I read an interview with Thom Hartmann that was not only politically interesting, but had some good insight on communications. Hartmann has written a book Cracking the Code involving communications. Regarding communications he noted that:
"[techniques] have to do with pacing and using different modalities as you speak."
That’s a fundamental law of communication: it’s not what you say, it’s what is heard that counts. From a political communications standpoint, he says the Democrats have had really stupid advisor’s for the last two decades and the Republicans have had very slick professionals who understand both psychology as well as marketing. He goes on to talk about communications generally and says:
"If you want to teach somebody something, they have to be in a kind of trance state. And I refer to the techniques for bringing that on as "inducing the learning."
That made me think of the late Milton Erickson MD, a psychiatrist who was famous for his treatment of patients through a form of hypnosis. Erickson believed the unconscious mind was always listening. He felt there were different levels of a trance and even if the patient was not in a deep trance, suggestions could be made which had a hypnotic influence as long as they found some resonance at an unconscious level. He felt this was true even if the patient was or wasn’t aware of what was happening. He felt we are in trances naturally and frequently as, for example, when we are "absent minded." A confused mind means the conscious mind is occupied and the unconscious is available for suggestions without screening by the conscious mind. His well known "hypnotic handshake" was based on this idea. It involved interrupting a normal handshake and while the other person was in a temporary confused state, quickly inducing an indirect suggestion to the unconscious mind.
Richard Bandler studied Milton Erickson’s ideas and developed Neuro Linquistic Programing (NLP) with John Grinder. NLP offers very helpful techniques for reaching the unconscious mind in communications. It has been a proven means of improving communications using Erickson’s concepts and more.
Then there is the example of the late John Alan Appleman who was a nationally known trial lawyer for his success in the court room. John taught what he called the "waking suggestions."
He believed one can communicate to the unconscious mind of the jurors without putting them into a deep trance. He said the steps involved first, that the jury have implicit confidence in the person who is making the suggestion. Second, that the suggestion is one the unconscious mind finds readily acceptable as being fundamentally right and fair. Third, that the advocate project complete confidence the jurors will act on the suggestion and do what is being suggested. Lastly, that the advocate implant the idea that if the jurors act on the suggestion they will be glad they did so in future years ahead.
The research by Dr. Clotaire Rapaille, the marketing genius, all involve methods of by passing the conscious mind of the focus group to their unconcious mind. All of the concepts involve the significance of what goes on below a conscious level and should be carefully studied by trial lawyers.
Hartmann also said Ronald Regan, FDR and Jack Kennedy where three of the great communicators to be in the white house. He says what made them great was the fact they talked about their vision for American, about their story of America and gave Americans a sense of what they thought it could be. In addition, they used "moving toward pleasure" strategies rather then "pain avoidance" strategies in their communications. That is, they held up an ideal to strive for that would make us proud of ourselves. Lastly, he says, they communicated emotion andalways used a story and emotion to pass along information.
This is the truth of what all of the extensive research shows about communications. The first truth is that communication is not what we say. Rather it is what the other person heard. Second, that we need to communicate in language people understand. That means by stories and with metaphors. If we are going to represent our clients well we must learn the methods of communication that work.