many ways including:
Giving commands - A book I once read said "...if you only learn one...