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There Are No Accidents: Using Superstition To Persuade

Dec 29, 2007
'Very superstitious, writing's on the wall Very superstitious, ladders bout' to fall Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don't understand Then you suffer Superstition ain't the way' --Stevie Wonder, 'Very Superstitious'

Most cultures have their superstitions. Think about your knee jerk reaction when someone sneezes. "God bless you." This started in the Middle Ages when people thought that if your body was left unguarded, as in the midst of a sneeze, the devil could enter. Saying the magic words 'God bless you' in the moments after the sneeze assured that the devil would not take over the body of the sneezer.

Here's another good one. . . there is no thirteenth floor in many high rise buildings. You can walk right up one flight from twelve to fourteen. Why? There's a common fear called triskaidekaphobia. . .fear of the number thirteen. Superstition.

How about walking under a ladder? Does anyone really know where this superstition came from? Not really. But we avoid it. Maybe out of practicality (not wanting something to drop on our heads) but how is it considered "bad luck" if we do? Well, this one dates back to early Christianity. The ladder, the ground, and whatever the ladder is leaning up against. . . this was thought to be like the Holy Trinity and walking through/under violated this putting you on par with the devil.

An acquaintance of mine believes all religion is superstition. In my opinion, he's wrong, but I appreciate his perspective nonetheless as just another example of how frames surround everything we think about and do.

Superstition is defined as 'an irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.'

Even Helen Keller's assertion that, "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.... Life is either a daring adventure or nothing," is an example of how diverse we all are, and yet, we all believe in something irrational.

With all this information about superstition, how can we use our prospect's and client's beliefs (irrational beliefs, especially) to persuade them to buy or product or service?

We're living in unstable times and the world can be a scary place. The more unstable things become, the more people search out stability. They constantly look for ways to explain why. For persuasion purposes, you have the ability to offer an answer, an explanation, to help them make sense out of the specific part of their life that you're involved in.

We can not only help people look for reasons to support their decisions, but we can look to explain their reality and assign blame, if need be.

One of my favorite terms born of superstition is "There are no accidents". This presupposes so much and can be used to maneuver. . .'Yes, you've had problems in the past, but those problems are what brought you to this point. And now you're here. And things can move forward for the good. You ended up with me for a reason.'

Is this true and verifiable? No. Absolutely not. But will you be called on it? Unless you're trying to sell my acquaintance, the cynic, who views the world through the frame that everyone is superstitious except him, I seriously doubt it.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches strategies to earn the business of wealthy prospects using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion strategies.
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