The KEY Questions: Are you open to persuasion?

   “Make yourself comfortable. You’re feeling drowsy. That’s right. You’re feeling so tired now that you can’t keep your eyelids open, no matter how hard you try. As you listen to my words, slowly let them close and allow yourself to drift down into a deep sleep…”   zzzzzzzzzzzz  “In a moment I will count down from ‘ten’ to ‘one’. As I do you will slowly come out of your trance feeling happy and relaxed, until I reach ‘one’, at which point you will get up, pick up your phone and instruct your bank to transfer everything in your account across to mine.”

There’s a joke that invariably gets told at some point during the day when I’m doing a hypnotherapy training session. Someone will say, to the amusement of the other students, (and me, though I’ve heard it many times), “How do I know I’ve learned anything? Maybe you just hypnotized me into thinking that I have!” Everyone laughs. No one believes for a second that it could be true, because from the very start of the course any false beliefs they may have harbored about hypnosis – such as the idea that people can be made to do things against their will as a result of being ‘put under’ – have been dispelled. (This is not to say that so-called ‘post-hypnotic suggestion’ is a myth, only that the subject must be willing and happy to carry out those instructions, when fully conscious, that didn’t feel ‘wrong’ to their previously unconscious minds). But the fact that we always laugh at the joke gives a clue to the very real anxiety that we all experience when being ‘sold’ something, be it a second-hand car or a hypnotherapy course, and it begs the question, how can we trust that we are not being taken for a ride?

We can’t entirely. Here’s another question: is it right or ethical to use NLP techniques to persuade people to buy into an NLP program or course? Even something as basic as getting into rapport with a potential customer by mirroring their body language or playing to their speech patterns might be interpreted as taking unfair advantage of that person, acting in some way dishonestly to achieve the desired result: a sale. In the case of NLP, you can of course argue that what worked on your client will surely work the same on his or her clients in turn, but all of this is really missing the point. The point is it all depends on what you’re selling.

It’s worth repeating: selling is nothing more than a transfer of enthusiasm. If you don’t believe in your product but go ahead and sell it anyway, using all the tricks in the book, you may well succeed, but the customer will eventually realise that they have been misled, and they won’t return. On the other hand, if you know for certain that your client will benefit hugely from your product – because you yourself have benefited from it – it is something like a duty to persuade them to buy, and in this case it is only natural that you will try your hardest to get past their reservations and prejudices to get them to part with their money, money that you know full well will save them money in the long run. You establish trust with your clients when, and only when, they see the value of what you are offering. And then, trust me, they will come back.

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. It is relatively easy to persuade people that they have power, that they are awesome, that they can achieve anything. The reason is of course because it’s true: we humans are powerful, far more powerful than most of us realise. We are also infinitely suggestible. A charismatic ‘leader’ trained in human psychology can get almost any audience up on their feet, punching the air, pumped up to the point of madness with the desire to ‘learn the secret’. At this point money will change hands very quickly. But later, when that enthusiasm inevitably fades, what is left? The product, and it will either live up to the hype or it won’t.

Here’s my answer to the whole question of ethics and selling my courses. We already know what it is we need to learn before we learn it. We go on instinct. Our unconscious, otherwise known as ‘Mind’, is what guided us to the course in the first place, and it’s our unconscious, if we are able to tune into it, that tells us what is false and what is true. Mind never lies.

Trust me!