23 Jan 2017

The Trojan Horse Metaphor for Persuasion and Influence

Article on - The Trojan Horse Metaphor for Persuasion and Influence

What we can learn about influence from the story of the Trojan Horse?
According to Greek mythology, there once lived a group of people known as the Trojans. They lived in the city of Troy, where it was surrounded by huge tall walls and heavily guarded by capable soldiers. For a long time, the Trojans’ greatest enemies (the Greeks) have been trying to conquer the city but to no avail. Eventually the Greeks came up with a brilliant plan to take down the city of Troy. Pretending that they had been defeated, they left a huge wooden horse outside the city gates, and retreated to the nearby mountains.

Believing that they had emerged victorious, the Trojans eventually opened the gates and brought the huge wooden horse into the city. Unknown to the Trojans, the Greeks had actually planted some of their most capable soldiers in the wooden horse.When everyone was sound asleep during late night, the Greek soldiers came out of the wooden horse and opened the city gates, allowing the rest of the soldiers to flood into the city of Troy.

At last, the Greeks had conquered the city which was once perceived to be an impregnable fortress.  

Why most people struggle in influence?
While you have most probably heard the story of the Trojan Horse before, have you ever wondered how you could use what you have learned from the story to improve your ability to influence?

In fact the Trojan horse is a metaphor of how you could communicate to anyone in your life with greater influence. Just like the impregnable fortress we saw in the story, it is not difficult to detect an invisible barrier that tends to exist when you are communicating to someone. In psychology, we termed this as the Critical Faculty. This explains why you have probably often struggled to sell your products to your prospects, or why you have probably tried in vain to influence someone to do something.

Breaking the secret code of influence
Fortunately there are many different tools we may use to bypass the Critical Faculty and become more effective in influence. One of which is the use of linguistics. Since ancient times, many accomplishments and achievements of the human race, both positive and negative, have involved the use of language. When you seek to influence, persuade or otherwise change other people's minds, the language you use is also extremely important. Here, you are about to learn a set of persuasive language patterns that have been proven to help many people sell more effectively and build influence in decision making.
1)      Double Bind. When using this language pattern, you are generally limiting your client’s options by giving him/her two choices to pick from. However, unknown to the client, both of which will still lead to your desired outcome. An example of a double bind may go like this: “Would you prefer product A or product B?” 

2)      Presupposition. In the case of presuppositions, we are generally trying to make an assumption about something and suggest it as being true, although it may not always be the case. For instance, you may lead your prospect to the buying decision after delivering your sales presentation by saying, “Now that you have seen the benefits of using this product, I am sure you will want to seriously consider making this wise investment now?” 

3)      Tag Question. When using a tag question, you will need to include a question after a statement, with the intention of displacing resistance. An example of tag question is “I am sure you will want to retire before you reach age 60, don’t you?”

4)      Comparative Deletion. This is one of the most popular tools used by advertisers and companies to put their products or brand in a favourable condition. This is where a comparison is made between one’s product and others although it is not specified as to what or who the competitors are. An example of comparative deletion is “This product will give you a better experience.”

5)      Conversational Postulate. Here, we are trying to phrase any questions we intend to ask our prospects in a way that only elicits either a “Yes” or a “No” answer. An example of Conversational Postulate is “Can you see the benefits that this product will bring into your life?” The reason why this tool is so powerful because many studies have shown that most people are more likely to respond with a “Yes” when you have elicited at least 5-7 successive “Yes” from him/her previously.

Essentially, the few language patterns that I have just listed above are some really practical tools I have applied in many areas of my life. They are simple to use but promise incredible results in life.

Article contribution by Jacky Lim, a consultant and professional trainer with Excellence Edge International and Acme Achievers. For more information, do email to: [email protected]