Subliminal persuasion probably means different things to different people. The very word “subliminal” conjures up ideas of a secret powerful influence.
It is doubtful, however, if persuasion can be that strong.
Dictionary definitions come up with phrases like “existing or operating below the threshold of consciousness”, and “employing stimuli insufficiently intense to produce a separate sensation but often being designed to be intense enough to influence the mental processes from the behaviour of another”.
When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.
Alice through the Looking Glass
Salesmen and advertisers use subliminal persuasion all the time.
By the time you read or hear the advertising you are usually at least some way towards being interested in the product even if you haven’t reached the commitment stage yet.
The weasel phrases and embedded commands that are so often incorporated in the advertising are designed to get you to come off the fence and make a decision in favour of the seller. NLP is often involved too.
There is also a sort of hypnosis used in the persuasion.
When I took myself off to buy a new car recently the young salesman – who had obviously been well-trained – was keen to concentrate on how I would feel when I was driving the vehicle.
“When you put your foot down in this vehicle, you will certainly notice the seat in your back as you accelerate away.”
When a prospective buyer hears a phrase like that, he cannot but imagine himself driving the vehicle away and the smooth acceleration. So he is transported elsewhere.
Notice also the use of the weasel phrase “when you put your foot down, you will notice the seat in your back as you accelerate away”.
The words you and your are used a total of five times in this short sentence, underlining in the prospective buyer’s mind that he will be the one driving the car away – not someone else. This is just one short sentence in our conversation.
When I asked him about the operation of the satnav, he was quick to explain that one of the great things about this satnav was you will find it so much easier to operate.
Not any driver, notice, but me; I would be the one to find it so much easier to operate.
And when I asked him about the heated front seats he said, “You will find these seats warm up much more efficiently than anything you have experienced before.”
He did his job well. He did not bore me with the mechanical details of the car. He knew he would soon lose my interest if he did so.
He concentrated on planting good feelings in my brain. If I felt good about being in the car, being comfortable in the car, and feeling the pleasure of driving it, then he knew there was a strong chance of a sale.
Subliminal persuasion of this kind is good salesmanship. But just establishing rapport with someone else is a kind of persuasion in itself.
If the other person believes you to be on the same wavelength there is a much stronger chance of him liking you and either agreeing or doing business with you.
Get inside the other person’s head. Instead of regaling the other with your ideas of what you think she’d like, ask a few questions: What are you looking for? Automatic or manual? Favourite colour or colour to avoid?
It is the questions that are important!
The customer will tell you everything you need to know if you ask the right questions. Then you can direct everything you say to the customer’s requirements.
A skilful attorney cross-examining a witness can subtly send messages to the judge or jury without a direct suggestion. Indeed, he can do so with the two words “no questions”.
The other side has gone to great lengths to call a witness it believes will advance its case. The opposing lawyer spends considerable time examining his witness and then sits down and waits for the cross-examination.
A good lawyer knows not to ask any questions if it will do harm to his case. If he says “no questions” at this stage he is sending the message “I accept every word this witness says and the testimony does not harm my case.”
It must be used carefully, but when used properly it is extremely effective and can turn a case on its head.
Persuasion is one of an advocate’s
greatest weapons. As an advocate I always considered that the questions
were much more potent than almost any answer I was likely to receive.
Carefully constructed questions embed themselves in the mind of the decision maker (whether judge or jury) and often it really doesn’t matter what the response is.
Defence advocates are well aware of this.
In most civilised countries the burden of proving the guilt of the
defendant is on the prosecution advocate.
The defence attorney knows he only has to throw doubt on the case. He does that time and again by suggestion.
Sometimes he does not even call any evidence for the defence because even though there is not a word of evidence to contradict the prosecution’s case, he knows that once he exposes his client to cross-examination by the prosecution, the prosecuting advocate will be able to plant his own questions into the jury’s mind.
If he does not call evidence, he can rely upon his own subliminal persuasion.
There are many aspects to persuasion which are well worth exploring. If you have read from beginning to end of this article, it may well be because of the suggestion I planted in your mind at the beginning.
Remember: questions are very powerful. The question posed by this article was: What are the secrets of subliminal persuasion? I daresay you wanted to know the answer.
The following articles will all help you, in their various ways, to increase your persuasion skills:
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