Social Skills – Language – Influence

by pre., Friday, January 8th, 2010.

Last month we addressed how to influence others, and this month we’ll be discussing language. Language is, as far as we can tell, the most incredible tool for influencing other creatures that has ever evolved on this planet.

Think of it, just a few words uttered to you can transport your mind through time and space and have it simulate experiences in as much detail as the speaker can summon. Even impossible and incredible events can be played through in your mind just by speaking the right sequence of syllables.

This is truly a great trick which evolution as stumbled upon. Parents can teach their children about dangerous things without having to put their offspring in any actual danger. Friends can relay the experience of the day to each other and thus each of their minds can adapt and change as though they had experienced the full extent of both days.

More than this, language can pull out just the salient details of an experience, and so express it more quickly than the actual experience could have possibly happened. Look:

“I sat and watched for two full hours as the flower’s petals opened up around dawn and began to slowly track the sun, shining it’s bright yellow face into the sunlight.”

How long did it take to read that sentence? Ten seconds? Fifteen? Yet by allowing yourself to imagine the scene as it’s described your mind can simulate it and so gain the experience of a full two hour’s watching in just fifteen seconds!

Understanding this is the key to realizing how to use language most effectively in trying to influence others. We talked last month about syncing your emotional states, becoming of one mind, and then leading the people you seek to influence through the emotional journey which led you to your own position on the issue.

Building rapport and syncing you mind-states is only a part of the real skill though, to truly master the art of rhetoric, you need to pick the words you use to take people on that emotional journey carefully, cunningly, expertly.

In short, you need to use evocative language

Evocative Language

It’s tempting just to say visual language, flowery descriptive word-pictures of the way things in your story look, but you will remember, people have many thinking styles. Perhaps people predominately think visually, but they also think kinaestheticly, audibly, and perhaps most importantly emotionally.

To have maximum emotional impact, and so have your stories have their maximum effect, you really need to get your listener to simulate the experience in their own brain. You need to describe that experience in some detail, with words which provoke the appropriate sensations, and emotions in order to take them on a roller-coaster ride of emotional significance.

This is how you will have maximum influence.

Very occasionally, and usually just in technical issues where you’re trying to get someone to simply understand rather than agree, the most useful linguistic skill is to shorten the meaning into the smallest possible sentence. This is a great and useful skill, but do not use it when trying to enthral or convince. You need instead to take your time, to express the detail, the nuance, the emotional resonance of your story.

Usually the point of a conversation isn’t just to express meaning efficiently, it’s to take someone on an emotional journey, to make them feel what you felt, to create actual pictures in their mind, have them hear the sounds that you heard, have them experience the story the same was you did.

If you do this well, if you spin a good yarn, you will not only have a bigger influence on others, you will also gain their willing and eager cooperation in leading them on this emotional journey. You will receive their admiration because even if the story is sad people like to feel and they admire anyone who can help them to do it.

How to become more lucid

Guess. Go on!

Yep. Obviously: Practice

You can of course practice when alone, in front of a mirror or to a Dictaphone or into a sock-puppet. We encourage you to do these things, but that kind of excercise will not help you nearly as much as practice at real people, in real situations.

What you really need to do is to remember to try and use more evocative language at the time you are talking to people, any people, at any time. To keep that thought in the back of your mind so that your language selection will naturally become more ornate, more descriptive, so that you’ll learn to ponder on thoughts and mention the way things looked, they way they sounded, the way they made you feel. To do so using words and phrases which encourage your listeners to actually simulate the experience in their minds, to see what you saw, to feel what you felt, to touch what you touched.

The Meditation

In this month’s lucid dream you will dream that you are talking to someone, and that you are remembering, and succeeding, in using that more flowery and descriptive language. We’ll throw in some stock phrases and expect you to finish them. Things like “picture the scene, I was….” and “Try to imagine how I felt as I….

These stock phrases are useful not only to plant the explicit suggestion into your listeners minds that they will indeed run a detailed simulation of your description, but also encourage you, the speaker, to fill in the blanks. They will remind you that your language is supposed to be evocative, not just efficient.

You’ll be encouraged to work these phrases into your conversations, and to invent others like them.

In this way you’ll not only be practising as you dream, you’ll also be encouraged to pay mindful attention to the fact your are practising as you talk to people in waking life.

