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NLP for Business - Persuasive Language

NLP and Persuasive Language


The Milton Model is a language model influenced by Milton Erickson for ambiguous, persuasive communication. It was created by the two co-founders of neuro-linguistic programming; linguist John Grinder and Richard Bandler.

John Grinder modelled how Erickson worked with his clients over a long period - especially how he worked with their unconscious mind. In 1975 and 1977 Grinder and Bandler published two books documenting these techniques being used by Erickson. The books described how to use very indefinite and inexplicit language to create a change in a client unconsciously, rather than consciously.
The term "artfully vague" has been used many times to describe the Milton Model and it is a scientifically proven way to communicate to be more persuasive. Using the Milton Model you can distract the listener’s conscious mind and lead this person into an altered state, which is a very powerful thing to be able to do. Altered states are not uncommon for anyone in everyday life, but being able to control them has many benefits.

Through using the Milton Model it becomes obvious that it is much easier to use artfully vague language to persuade people than to use direct commands. This is because people’s subconscious minds really respond well to such things as metaphors, paradoxes and contradictions.

When using the Milton Model it is important (in most cases) that rapport has been built with the client. Grinder and Bandler stated in their early books that building rapport was compulsory for persuading in this way.

The word rapport means 'to carry something back', so then, it can be understood to gain rapport one must 'send something back' to the other person. For example, if your client likes tennis and you like tennis, a slight amount of rapport will be built because of this - obviously. As well as commonality, rapport can also be built through reciprocation. However, in terms of using Erickson's model to gain rapport we will look at mirroring.

Ways of mirroring your client are as follows:
• Matching your body language to theirs
• Maintaining eye contact
• Matching their breathing rhythm
• Being in the same emotional state as them
• Using the same tone, tempo and volume of their voice

The above are only effective if the other person does not know what you are doing - so being subtle is key. If someone does realise you are trying to match their body language etc - this will do the absolute opposite of building rapport.

So once rapport has been built with your client, it is time to use the Milton Model to persuade your client. The following are examples of ambiguous language, indirect suggestion and linguistic tricks you can use.

Quotes – This is when you quote what someone else ‘would’ say, but you say it without breaking rapport. ‘If my business partner were here he would go mad and tell you ‘we will never work with you again because of this’ but I’m not going to say that…’

Tag questions – This can be used to create a yes set, which will increase compliance. ‘Does that make sense?’ ‘Do you know what I mean?’ ‘And if you do this, you will save more money won’t you?’

Syntactic ambiguity – These are sentences which may be reasonably interpreted in more than one way. ‘I know the people your boss knows’. You know of them, or, you know them.

Pacing and Leading – Pace the sensory experience of your client and then lead them. ‘Whilst you are sitting there, reading this article, feeling the air against your face you may notice yourself blinking’.

Embedded commands – These are sentences which have a command embedded within the sentence. ‘I don’t know whether you feel this product is right for you

Embedded questions - These are questions which are embedded within a sentence or statement. 'I'm just wondering what your plans are for next year'

Negative commands‘Whatever you do, do not think of a holiday you really want to go on soon’

Homophones – These are words which are pronounced the same as another word but have different meanings. ‘Buy/By now….’

Linguistic presuppositions – When you presuppose something is going to happen. ‘After you buy this product you will realise….’

Conversational postulates - These are questions which logically would be answered with a simple yes or no, but are really asking for more information or an action. 'Can you tell me your plans for next year?'

Universal quantifiers – a universal generalisation. ‘Every time you use our software you will always get better results’

Unspecified nouns, pronouns and verbs ‘Every person in there’. Which people? Where?

Null comparatives - the use of words to compare things which are not described. ‘This is the best by far.’ Compared to what?

Metaphors – the use of a story to evoke an emotional response from the client.


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