Advanced Persuasion

Obama… Fortune Teller?

By Framing, Persuasion in Politics, Using Stories 3 Comments

Dear Persuader,

Apparently, someone went to Indonesia and interviewed some of President Obama’s old friends.

The Times relates a story from one of his old friends that some might say presaged the future.

One time, recalled the elder son, Slamet Januadi, now 52, Mr. Obama asked a group of boys whether they wanted to grow up to be president, a soldier or a businessman. A president would own nothing while a soldier would possess weapons and a businessmen would have money, the young Obama explained.

Mr. Januadi and his younger brother, both of whom later joined the Indonesian military, said they wanted to become soldiers. Another boy, a future banker, said he would become a businessman.

“Then Barry (Obama) said he would become president and order the soldier to guard him and the businessman to use his money to build him something,” Mr. Januadi said. “We told him, ‘You cheated. You didn’t give us those details.’ “

“But we all became what we said we would,” he said.

Ok, so what do you think? Did this story point to the future?

Here are some persuasion points.

1. If you stick with something long enough, you greatly enhance the probability of succeeding.

2. You have to know what you want. Stated another way, you have to have a target. How will you know when you have succeeded without a goal? Yet another way… you won’t know when you’ve arrived if you don’t know where you are going. President Obama knew early on and kept going until…

3. In persuading others a very simple strategy of continuing to hold strong to what you want can work. But, it doesn’t always work. You may have to retreat to fight again another day. Study Chinese Stratagem #36 for more on this.

4. How you frame something i.e. the details you put in and the ones you leave out, as well as “the angle you are filming from” dramatically effect how your message is received. Give some thought to how you are framing your message.

5. Logic, in it’s various forms, including pseudo, inductive and deductive are potent powers that can boost your ability to get people to do what you want. They can be used as traps for the minds of others. Look at what then young Obama put in, left out and the logic that was sprung on his friends with the close of the story.

The last thought I’ll leave you with is something my Father told me when I was young. “Dad, why did you choose to minor in History? What can you do with that to make money or get work.” He said, “Well son, there’s an old saying that says, people that don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Another way to say it is, knowing a person’s past helps us judge what they might do in the future. Now when you project your thoughts to the future, what do you envision might happen given this story?

Be Sure and let me know your thoughts by posting to the blog.


Choosing Your Own Way

By Framing 4 Comments

Dear Persuader,

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances – to choose one’s own way.”   – Victor Frankl

Every time I hear someone talk about “thinking outside the box” I chuckle.  Like any cliché or catchphrase, thinking outside the box has been so overused as to become downright irritating.

From business coaches and management consultants to the realms of education, sports, sales and self help… think about how many times you’ve heard someone say in order to succeed or break through to higher levels of achievement, we have to step outside of the boxes that society has dictated we exist in.

Well, what is this box and why is it such a hindrance? And isn’t this just another way to say we need to be creative with the frames that we use to view the world?

I agree in theory with this concept in that persuasion requires a fluid creativity and flexibility that is not easily contained by restrictions and limitations. Business has been reduced to a rigid constant in many respects.  Trying to distill something as broad as business, and something as complex as sales, into easily digestible bites has been something old fashioned sales and marketing trainers have long tried to do.

Every situation is particular, each client or prospect has a very specific key or trigger which our creative sleuthing requires us to uncover. Remaining static is not an option in this quest. We have to have agile, almost yogic minds, able to bend the way our prospect bends, and twist the way our clients twist.

We’re not all cookie cutters. Unfortunately old-fashioned sales training has attempted to turn people into just that. It’s the same thing over and over. Instead, and through the process of learning persuasion, we don’t have boxes to begin with. We have frames, which like a pair of glasses can be changed according to what we’re wearing or whether it’s sunny out. The frames we use are far more powerful in determining our prospect or client’s needs and desires as we work with them.

When we choose how we view the world instead of allowing outside forces to choose for us, we have a magnificent capacity to influence and sell like never before.

Our capacity to frame improves with practice (similar to all things from learning a language, to learning an instrument, to learning yoga or starting an exercise regime). We absolutely do improve the more we try something. There’s no getting around that. The key is to do it. And do it again.

Writing out exercises and repeating language patterns within our given fields, coming up with lists of objections that we commonly get and then reframing the objections before they even come up in conversations with our prospects and clients, studying the thirty six Chinese stratagems as a way to further our internal understanding of what it means to be persuasive. . . these are easy steps to really installing in yourself the ability to persuade powerfully.


