[Articles on Communication][Freeing the Mind]

EMBEDDED COMMANDS

Psychologists say that subliminal perception doesn't work as a persuader. That is, having secret messages in communication is ineffective. This is interesting because advertisers have used this and similar techniques, and they have claimed it sometimes produces remarkable results. The use of subliminal advertising as such, is I believe banned. But advertisers have used arrangements of items in an advertisement, for example, to spell a naughty word. We recognise naughty words very easily and these advertisements draw us to them without our knowing why.

Have you ever seen the experiment using two pictures of the same girl and being asked which is more attractive? Everyone picks one picture over the other, although almost no one knows how the two pictures are different. There is only a slight difference. In one the pupil size is bigger. This indicates interest or excitement. Although we are not consciously aware of the reason, we are attracted to the picture with the larger pupils.

This demonstrates we are affected by apparently slight differences which we cannot consciously recognise.

The hypnotist, Dr Milton Erikson used embedded commands. These are commands that are mixed up with other language. The command words are spoken slightly differently from the others, say spoken more softly, or with a slightly different pitch. For example:

Who KNOWS what will happen in this field of research? There could be an (h)ITCH NOW in one of the projects.

The words in capitals are spoken differently, and the error in grammar serves wonderfully to distract. When you have finished scratching your nose, you may reflect you are not the only one.

The words in the hidden command can be stretched out over several sentences. We tend to remember what is emphasised. We do not do this consciously, but our unconscious mind does the job for us.

Let's look at a sales example. The salesman is talking to the client who has the order form in front of him.

Notice this SIGN of quality (pointing to the quality mark with his pen). And you know we are offering you a good deal, if you HEAR what I am saying. (Gestures with pen as if offering it to the client).

Embedded commands bypass the conscious mind and avoid resistance. If the command were uttered plainly, it might encounter resistance. But if it is slipped in as an embedded command, it does not involve resistance. After all, you haven't said what the listener thinks you have said.

I don't know about YOU, but I FEEL this is very interesting. Some people get too EXCITED ABOUT IT. Don't you agree?

People who use embedded commands plan very carefully what they are going to say. However, some people do it unconsciously. Remember, the words can be placed over several sentences. And then they PRACTICE them.

THIS is a very insidious TECHNIQUE.

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Most Recent Revision: 20-Mar-99.
Copyright 1998, 1999 Ken Ward,
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