John La Valle, President of the Society of NLP, is one of the most sought-after business trainers in the world. Here he gives us an insight into the art of persuasion.
When most people consider the idea of Persuasion and Influence, they automatically think: Business and Sales. And, yet, we are engaging in these activities every day in all interactions with others. Think about it: On the very subtle side, if/when you smile at someone, isn’t that an attempt to get a response back? If it isn’t, then why are you giving them a smile? On another side, if you are stopped by a police officer for speeding, don’t you do all you can to persuade/influence that person to let you go without a summons?
So, each and every day, in all areas of your life, you are in the process of persuading/ influencing someone to do something: your spouse, children, boss, friend, neighbour, etc. using your entire system of verbal and nonverbal communications.
Consider that each and every one of us goes through our lives thinking of whatever we are thinking of, in our own heads most of the time, in our own “trances” or “altered states”, and while there, we are “self absorbed”, and not really paying that much attention to what’s outside of our heads.
Whatever the reason, this is what happens. And we know that if/when we want to influence/persuade someone, we must have their attention. And that is really the first, and most important thing in any interaction, after making sure that you, yourself, are in your optimal state.
If your child, for example, is playing their video game, or they’re texting on their
phone at the dinner table (I don’t know why this would even be acceptable to you), and you say to them, “Be sure to finish your homework,” and they even respond with, “OK,” all the while playing their video game, then you can safely expect that they have not gotten the message as you have intended, or encoded in a useful way.
And somehow, you even suspect this to be the case, and still don’t take the interaction further. The same happens with many, many others in many, many different environments. As I have witnessed many times the other person saying to someone else, “I heard you”, they really haven’t “listened” to you, meaning, “message not received”.
For years now I have been teaching that the first important step after getting into your own optimal state is to change the other person’s state, that is their emotional, internal, neuro-chemical brain state.
This is quite simply because that state is the one they are in at that time, and it may not be the best state for them to be in to receive your communication with the intention that you have for that
communication. Without getting too “technical” about it, it is a matter of changing the other person’s neurochemistry if/when it’s not their best state for dialog with you.
To put this another way, I have encountered many people who are interested in putting other people into what they would call a trance or altered state, when this is the easy part.
The real first step is getting them out of their current altered state. Once you can do that, then you can begin with all the other language skills that we teach,
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- Influencing persuasion by John LaValle - April 22, 2013