Assigning Blame: Use With Caution

By Advanced Persuasion, Language Patterns 1 Comment

Dear Persuader,

In a previous article I talked about using the term ‘everything happens for a reason’ to utilize the trust that many people have in this concept. I also wrote about superstition and the concept that ‘there are no accidents’ which happens to be a very powerful persuasion tool, and if you’ve read those two articles and attempted to implement the learning into your life, you already know what I mean about power.

Well, assigning blame is the other side of the ‘everything happens for a reason’/’there are no accidents’ coin. Wherein both of these concepts use our prospect’s belief in an ordered, equitable universe, assigning blame uses a common enemy as a means to persuade.

Better hang on here if you are religiously oriented because I’m going to shake the tree just a little bit here. (Disclaimer: My intention is never to intrude on anyone’s beliefs or practices because I vehemently believe in Freedom of Religion and to me, this extends to spiritual practice of all kind. But, like it or not, religion and spirituality are intertwined with everything in life and I use the examples below to teach persuasion, not to push my beliefs or dissuade yours.)

In group theory, there’s a lot of discussion about enemies, common enemies. One of the greatest ways you can ever use to bond a group is for them to have a common enemy.

Let’s start with Christianity as an example. What’s the common enemy of Christianity? Well, you probably know right off the top of your head, it’s the devil. How is this installed in Christians from an early age?  Well, we start saying things like, ‘We as humans are born into a world of sin and the mere act of being born causes us to not be able to get into the life hereafter until and unless we accept Jesus as our savior.’

That’s pretty intense. Let’s look at the enemy. The enemy is, just being born, because we’re born into sin. Who’s responsible for that? The devil.

This is a great tool. I heard someone say many years ago, ‘The devil is the best friend the Christian ever had because without him, there would be no need for a savior.’ Think about the word ‘savior’. Savior implies someone needs saving. And if you’re born into sin, you in fact do need saving.

Again, I’m not debating any of this. In fact, I’m kind of being the devil’s advocate here, so to speak, because I’m literally standing back and removing my own beliefs just to point out to you what’s going on so you can see this.

Now does it mean, by the way, having a common enemy is a bad thing? No, I think common enemies are great things. But one has to be careful and responsible. Is it responsible of a Christian to say that the devil’s a common enemy? Absolutely.

Also note the advantage of pointing at a common enemy that you can’t see, you can’t hear, and in fact, even humanities basic drives and desires can be attributed to the influence of this being? It’s pretty amazing. (From my previous article ‘Very Superstitious’, can see how this might fit into the definition of ‘superstition’?)

We have an inherent need to assign blame. In fact, it’s so fundamental to the core of who we are that everybody does this.

How about a political example? How about the ‘War on Terror’ or the ‘War on Poverty’? It’s virtually impossible to argue that anyone is for ‘terror’ or ‘poverty’.  These are cultural common enemies. Terror and poverty, however, are concepts, not actual, tangible physical groups against which a war can be won, but notice how insanely powerful as enemies.  If winning a ‘war’ against a concept were possible, I’d sign up and fight.

So I’m contrasting ‘things happen for a reason’ with ‘blame.’ So at our core, we look to assign fault.

A word of warning: I wouldn’t dwell in the land of negativity, it’s like a double-edged sword. It cuts going and coming. Be very careful.


PS… Be sure and post your comments to the blog.

Everything Happens for a Reason

By Advanced Persuasion, Language Patterns 5 Comments

Dear Persuader,

Last week I got a call from an acquaintance of mine. He said, ‘Remember that conversation we had about Africa a few weeks ago? Well, I just checked my e-mail and you won’t believe it. I won an international lottery originating in Africa.  You know, I’m just convinced everything happens for a reason, don’t you think?’

I thought for a few moments and I responded, ‘You know, I think you’re right. Everything does happen for a reason and really it’s a good thing that we’re talking right now.’ I went on to explain that I personally win probably three or four international lotteries a day and none of them are real.

I got to thinking about this conversation and I realized that people look for supporting evidence for what they want in their environment. In this case, here he was remembering our conversation, then he received an e-mail talking about winning a lottery from Africa and somehow he kind of put two and two together in a way that didn’t add up. That’s when he began talking about everything happening for a reason.

Unfortunately, I had to burst the bubble in order to keep him safe, but the point of it is why did he use that language? This language pattern is going to knock your socks off and enable you to influence and persuade in a very deep and profound way.

Why do people look for supporting evidence for what they want in their environment? Oftentimes they do this because our world is very unstable. Whenever there’s a tremendous lack of stability, with everything kind of up in the air, people start turning to religion, they start turning to God, they start turning to spirituality and they become more superstitious.