Social Skills – Language – Brain Programming

by pre., Friday, January 15th, 2010.

There is no other creature on this planet which can communicate with the same depth, the same level of abstraction, the same amount of detail, as human beings. Our languages are really the pinnacle of communication techniques developed by evolution. There is nothing in the animal, mineral, vegetable, fungal or micro-biotic worlds which even begin to match it.

A wolf may bark to his pack-mate during a hunt, a monkey may have a different call for “Danger! Run up the trees!” to “Danger! Get on the ground!”, a starling may shout at the top of his voice to help the flocking swarm move around him, and a bee may be able to dance a description of where the food is, but no other animal can describe the events that happened to it during the day in such detail that the lessons learned can be passed to another member of his species.

If a monkey wants to teach another monkey how to use a stick to dig up termites, he needs to actually show it happening, actually grab the other monkey’s attention, and a stick, and have one watch him poke the other into a hole. If a person wants to teach another person how to build a festive Christmas candle-holder he can just give a lecture. He can record it and put it on Blue Peter and teach a million kids at once.

As language evolved it enabled people to do something very special, something very evolutionarily advantageous, it enabled them to program each other’s brains.

Programming brains

Before language, learning was a time consuming process. To learn something about the world a creature would have to experience that thing, probably many times. It would have to physically witness it, likely suffer (or enjoy) the consequences of it.

Before language there was no way for one creature to download the result of it’s experience, the contents mind, into the mind of another creature.

Language changed all that, and it made our species incredibly powerful.

Now, rather than every individual in a tribe having to carry around in their skulls only their own experience of the world, every individual of a tribe can learn the experience of every single member of the tribe.

By telling each other stories about their experiences, the members of the tribe can have the other members of the tribe run the same thing in their minds. Learn the same lessons. Understand the same solutions. Furthermore, since language can be transmitted to many people at once, a single telling of a story can put that experience into a hundred different people at once!

Continually repeating the story allows it to be even more deeply embedded into the mind of the listener than it would be from merely one experience alone. Actually affect a mind more than participation. Language can actually be more powerful than experience itself. Stronger than reality!

Time Binding

More than even this, our language enables us to learn from the experiences of people long dead. As soon as one elder tells a growing youth in a tribe about the adventures he heard explained to him as a nipper himself, the experience of a person long dead has been allowed to alter and shape and benefit the mind of someone with a whole life still to lead.

This transmission of information from one generation to the next, and through them to subsequent generations, shapes the language itself. Languages evolve, they grow, and as each new generation learns that language they learn the gradually developed concepts, ideas, beliefs, archetypes, and embed them all into single phrases, single words. Entire generations worth of experience can be whittled down to just a few syllables worth of sound.

This is what Alfred Korzybski called Time Binding and Robert Anton Wilson refered to as the Jumping Jesus Phenomenon.

Every generation, every new human, takes a streamlined and abridged version of the entire history of human kind since the first human understood another’s utterance as a word, and adds to it their own experience before teaching it to their own children. Our language itself encodes the rapidly accelerating growth of knowledge which our cultures possess

Fictive Intercourse

Language allows something more than just the dry recitation of things already experienced, or heard. Those tellings, those utterances, can be changed by Chinese whispers or by errors and mistakes. Even by simple imagination. Impossible and incredible experiences can be generated in another human’s mind just by making up a story. Language gives us power, and it gives us fiction.

Language gives us culture, it gives us art, it goes us the very society in which we live, for all these things are passed from one generation to the next by the words we use, the words we invent, the sentences we utter to each other.

This is, of course, incredibly powerful!

But it also has dangers. We’ll speak of some of those dangers, and how to overcome them, next week.

Social Skills – Language – Dangers

by pre., Friday, January 22nd, 2010.

Last week we discussed the way a language’s meaning encodes the experience of masses of generations of people into a format suitable for moulding the mind of a person living in a culture, and allowing those who share that language to edit each other’s brains.

This is, of course, incredibly powerful, but it also has dangers.


Most of the advice you receive is useful, most of the stories you hear have useful lessons even if they’re fictional, most of the programming your brain will get will be well intentioned. However, some of it won’t be.


As soon as there is a way to program your brain, there will be people who wish to program it for their own ends. To manipulate you. To take advantage of you. People prepared to give you false or otherwise misleading information. To provoke in you unnecessary fear in order to scare you into doing something.


