Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
Words in papers, words in books,
Words on TV, words for crooks,
Words of comfort, words of peace,
Words to make the fighting cease,
Sometime ago before my move to the forest I attended an event, in my then local area, entitled “Magic at the barn”. Stage on behalf of local charities it provided amateur and professional illusionists, magicians and mentalists of various standing and ability, with an opportunity to showcase their acts.
I am extremely interested in the concept, principles and methodology of mentalism. The use of influence to exploit human nature are much the same as those used by fraudsters and social engineering (sic).
For every lie there has to be deception – but deception does not necessarily involve a lie.
Professor Albert Mehrabian in his article “Decoding of Inconsistent Communications” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1967 first highlighted the importance of verbal and nonverbal messages and introduced what is commonly known as the 7%-38%-55% rule. This rule is the stock in trade of the “Human lie detectors and body language gurus” who ply their trade online. Whilst Mehrabian’s proposition related to very focused and specific circumstances and has been widely misrepresented as the make-up of all intra-personal communication it does highlight the undisputed link between what we say verbally and what our bodies say.
Concrete words, abstract words,
Crazy words and lying words,
Whilst I agree that nonverbal communication plays a pivotal role in effective communication I don’t subscribe to the theory that in all interactions words only account for around 7% of the process.Words are the primary way in which we relay our message our nonverbal behaviour assists in directing that message.
In neuro-linquistic programming (NLP) the premise that we mainly operate on auto -pilot conforming to established patterns of behaviour is a fundamental principle which manifests itself in the use of embedded commands – hidden messages within a communication which speak directly to the unconscious mind. As a non practicing NLP practitioner I am aware of how powerful these verbal cues can be if used correctly – as evidenced by the results of my current work with Sales professionals at Volvo Trucks UK.
Whilst used correctly and ethically embedded commands are a useful tool in many circumstances, seeing them used alongside “conscious hypnosis” in the name of entertainment to me clearly evidenced the dangers of their misuse to manipulate and deceive.
Today in our technology enabled lives we are bombarded with messages all our waking hours from various media sources so how easy would it be for marketeers, Sales man and fraudsters to embed messages or information which bypasses our conscious mind?
The answer extremely easy as evidenced by a study undertaken at Glasgow University in 2012. In this experiment participants were provided with spoken messages via headsets and were required to press a button after each message if they thought it contained the truth. The messages relayed were based on the semantic illusion theory the most famous example of which is the message;
“How many animals of each kind did Moses take into the Ark”
Obviously this is not a true statement as it was Noah not Moses but this experiment evidenced that if a statement like this is delivered in the right way and “sounds” true we will accept it.
Another example is the Barnum or Forer effect again much loved by mind readers and astrologists which refers to the tendency for people to accept generic personal feedback consisting of relatively trivial statements as being highly accurate (Tobacyk & Milford, 1988).
So,what is the relevance of this here today? It is in my view extremely relevant in fact it could cost everything – our money and our very identity.
The principle of what is now known as social engineering is to use human nature against us to the advantage of another.
Organisations are very adept now at installing high tech monitoring systems to maintain the security of their data but every system has its weak point and invariably that is the human element.
Emails, social media, on line dating, there are so many ways now to use words as trojan horses to influence, misdirect or deceive us. Why send 1000s of hopeful emails asking to help get money out of an African princes embargoed account when you can send one from a trusted associate asking to meet for a drink at a new venue shown on an attachment or gain an individuals confidence through manipulation of their unconscious mind.
Understanding how human beings think and behave are vital skills for anyone in business. However it is a dying art as we rely more and more on technologically mediated communication.
Words are like a certain person
Who can’t say what they mean
Don’t mean what they say
Wordy Rappinghood – The Tom Tom Club
Oh and by the way without going back tell me, did I go to the “Magic at the barn” event?
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