Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Persuasion: How to “Ju-Jitsu” a Core Belief

As a marketing consultant and copywriter with a focus on global social/environmental change, I read a ton of books and articles on persuasion. It’s a crucial skill for me to be able to understand what our brains, hearts, and bodies really want in order to move forward–whether it’s to buy a product, pick up a free report, or take an action to change the world.

As a result, I read a lot of e-mail newsletters from marketers–one of them is Harlan Kilstein, who’s been sending a very powerful and useful series of e-mails outlining the principles in his NLP copywriting course. Today, he told a story about an incredible act of persuasion by the famous hypnotist Milton Erickson. His patient was a deeply religious Christian who had farted loudly in a very public situation (while presenting to a room full of people)–and was so convinced she had committed some absolutely unpardonable sin that she became a recluse, fleeing from all human contact and hiding behind grocery delivery service so she never had to go out.

Rather than trying to beat her head against the metaphorical wall trying to convince the patient that this was crazy, Erickson went right into her core belief and used it to leverage change:

He opened up an anatomy book and told her no human engineer could make a valve that let out air but contained liquid and solids, and air.

He told her she needed to respect God’s creation.


Wow, indeed! That is about the most powerful harnessing and flipping of a core belief I’ve ever come across–and if it had been up to me, even though I’ve studied persuasion for years, I don’t think I could have ever taped into that powerful belief in a way that completely turned this woman’s life around.

Erickson went on in the therapy to actually train her to fart–all because he structured it in such a way that she totally had to accept
the truth of his statement, within her own belief system, even though it contradicted all her behavior since the farting incident.

Wow, wow, and wow, again!


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