Persuasive Techniques using a Well Formed But

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Have you ever met those people that have to stick their but in where it’s not wanted? It’s almost like a habitual response and they just stick it in without any due care and attention.

Buts and how you can use them as a Persuasion Tool

This post is about how you can slap those buts right out of the conversation using a well formed but of your own.

Focusing on Buts

In The Persuasion Skills Black Book we spend a whole chapter discussing words that connect and disconnect statements. One such word is “but”. In the book we look at ways of using these words to get people to focus on the important elements of your conversation. Here we are going to look at how you can refocus people that habitually use the word but. The situation we are looking at is either people that habitually say “yes, but…” to comments or when you are expecting a them to say “Yes, but…”

The word but has the effect of deleting the first half of the statement and focuses you on the second half. So it is important to know how you can use your but and how you can defend again the spurious use of buts

Linguistic Gymnastics and Buts

There are two simple ways of folding a “yes but…” pattern back on itself when they appear. Let’s take a scenario like you have your boss looking at a report you have written and she says something like, “It is a good report but it has some spelling mistakes in it.”

This statement essentially takes away from the fact that the report is good and focuses the attention on the mistakes. The traditional way of turning this round would be to rephrase the sentence replacing the word “but” with “and”. You would then move the conversation on.

So you would say back to the boss, “The report has some spelling mistakes and it is a good report so we can show it to the MD and get approval for…”

Whilst this undoubtedly works I prefer a stronger approach. Remember this boss has just deleted the good element of your report, so when rephrasing why not use the same phrase to delete the part you don’t like.

So the statement you would use back would be, “The report has some spelling mistakes but it is a good report so we can show it to the MD and get approval for…”

Using your But for a Pre-emptive Strike

If you know there are going to be problems either because there are problems or because the person you are faced with is a habitual yes buter consider using your own but first.

For example let’s take the previous situation, the boss is a habitual yes buter and you have written a great report but noticed some spelling errors after it was too late to rewrite the report. You might hand the report in wit a statement like, “There are some spelling errors [pause]…but it is a good report.”

Warning: The pause is vital. Here’s why. A habitual yes buter unconsciously want to take your statement and contradict it. By making the first part of your statement you are deliberately giving them the opportunity to start a contradictory statement that starts with but. You then follow though with what you want them to focus and they are naturally predisposed to agree with you.

So the general pattern is to start with the thing you want them to object to, pause, then use a but to continue with the thing you want them to agree with. Here are a few more examples:

  • It might seem expensive but the return of investment is huge
  • This is not an easy thing to explain but you can see the applications immediately.
  • You might have thought this was about bottoms but this pattern is much more useful.

And finally for those of you that have read The Persuasion Skills Black Book you will know how to create super patterns by replacing the agreement frame with a but. For example:

You might have thought this article was about backsides but the issue is not about what you thought, it’s about how much use you can get from this information. How do you intend to use this pattern?

For more examples, illustrations and applications of NLP Language Patterns have a look at The Persuasion Skills Black Book Master Training Programme.

One Comment on “Persuasive Techniques using a Well Formed But”

  1. steve martin

    Your blog is really nice and works as an adviser, I look forward to your new links and articles.

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