In the modern world you are exposed to an absolutely incredible amount of advertising. Messages designed to sell work best if they first evoke the emotion of wanting or needing. If they make you feel a lack of the thing they want to you buy.

These messages, these programs for your brain, aren’t helpful to anyone other than the advertiser. They can lower your confidence, and so your social status, if you start to feel incomplete, as though you need the Advertiser’s {X} to be whole.

Self Flagellation

Negative messages which repeat over and over don’t all come from advertisers. Indeed, the ones you hear most and probably believe the most, are the ones coming from your own internal monologue. The voice in your head repeating the phrases people used when they tell you you’re a failure, you’re dumb, you’re slow, you’re unsophisticated.

As we mentioned last week, linguistic programming can be more effective than reality. Rather than just experiencing a single failure, you can find yourself pondering many times a day not just that you failed, but that you are that failure. This is common, and incredibly self destructive.

Pseudo Science

Language can program your brain with the collected experience of your culture, it can teach you valuable lessons about things you have not yet encountered, it can teach you things about the world you could never learn alone. But not everything it can teach you is true, not every story describes a real experience not every emotional unfolding represents an accurate response.

When your mind is limited to the experiences it actually has, to things it actually sees and hears and feels, it can of course fall for illusions. But when your mind is also constructed from the instruction of others, when it can be built from second hand experience, it can be lied to. Either deliberately or by well intended mistake.

Rules, laws, theories and intuitions about the world which are simply mistaken can be given the emotional force of events actually witnessed.

It can feel right to assume these things are true, even when those feelings are just regurgitated copies for things someone else had you simulate by expressing.

Pseudo-science, folk-law and urban myths are born of our abilities to communicate. Obviously believing things which are not true can be detrimental to your understanding of the world, can lead to unprofitable behaviours, to mistaken conclusions, to wasted effort.


Language can be used to bind a whole lot of ideas together into a whole. To package up many concepts and give them one name, make them feel like one thing. When those packages are part-true, part-false, it can be hard to separate out which is which.

The religions do this well. Don’t believe God hates homosexuals? Then clearly you reject all of religion and are therefore a morally suspect outcast.

While statements like this are evidently nonsense, there are some who believe them, in one form or another. Believe that giving up their religion will mean they burn in hell. Believe that their belief in God is keeping them moral.

Religions can’t exist without language, without a mechanism to spread these complex abstract conglomerates of ideas from one brain to the next. A monkey could perhaps teach another monkey to do a ritual before a hunt, but it could never express the purpose of that ritual or the understanding of a parent-figure watching and judging.

That some aspects of religions are true, and that some of them feel good helps both the religion and likely those who hold it. However, trying to insist that there is no mistake in any doctrine of a religion, and insisting it must be swallowed wholesale, is certainly not beneficial to your well-being, to your path to true transcendence.

What can you do about it?

How does your brain determine which messages to repeat to itself? Which to believe and which to discount?

The messages from the churches, pseudo-scientists, advertisers, salesmen, manipulators and even from your own brain, which are repeated, are not necessarily those which are best for you. They are instead those that are best at getting themselves repeated.

This may sound trivial, but is in fact vital to understand. The content of your inner monologue, your sense of truthiness, the messages which others repeat to you, are not determined by correlation to the truth, but by correlation to the stuff already in your head. By how well it matches a pattern.

This is a complicated function of how emotionally arousing it is, how well it matches with current belief, how much those around you seem to believe it. This complex function will determine who you are, what you believe, your place in society, the worries and concerns you have, the pride and confidence you feel.

Which would all be impossible to change except for one aspect of that list which we haven’t mentioned yet. This complicated function is also determined by your conscious evaluation. You can change which messages you repeat to ourself, how much you discount those others repeat to you.

We’ll talk more about the study of the way messages get passed around and repeated in human society in the final lap when we discuss memes, but for now there is one essential message to take on board.

You have the power to make a conscious decision to change that function. To determine not to repeat or listen to the negative or untrue messages you hear. To determine to encourage the messages most positive to your life and discourage those which have adverse effects.

By just saying the right things to yourself, and saying them in emotionally impressive ways, with words which evoke strong visual imagery, you can take control and gradually be more and more responsible for programming your own brain.

The meditation this month will help you to learn that.

Social Skills – Language – Consciousness

by pre., Friday, January 29th, 2010.

