The book with the interesting title Unfair Secrets of Hypnotic Selling with NLP  was written under the pseudonym  Franz Anton Mesmer II. In spite of the implications of the title, this book has very helpful information about techniques of NLP regarding presenting information in a powerful manner.  For our purposes it is important to understand concepts of “light trance” and “embedded commands” as well as framing issues and negotiation ideas which the book discusses. The author also discusses NLP concepts of mirroring and pacing as a means of developing rapport with the other party. He also suggests that everything should be anchored.

We know about anchoring. It is using  a specific sign gesture or action in connection with a statement so that the sign gesture or action without the words will produce in the mind of the listener the words themselves without ever saying it.

The author also recommends the use of quotes. By that he means when you refer to the source of the information as someone other than yourself you increase the acceptance of the statement by the listener. i Ican be as simple as saying “I heard somebody say once”

An embedded command is a message to the consciousness that is hidden in ordinary conversation and is invisible to the conscious mind. The premise behind the concept is that the unconscious mind functions only in positive thoughts, never negative. It therefore disregards the negative portion of a statement. The positive portion of the statement registers however with the unconscious mind.

For example take this statement: ” You don’t have to believe that what the defense says about this is simply not true until you have heard all the evidence.The author says that the unconscious mind hears only the positive statement in italics . He calls this an embedded command which registers with the unconscious mind.

Furthermore, certain phrases are powerful such as ” how would it feel….” or “can you imagine” and “can you remember a time .”  Certain words also are powerful . ” Good feeling, magically, deeply, naturally, surprisingly, imagine, visualize, wondering, remember”  are examples.

Gerry Spence is fond of saying “the mirror is always working.”  By that he means that people reflect back what they receive. in the book the author describes people as a radio in that the radio operates by vibrating at the same frequency as a radio station. People are like that. For example if you are happy, people around you tend to be happy. We know that pacing and mirroring other people develops rapport when done correctly. It is the copying  of the rhythm of the other person by breathing when they breathe, talking at the same pace and identical body language.  Another point made is that salesman are taught to nod their head yes and smile as well as act happy because they’re trying to get the customer to say yes .

We know that people have favorite ways of receiving information. They involve the senses: seeing, hearing , smelling and feeling.  Communicators are taught to speak in terms of the listenor’s preferred way to receive information. The book suggests such questions as: “How would it feel if…. ” How would it look if you…” “How would it sound if you….” and “How sweet would it smell if you… ”

His suggestions regarding getting information without interrogation are worth thinking about. H suggests such phrases as “if I were to ask you what is important to you about …..” And  “what is the most satisfying thing about ….”

The book also discusses Milton Erickson’s concept of accepting without argument whatever was said by the patient .  The author draws an analogy of this with the sport of judo . He points out that in Judo one does not resist but rather takes advantage of the other persons movements.  This made me think of the importance in jury selection that whatever behavior or talk the other person is exhibiting, you bend with it. You don’t resist it. you never give the prospective juror anything to push back against.

The word ” imagine” causes someone to momentarily reflect and is an opportunity to generate a feeling which might encourage action. Good lawyers encourage people to believe that if they find in favor of their client they will be proud of doing it.  Here’s an example of creating a positive feeling about doing what you are asking: “Imagine a time, perhaps a few months from now or a few years from now , when you look back with pride at the verdict for the plaintiff , a decision you will have told your friends about with pride , and feeling really good knowing that you did the right thing . A decision your friends will be proud you made.

I also Like his idea regarding the phrase “A part of you…” For example, “I suspect there is a part of you that doesn’t like corporations , but there is probably another part that likes some corporations .  For example, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are corporations. As you picture the good work that these corporations do, doesn’t it seem to crowd out pictures of a bad corporations and make them fade away?”  Note the words in italics which are embedded commands.

I found this a very interesting book that those of you with some background in NLP will find has ideas worth considering.


  1. Some of those are good ideas for advocacy, but I think the whole approach is tainted by use of the NLP label. NLP carries no weight in cognitive science fields, because it has no empirical support. Better to simply call most of those ideas “advocacy tips” and move beyond the pseudoscience.

  2. Good post. Just finished a major trial in which the jury returned a very substantial verdict for a number of sick Oregon veterans. Lead counsel is a huge proponent of the NLP and operated from these principles throughout trial. Regardless of Max’s critique, there is certainly something that operates. But I also see some serious dark side to these tools. While there is strong persuasive power in some of these techniques, I seriously doubt that proponents and acolytes correctly understand the specifics of how things work. Or if they do, it is very hard to use and turn on and off and creates its own set of risks. All of that said, I am ordering the book and will likely start to integrate some of the thinking into my cases going forward.

  3. Fantastic article. I have used anchoring techniques without realizing they were a component of NLP. I don’t think we need the neuroscience community to support it with imperial evidence before we can embrace it. In NJ we can’t ask a jury for a specific dollar amount. We have to use a time unit argument. Hopefully the unit anchors the jury to a dollar amount. This has been my best friend!

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