In this article I am going to show you a powerful linguistic tool that is very simple to use. Typically this is a subject that has a lot written about it but in operation can be very easy to use.
Demystifying Presuppositions Inherent in Language
So just to keep the NLP Jargon Junkies happy let’s give you a complex, meaningless title to start with and then I’ll show you how you can have massive impact just by changing one word in a sentence.
Whenever we say a sentence there are assumption about our world inherent in the sentence. For example if I were to say:
“John always drinks coffee when reading his emails in the morning”
There are certain assumptions (presuppositions) in this sentence. We can presuppose the existence of John, coffee, emails and mornings. The word “always” tells us that every morning when John is reading his emails a coffee is involved. We can also absolutely assume that John performs the actions of drinking and reading…or at least he does in the mornings.
In terms of this sentence we have also tied three things together. So long as it is morning and John is reading his emails he also has to be drinking coffee. Also note that the coffee is tied to mornings and readings emails. So John could be having coffee but that does not mean he is reading emails or that it is the morning. The word “when” is what connects the three things and tells us if the two conditions (morning and reading emails) is met then John is drinking coffee.
Why this is important to know
There are two reasons for really wanting to get under the skin of this idea. Firstly everything that is said has these hidden presuppositions in them. So by paying attention you can understand what beliefs have to be true for a person to be able to say the things that they say. We will talk a lot more about this in a future article.
There is another reason you want to know this. You can now change your language to presuppose things. You might have already realised that this is an incredibly powerful tool. So let us look at a couple of examples.
Take the sentence; “Why this is important to know”
One big presupposition in this sentence is that it is important to know. Did I manage to slip this message past you?
How about another sentence like; “You might already have already realised that this is an incredibly powerful tool”
There are lots of things presupposed in this sentence but the ones I want to focus on are:
- It is an incredibly powerful tool
- You might have already realised this
- If you have not realised it yet you will sometime in the future (the word “already” is very useful for this sort of thing)
So just imagine, by carefully thinking through what you want people to believe, you can just presuppose them in how you speak.
Questions that Install Beliefs and Behaviour
For me a great way to use this idea is through asking questions. This is because answering a question sets your mind in a particular direction and you have to accept the presuppositions in the question to be able to answer it. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Think about the typical question you might be asked when in a shop buying something. A question like, “Can I get you anything else?” Now think about the difference in Gregs, my local bakers where the shop staff have been trained to ask the question, “What else can I get you?” Here are a couple of questions for you:
- What is the difference in the presuppositions between the two questions?
- How much difference does this make to the way a customer is thinking?
Here is another example. Consider a customer service help line where an advisor answers the phone with their standard greeting and intro and ends with the questions, “Can I help you?” Now compare that to ending with a sentence like, “How can I help you?” Again, how much difference does this change make?
How many different ways can I get results by using this idea?
In the Persuasion Skills Black Book we take you through various different ways of using this concept. In the first few chapters you are given a way of redirecting a person’s thoughts and then sealing it with a question. Later on in the book you will get different ways of sneakily embedding different sorts of assumptions in your language, bypassing a person’s conscious awareness to slip the assumption directly into their mind. How useful a skill is that?
For the moment here are a few example questions in different contexts. Think about what is being assumed in each of these questions, think about some context of your own and then formulate your own questions. Within ten minutes you will have a great understanding of how this works and a couple of practice sessions on unsuspecting innocent members of the public will cement the skill.
- Before you decide on the right model for you can we just run through the benefits you will get?
- How can you see our product helping you grow your business?
- If I can show you how our product solves your problem will you buy one today?
- What fun things would you like to do after you have finished your homework?
- Just how proud of you do you think I am because of the results you got at school?
Coaching / Therapy / 121 Work
- What are you doing differently as a result of this?
- How are you changing your thinking to get the result you want?
- What things have you already done in your life that proves you can achieve your goals?
- How can you see us working together for our mutual benefit?
- Who do you know that would benefit from my services?
Doing Self Talk Properly
We have a voice in our heads as we often self talk. What can you change about the way you talk to yourself to make yourself more confident, inspired and get even greater results?
Here are a few questions you might like to ask yourself at times.
- Anytime: How can I use this situation to get even better results?
- When you feel like you have failed: What am I learning from this that will allow me to succeed next time?
- When you have negative emotions running: What can I say or do that will put me in a better mood?
- Every morning: What can I do today that is going to make today a great day?
Have you already realised how powerful this is as a persuasion tool? There are even more powerful but simple NLP Language Patterns in the Persuasion Skills Black Book as well as easy ways of practising to make this an instinctive way of thinking. What results can you imagine getting when you buy a copy of the book?
Some Extra Thoughts
Since publishing this article some of my advanced students in my closed Facebook Group have been discussing this post and coming up with some exercises of their own. Some of it is so good it is worth sharing here:
The response to this post was also really interesting:
And of course a quick analysis from the first guy to finish off:
Here is one final exercise for you. Watch this video clip of some training I did recently explaining some of the things you have just read about. Just notice how much of what we have discussed I am using with this audience and notice how much of it you are picking up because you are in the “know”.
One of the most powerful ways of learning hypnotic persuasion is to model people using the skills. The quickest, easiest way of doing that is to watch someone in a real situation. Just like the in the video above. You can see what I am doing and the impact it has on the audience. But what would be really useful is if you had a set of notes where I deconstruct what is going on.
I have that course for you, where you can watch the video and follow along with my notes explaining what is really going on. The notes also contain exercises and ideas about how you can develop the skills and use them in your real life situations. Click through and find out more here: