There used to be this Russian guy. Some kind of scientist. He was studying dogs; maybe you’ve heard of him, his name is Pavlov. While many people understand on a basic level what it is that he discovered, most aren’t aware of the potential this simple principle presents to use in your daily conversation for powerful influence and persuasion.
He was studying something about dogs and their saliva. I’m not exactly sure why he was studying saliva, perhaps it was some new blend of vodka or something. Who knows. (I’m sure many people do, just not me.) But he discovered something accidentally along with his study of saliva.
He would ring this bell, and bring the dogs their dinner, and then he would take some of their saliva samples, as their mouths would start watering when the food came. Just like the rest of mammals do, including people. To say something is “mouth watering,” means it smells and looks good to eat. It is simply the body’s way of preparing for what is coming, much like any automatic responses of our physiology to our changing environment.
But then he noticed something very interesting. He would ring the bell, but wouldn’t bring any food. And the dogs would still salivate. Their mouths would still water. Now obviously, there is no reason that any animal should have an automatic mouth watering response to a bell, so what happened?
What he did was to “train” the dogs to respond to a different stimulus than the food. At first, the dogs smelled food, and their mouths watered. Then he would ring the bell at the same time as the food, and their doggie brains made the automatic association with the sound of the bell, and the good. Pretty soon, the sound of the bell was all it took. It seems that dogs, as well as humans, have a function in our mammalian brain that makes it easy to adapt to our environment, by learning new automatic responses to outside stimuli.
Those of you that have ever fallen in love know the massive rush of endorphins that comes when your lover or partner says your name. Had you met the same person anytime before, while they were still a stranger to you, them saying your name wouldn’t nearly have as profound an effect.
So how do we use this automatic response characteristic for covert persuasion and influence?
First, you’ll need to carry around a plate of food, and a bell.
Seriously, this is very easy to do, and once you understand this simple concept, you’ll have lots of fun watching politicians give speeches, and you’ll be able tell who understands this simple concept, and who doesn’t really have a clue. (Hint: President Obama, despite having a commanding presence and being a charismatic communicator, doesn’t have a clue when it comes to this simple technique, while president Clinton understood this very well.)
First, you’ll need to think of some things that most people will think of as being very good. Money, sex, going on vacation, winning the lotto, falling in love, etc. Just keep a mental list of universal experiences that you would have to be a psycho not to thoroughly enjoy.
Next, you’ll need to develop a list of a bunch of things, universal experiences, that you’re pretty sure people would rather avoid. A meeting with the I.R.S., alimony payments, an angry boss at work, telemarketers, etc. You shouldn’t really go to negative, as you can easily ruin somebody’s mood, and destroy any chance of persuasion if you bring up things like rape, genocide, murder, etc.
Now youâ€™ve got your mental list, you’re ready to start training your mark, or target of persuasion, just like Pavlov trained his dogs.
Whenever you mention something that people will generally get good feelings about, motion off to the side with your right hand. Whenever you mention something (briefly) that generates unpleasant feelings, motion off to the left with your left hand. The more you can set up these “triggers” the better. It’s also better to space them out through a conversation. Hit a few good ones, then a few bad ones.
Another way to do this is to just listen to the other person talking, and pay attention to when they bring up something that makes them feel good. Just describe it back to them, while motioning off to the side with your right hand. Likewise, if they mention anything that causes them stress or anxiety, simply describe that back to them (sympathetically, of course) and motion off to the side with your left hand.
Ideally, you’ll want to use both universal experiences (good and bad) and their own unique set of good and bad experiences. If you don’t this properly (and don’t worry, this is really easy) you’ll have “set” your right hand to be good things, and your left hand to be unpleasant things.
If you are sales person, use your right hand when describing your products, and use your left hand when describing your competition. Whatever you want your client to attach good feelings to, emphasize it with your right hand. Whatever you want your client to feel aversion to, emphasize it with your left hand.
When you watch politicians speak, you can quickly tell who gets this and who doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s clear they are using their gestures congruent with their words, but usually they aren’t. A great example is the Clinton-Dole presidential debate from a ways back. Whenever Clinton mentioned something positive (good economy, peace, lower taxes, etc) he would quickly point to himself, by touching himself briefly on the chest. Whenever he mentioned something negative (war, taxes, etc) he would quickly, but clearly motion towards Dole.
This method of setting and using “anchors” comes from NLP. NLP is a set of strategies for powerful influence, and powerful self-development. If you at all interested in either of these, then have a look at the program below. Many people have discovered this is a great starting point to a life filled with personal development and achievement.