A Mind Control Technique Mastered By Marketers, Media And Now…
The kids ran into the restaurant like they owned the place. A stern voice from me calmed them down, at least for the moment.
The hostess looked alarmed. Still, she greeted us with a smile. An interesting conversation followed:
“Hi, three people today?” she said
“It’s a beautiful day to eat outside. If you’ll follow me you can have your pick of tables.”
Without thinking I agreed and she ushered us outside.
Like she said, we had the outside to ourselves. It wasn’t until later I realized what happened.
Planting A Seed
Did you notice? She never asked if we wanted to sit outside. She led us. There were a few big crowds inside, including a party. No doubt, she saw my kids and decided they might be a nuisance to others.
Telling me they didn’t want us inside would have been insulting. Instead, she used a subtle technique to lead me to that conclusion.
First, she made a simple comment about how nice it is to dine outside. That was the setup.
Next, she presupposed we wanted to eat outside.
“If you’ll follow me you can have your pick of tables”
She never asked:
“Do you want to sit outside?”
She assumed the answer would be yes. Of course, I could have interrupted and requested to eat inside. It happened so fast I didn’t have time to think. In fact, it wasn’t until writing in my journal that I realized what happened.
That’s the power of a well-crafted presupposition. The receiver never notices. They simply go with the flow.
Presupposing is not just a tactic for crafty restaurant hosts.
Copywriters, political writers and media use this tactic all the time. Unless you’re looking for it, you never notice it.
Crafting Your Own Presupposition
Putting it into practice is simple. It’s more mechanical rather than creative.
You assume at the beginning of the argument that the answer to the first question or statement aligns to your follow up question.
Let’s look at a standard line of questioning or persuasion.
Start with either:
A question with a yes or no answer
A statement that makes an assertion.
Ask or explain: why, how, how much, what
Instead of that pattern, assume the answer to the first question is yes or your assertion is a given. Only state the follow up.
Let’s take this standard line of reasoning as an example.
- This fitness program works for all body types.
- Here’s why it works for all body types.
Skip the first statement and rephrase with one of these:
What makes this fitness program work for all body types?
Here’s how this fitness program works for all body types.
Mass Media Experiment
Here’s a typical example you hear in the media.
If I ask you this question:
“Why is the mayor so averse to change?”
That question presupposes the mayor is, in fact, averse to change. You’re asked to defend why without being asked if you agree with the original premise.
Try this exercise. Watch your favorite news channel. Take note of all the “presuppose” questions. The frequency will surprise you, no matter what your political persuasion.
Presupposition is a powerful tool. Want some other tricks? Get my free guides on persuasion and creativity here. Oh, If you liked this story, click the ❤ so others may find it.