I was reading an article about a man in show business who is a master pickpocket among other talents. It described a woman accusing him of having stolen missing rings during a performance and how he dealt with it. The article said "he was using an old sales technique called 'feel, felt, found' in responding" I had a vague recollection of reading about this technique before, but couldn't remember what it meant so I looked it up.
What I learned is that the idea is intended as a technique for sales people to use when dealing with a customer's objections, but I
thought it had better application to dealing with others when they have an objection to us or our opinions.
Here's how it works. The "feel, felt, found" concept involves first telling the other person you fully understand how they feel. Next, pointing out the feelings they have about the subject have been felt by others, but then noting that these people have found a different view point after looking into it. Using this approach, one first accepts and identifies with the other person by telling them you understand how they feel. Next you point out that other people have felt exactly the same way. Then you explain that when these people have looked into further they have found that it wasn't that way after all.
Here's an example of a sales person dealing with an objection:
I know how you feel and I fully understand why you feel that way. In fact, other people have said they felt the same way too. What I've found is that when they actually tried it they found it wasn't a problem at all.
The psychology behind the idea is that by understanding how they feel you create rapport with them. When you talk about other people feeling that way too, you move the focus to an objective place they are more likely to trust that isn't you. They mentally become part of that group, but then you move the group to a new position about the subject.
Certainly it is true that we are always better off not to start off saying the other person is wrong. The first step in this technique is always a good idea – expressing that we understand how they feel. As to the second step, it is usually true that there are others who share the same viewpoint as the person you are dealing with, so that step can be an honest statement as well. From a persuasion standpoint, Lastly, it makes sense to express your contrary view by saying others have changed their mind by what they have found on careful investigation rather than simply saying "you are wrong." I thought it a diplomatic way of dealing with contrary views from our own
But, the man in the article employed one other psychological device – an embedded command. An embedded command is a Neruo-Linquestic Programing (NLP) technique for planting in the subconcious mind a presupposition that the person will do or think something. It is subtle and indirect. Here's an example from the article. After the "feel, felt, found" application the man said to the other person:
"Once we eliminate the possibility that I stole your rings, then you'll be able to think more clearly and figure out what happened to them."
The indirect suggestion was they would eliminate the possibility he had taken them. They would think more clearly (implying they were now using confused thinking) and that, together, they would figure out what really happened. In fact this kind of indirect suggestion is more powerful that would first appear.
By the way, what actually happened was the person had left the rings in their room and had never had them at the performance.
So, there are my communication lessons for today. I'm not sure why I thought this was important to share with you, but maybe you'll find it informative if not useful to you.