In his book Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion, Kevin Dutton explores the success of conmen and how the mind can be hi-jacked into thinking one thing thing while another is clearly the case.
So there must be scope to use it for coaching.
This shadowy street psychology can be used to bring the mind to its knees and defined under the 3 A’s.
1. ATTENTION – at any particular moment, our minds and brains are being flooded by millions of stimuli. As your eyes move over this text you are processing light photons stimulating retina cells that are firing off neurones. Your hand is sensing the touch of the mouse or track pad. You may be sitting so you’ve balance organs giving orientation feedback to the muscle motor cells.
All of this data has the capacity to overload the brain and so we naturally prioritise and filter out a large amount of stimuli.
We also exploit our very own mental ‘snakes and ladders’ games where certain stimuli will be so similar to a familiar situation that we make an instant judgement and jump up a ladder to a conclusion, cutting out a large number of cognitive steps.
A skilled persuader, magical practitioner or conman can exploit this prioritisation, information filtering and standardised thinking patterns to control where we look and where we think.
The example Dutton uses is that of a hotel receptionist, who while engaged with one irate customer, allowed a pair of delivery men to remove the wedding gifts of a newly wed couple to return them to the ‘bride’s house’. The pair of delivery men were actually quite clever thieves and the irate customer a distraction. The receptionist filtered out much of the situation to process the priority issue, the irate customer, and took the mental shortcut to believing that the delivery men where legitimate and authorised the removal of the gifts.
Where the attention flows, the mind goes! So where are you focusing and what are you potentially missing by not looking or thinking widely enough.
2. APPROACH – None of us see the world in exactly the same way but we do have some cultural and behavioural attitudes that ensure many of us react in a similar manner. We call these cognitive heuristics, decision processes that allows us to take mental shortcuts. But sometimes the shortcuts we take are carefully selected to lead us to a place that isn’t where we expected it to be.
To prove this Dutton highlights the case of perceived value in wine price. 2 bottles of wine priced at $10 an $90 were taste tested by several experts and the responses captured. The unanimous response was that cheaper wine was OK but lacked depth or sophistication whereas the $90 bottle was clearly superior in flavour, balance and complex highlights. This would be expected however, the bottle prices had been swapped so the more expensive wine has been labelled at $10 and was assessed as inferior. Such is the power of preconception and the slippery path of cognitive heuristics.
What preconceptions are leading you to the incorrect conclusions? How are you ensuring you don’t jump to those conclusions?
3. AFFILIATION – Our behaviour is inextricable linked to the behaviour and attitudes of those around us. mentally we are hard wired to group together and it is through our social interactions that we have become the dominant species on the planet. Part of building cohesion in a group is bonding through shared or similar experiences.
This desire to belong can be compelling motivational force and Dutton sites a situation where some people in the Gay community are drawn to HIV-positive partners so that they can contract the disease and so feel as though they ‘belong more’.
What group identity is driving your decision process and how is that making you less of a leader and more of a follower?
Dutton highlights then, the influence that these 3 A’s have over our behaviours and how they can be used to direct our thinking, believing and actions for the benefit of others.
We can exploit these factors in the way we craft our interactions with people…
So how can you apply mind jacking to the coaching environment? In some ways is can be likened to aspects of hypnosis and NLP.
The generic formula is to:
– Consider the language we use – What is the audience paying attention to?
– Consider the manner in which you deliver that language – How will your audience approach it?
– Consider the Psycho-social factors that will be used to evaluate that language – What affiliations are going to influence the audience? What bias do they have that you can leverage?
Change the World