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Persuasion Continuums Ii: Getting In Deeper

Feb 20, 2008
In a previous article "Persuasion Continuums" I began to describe one of the most powerful tools of persuasion. When I last left you, you were either completely confused about or you were well on your way to understanding one of the slickest tools in the persuasion toolbox.

Here's a brief recap of the first article: A continuum works best when the client you are influencing is at one end or the other, not if they're middle of the road on a particular matter.

Let's say that your prospect is at the far right side of the continuum at the far 'towards' side. And let's say for 'internal/external', well they're right dead in the middle. They don't seem to go either direction, they don't seem to really care. I just would ignore the internal/external in my languaging because that one just isn't going to make a big difference.

Continuums are organizing principles. They represent a way of looking at things. They are a filter through which people view their circumstances. And the best part, for persuasion purposes, is that they are habitual. People generally keep the same perspective within the context in which you have inquired.

Sometimes big life changes can make these things change, but basically they are a set way of looking at the world.

We all view the world through these different lenses to one extent or another. We have a 'towards/away' lens, an 'internal/external' lens, and an 'options/procedural' lens. Once you understand how these work and what to say in order to access them, you will be able to zero in on the way a person functions and influence them with amazing precision.

The idea is to learn to adjust your language to take advantage of the continuums you hear like notching a key to fit into a lock.

Most likely, up until now, you might have assumed that everyone else thinks the same way that you do. And when I say 'thinks the same way', I don't mean that they have the same views. I mean that their thought processes work the same way. And this is simply not true.

Nothing could be further from the truth. You think the way you do. I think the way I do. Your prospect thinks the way he or she does. We're all wildly different.

So step one in learning how to work this is to put your mind in a white board state. . . a blank slate, so to speak. Your interaction with your prospect is about you being there to be marked upon and allowing a part of you to be molded by the way your prospect thinks and speaks. It's a kind of mirroring/matching.

I am not talking about changing your values or your beliefs. I'm not talking about changing who you are at your core. I'm talking about changing the way you express yourself to influence another person.

You've heard the saying, 'You are what you eat.' Well, are you? Are you what you wear? Are you what you drive? Are you where you live? Are you who you're with? We are all made up of any number of things but not one solitary thing.

You're way closer to being a belief or a value, than you are to being the shoes you wear. But still, you're not just a belief. You're not simply your values. When you combine all that you think and feel and believe and, yes, wear, together, that's who you are.

It is vitally important that you understand that by "becoming" like your client in the way you language your persuasion, you are not fundamentally changing who you are. It's like you're changing your outfit or getting a new haircut.

The goal of all of these interactions is flexibility.

As the context changes, so does the orientation. If we're talking about health and then switch to finances, then in that given context, the orientation has to be reestablished. Don't assume that because someone is 'away' in one context, that they'll be 'away' in all contexts.

Coming soon: Backing the Ambulance Up to the Door: The 'Away' Perspective.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches strategies 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 strategies.
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