A few years ago I got a crowd of police officers to stand round a tree holding hands and chanting Om. It was getting on for five minutes before any of them managed to pluck up the courage to ask me why. You may not need to control police officers to that degree but imagine what you could do with that sort of persuasive ability. Here is the story of how I did that and some of the persuasion principles that you can start using straight away.
Often the public will comply with the police regardless whether through civic duty, fear of repercussions or simply because they are conditioned to do so. Sometimes that can lead to resentment and anger when the member of the public finds out that they did not have to consent to the search, or give the officer personal details or whatever invasion of privacy was enacted.
Take this the right way, I am not talking about situations when there is a clear legal justification or the situation demands that the officer has a legitimate power to act in a situation. I am talking about the hundreds of daily interactions that police officers have and can often routinely overstep the bounds of their authority.
A group of police officers were struggling to understand this concept as an abuse of power and that doing things like that would lead to resentment from the public they are supposed to be serving. I was asked if I would explain it to them in a way that they would understand.
The First Rule of Persuasion
I marched into their room. There were about twelve of them. I fixed them with a hard stare and paused for slightly longer than was comfortable and then in a commanding voice told them to get their helmets and jackets and then follow me out to the front of building.
I then handed the one that looked the most compliant my briefcase and told him to bring that with him. I then turned and walked out. The officers got their uniforms and went out to the front of the building.
Let’s look at what is happening here. These officers had never met me, I had no badge of office and in an organisation that is run on hierarchy I had no visible sign of rank but clearly I was conducting myself as if I should be in charge.
There are two things that allowed me to get away with this. The first rule of persuasion is to match your message with your audience. Before going into the room I took on the persona of someone that was absolutely in charge.
The fact that I was not wearing any visible signs of rank but acting as if in charge is likely to cause some confusion. Some officers may well have questioned my authority but I had a few plans ready for that. Everything I did from the moment I walked into the room was calculated to exert my authority without actually saying I was in charge.
My favourite bit was handing over my briefcase to someone to carry for me. I had several more of these ideas planned in case they group actually challenged me. But my entrance and the slow, silent gaze round the room already made them nicely compliant. If someone hands something to you the instinctive response is to take it. Holding my briefcase out that was calculated for that effect.
At the same time as he was taking the case I gave him a direct command to take it. And then I attached a simple follow through command. I told him to take the case with him and meet me outside of the front of the building. By complying with the first command (even though he was complying before I had asked him to) maid it easier for him to comply with the second.
This also has an effect on the rest of the group. It is easier for them to comply with my request when they see one of them already doing it. This is standard crowd mentality. So now I have all of them complying with my wishes.
In hypnosis terms I have taken them from the trance they were in and led them into the trance I want them in i.e. compliant to me.
In part two we will discuss the process in more detail including different ways you can apply these strategies. But for the moment just consider this, all I have actually done is thought out a persona in my head and acted as if it were real. I would like you to think about this because a key element of persuasion is about getting your own internal state right before you try and influence or persuade anyone else.
If you want the skills to be able to influence an entire group of police officers to do your bidding then the place to start is this course here.