Manipulation is all around us, all the time. What we can do to gain back control over our subconscious responses is to increase awareness. In this article, I will demonstrate how manipulation works and how you can protect yourself.
If you want to know how to help someone to get back the control in a situation where you think he might be a subject to mind-programming, check out this free e-book.
What is manipulation?
According to Wikipedia:
“Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the behavior or perception of others through abusive, deceptive, or underhanded tactics. By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at another’s expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive.”
Manipulation works mostly on the subconscious level
How? It follows the steps of:
- Getting the Attention
- Bypassing the so-called Critical Factor
- Triggering unconscious response
Let’s see in detail, how people use it in everyday life for commercial purposes.
1. Influencing through metacommunication
Mirroring Body language
We naturally reflect the body language of other people with whom we want to get closer. That is how we typically tune in. These reactions give us the feeling of belonging to the same circle, being accepted and safe.
Experts know this and use the same principle as a means of influencing.
For example: If a salesperson mirrors your moves, and let’s say when you cross your legs, he crosses his arms, or as you lean forward, he shifts slightly forward as well, that means he is trying to create a rapport with you. He wants to wake trust and build understanding. On a subconscious level, you become more receptive to his ideas.
Mirroring the language use
The same way as we tune into the body language of others, when we want to create an atmosphere of understanding and harmony, we also start to use similar language patterns. We might even repeat the words of our partner.
What this does, again, is that you become more attentive and responsive on a subconscious level. That does good in a family or therapeutic situation, but you need to be cautious when people do that for commercial purposes, where they have something to gain from manipulating you.
2. Influencing the subconscious
through the use of language
There are specific language patterns you need to look out for if you suspect that someone tries to manipulate you.
“I wonder if…”
“Do you believe…”
“What would you say if you were…”
Demonstrating a nasty real-life example of sales manipulation
I heard a highly successful insurance agent say the following to his client:
“I wonder if you have ever imagined the time when your son will turn 18.
You have mentioned that his dream was to become a doctor.
Now let’s suppose for a minute, just for a minute – and it won’t be far from the truth considering the current financial trends and the way the tuition fees grow year by year – that as your son finishes school you have to say to him: “Sorry Son, we can’t afford your medical studies.”
What would it make you feel? How would you look into his eyes?
I am a parent. We all know that no parent ever wants to say anything like that. That is why it is so important to make investments. Not so much for ourselves, but to ensure the future of our children.
I would not offer this package to you if I weren’t sure that it would give your son a solid start.”
What did the manipulator do?
- He activated the subconscious by turning on imagination
- He referred to a piece of information he got from the client about his son. When we speak about our family, pets or hobbies, we instantly switch over to the subconscious mode. He also showed attentiveness, active listening which creates strong rapport.
- By “supposing” he made the client visualize a particular event in a certain way. That can distort the view of reality.
- He brought up “logical reasons” (the financial trends and tuition fees) in a way that created a sense of uncertainty, a loss of security. Safety is one of our most basic needs. Creating fear is shakes us at our foundations.
- He implanted the sensation of shame and created a desire to avoid that. (“How would you look into his eyes?”).
- He then strengthened the rapport by saying: “I am a parent.”
- Continuing with “We all know that…” he introduced his idea and the attached feeling of guilt and shame, as a general truth.
- Thus, he created the desired inner tension and prepared the client for the offer.
- His offer is a solution on the subconscious level against the feeling of shame and guilt towards the son.
- All he had to do then was to attach the ideas of selflessness and love to the product: “Not so much for ourselves, but to ensure the future of our children.” or “…give your son a solid start.”
- He also used his authority and the trust he built up in his client to reestablish a sense of security this time attached to the product: ” I would not offer this package to you if I weren’t sure that…”
In this example, we saw a master at work. This can happen at a meeting, as well. If you want to take back the control and help others to get out of this subconscious state of mind, download this e-book.
3. Sensory channels activate the subconscious mind
Goal: to get the people in a hyper suggestive state and generate more sales or gain influence over them.
Our senses activate the parts of the brain that belong to the subconscious. That way they are like keys that open your mind and bring up entire networks of associations.
Let’s see them in a nutshell.