As previously explained, language lets us program each others brains. It allows one human being to simulate the experience of another human being just by listening to the coded string of phonemes that the other speaks.

It can do more than simply allow one person to describe the physical events that they experienced. More than allow them to describe the tiger approaching. By using metaphors and similes based on shared experience in the outside world and common emotional responses, it can also describe and provoke actual mental states. In fact this is what you do, all the time, with every conversation you have. Transfer brain states between you.

This has tremendous implications for the very structure of human consciousness. If you doubt it, ponder this:

Imagine trying to teach a monkey how to meditate.

How would you even begin?

Every single day of your life people have been asking you questions like “How do you feel?” or “What do you think about this?” or “Would you like to do that?

We’ve talked a lot over the last few months about how a brain responds to practice.

What do you think the effect of practising asking and answering questions about your mental state dozens of times every day will have on those mental states themselves?

We suspect that a rat spends very little time looking at a painting and asking itself how it feels about that painting. Is it even possible to prompt yourself to ask how something feels without a language with which to do it?

This is the function of music, of paintings, of drama, of art in general. To provoke an emotional response and simultaneously the question “how do I feel about this response?” It practices the neural systems for self-consciousness. It fires, and strengthens the pathways which build the parts of the brain which monitor itself. It likely encourages neurons to grow feedback systems into all your systems for perception, emotion, even thought itself.

All this complicated self-aware mind machinery grew more and more practised as language evolved. Emotional states become more distinct as the words used to describe and provoke and practice them were developed. Each generation’s language improving and refining their very states of mind, their very consciousness.

Meditation is a very powerful force. The more you meditate on yourself, the more conscious of yourself you will become. But the very ability to teach meditation, to explain how it’s done, is built from a process with even more power. The process which taught you how to direct and use your brain in that versatile maner in the first place. The conciousness built by language.

And language does more than even this, because once a person learns how to talk, they internalise the process and then almost never stop doing it!

Stream Of Consciousness

Most people, it seems, have a more or less continuous stream of words running through their heads. Almost all the time. A running commentary on their life, always questioning, always tuning their brain states, pushing them towards the common well-worn and self-aware emotional states.

Since they have no language, this is something an animal simply can’t do. They can’t even tell themselves “come on, focus, concentrate on the task in hand.” How can you learn to do something difficult without the self-control to keep your attention on it? How can you learn to meditate without hearing the instruction to cast aside all thoughts and concentrate on the mantra? Without the ability to re-tell yourself that every time a distraction came along, it would surely be completely impossible.

Human being’s emotional states, their awareness, their very consciousness is channelled and directed and structured by their language in the same way a flow of water is contained and channeled by a system of canals. A person with a whole spectrum of words to describe their emotional states will have a more fine grained awareness, consciousness, of those emotional states.

Add a couple of million years worth of only those who are able to do this best surviving, a Darwinian evolution pushing our species towards better language skills, towards better consciousness, and you have the recipe for the difference between human and animal consciousness.

We have evolved to be able to learn to do it well, but we must still, to some extent, learn.

Knowing this, you can take it further!

The Meditation

We present a guided lucid dream designed to help you improve your use of language, and better direct that skill towards increased consciousness. Increased self awareness, confidence, and self control.

As usual, set this to quietly invade your consciousness first thing in the morning, ten minutes before you have to get out of bed. Let it influence your dreams. Learn the process so that when you find yourself lucid dreaming without the track’s help, you can still remember to do it without aid.

In the dream you will improve your use of language by dreaming that it’s improved, you’ll see yourself describing things with a wider and more precise language than usual. You’ll dream you’re using a greater number of more emotionally provocative superlatives. The dream will be loaded with suggestions that these things are growing in your waking life too, that you’re getting better at them.

As your vocabulary becomes wider, and your descriptions of things more vivid, your consciousness of things will inevitably increase.

You will also dream that your running stream of consciousness if changing, becoming more positive. That you are being less hard on yourself, praising yourself more often. You will find your constant running commentary on your life becomes more questioning, that you ponder your own awareness, your own consciousness, more often.

This will help you to become more aware of your emotional states, more conscious of your self, and your perceptions, your emotions, your thoughts and the world around you.

Guided Meditation File 24 – Language – Consciousness
Backing Music “Unchanged Lines” By Screw Jay
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