January 31st, 2012
“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” muttered Obi-Wan Kenobi, using a Jedi mind trick in Star Wars, “Move along” came the reply from the befuddled Storm Trooper. And with the wave of an Imperial hand, the legend of covert mind control was firmly cemented on screen forever more.
Is this level of influence truly obtainable? There certainly is scope.
And some people seem to be born supernaturally smooth talkers: whether you want to talk your way out of a speeding ticket, or talk your way into a somebody’s heart, making your speech more persuasive is an essential skill to learn. One effective way to garner the gift of the gab is to learn language patterns. These are stock phrases and retorts that can give you lightning fast retorts and the upper hand in a conversation.
The concept comes from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), an offshoot of of hypnosis, whereby excellence can be studied and modelled for personal use. The original source of modern language patterns was obtained in the 1970s from legendary hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, who used his own patterns to ensure that his clients followed his suggestions. Since then, new patterns have been studied and developed by various NLP practitioners.
Using short language patterns in your speech is an advanced technique that requires a little practice to master. The best way is to take one of the lines that you’ll learn in this video and use it in everyday conversation, to the point where it becomes natural. Be careful though: deliberately forcing a language pattern into a conversation too many times can make you sound robotic, so practice one pattern at a time, little and often, until becomes part of your spoken repertoire.
More Persuasive than a Jedi Knight: Introducing Rintu Basu
At a recent training event in London, I had the satisfaction of working alongside Master NLP Practitioner, best-selling author and conversational expert, Rintu Basu.
Based in Glasgow, Rintu has spent years developing the persuasion skills he teaches. Consequently, he is an in-demand corporate speaker and leading authority on NLP and Hypnosis in the UK; you only have to listen to Rintu speak to hear how smoothly he stacks numerous patterns together.
In this interview, Rintu kindly agreed to share several powerful techniques that you can put to immediate use right away. You’ll notice how we have fun repeating the patterns that he teaches many times: this is a great way to learn and something that can be explored with a training partner before you hit up the rest of the world.
Interview Transcript: How to Be a Smooth Talker
Below is a transcript of a short interview we filmed on the topic of using language patterns to become more persuasive:
Marcus: It gives me great pleasure today to welcome Rintu Basu, a best-selling author on the topic of persuasion and influence. Today, he’s going to share some great insights and tips to help you become more influential with the people you meet. So Rintu, how did you get started with all this?
Rintu: Persuasion skills, specifically?
Rintu: I’m an NLP guy.
Rintu: And if you know NLP, there’s a lot of people who do stuff in that field.
Marcus: That’s ‘neuro-linguistic programming’?
Rintu: It doesn’t really matter what it is [called] because it’s just the thing that I’m into.
Rintu: And there’s lots of people who do it. And what I wanted to do was focus on that field and just focus on something within it that I could be really, really good at.
Rintu: For me, persuasion was a natural thing. There’s lots [of information out there] about language patterns. For example, do you recognise the fact that language is just a filter? Sorry…
Marcus: That sentence was a language pattern wasn’t it?!
Rintu: Yes, it was!
Rintu: So if you think about it this way, whenever you say anything, or whenever I say anything, you have to make pictures in your head about what it is that I’m saying for it to make sense.
Marcus: Yes, that makes sense.
Rintu: Which then basically means I can force anything that I want on you [by putting a picture in your mind], just by talking about it. Are you with me?
Rintu: So this whole language thing is just a filter.
Rintu: And let me just direct your attention wherever I wanted to go, which is fabulous. And when I heard that, I said, “Oh, that’s brilliant”. That’s the [key learning] I got from NLP and that’s what I got very, very good at in terms of language. So I thought, well, if I need a niche to study then that’s a good one to look at.
Marcus: Okay. For you, what was your – how did you know when you were starting to really sort of get the skill and develop it? Were there any sort of ‘way points’ [or moments] where you thought: “Right! I’m a bit more persuasive than I used to be!”?
Rintu: [Laughs] Yeah! So here’s what actually happened to me. I was working as a teacher and I started getting into this NLP stuff and I thought to myself: I’ve got 16 little minds in the room every day of the week that are just waiting to have their heads full of all sorts of interesting and exciting stuff. Why don’t I take five language patterns and write them out every evening so that the next day, I’m going to go in and, come hell or high water, I’m going to spout this stuff out and [get to practice my skills].