The use of the aroma of coffee, vanilla, chocolate, etc. is an excellent tool to wake positive, comfortable associations. Many stores use it for putting their clients in a positive mood and create an open mindset.
Beats that are in line with the heartbeat of the human heart affect us profoundly. About 60 beats per minute have a strong influence on the mind. You can hear them in shops, movies or sometimes websites.
Imagined or actual pictures have an essential impact on us. Photos that are showing faces, positive emotions bring up feelings and associations on both the conscious and the subconscious level. A smiling young couple on an advertisement will trigger the desire for that passion. The ad is conditioning our subconscious to accept the product as a way of achieving that.
The subtle change of light keeps attention. The focus of the light directs our focus. The colors or warmth of the lamps also influences our moods.
Specific colors trigger specific associations. Shops, the advertising industry, and marketing professionals use their effect to increase sales, etc.
A hot drink brings up positive associations. Like hot chocolate or latte macchiato. Used in sales to bring people into a comfortable, more suggestive state of mind.
A sweet drop or a piece of chocolate acts as a trigger for the feeling of being rewarded. That opens the mind and makes it more receptive.
And so on.
What to do?
Although you can’t entirely stop these factors affecting your nervous system, by knowing how these things influence your brain, you have more control over your response.
For example, when you go to a warehouse, and you notice a soft melody playing, or a sweet vanilla fragrance, or pictures depicting laughing love-birds, you can ask yourself: “Am I buying impulsively now?”
“Would I buy the same thing anywhere else?”
“Is it the feeling I like about this product, or the product itself ?”
“What do I want to feel by this product?”
4. Making us feel a certain way
In the above example, we saw how subconscious triggers are used to evoke a feeling in us.
We will go into detail in another post dedicated to emotional manipulation entirely. Here we will go through the list of emotions triggered for various purposes
Shame and guilt
These are the two of the most basic and negative feelings. People who feel ashamed become easily manipulated because they turn passive and self-rejective.
People evoke fear as a way of manipulation to:
make the person do things to avoid it
or trigger aggression, and after that, the manipulator provides a target and causes the person to act like a bull that chases the red flag.
For example, we can show an ideal family with a beautiful mother, whose children are skipping merrily around her while she opens a box of chocolate. With that, we can trigger mothers who have a suppressed feeling of not being good enough to buy the product to imitate that sense of a smart, self-confident mother who is in control of her harmonious family.
We should never underestimate the power of pride over people. We unknowingly often connect it with the sensation of inferiority or superiority.
Feeling of inferiority and superiority
We can quickly sell premium products by triggering these feelings. These people will perceive the product as something that makes them exceptional and unique.
Just think how Coca-Cola connected love with Coke. The desire for that feeling is extreme.
Lack of confidence
Feeling of safety
How can you stop people manipulating you by triggering emotions?
Whenever you sense that someone triggers your emotions, you should instantly turn your attention to yourself.
Ask yourself: “What do I feel right now?
“What evoked this feeling?”
“Do I want to feel this way?”
“Does the other person want me to feel this way? If so, what is his gain?”
“Am I being manipulated to have this feeling?”
“Do I choose to feel this way?”
Your subconscious knows very well when you are a subject of manipulation. It has all the answers to the above questions. With a little practice (train your mind in self-hypnosis to put these questions regularly) you will automatically block attempts that are supposed to make you feel a certain way.
What can you do?
First, you have to become aware of these patterns. Then can ask yourself: “Do I truly need this product or do I simply feel that because this person is so nice and attentive?”
“What do I gain? Is it in my best interest?”
“Why is he saying this? What is his motivation?”
“Do I feel comfortable to say: no?”
There are techniques build on the general disinclination of people to say no. So they create an atmosphere that makes it even harder. These people put you in a position where saying no would make you feel bad.
“Who gains the most if I say yes?”
“What is my gut feeling concerning this decision?”
Our intuition often warns us that what we do is not in our interest. What we need to become aware of, however, is that subconsciously triggered feeling can also feel like a “gut feeling.” We need some experience to be able to distinguish between them, as both belong to the subconscious.
There is a simple, but a pretty handy technique that connects you with your intuition and helps you to detect manipulation.
If you want to know more about how to recognize these techniques and how to protect others from being influenced, download the free e-book.