A couple of days ago I had a direct experience of how powerful presuppositional questioning can be. This is a short article demonstrating how useful this technique is.
The Power of Hypnotic Questions
Restaurants – the perfect place to practice
Most public places where you see people in a relaxed atmosphere are great places to practice your persuasive techniques. I really like restaurants because you have diners that are relaxed and you have serving staff that often have to be very focused trying to get the job done whilst also maintaining customer service. They are great places to observe people as well as to practice your persuasion skills.
On Monday I was in a restaurant for lunch with Dave and Grant. We were going through the menu and decided on a starter that we could share between the three of us. The only problem was the starter came with celery sticks and none of us like celery.
For all of those people out there that are full of NLPness, yes, I know I can change my almost fanatical dislike of celery. But I quite enjoy not liking celery, I don’t see the point in it and anything that takes more energy to eat than it gives in return deserves my disdain. I would add I dislike celery to the point where I’m training and conditioning other people around to my point of view, Dave and Grant being two examples.
Normally we would just have the starter with the celery sticks included and use them to poke other diners but not wanting to be thrown out of yet another restaurant we decided that we would see if we could change them for something different. The waiter came over to take our order and Grant told him about the starter. Grant mentioned that none of us like celery and then followed up with this question:
“Can you change the celery for something else?”
You could see the waiter hesitate and start thinking about this. Let’s just have a look at the question for a moment, it is a close question with two options, yes or no. It is easy for the waiter to weigh up the two options and decide on his most appropriate response, which could be no. There are a lot of issue for him to deal with, such as:
- Does he have anything to change the celery for?
- Does he have the authority to change it?
- Should he charge more because we are changing the menu?
- What would his boss think if he made it easy for the kitchen by not swapping the celery?
- What would his boss think if he made it difficult for the kitchen by swapping the celery?
- How resolved were we to have the starter without the celery?
As soon as Dave saw the waiter’s hesitation he dropped in with a question of his own.
“What could you swap the celery for?”
As soon as Dave asked the question the waiter immediately responded with, “I suppose I could give you a few more mozzarella sticks.” Let’s just consider why the waiter could give us such an automatic answer to this question.
Looking at the question that Dave asked there are several assumptions already built into the question. The biggest being an assumption that the celery can be swapped. This is setting the direction in the mind of the waiter. We have gone past the point of deciding whether the celery can be swapped and gone straight for considering the options of what it can be swapped to. The result being that the waiter has a different set of things to consider but all of them are past the issue of ‘can the celery be swapped.’
Questions are the answer
This was a simple but explicit example of the power of presuppositional questioning. I noted it at the time and have written it up because it was obvious the different impact that the two questions had on the waiter.
One of the issues I find with much of what is taught around hypnotic persuasion is that there is no interaction with the person that you are trying to persuade. This is unsurprising because a lot of hypnotic persuasion comes from work done by hypnotherapists.
Hypnotherapists work in a specific context where having a trance script is perfectly acceptable. The frame of the conversation is the client sits in a chair and a hypnotherapist talks them into a trance. In the real world the best way to take people into trance is to ask them questions that alter their states of consciousness. This is because you are now involving them in the process. In the example above both questions sent the waiter in a particular direction but only one of them sent the waiter in the direction you wanted him to go.
How useful would be for you to be able to automatically think about your language in this kind of way? Would you like to be able to ask questions that automatically send your subject in a direction that gets you where you want to go? The reality is that these are easy skills to learn and all of them are contained in The Persuasion Skills Black Book. You can buy it here: