Persuasion Continuum II: Getting in Deeper

Hi Persuader,

If you missed “Persuasion Continuum: The Key To Your Prospect’s Particulars“, go read it now.

When I last left you, you were either completely confused about the Persuasion Continuums or you were well on your way to understanding one of the slickest tools in the persuasion toolbox.

To recap: Continuums work most powerfully when you find that the prospect you’re influencing is at either end of the continuum not more or less in the middle. In other words, the powerful continuums are the ones where the person is extreme.

Let’s say that your prospect is at the far right side of the continuum at the far ‘towards’ side. And let’s say for ‘internal/external’, well they’re right dead in the middle. They don’t seem to go either direction, they don’t seem to really care. I just would ignore the internal/external in my languaging because that one just isn’t going to make a big difference. (I’ll get into more detail on the ‘languaging’ in an upcoming article.)

These continuums are organizing principles for people; they’re a filter, a way of looking at things. And, lucky for us, they’re habitual, meaning, people tend to keep the same perspective within the context in which you’ve inquired.

Sometimes big life changes can make these things change, but basically they are a set way of looking at the world.

I’ve talked about lenses before (“Adjusting Your Lens“) and this is a similar concept. Continuums shape the way we view the world.

We have the ‘towards and away’ lens. We have the ‘internal/external’ lens. We have the ‘options/procedural’ lens. These lenses, when you understand them, enable you to focus straight into the mind of the person you’re influencing. This is where they start getting real powerful.

The idea is to learn to adjust your language to take advantage of the continuums you hear like notching a key to fit into a lock.

Most of us, we just assume that everybody else thinks the same way we do.

Wrong! They think the way they do.

The very first step is to learn to put your mind into a white board state. You’re there to be marked upon by the way your prospect thinks and speaks and you define yourself by those strategies.

I am not talking about changing your values or your beliefs. I’m not talking about changing who you are at your core. I’m talking about changing the way you express yourself to influence another person.

As an example, are you what you eat? Are you the shoes you wear? Are you the car you drive? Are you the city you live in? You are none of these things and you are made up of all of these things. You’re a sum total of a great bunch more than what you eat, wear, drive, and where you live.

Are you a belief? No, but you’re closer to that than you are a shoe. Are you a value? Well, that’s part of who you are. You’re part of all those things. When you combine it together you have you.

It’s really important to understand that when you change your language, you’re not changing who you are, you’re changing your shirt, you’re changing your shoes, you’re changing your tie.

I realized that it’s important to have a particular look and so in the last little over a year, I’ve conformed to that look a little bit more.

Am I inherently different as a person? No. I carry around 140 pounds less fat than I used to, but I still have the same passions and hopes and dreams and beliefs and core values. If I wear a suit or a T-shirt, I’m still the same person.

I’m changing the perception of my message and that’s what continuums are. They’re a way for you to change your verbal shoes. To change your verbal pants or shirt, and the key to this is to develop flexibility in the way you talk, to have a wardrobe, to take advantage of what the person you’re influencing is using and not default to your own continuums.

When we’re pushed into a corner and we have to come out swinging, we’re going to simply do what it is that we know how to do. And from there, we hope to improve. Every time you’re in front of a prospect, you’re in a corner, so to speak, and you do what you know how to do as best as you can. The goal is to have flexibility, to increase that.

Remember, that as the context changes from like work to home to love to health, so too will the way a person uses a continuum including not using that continuum at all in some, but not other contexts. Don’t assume that because you know the continuum in one context that it will hold up in others.

Are you starting to get it? Odds are, if you’ve read Persuasion Continuums I and II a few times, the light is starting to come on. Coming soon: Backing the Ambulance Up to the Door: The ‘Away’ Perspective.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
Jay - December 6, 2007

Kenrick, how did you lose all of your weight?

I am interested for a few reasons. 1. I am overweight and want to lose some. 2. I would be willing to bet you are looked at, perceived, and are able to persuade differently than before.

Any thoughts or comments?


Joan - December 6, 2007

I wondered the same thing that Jay asked. And I wonder whether you had to work more to persuade your conscious or your subconscious about applying whatever weight loss strategy you chose.

Jack Ford - December 7, 2007

Hi Kenrick,

Thank you for the post. You gave us a lot of food for thought.

In your opinion, what are some of the most important metaprograms for persuasion?

For me, these seem to make a big difference:

Toward/Away, Internal/External, Options/Procedure, Self/Others, Possibility/Necessity, and Direct/Indirect

How do we find what these are? By keeping in mind the context and asking certain questions to uncover these “hot buttons”.

Someone once asked me if it was possible to change one’s metaprograms and I said “yes, 100%”, if you come up with a plan to behaviorally, emotionally and intellectually reinforce the change. It goes without saying that the change should be ecological.

Thanks again!



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