Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to deliver suggestions

So, given what we've learned so far, what does that say about how to give good suggestions?

For a suggestion to take, you need:

  • The power to activate nodes
    • You need their attention ready to focus on what you tell them
    • You need to deliver suggestions that are effective at lighting up the nodes.
  • Precision to target the *right* nodes so that the cards unfold properly
  • Avoid activating incompatible nodes. You can do this by:
    • clever avoidance of sticking your neck out
    • distractions
    • building a state of mind such that the suggestion makes sense.
    • avoid activating any unnecessary nodes at all (wide trance)

There are a lot of ways to do these things. Some are honest, some questionable so, and some are clearly The Dark Arts.  A lot of tricks help in more than one way, and can often be incompatible with other techniques, or work against you in other ways. So here's where the art part comes in...

You need their attention - the more the better. Pattern interrupt them.  Directly suggest/ask/instruct them to give you attention. Frame it as important, or fascinating, or terrifying. Get emotions going. Get eye contact. Shut out distractions - close their eyes, relax them, suggest that outside noises are unimportant or even intensify their focus.  Do a good job getting them ready to go top down.

Make your suggestions salient. Do a good job from the bottom up
What we know from connectionism and priming say that we should hit it from many angles. Classical conditioning says that repetition can help. Say it over and over from many angles.

Prime them beforehand. "You know the feeling where...", "I'm sure you've had an experience where..."

Say it with emphasis. Sub-communicate intent and confidence. Be authoritative.

"You know what it's like when your arm falls asleep, right? Numb? Tingly perhaps? Very heavy and hard to move... Just like that your arm will be so heavy that you will not be able to move it. That arm will be stuck, locked, and glued to the table. It's almost like it just doesn't want to move. Almost like you're subconsciously not even trying. Or perhaps you've simply forgotten how to try"

Make sure they understand what is asked of them.
Individual differences mean that some approaches might work better than others, so repeat yourself in different ways (again). It's not just that each word contributes, but also casting a wider net makes it more likely to catch the bigger fish.

Use direct suggestions when they're more clear than indirect suggestions, and use indirect suggestions when they're (perhaps counter-intuitively) more clear than direct suggestions.

In a lot of cases, direct suggestions are clear and being indirect seems like a waste of time.  However, things like "lower your blood pressure", while abstractly understood, do not connect well to experiences. It's compartmentalized by default. This is the important sense in which it isn't clear - it's not clear to the right compartment. You're better off with suggestions like "relax" and "let the stress melt away".

If they can't connect your suggestions to experiences, they won't experience what you suggest. Ask them to nod if they understand.

Be precise.  Don't say "You cannot think about a white elephant. You just cant think of it" unless your intention is to blank their mind completely (oops, been there, done that!).

If you need them to be amazed by this for your scheme to work, then specify that. Don't leave room for unplanned responses.

Make sure opposing thoughts do not come up.
Avoid sticking your neck out to take attention off failure. Start with small effect sizes and easy types of suggestions. Tell them to make it happen. Suggest that things "can" or "might" happen. Suggest interpretations under which the desired effect is a floating belief - Isolate the truth value from the territory. Have them "just imagine", or "just imagine that it'll work" and then make it real.

Distract them. Fast talk so they don't have time to think up alternatives. Get eye contact. Give them other attention demanding tasks. Use presuppositions, double binds, and other linguistic tricks. Do it covertly so that they don't notice to think about it. Suggest that it will remain outside their awareness, but happen anyway. Suggest that resisting is outside their locus of control, and that the harder they try to resist, the more it will work.

Set the context so that they are comfortable with the suggestion working. Be permissive. Make them want it to work. Make it say good things about them if it works. Make them expect it will work.  Use convincers.  Use other specific suggestions to place them in the frame of mind to be open to this suggestion (e.g. "everything in your pockets belongs to me" before "give me what is in your pockets").

Avoid priming them with the wrong thing. This is why negative suggestions should be used carfully or avoided. Don't be sayin' "don't focus on it not working", for example.

Subcommunicate well by having the right mindset. Pay attention to the idea of it succeeding. Hold in mind the idea that they will do what you say. That way you'll say it with proper intent, confidence, and authority. Or maybe you'll say it as if it is just a matter of fact, or that it is just routine now.

Perhaps, condition them to inhibit all other thoughts and catch problematic thoughts in the wide net. Do this by using all the tricks above to deliver suggestions aimed to enhance suggestibility. Make them comfortable going deep. Make them want to go deep. Use fractionation to give them practice dropping deep (and an excuse to push beyond the 'max', since repeating "deeper" forever quickly reaches diminishing returns, and they don't fully "come out" quickly). Directly suggest that they go deep. Directly suggest that direct suggestions work. Directly suggest the specific processes desired (mental focus, clarity, tuning out of other stimuli, silence of mental voice, etc). Have them jump into the imagination that they can do better, and then suggest that they will.


  1. Awesome set of suggestion enhancers.

    Now lets see a specific scenario/suggestion set using all that powerful stuff.

    Show me red, don't tell me about frequencies :)


  2. There are plenty of places to be shown red - that isn't my comparative advantage.

    I'm trying to build the background needed to invent radar.

  3. Haha, brilliant. I could add that you can also use obsessive-compulsive language to get them to compel themselves to follow your suggestions by obsessing over trying to resist them. :)