Improve Your Persuasion Powers By Speaking Their Language


Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to pay attention today to the words people use to describe their experience. Find out what "representational system" they use the most. Once you learn how to do this, you can start talking to people in a way that will reach them, because you'll be using the representational system they favor. But for now, your mission is to simply identify the primary representational system of everyone you talk to today.

Now that I've given you the mission, I'm going to explain it. A "representational system" is one of three things: Visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. When you think or remember, you are representing reality in your mind. For example, you can remember what happened yesterday by seeing mental pictures. That would be using your visual representational system. Or you could remember by recalling what someone told you yesterday or the sounds you heard yesterday. That would be using your auditory representational system. Or you could remember how you felt yesterday. That's using your kinesthetic representational system.

This all sounds terribly complicated, but it's not. We have three primary ways to store and recall reality: Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Many of our memories or imaginings include all three representational systems, of course. In other words, you remember what you saw, what you heard, and what you felt.

But all of us tend to "favor" one representational system over the others, in the same way that you are right-handed or left-handed. You tend to use one representational system more than others. You tend to store your most important information in that representational system. You tend to respect and respond to information presented in that representational system more than you would if it was presented using a different representational system.

In other words, if you are a visually-oriented person, and I speak to you using visual terms, what I say will have more impact, will be more persuasive, will be more memorable to you than if I spoke to you using auditory terms.

Speaking in visual terms would be saying things like, "When you read the Quran, you will see things in a whole new light. You'll get the big picture." Speaking in auditory terms would be saying things like, "When you read the Quran, you are hearing the words of Mohammad the way Muslims around the world hear them. It may sound like what I'm saying does not make sense, but once you read the Quran, it will click for you." Speaking in kinesthetic terms would be saying things like, "When you read the Quran you'll grasp the overall negative, hostile feeling of Mohammad and Allah toward non-Muslims." Click here to find more examples of the kinds of words that indicate the three different representational systems.

But before attempting to speak someone's language, you must first know what it is. How can you know? By listening to the way people describe things when they talk. That's your assignment today. And ideally, you would keep it up every day until you can easily know what representational system people favor. Once you can do that, speaking someone's language is easy.

This exercise will increase your observational powers. And it will increase your ability to connect to people and influence them.

You can practice all day long. Anytime you are speaking with someone, pay attention to which words they use. Which sensory system are they talking about?

This is not as hard as you would think. If I told you to determine whether someone was right or left handed, you would be able to tell just by watching, don't you think? If you observed the person's behavior for awhile, you'd easily identify which hand they favor. You may have known the person for awhile and didn't know if they were right or left handed, but once you pay attention, once you're looking for it, you can find out just by paying attention.

You can do the same to discover the representational system they favor. It is only a matter of paying attention.

We need to reach people. We need to help them understand what we understand about the third jihad. We need to get past their barriers to listening. So we need to get really good at gaining rapport with people. One excellent way to improve our rapport and help people to listen to (and respect) what we say is to speak their language — to use the representational system they favor most when we speak.

Citizen Warrior is the author of the book, Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam and also writes for Inquiry Into Islam, History is Fascinating, and Foundation for Coexistence. Subscribe to Citizen Warrior updates here. You can send an email to CW here.


When You Meet Resistance


Milton Erickson was an accomplished and well-respected psychiatrist who created innovative therapeutic techniques and was able to cure or significantly help many seriously mentally ill patients whose cases had stumped every other psychiatrist who had tried to help them before Erickson.

I once read something Erickson wrote that struck me as profound and important at the time, but it wasn't until many years later when I began trying to share what I was learning about Islam that what he wrote became personally relevant. He said in psychiatric literature, they talk a lot about "resistant patients." This is a common phenomenon in psychiatry: Patients often put up psychological barriers to change. Frequently, the mental illness causes intense suffering for the patient, yet patients will often resist change. From the point of view of the psychiatric literature, the resistance originates in the patient.

Erickson's point of view was entirely different. And I believe his different point of view led to his many innovations in the field and allowed him to successfully treat patients who were unreachable by other competent psychiatrists:

Erickson considered a resistant patient to be an indication of his own lack of skill. 

In other words, if he was skilled enough at dealing with a particular human psyche, there would be no resistance. If his rapport with the patient was strong enough, there would be no resistance. If he had the right approach, there would be no resistance. And in fact, many times Erickson was able to help "resistant" subjects nobody else could help because he would use their resistance. He would say things like, "I don't want you to change too quickly" and they would resist him by changing immediately.

I often think about this when I run into someone who "just won't listen." My first instinctive response is, "This person is too self-righteous and stubborn to listen." But then I remember Erickson's perspective, and I think maybe I'm just not skilled enough yet. And I wonder, "What might get through to this person?"

We've got a real problem here. If national policies are going to change, a significant percentage of non-Muslims will need to be acquainted with the basic gist of Islamic doctrine. And for this to happen, it is up to us. The media will not do it for us. Politicians won't do it. School teachers aren't going to do it. If it's going to happen, it will be we few who do it — those of us who are now acquainted with Islamic doctrine.

And of course, you've already discovered that a significant proportion of the general population resists learning about Islam. One way to interpret this is, "They are idiots. They won't listen to the facts." Another way to interpret it is, "I must not be skilled enough yet. I wonder what kind of approach might get through to this person? I wonder what new skill I could learn that would make it possible?"

I propose to you that we will accomplish our goal much faster with the second interpretation than we will with the first. And on this topic, speed is important. To see a good example of this approach in action, watch Freedom Writers, get inspired, and then get to work improving your abilities and coming up with new ways to approach the task. And as you discover ways that work, share them with us here: Talk About Islam Among Non-Muslims.

P.S. For efficiency's sake, it is important to focus first on the undecided.

Citizen Warrior is the author of the book, Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam and also writes for Inquiry Into Islam, History is Fascinating, and Foundation for Coexistence. Subscribe to Citizen Warrior updates here. You can send an email to CW here.


Article Spotlight

One of the most unusual articles on is Pleasantville and Islamic Supremacism.

It illustrates the Islamic Supremacist vision by showing the similarity between what happened in the movie, Pleasantville, and what devout fundamentalist Muslims are trying to create in Islamic states like Syria, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia (and ultimately everywhere in the world).

Click here to read the article.


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