The Rapport of Fantasy

Dear Persuader,

By now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while or if you’ve taken a seminar, been involved in my coaching club or gone through one of my self study courses, you know that the basis for persuasion is the ability to build rapport and the basis for rapport building requires questioning your prospect or client with the magic questions “What’s important about. . . ?”

Well, here’s another way you can ask the ‘what’s important about’ question.  This way is to create a fantasy in the mind of your listeners and in doing so giving them permission and the opportunity to answer either silently or out loud to you.  This works phenomenally in a group setting (and works phenomenally one on one, so whichever way).

Here’s an example.  Say you’re speaking in front of a group, you might say, “You are walking along a road by the beach and out near the water, you see something that catches your eye.  You look at it and you walk over to it.  As you get to it, it’s just out of the water so slightly and you kind of dig it out of the sand a little bit and sure enough, it looks like an Aladdin’s lamp.   You think to yourself, wow, could it really be?  You rub the lamp and out pops the genie, with a magic wand in his hand and he says, ‘If I could grant you any wish you wanted as it relates to your business, what would it be?’  How would you answer this question?”

Let your group think about this for a moment.  Say, “I want you to answer that question in your mind right now silently, and I’ll give you a minute just to do that.”

The beautiful thing about imagining and fantasy is that each and every person in the room has a very richly textured, complex idea of what they are viewing, which is highly personalized.  You’ve just accessed the criteria of an entire room full of people.  How cool is that?

Using a magical environment such as a genie in a bottle on a beach also has the benefit of pulling people out of their shells and lulling them to a place of receptiveness to the rest of what you’re going to say.

Why does this work?  Well, here’s a little bit of theory behind it.  School teaches us that vertical thinking is the be all end.   They start with an overview of a subject, like the base of a pyramid, and then build up from there until we get very specific.  Horizontal thinking teaches us how to gain a wider view about things, encompassing more and more, becoming so expansive that we can hardly believe how much there is.

When we get really vertical, we become logical, systematic, and we have a right-wrong, good-bad, black-white mentality.  When we start going too horizontal we get too metaphysical, too out in the zone, and too much into meditation or something, and we don’t take any action.

However, if we start horizontally and we do a big scan of what’s going on and then we get down to the vertical, we win, really, really big, because we can implement the right things

If you want to stay with your fantasy for another question or two you could say, “Now suppose the genie says, ‘Before I grant this wish, what’s important about that?’”

You’ll get people to really open up and come up with answers that really move them instead of just a politically correct answer which you could care less about and accessing both their horizontal and vertical views of the world.

Give it a try and post your stories on the blog below.


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DrBill Toth - July 8, 2010

kenrick – Thank you for this post…stories sell…metaphors move.


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