To Be (Sneaky) or Not to Be (Sneaky)

Dear Persuader,

A student of mine once posted a comment about my use of the relationship between teacher and student in an example of presupposition. They suggested, with a wink and a smiley face, that maybe I was being a little sneaky in using the example in a persuasive way.

It’s kind of interesting in life how when people know that I’m an expert in persuasion; they assume I’m using my persuasions skills on them all the time. That’s been something that I’ve struggled with my whole life. People actually say, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can really trust him, because, after all, he’s one of the top persuasion experts.’

This always kind of upset me until finally I just kind of got used to it.  I just realized, people are going to think whatever they’re going to think.

I really am just genuinely myself. And I’ve had to struggle to remain un-jaded. Not always having ulterior motives is part of operating with a lot of integrity.

But what is an ulterior motive? An ulterior motive lies beyond what is evident, revealed, or avowed.  That could be a negative thing, especially if the motive is being concealed intentionally so as to deceive. But there can be ulterior motives that aren’t sneaky.

When an ulterior motive is supportive, I have no problem with that. An ulterior motive, in a sense, is behind the scenes. If I were to use skills to help people to stay involved with me, provided that I’m really giving them value, I find no problem with that whatsoever.

For my suspicious student, I would suggest that people find I’m providing value regardless of me attempting to install it or not. And you’ll find the same is true for you.

It is kind of a humorous topic so I thought I would show you a little bit about the inside workings of my mind, how I’ve dealt with some of those kind of things and how it affects me.

Early in my career, I too would find myself asking those who I was studying with, if they were using persuasion on me because I wanted to see where their minds would really go.

It doesn’t mean I’m actively attempting to do it, though I know full well that my intention is to not only provide information but entertainment. Not only information and entertainment, but longevity for my clients and me to be work together.

That’s going to come out. These are my intentions. And my intention is to help and help and help some more. As long as that is recognized then I feel really satisfied and I think this is something you might want to examine in your own life because it will be something that comes up from time to time and it’s nice to have thought it through so that you know where you stand on it.

Be sure and post your thoughts and comments on the blog.


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John P Morgan - June 22, 2010


Thanks for posting this. I think it is a VERY important point of a consideration and one any serious student of persuasion, who also values integrity and authenticity like yourself, consistently deals with.

It can certainly be a frustrating experience to have people mistrust you based on a persuasion skillset. I know the feeling.

I’ve also found that a fear of negative intentions is not the only reason a person might be weary of a “master persuader”.

On a deeper level, I think people are simply uncomfortable with the idea that they can be persuaded outside of their awareness.

I often quote Arthur Schopenhauer:

“You are free to do what you will, but you are not free in willing.”

This statement shatters the foundation of reality for many people. I actually had it printed on the back of my business card for some years and have watched many people trance out and go through sudden state shift after simply reading it! (It wasn’t necessarily a good state, hence why I have taken it off my business card!)

One’s “will” is often their identity and in one swoop of a statement, this identity is taken away from them. With the loss of identity, a sort of existential angst arises.

People don’t want to be persuaded because they don’t want to be out of control, but the truth is they never really had control.

In the end, I believe that fully accepting we don’t really have control and that we are constantly being influenced is an empowering idea.

For example, a wonderful truth resulting from the idea that we are constantly being influenced outside of our awareness is that whether we intend to be or not, “WE ARE ALL CONNECTED”.

Quite a nice thing, I think.

I try to take situations in which someone fears being persuaded as an opportunity to enlighten them to the source of their fears.

When they are willing to take the journey and meet me on the other side, then I find we are both in much a better place.

Keep it real my friend.


Paul Endress - June 22, 2010

It seems to me that intention is one of the strongest factors in persuasion. Someone with stong intention and little or no “skills” is likely to out persuade someone with a large collection of skills and weak intention.

Mindy - June 23, 2010

There are many things in life that can be used for good or bad. The choice is in the hands of the holder. I appreciate what Kenrick is doing and don’t believe he has any “ulterior” motives.

Payotrose - June 25, 2010

[quote comment=""]There are many things in life that can be used for good or bad. The choice is in the hands of the holder. I appreciate what Kenrick is doing and don’t believe he has any “ulterior” motives.[/quote]

Excuse my niavete: What does this mean, “You’re not free in willing?”


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