As I explain this pattern to you, please understand, my goal is to break things down in a way that gives us tremendous power with our language, our words and persuasion, and in so doing, help you to have more success in your life. That’s my purpose in this discussion. If you don’t believe in God, or you’re not a spiritual person, my point is not to influence you towards or away from anything except towards a language pattern or away from not being as successful as you like, that you’ll be able to use these patterns for your benefit and for the benefit of your clients.

When I said, ‘everything does happen for a reason’ it means that I’m alluding to something more than simply what he’s just referred to and that’s really important that he understood. Then I went on to say, ‘Good thing we’re talking’. Again, this implies that there’s perhaps something more than what he was just thinking about. That set the stage for me to have entry into his mind and to help him to understand the difficulty that he was about to face.

People look for supporting evidence for what they want in their environment and I believe it’s our job to give it to them. There are language patterns that are in the popular lexicon right now that we can use to our advantage very powerfully.

When we hear these things we can use them to our advantage powerfully, and I mean, really powerfully. For example, saying ‘things happen for a reason’ supports what you want to happen.

Let’s say you’re an advisor and you’re talking with someone, and they say something positive like, ‘Wow, it’s a good thing that I’m talking with you here today because I feel like I’m really getting somewhere in my learning, in my understanding of how all this works.’ And your response could be, ‘Fantastic, after all, there are no accidents, right?’

Is that a stretch to say? I don’t think it’s a stretch for anybody, no matter what our belief system is. After all, everything happens for a reason, it’s just a matter of whether or not it’s a reason you like.

No language pattern is an island and our goal as persuaders is to layer pattern upon pattern and these patterns piece together a deeper sense of reality when you do this right, what you’re going to be doing is using all sorts of these patterns at high speed.

To your success!


PS… Don’t forget to post your thoughts and comments on the blog.

Too Much of A Good Thing

By Advanced Persuasion, Eliciting Criteria, Towards and Away 2 Comments

Dear Persuader,

Have you ever gone into a supermarket or drugstore for a tube of toothpaste and found yourself confronted with forty different varieties?

It’s a simple enough substance—toothpaste—which we use every day (hopefully – don’t get me started on Jessica Simpson), and yet there are dozens and dozens of choices.  There are toothpastes with whiteners and/or baking soda; toothpastes for sensitive gums; natural toothpastes; toothpastes of various flavors —cinnamon, spearmint, fennel, wintergreen; kids toothpastes–silly strawberry, bubble gum, berry. And once we figure out the brand, we have to figure out what size and then tube, pump, squeeze bottle etc…

It takes most of us seconds to choose because we don’t stray from what we’ve been using ‘forever’ or staying brand loyal to what our parents used. But when our parents were growing up, there weren’t nearly as many choices.

It’s a minor, run of the mill decision, but one that illustrates just how very many choices we make every single day, from our toothpaste, to cell phone provider, to the brands we eat, wear and use.

Barry Schwartz, professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College, has written a book called, ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less—How The Culture of Abundance Robs us of Satisfaction’.  It is a very interesting look at how the ever expanding amount of ‘choice’ we have in every dimension of our lives is eroding the simple pleasures that used to be omnipresent.

This is an important perspective especially as it relates to our professions, products, and services. How many of you are there out in the world? Are you one in a million or one of a million? And how can your existence simplify the life of your prospect or client?

The goal of choice has been to liberate us, to give us a degree of control over our lives, to give us autonomy and distinction. However, as Mr. Schwartz suggests, ‘. . .as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded.’

As people who sell a product or service, we need to keep in mind that there are a multitude of similar products or service providers out there and that what makes us special is that, as persuaders, we are able to reach into the core of our prospects and clients to discover their specific key, their unique combination of values and criteria. When we establish rapport, elicit criteria, and establish ourselves as ‘the answer’, there is no need for this unbearable overload to occur in the minds of our prospects.

Schwartz writes of the political philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who beautifully described the continuum of towards and away in his distinction between ‘negative liberty’ and ‘positive liberty’.  He says, “Negative liberty is ‘freedom from’—freedom from constraint, freedom from being told what to do by others. Positive liberty is ‘freedom to’—the availability of opportunities to be the author of your life and to make it meaningful and significant.”

Wow!  A better description of the ‘towards/away’ continuum doesn’t exist. Do we see in our prospects the desire to be free from constraints? How can we show them that our product or service is the answer to this? Do we have a towards person who wants to take in all the amazing opportunities our products and services have to offer? In what ways to do you see the paradox of choice at play in your business life?

Be sure and post your comments to the blog.


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