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Powerful Persuasion -- Eliciting Peak Emotional States With Music

Nov 28, 2007
I'm sure you've had this experience: you're driving down the road, listening to the radio, and suddenly you're transported back to a memory from ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. A song, maybe not even a great song, or a song you particularly liked very much back then comes on the radio. Maybe it reminds you of a time when you were in love, or when you were heartbroken, or when you were having the time of your life with friends.

You drift back into your memories to that girlfriend or boyfriend, remembering that first date or the date you really wanted.

I was about sixteen years old when I met my first wife. The song 'Twenty-five or Six to Four' by Chicago was popular at the time. When that song comes on the radio still, to this day, I'm transported back to my new Toyota Celica GT, driving through the Columbia Gorge off to my girlfriends house, full of excitement that I was going to be able to spend time with her. When I put myself in the memory, I'm driving east on 84. The car smells new. Chicago is playing on the radio. I'm full of anticipation and power and a thrill to be alive.

I'm taken back thirty years. . . okay, a little more than thirty years, to a crystal clear memory, to a palpable feeling.

You might even have an 'our song' with your significant other, that's the song where when you both hear it, you say, 'oh, that's our song'. Or maybe you've had one in the past that you can remember.

What is this? And what does it have to do with persuasion?

It's called anchoring and anchoring has everything to do with persuasion. Music has the ability to put you in intense emotional states. These emotional states are connected with the stimulus of the memory. They travel through neuro-pathways of emotions and memories that words and language cannot. And sometimes music affects us so intensely that we want to share it with others, but a song that touches me deeply may not touch you as deeply. It's extraordinarily individual and powerful. Aldous Huxley said, 'After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.' We're constantly exposed to things that we have been conditioned to react to. It's often been said that we are far more reactive than proactive. The human brain is really more on automatic pilot than it is a conscious device. We think we're conscious. We have a vested interest in thinking that. But we're really not.

Most of our activities in life are habitual. At our deepest core are things we do completely automatically. As an example, how long can you pay conscious attention to your breathing? Seconds? Minutes? Maybe if you're into meditation, you can sit for an hour and simply focus on your breath. But you certainly don't do it twenty-four hours a day. You can't. You have to sleep.

For persuasion purposes, the key is to elicit emotion and move it to it's peak. Then we pair that peak emotion with a stimulus which is unique so that every time we want to elicit that peak emotion, we fire off that stimulus to remind them of that state.

Obviously we're not going to elicit our client's musical tastes, and play songs that are attached to their happy or special memories, but if you can understand this concept, you understand how anchoring works. The example of 'our song' is the concept of anchoring in a nutshell.

This information can be used in this way with clients: elicit their strongest emotional states, i.e. their criteria. When someone tells you their highest criteria, they are tapping into emotion. They feel it. And when this happens, simply pair it with a unique stimulus.

Stay tuned for future articles on anchoring as one of the most important tools in your persuasion toolbox.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches techniques to earn the business of affluent clients using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion techniques.
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