NLP Values, Trance Words and Politics

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There is a simple but very neat trance trick that powerfully brings people to your side. It is a really versatile technique that can be used in many different ways. Imagine my surprise when I saw a Scottish politician using it on the audience during a live televised debate.

UK Political Debate

My friend Dave and I share an office. And as you can imagine a big procrastination strategy that we have is talking politics. Especially recently as the UK is just weeks away from an unpredictable and contentious election.

Dave noticed something in a recent Scottish Leaders debate that is worth bringing up. I have to say up front that there is no way we can know for absolutely certain that this was happening. But I have watched the debate several times over and I am convinced that Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party was doing this.

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I have not put the video up because I can’t find a complete version of it that I can post. And even if I could find one you would have to skip around the debate to see what Dave and I both saw. And even then this is not conclusive proof that Nicola was actually doing this.

I will explain what I think she was doing and use that as a device to show you how you can use this really powerful technique. And because I really like Nicola as a principled and skilful politician I am just going to assume I am right and this is what she was doing.

If You Want to Watch for Yourself

But if you want to go and check this for yourself the debate where she demonstrates it the most is was televised by the BBC. Election 2015: Scottish leaders’ debate from Aberdeen 9 April 2015. If you find a link to the whole debate leave it in the comments section below.

Some Theory to Start

Before we go into what specifically Nicola was doing we should discuss a little bit of theory. Have you seen people react to specific words? Either in a positive or negative way. One that comes up regularly for me is the word manipulation.

The definition of the word manipulation does not have negative connotations to it. But some people have a really bad reaction and lots of baggage around the word. Some words have significance to us in lots of different ways and they are like an anchored trance effect.

In short, words have meaning. And we encode that meaning through our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experience. As a result some words can have a really powerful impact on us.

Imagine what would happen if you could elicit some of the positive words and then feed them back to the person. Basically you end up building huge amounts of rapport. And if you can link those personal trance words to things you want the person to do you can really positively motivate them.

For example in a job interview we could elicit the personal trance words of the interviewer and the corporate values and then demonstrate how we embody those values in our answers to their questions. In a sales context you could elicit these trance words and associate them to your products and services. As a coach you could take a client’s personal trance words and connect them to the goal or task to motivate them.

Eliciting Trance Words

We discuss a key question to elicit personal trance words and then how to use them in the Lancaster Universty Persuasion Lecture Deconstructed. But it is a simple strategy. You ask your audience, or listen out for trance words in their language, take note of the words and then link them to what you want your audience to do.

If you haven’t guessed already, I think Nicola Sturgeon was listening out for the personal trance words of the audience and then feeding them back. Certainly for the most part she had more warmth and rapport with the audience even when they didn’t agree with her. And part of that may well be the way she was feeding back these trance words.

Feeding Back Trance Words

What I notice her doing on and off through the debate was taking notes far more so than any of the other panellists. That in itself doesn’t mean anything but after Dave told me about his suspicions I spent some time replaying and watching the video closely and she was definitely taking notes from what the audience members were saying.

And I noticed that she was repeating back words that the audience had used. Sometimes a few minutes later and sometimes a lot later. What this does is build rapport and makes the audience feel like she is talking directly to them.

But it certainly impressed me that she was doing this. It is the first politician in these debates that has done anything other than repeatedly used the questioner’s name in a mechanical and sycophantic way. Using people’s values and trance words in this way directly shows that you are listening and responding to them. Just using the words shows commonality and builds rapport. But when you link them to your cause you get a powerful motivator.

In a one to one setting you can elicit trance words with one simple innocent question and then use those words to motivate people to do what you want. If you want to learn how to use use this simple but powerful technique then I show you how in the Lancaster Universtiy Persuasion Skills Deconstructed Course. Click through and find out more here:

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