Marcus: Right. So let’s be clear there. A language pattern is a sentence that-
Rintu: [Cuts in] it forces you to look in a completely new direction. So for example, the pattern we were playing about with this weekend just gone was ‘the issue isn’t X, the issue is Y’. So the issue that we’re talking about it’s actually focusing on the pattern.
Rintu: So it doesn’t matter what you say. I can move this conversation to where I want it to go.
Marcus: And you’re about to do that right now. Oh, god I better resist you [trying to redirect the conversation]!
Rintu: The interesting thing about resisting, it’s about continuing the conversation …
Marcus: Okay. So the issue isn’t about the conversation. It’s about where it’s going. So you’re saying that if we use [the language pattern] ‘the issue isn’t X, the issue is Y’, we can redirect any conversation.
Rintu: Yes. Let me be more blatant. The issue is not what you’re talking about, it’s actually about what I want to talk about; which is actually moving this discussion into what I was doing with my bunch of students. Now here’s what I was doing with this bunch of students: they would come up with a question on the topic that we were talking about and I would say: “that’s such a great question! But you know, the issue isn’t that question. It’s really about what I can give you as a definite answer to it!” And then what I would say is – well, whatever it was I actually wanted to say [to answer their question with]!
Marcus: [Turns to camera] So, we both met at a seminar and Rintu passed on this great tip to win any argument, which was in two steps:
1.) Find agreement with somebody.
2.) Use the language pattern: “the issue isn’t X, the issue is Y”.
Marcus: Now, I understand you also worked in the police for a while. Was that technique something that you used in that sort of situation?
Rintu: Absolutely. I mean this is what my desired outcome was originally: ‘how do I convince someone to put on a pair of handcuffs, climb into the back of the police van and then write me a testimonial about what a great experience that was.
Marcus: Yes. That would be pretty impressive.
Rintu: So that was what I was looking to do with hypnotic language patterns and all the rest of it and they’re always doing that. And you have to take this approach in perspective; it doesn’t work consistently all the time.
Rintu: But what I would say to anyone is that if it works, one or two times more in your normal life would that make a difference? So, say for me as a police officer, if I was just to make one or two more arrests or stop one or two more crimes than any other police officer, would it make a big difference? And it certainly did.
Marcus: Hey! That was a language pattern you used just then!
Rintu: It certainly was! You’re getting it now!
Marcus: You cheeky rascal! Now, we saw another presenter this week called James Tripp. His version of your language pattern was “On one level, it’s X, on another level, it’s Y” so it might be another way of using the same pattern with different wording?
Rintu: Yes and the great thing about that is that I completely agree with him… and the issue isn’t the words that you use. It’s actually about what makes it most comfortable for you. So you can say ‘the issue isn’t this, the issue is that…or you could phrase it as: ‘on one level its this, on the other level it’s that’.
Marcus: [Turns to Camera] Rintu Basu is a nightmare to interview! But the issue isn’t that you’re a nightmare; on another level, you’re fantastic! So is there a technique that people watching can take out and try? Because you’ve got so much to share on influence and persuasion.
Rintu: Sure. In the next two to three minutes, here’s something you can use. You need to – well actually, when I say use, go ahead and practice and have fun with this. Let me tell you where it comes from first. It’s called an awareness pattern. In sales, salespeople call this a, ‘Yes Set‘. So, what it’s about is trying to get you to say ‘yes’ several times to things that you have to say yes to; and then when they do, I’ll slip in a question that they’ll say yes to.
Marcus: Hey you’re doing it now!
Rintu: I know! And then at the bottom of that [technique], you ask the one question that you’re not sure if they’re going to say yes to. But if they’ve said yes all the way down [to your questions], the chances are they’ll also say yes to the last one [as well].
Marcus: Okay. I’m liking this.
Rintu: Yes. So in a sales environment it would work along the lines of: “Okay, we’ve talked about the product. Yes, you’ve got the benefits [Yes] and that means you are ready to buy [Yes!]. So you’ve got two yes’s and then you go “buy it now!” and they say yes. And that’s kind of how [the technique] works for sales. A hypnotist does the same thing. They call it an awareness pattern. What hypnotists do is this. If they want to take you into trance they will say [points to chair]: “So you’re sat in this chair?”
Rintu: That’s verifiable.
Marcus: Oh yes.
