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How Does This Stuff Work? Part 2 - The language of manipulation
This is the second post looking at the workings of Statement Investigation, and this one deals with the language of manipulation.
We see this every day in the adverts and marketing messages that attempt to persuade us to buy products and services
“All of these products are just $10.99!!!”
“This offer is only available until the end of the month”
“The amazing new service from Smiths Bank”
“If you love your family, you get this new car tomorrow”
“Thousands of people love our new shampoo”
We tend to spot the manipulation and persuasion in these advertising messages (unless they’re REALLY good!). However, advertisers aren’t the only ones using the language of manipulation in the hope that we’ll think differently.
Scam artists, bad colleagues, rogue friends and even our kids will use the same tricks.
What to watch out for:
Words that add nothing to the MEANING of a sentence.
“Can you do a little something for me?” means the same as “can you do something for me?” Why had the word little been added? Why are they attempting to make the “something” sound small?
“I absolutely deny that” means the same as “I deny that”. You can either deny something or admit it. So why does the person saying this want their denial to seem bigger than the biggest possible?
Statement Investigation looks for the these needless works and asks: what are the possible reasons these have been added?
Words that “convince” us
“Obviously, we can do that”. Is it obvious? Or is this person seeking to convince you that it’s obvious?
“Of course, I had to buy the extra insurance too”. Did they have to, or did they prefer to?
Again, Statement Investigation looks for these convincers and asks: why have they been added?
Like advertisers, manipulative people will seek to persuade you that you are out of steps with the “norms” if you don’t go along with them.
“People have been saying to me all week that there’s something up with you.” Have they? Or is this person projecting their own views onto mythical people, so it feels like they are sharing the views of more than just them?
“This is not how normal people behave.” This is an attempt to say, “if you don’t agree with me, you’re not normal”. Beware of those who use this type of line.
“What you need to understand is…” This might seem like a kind-hearted way of giving you knowledge. The reality is, it is often used to belittle you and make you fall in line with another way of thinking.
Statement Investigation weighs every single word a person says or writes and asks “why has this been chosen?” When it spots clusters of manipulative indicators, it will conclude that manipulation is most likely happening with that person.
When the words are straightforward, with very little that doesn’t need to be said, it can be concluded that manipulation isn’t present.
When you see words that could be attempting to get you to think in a certain way, wanting to persuade you of a “truth” or convincing you of “facts”, that is when you want to be alert for manipulation.