Much of what we think we know about subliminal perception is largely unproven. There are, however, several effective hidden devices within words. The subliminal nature of these words is that their purposes are often concealed. In this guide, you’ll learn how to use words to send subliminal messages for all kinds of situations.
Weak: “Andy’s smart, but not as smart as I am.”
Powerful: “Andy’s smart. Man, that Andy is one smart guy. Boy, is he smart.”
The nice things you say tend to attach themselves to you, even though you’re saying the nice things about other people. The same is true of the not-so-nice things you say. People tend to relate the sharp words just as much with you as with the person you’re condemning.
The studies that back up this concept don’t dwell on karma or people benefiting from their own good ways. The findings are much more psychology-based; people have a propensity to remember your name and face with adjectives you’ve used to describe other people. So watch what you say about others.
Example: “That Kenny’s smart. He never ceases to amaze me with his gift for analyzing difficult choices and selecting the wisest path. He’s a real sharp guy.”
Weak: “Do you …?”
Powerful: “To what extent do you …?”
Sometimes one of the most efficient ways to begin a proposal is to introduce it as if you have complete consent. Tell people about the program as if they’ve already said yes to it. Tell what it will do for them, how much it costs, and what else it will entail from them. Talk about it in light of how amazing this plan is and how everyone else must already be thinking yes, yes, yes!
Salespeople are especially good with this tactic; it’s their bread and butter. “So, would you like to leave today with the coupe or the sedan?” “Do you prefer the silver one or the red one?” “Are you interested in a three-year or five-year loan?” “Do you have a trade-in?” Nowhere in his banter will you hear, “So, kind sir, will you consider purchasing a car from me today?”
Yes, the confident person (like you) may respond with, “I haven’t made up my mind yet.” But there are a lot of unconfident people out there who are more than willing to allow the powerful person to show them the way. Plus, if you assume consent from the start, even with equally confident people, you plant encouraging seeds of suggestion.
Example: “So that’s the plan, Joe. To what extent do you see your department contributing to this effort?”
Weak: “Would you please finish this task?”
Powerful: “You must continue.”
In the 1960s, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram scared a lot of people by showing how easily human beings could be ordered to do just about anything. In the experiment, the people were asked to administer electric shocks in a faux learning experiment. (The shocks, too, were faked.) The vast majority of people administering the shocks continued to do so even when they thought the voltage levels were harmful or deadly. Milgram’s findings were unsettling in that it made us consider the possibility that we’re hardwired for obeying authority.
Incidentally, Milgram later on was criticized for putting his subjects through the anxiety of such an experiment. Said Milgram: “I’m convinced that much of the criticism, whether people know it or not, stems from the results of the experiment. If everyone had broken off at slight shock or moderate shock, this would be a very reassuring finding, and who would protest?”
Without delving into the psychology of it, know that when something is necessary or urgent, most people will do what they’re told by an authority figure, though they might complain or protest.
Example: (After someone says, “Can’t I put this off for some other time? It doesn’t seem all that important.”) “You must continue.”
Weak: “He’s a musician.”
Powerful: “He’s a professional musician.”
I suggest you use the word professional whenever you want to enrich a person’s job title or proposal. For example, if you call someone an actor, often the implication is that he’s mostly waiting on tables. But if you write or say that he’s a professional actor, then the upbeat implication is that he’s making something of a living as an actor.
Apply this concept to a colleague. Suppose someone’s about to present to a roomful of people a project proposal or some sort of formal recommendation. You can introduce the person and “his professional proposal.” Again, the positive implication is that he’s paid to know what he’s doing, and that he does a good job at making and implementing recommendations.
Example: “Peter is a very professional furniture arranger. He has put together a proposal for arranging our new office. Let’s give him the courtesy of listening to his professional presentation.”
Weak: “I didn’t trust him when he entered the room.”
Powerful: “He slithered along the stairway and into my space, and I instantly spotted his sneaky style.”
Alliteration is one of those crafty literary devices that we often read, are affected by, but to which we are oblivious. Alliteration is the repeating of the same letter at the beginning of several different words. “The complete idiot courageously acquired this comprehensive copy.”
By repeating the m sound, you might create a hidden humming or moaning within a sentence. By repeating the s sound, you might insinuate a slyness that’s taking place. By repeating the t sound, you might hint at a certain preciseness or punctuality.
Example: “When it’s the voters versus the vermin of corruption, it’s the voters who come out valiant and victorious.”
With practice, you can become a master at using power words to send any type of subliminal message. Good luck, and have a powerful day!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Power Words by Scott Snair, Ph.D.