Rintu: And you listen to the sound of my voice?
Rintu: And that means you are ready to go into trance.
Marcus: Oh, Okay.
Rintu: So it’s just leading people to where you want them to go.
Rintu: So I mean I’m quite happy doing this in conversations and it would be the same sort of thing. [For example] so we’re sat here talking and having fun and that means that you’re ready to take out your wallet and pay me loads of money.
Marcus: Okay. So that’s quite a big leap for me to suddenly take out my wallet and then pay you lots of money! [Turns to camera] This isn’t a free interview; I’ve had to pay Rintu to be here! So on one level, that’s quite good that….
Rintu: Hey! I’m just kidding!
Marcus: So would it be valuable then in [just getting them to] say a little yes, another little yes and then maybe a ‘small yes’ that they probably otherwise wouldn’t have said ‘yes,’ to?
Rintu: Yes. Okay. So the trick with this is you take small steps.
Rintu: So what I would rather do is let’s say the intention eventually is to get you to buy a course.
Rintu: So what I might start with doing is say something like: ‘Okay, we’re sat here chatting and that means you are ready to tell me about what kind of issues you have in your life.
Rintu: Okay. So now we’re talking about whatever issues you have in your life and that means that you’re comfortable in my company which then means that you are actually willing to work on how you might want to change things.
Marcus: Right, and there’s the bit [of your patter] where I’m receptive to that?
Rintu: Yeah, so now that you’re being receptive to change; and now that we’re talking about being receptive to change; that’s a great thing for us to be talking about. [Breaks conversation] And what you’re looking for here is a nodding head.
Rintu: What that means is that you’re ready to start talking about a coaching scenario.
Rintu: Can you see what I’m doing? I’m just taking little steps [to get you to respond in the affirmative].
Marcus: [Laughs] how do I answer that? [How can I answer the question?] ‘Can I see what you’re doing?’ without actually answering in the affirmative! And there’s a question very quickly. Do people have to say yes or can they just ‘feel’ yes?
Rintu: They just need to feel it.
Marcus: They need to feel it. So they can nod. They could be like in a quiet state of agreement.
Rintu: Right. Here’s the thing that I really want you to get with this. Okay? You will generally use lots of different things to get people to move, alright?
Rintu: So it’s not just about reapplying the same pattern but here’s the deal with this. When you get to do this naturally, you can see amazing shifts in people and the way [that you] get to do this naturally is just to practice doing it in a normal conversation because it gets to be fun. All you have to do is sit there and you probably want to go out there and do this deliberately with people is you just sit in a conversation and go in your own head: ‘I’m only allowed to say what I want to say after I’ve given them two truisms’. So if I would be to start with you, it would be, Okay, so we’re sat here…
Rintu: …We’re having a conversation…
Rintu: …And what would you like to talk about next?
Marcus: Oh, Okay…erm… Monkeys!
Rintu: Monkeys. Cool. So, you just said the word “monkeys” (true), and we’re here on camera talking about monkeys (true). So can you give me another subject you’d like to talk about?
Marcus: Haa I always pick the monkeys! But Rintu, we’re out of time now, I’m afraid. How can people find out more about you?
Rintu: Easy. Its www.theNLPcompany.com
Marcus: I recommend you sign up to his newsletter. It’s full of liquid gold. Well it would be, if newsletters were actually liquid. They’re not. But… it is full of gold! I’ve learned a lot from you, Rintu. It has been an eye-opening experience. I also recommend that you go back and re-watch this interview several times. This guy is a master of language and he’s got lots of language patterns [that he's used] in the interview.
Rintu: Final thought. If you sign up on my website for my newsletter you’ll get a 20-page report with a bunch full of language patterns in it. Go and read that and then go and listen to this interview again (as there was a lot going on!).
Marcus: Perfect. Rintu Basu…high five!
Few people have a full grasp of persuasive language. However, most people have a few key phrases up their sleeves that they unwittingly use to influence those around them; whether that’s a shopper winning a discount on a new dress, or a kid charming his parent to stay up late… they probably don’t realise on a conscious level what they’re doing beyond their intention to prosper.
Potentially powerful language patterns like these are (probably) being used in conversations around you on a daily basis. Listen out for them: moments whenever somebody says something that persuades you, or a colleague, are gold dust. The chances are that the influencer’s phrasing can be taken and adapted for your own use!