How to Use Metaphor as a Persuasion Technique

Rintu BasuModelling10 Comments

Using Story Telling to Embed Commands

The following story is an example of how you can use your persuasion skills in a very covert way. The example itself demonstrates how you can pre-teach a process. In this particular case we are pre-teaching a process to change someone’s mind set using their imagination.

Multilevel Persuasion Skills

You might want to read this story on three different levels. On the first level it is just a true story of how I helped an old man by throwing in a few language patterns and changing his state of mind. On another level you might see this as a demonstration of how you can use metaphors to change someone’s state of mind. And finally you may also recognise how these covert persuasion skills are being used directly on the reader.

This article directly uses pre-frames, embedded commands and a whole lot of other sneaky persuasion techniques that are all fully written up in the Advance Persuasion Patterns Program. As an extra challenge see how many different concepts, techniques and patterns you can spot throughout this article.

A Dark, Cold and Wet Night in Glasgow

A few nights ago I was walking home quite late. Typically for Glasgow it was very dark, very cold and very wet. As I was walking home I met an old man who was leaning up against the wall. As I approached he asked me if I would help him. He looked in his 80s, was very unsteady on his feet (needing a walking stick to walk) and obviously extremely cold. He needed a taxi to get him home.

I use my mobile phone to find a taxi for him and was told that it would be at least 20 minutes before it arrived. I gave the old man this information and decided that I would wait with him. It was obvious that this man had seen better days. He struggled to keep upright and could only walk with small shuffling steps using his walking stick. He was shivering with cold and was soaked through. Since I knew I was going to be there with him for the next 20 minutes I decided that I would play with a few patterns and see what kind of changes we can install using a few persuasive techniques.

I guess the easiest and most obvious place to start would be to see if we can feel warmer. When you think about a particular place vividly you will start to feel the sensations that are associated. So thinking of somewhere warm will make you feel warmer. The more vividly you think about it the more effective this will be.

Being on Holiday in the Warm

I took the most obvious route and just simply asked him to tell me about the warmest place he had ever been. He started telling me about a holiday he had in Kenya when he was a young man. This was a lucky strike for me because as soon as he started talking about it his whole physiology changed. It was obviously a very important and clear memory for him.

Once he had started talking it was easy to isolate him down to a specific memory. I then just started asking questions about the weather, the heat and anything I could relate back to the heat. I also very deliberately started talking about this memory in the present tense. It was obvious that this old man was getting more involved in the memory and the telling of the story. At one point I swear I saw him trying to swat mosquitoes on a cold wet Glasgow night.

Imagination is more effective than real life

When you start thinking about things you have done and start accessing those pleasant memories as if they are live situations notice how your physiology changes. You can get other people to do the same simply by asking them more and more details of the memory and sneakily changing your language to talk as if that situation is occurring right now. When you get as lucky as I did with this guy people will start exploring very vivid and personal memories with you and you will get them to change their states quickly and easily.

Now I have this old man starting to feel a little warmer I decided I wanted to ramp up a little. So I started telling him about the time that I had in India that was a very hot day. I described my feelings fully in the present tense and switching from talking about myself to talking as if he were present there at the same incident.

Switching from “I” to “You”

This is called shifting referential index and it happens by talking about yourself and switching to talking about the situation but using the word “you” instead of “I”. I guess you can already imagine what happens. One of the first things I noticed was that this is a simple way for you to embed commands. When you are doing this you will also¬† start to notice that other people will be accessing the feelings that you are asking them to access.

When you get very good at this you will notice that you can apply it so that you are giving people direct process instructions as to what you want them to do. Can you imagine how powerful your persuasion skills will be when you are doing this perfectly naturally? And the amazing thing I’ve found is that all you have to do is switch the referential index.

