Over the last few articles I have described my curry persuasion skills adventures in Blackpool. Here is the story in full and afterwards a brief analysis of how I set my self up for failure and also got unexpected results.
Failing even with Hypnotic Persuasion Skills
Remember the process I used to develop rapport in the restaurant the first time around. I used the conversation management process to build rapport and move the conversation in a particular direction. I was in peripheral vision and in a heighten state of awareness to spot unconscious signals which I fed back to deepen that rapport, the unconscious hello process. I then elicited the subject’s values and used time scramble patterns to bind that rapport to me. I set out on the second evening to do all of this again to some other unsuspecting member of the public.
Using Hypnotic Persuasion Skills to Set Myself Up for Failure
Flush with my success on the first night, buoyed up with a great training day I headed out for the second night. I scouted out a few restaurants and picked one that was moderately busy. I went in and sat at the bar for a few minutes so I could spy out a likely target and the best table to sit at. My attention was on the tables so I only made distracted conversation with the barman / waiter. I can’t even remember the general topic of the conversation.
Within a few minutes I spotted what I thought was the best table. There were a couple of women in a deep conversation and they seemed the ideal targets for my persuasion skills experiments. I spent a few minutes observing them before asking the waiter if I could have that particular table next to them.
Thinking it might be a problem I quickly built rapport with the waiter asking him all sorts of things about how great he must feel when he gets a really satisfied customer and linking that to how great he would feel giving me my perfect table. Of course he agreed to the table I suggested.
Using Unconscious Hellos
As I walked over to the table I fired off the unconscious hello that I thought I had spotted from one of the women and was completely ignored as she was engrossed in the conversation. As I sat down I made eye contact with the other woman smiled and fired off the unconscious hello again. She frowned, turned away and continued her conversation with her companion. Things weren’t going well.
Several times I tried spotting and using their unconscious signals. When I tried listening in on the conversation I noticed they seemed to get closer to each other and talking more quietly. Almost as if they knew I was trying to listen in and they were trying to shut me out.
Shot Down in Flames
After a few minutes I was getting more and more frustrated. I tried everything. One of them frowned at me, I frown back matching her perfectly and she turned away. So much for matching and mirroring.
Growing more desperate I broke into the conversation asking them what was good on the menu. I got told huffily to ask the waiter.
The waiter came over to take my order and I distractedly had a conversation with him about what he likes on the menu and ordering on his suggestions. Feeling the opportunities fading away I continued talking with the waiter asking him for a wine suggestion and making polite small talk with him.
To cut a long painful story to shreds I spent the next hour doing everything I could think of to build rapport with these two women and nothing worked. But with each attempt I got more frustrated.
In the end they two women finished their meal and left. I had spectacularly failed to have any positive impact. I spent the rest of my meal having distracted conversations with the waiter and being totally in my own head trying to work out what had gone wrong.
The Consolation Prize
The thing that brought me back into the real world was the waiter suddenly asking me if I would like a complimentary brandy on the house. I looked at him in confusion which he mistook saying that it didn’t have to be a brandy, but he thought that would be what I would like.
I agreed to the free drink but asked him why. His response was that it was great having me as a dinner guest and that they would like to encourage me to come back. In some bizarre way I had managed to succeed randomly with the staff of the restaurant where I had failed entirely with my intended subjects. Here is what I think really went on.
The Process, How to Set Yourself Up for Failure
I started the evening having set some outcomes and invested a huge amount of energy in getting those outcomes. This set up a course of action that blinkered me to all the available opportunities. Here ar a few examples:
If the outcome was to build rapport and get into a conversation with others picking two people that were already in the middle of a deep discussion is not the best starting position.
An elementary principle in persuasion is that you search for the people that will benefit from the results you are trying to create. The two women were not in a position to appreciate what I had to offer at that stage.
If I had been thinking, there were two good available options to me, search for a couple of people that were in a better position for me to talk to or wait until the two women were not so deep in discussion. The problem was that each failure increased my desperation to get the result and that pushed the likelihood of that result away. I was very poorly managing my state.
Conversely with the serving staff I had no agenda. I was very distracted by my experiments for the night that I was in danger of ignoring the serving staff all together but luckily that is not in my nature. My unconscious strategy for dealing with the staff had been to get them talking, I am fairly skilled at asking open questions. Because I was distracted I was not listening to their answers so I can only assume through luck I managed to connect my questions to their comments so from their perspective they were having a conversation with someone genuinely interested in them.
I would like to think I asked them values based question but the reality is I don’t really know. I do remember Asking the waiter questions about what he would want from the menu, why he would make the choices he would and then agreeing with them by ordering his suggestions. This seems suspiciously like eliciting and binding values so I obviously built a huge level of rapport with him specifically.
Key Learning Points
My key learnings from the evening include:
- Get very clear about your outcomes
- Pick your prospects very carefully noting specifically whether they are ready to receive your message when you want to send it.
- Detach emotionally from your outcomes so you can still see the big picture
- I need to practice better state management
- It is really possible to use some pretty advanced persuasive techniques completely unconsciously.
For a fuller appreciation of all the persuasion techniques and skills mentioned in these posts have a look at The Advanced Persuasion Patterns Programme.