Manipulation is part of our life. There are few groups of mental shortcuts that make us vulnerable, and countless variations and combinations of them. People are willing to die for them - and this is not a metaphor. They would go to war, they would take poison, they would choose a career - the one they hate... They may even create a car accident - without realizing that they are repeating a scenario described in the yesterday's newspaper... But mostly they would spend time and money.
This is when the knowlege turns into power, because when you know what can be used against you, you have a choice.
To start with, let me ask you a question - and I want you to answer it FAST. I always do this sort of mental exercises before the serous staff begins. So...
How many fingers does the man have on his hands?
How many on ten hands?
If you are like most people (and if not - you still can be manipulated), the answer will be "ten" and "one hundred", the first answer is perfectly correct, and the second - perfectly wrong.
What happened here is a shortcut, one of simple ones, called conditioning by association. One man - ten fingers on hands. Ten hands... And then some smart a... guy came and built a trap.
If you are familiar with NLP, you may notice, that we have built and instantly used an anchor, but you don't need to know NLP to read this text. That's a beauty of it - anyone can use it. Not only professionals.
Anyway, where is a manipulation?
What does a beautiful young man (girl) drink?
There are few types of mental shortcuts, some of them can be created (we show a video clip with young people drinking Cola and having fun), while some of them are already there. In your mind. Installed by our society and ready to be used. Example?
The following example is an illustration of so-called reciprocation rule, one of many, described in a wonderful book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini.
The way this rule works is "if someone does you a favor, you owe him a favor in return". This is a "preinstalled" rule, which means you learned it when you were a child. Something like "always return favors, or people will dislike you". A very powerful belief that almost no one questions.
And of course, it can be used to manipulate people. Have you tried a free sample in the super store? Wait a minute! This person just gave you something for free - it can be qualified as a favor! What can you do in return?
You can buy a box of whatever he is selling. Now, compare this:
"Would you like to buy this overpriced corn flakes?"
Would you like to try this free sample? (It is not polite to decline, right?) And then - "Would you like to buy one?" (by saying "no" you will refuse to return a favor).
By the way, the "rule" does not mention the size of a favor. Should I do same amount of "good" in return? Not necessarily. So it is possible to do a small favor and to ask for a big one in return. Just like this one:
Hi, I would like to present you this flower from our local Krishna society.
Thank you, I do not...
No, no, please - this is for you.
Would you consider making a small contribution...
Believe it or not, but after this simple technique was applied, number of Krishna society offices increased TEN TIMES.
Also consider this:
"Here, let me help you with your bag"...
"I dedicated all my life to you"... (now you owe me a big one).
By the way, yes, there is such thing as a good manipulation.
There is a very important difference between this technique and techniques related to NLP and Hypnosis, described in other texts on this web site. A good hypnotic technique can benefit, if it incorporates "tricks" like the reciprocity, but you do not need to know hypnosis or NLP to use the manipulation technique described above.
Perhaps a metaphor may help. Imagine, that you are a hypnotist, and you need to make your subject to stay still, looking straight forward and not responding to other noises in the room, except for your voice.
You can use pattern interruptions, conversational trance techniques, deepening, rapport building... It might or might not work.
But if you know, that your subject is in the military, all you need to do is to dress like a general (of the same army!), to walk in the room and to say AT-TENTION!
Want more? Let's do a hypnotic trick, called "hand levitation". You can go with "close your eyes and feel an air balloon, attached to your wrist", or you may just ask "what time is it?" And the person's hand will go up. What? It is not the real thing? It is a trick? Yes, it is. A trick. A manipulation.
You do not have to build certain types of responses. They are already there.
And they are much more powerful than anything you can imagine...
Ok, for now you probably already know why I call these types of behavior "automatic". But what does it have to do with shortcuts?
If I was using NLP language, I would speak about generalization, deletion and distortion by now, but as I promised to avoid it, lets take a look at the way we think.
The world is a very complex place. There is no way for us to always keep in mind all factors we need. Consider driving a car. Do you remember, when you were learning to operate this thing, you had to pay attention to everything? And now - you just do it. How? By using shortcuts. Instead of "when you see the green light, slow down, look around, restart your car and carefully pass the intersection" you are just doing "when you see green - go". A shortcut, that works most of the time - until someone drives on red and hits your car.
Now, when you read an article in the newspaper, how do you decide, if it is true or not? Are you going to the library - every time - to research the subject? No, you are using shortcuts again.
For example, if I see an article on the stock trading written by Warren Buffet himself, I will probably believe it more, then if the author is a chairman of the local folk music society. A shortcut.
And now comes the important part - we usually do not realize that we are using shortcuts. We just do them. Automatically. No thinking involved. Of course it makes us vulnerable.
Don't take me wrong. We need shortcuts. They are very valuable. They help us to make decisions fast, and with minimum efforts.
Until the same shortcuts are used in the commercials, or by politicians...
For example, you know what the word "sale" means, right? You place this sign in front of the store, and customers know that they came to the right place for a great bargain.
Let's experiment. Let's place the sign (as they do in newspapers when selling life insurance) and INCREASE the price. People will still come! Try it. Shop around to get an idea of what life insurance costs and then compare it to the "great price limited time" offers in newspaper. You might find, that (as any dictionary would confirm) the true meaning of the word "great" is "very big"...
But the trick still works...
A friend of mine owns a store. Once he was selling shoes - quite mediocre shoes, to tell the truth. He wanted money, so he put the profit margine at 40 percent. It didn't work. Then he made it 400 percent. Guess what? He sold all shoes in one day (and then had to refund most of them, but it is a different story).
Shortcuts are everywhere - that's why they are so important. Statistics shows that more nice-looking guy will get a less severe sentence in the court of law - so it is a good idea to know it and to shave, and to wear a nice suite. The judge doesn't have time to get to know you better, so - unconsciously - he/she is using a shortcut (nice looking people are nicer).
The salesman will sell you much more (junk) if he presents it in a particular way and in particular order.
A politician (a man) will be more successful if he is taller, as the matter of fact a taller candidates won 90 percent of president elections in USA since 1900...