Try not to Laugh out Loud using your Persuasive Techniques

We then went back to the old man’s story and I started digging around for more information. He told me that he was in Kenya on honeymoon with his new bride. I don’t know if you’ve yet noticed that the most difficult thing with using linguistic persuasion skills is not to laugh out loud whilst using them. As he told me this I almost laughed because this guy had given me a golden nugget that I could use to take him anywhere in terms of how he felt.

What’s like when you embed commands at will?

The question I used was, “What’s it like to be a young man in love on your honeymoon in a place like Kenya?” Note the tense that I’m using in this question. The old man started telling me. He started telling me about being fit and active, he started telling me about being in love and he started telling me about the best holiday of his life. All I did was kept asking questions. The questions I used were all digging into the details of “what’s it like when you are…” and getting this old man to access his youth.

Twenty minutes later the taxi arrives and I go to help the man to walk to the car. He looks at me impatiently and informs me that he’s not an invalid and walks over to the car unaided and barely using his walking stick.

Learn Sequences of Patterns

I’d like to think that I’ve helped this old man feel a little better, access a few good memories and perhaps even walk a little straighter. The truth of the matter is I don’t really know. The real issue though is the fact that I saw these physiological changes happen in relation to the conversation that I had with him. What this means is by asking a few questions and watching the states that people go through will give you a vast amount of knowledge of how you can change people’s states.

But this is old news and you already know that you do this all the time. What you say, the questions you ask and the responses you give will affect the people that you are talking to. The issue is about how you can do this in a controlled, coherent fashion that the leads in a particular direction. The direction you want to go in. To do this you must think about persuasive conversations in a strategic way. If you would like to learn how to do this then the one place that you will find that information is the Advanced Persuasion Patterns Program. Click on the link to find out more about this comprehensive course in Persuasion Skills.

10 Comments on “How to Use Metaphor as a Persuasion Technique”

  1. krishna

    awareness mbeded commands i vs u a good command to feel fun while useing persuassion techniques with a dash of me vs us nd trance diversional search weasel pharases tooo very beautyful nd deadly combination thank u sir

  2. Sharifah Raudhah Alqudsy

    Dear Rintu,
    You answered my prayer, seriously.
    And I’m seriously considering London for my quantum leap in learning NLP.



  3. Stuart Wright

    A heart warming story, or rather; heart, mind and body…
    I wish the “NLP is manipulative” cynics would take the time to explore material from people like you. Then they’d discover that there are more people using NLP to find a “win, win” than there are evil sorcerers. Do your research and make an informed decision, rather than espousing the same old myths.
    P.s. Do you have any suggestions for how I can remember my patterns when I’m out and about?

    1. Rintu Basu

      Hi Stuart,
      I wouldn’t worry about the NLP is manipulative brigade. They have an agenda and are the most manipulative people I know. I would try calling them on it, “What is it you are trying to manipulate me into saying / doing / thinking?” is one that I use on them fairly regularly and it gets some really interesting rants from them as they realise they are being called on their own stuff. Here is a link to some more I have to say about it:

      I am a great advocate in overlearning. I tend to want to practice a pattern incessantly until I am using it without thinking. So I would decide on the pattern for the day and every 90 minutes or so throughout the day deliberately start conversations with the express intention of using the pattern. That way you have it in your head and the intention to use it rather than being led by the conversation. Here are some more thoughts about it:



  4. Susan

    Hi Rintu,
    This was really a heartwarming story in addition to being really, really instructional. I feel so inspired that I’m going to get my course materials out once again and learn these techniques as I have been a slacker lately.

    1. Rintu Basu

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for saying and I am going to suggest a great way to learn more is to let go of negative judgements about yourself. You are more likely to learn more if it felt good to do it rather than feeling obligated or guilty for not doing it. Try it both ways and see what works best for you.



  5. Marty

    I loved this one. It has reminded me of how I’ve done something similar without realising the implications as you describe them. A client telling me about his youth and wanting to be an artist. His whole body language changed and his eyes lit up. He made eye contact with me instead of staring at the floor. I fed that back to him as an affirmation.

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