Persuade By Plugging Into Their Pattern Of Thinking

    June 16, 2003

What would it be like if just by listening to a person’s speech, you could tell how they were think about their reality? If they were to tell you their limitations on how they see the world, can you imagine how this might be useful in any situation where you desired to persuade them to your point of view?

In fact, people tell you many things with their use of language, if you know what key aspects to look for. And many times, it isn’t what they say, but those things that are left out of their speech that are revealing. In the English speaking world, it is rare if not impossible to hear a perfectly formed sentence spoken. Thus much information is left out, or deleted by the speaker. This can serve to limit a person’s choices about the possibilities they have in life.

At other times, they will limit their own choices by exactly what they do say. It is precisely this form of limitation you will learn now and begin to understand how to use in persuasion. By directly matching their language and leveraging their own self imposed limits of reality.

Consider the following words: can’t, shouldn’t, have to, must, should, won’t. These words require a particular action or imply there is no choice. These words are often used in speech to indicate limitations of the speaker or some group they represent. Mostly they are based on a belief and not fact.

Example: I can’t do that.

This restricts the options of the speaker when it comes to whatever “that” is. Whether or not this is a real and valid limit is unknown, as it is context dependent. If you know that this is not really true, then you need a method to work with these types of statements in the persuasion process. One way is to use this statement, reflected back to them and as such you are matching their patterns of speech. This is something they will understand at an unconscious level.

Example: I can’t do that. Answer: Well then, I can’t help you.

In this case the reply is a take away using the same pattern the person gave to you. If they do indeed want your help, they will offer at least some option that can be explored.

Example: We can’t do that. Answer: Well since you can’t do that, perhaps you can do this…

This paces their statement of what they can’t do, and provides an alternative. When they accept the first statement (true by their own words), the offered solution will seem true to them also.

Example: I can’t do that Answer: What would happen if you did do that?

This method will allow you to discover some of the information they are not telling you, and gets them to ponder other possibilities.

Example: I have to have this problem solved. Answer: Then you have to use a solution like ours.

Since they “have to” solve the problem, their thinking pattern will hook onto the “have to” for the solution and it will makes sense to them.

Example: I can’t do this Answer: I know that you think you can’t do this; of course, perhaps you shouldn’t have to, but you could realize that it’s something that you can do?

This reply demonstrates not only reflecting their language back, but using similar words (shouldn’t & can), to lead them into a new direction of understanding.

Conclusion: You are beginning to understand now, how people give you information in their speech. Their use of language can indicate their own limited view of the situation, which often isn’t really true. By reflecting these patterns of language back, you gain rapport and leverage their own limits of reality in the persuasion process.

Craig Eubanks is an Author, Trainer, and Communication Skills Specialist and is one of the Founders of Act Now International LLC. Sign up for the FREE Success Skills Digest newsletter at the Act Now website.