Mind Reading and Choosing What People Think

Persuasive communication and how perception counts more than what is said.

Diagram illustrating the components of mind reading to support a post about persuasive communication.

Science is now revealing the secrets of persuasive communication. Neuroscientists are beginning to explain the functions in our brains that enable us to perceive the intentions and perhaps even thoughts of others. New learning reveals how those with the necessary skills, can lead another person’s thinking.  

Rather than repeat explanations and evidence, I have picked out some influential articles: 


The Art and Science of Mirroring – Carol Kinsey Goman

It is likely that you will have heard of 'mirroring' as a technique for building rapport. Mirror neurons reflect the actions of others. These particular brain cells are widely associated with capacity for empathy.

Empathy is one of a pair of traits observable in top sales performers – empathy and ruthlessness. Good empathy helps sales people understand and sufficient ruthlessness enables them to take advantage.


Mirror Neurons Intro – Kevin Hogan

You may have caught yourself wondering what another person is thinking. Perhaps you are aware of posing a thought question, can I trust what I am hearing? Is he or she really interested or just playing along?

The stunning implication of mirror neuron research is that we have the ability to literally feel another’s person’s feelings. If we can feel anothers feelings, we can intuit their thoughts and judgements.

Perhaps more disturbing is the idea that this others can intuit our thoughts. Those who can employ their non-verbal signals on purpose, may have an edge over those who don’t or can’t.


How to Control Someone Else's Arm with Your Brain

This is a fascinating demonstration that illustrates the way our brains are a tightly integrated part of our bodies.  


Greg Gage | TED Talks

Stay with the Greg Cage talk. It starts a little slow. Hang in for the demonstration and be astonished.


So what should you do if you want to develop your sensory acuity and persuasive communication skills? What should you do if you want to learn how to read and control other people’s minds . . . or just defend your own?

  1. Before an important meeting, decide to notice the trivial things like posture, limb position, breathing, eye movement, facial expression, tone, cadence, intonation, volume, emphasis etcetera. Try to do this without disrupting the normal flow of the meeting. Don’t act on anything you notice to begin with, just observe.
  2. After the meeting, write down what you observed and reflect on its meaning.
  3. Do this for every meeting until it becomes habitual. It might take 20 or more meetings.
  4. Next, add in careful observation of your own nonverbal reactions in relation to the dialogue and the nonverbal signals of the people you observe. Expand your post meeting notes to include self-observations.
  5. Keep this up until you habitually pay much more attention to the body language of others and your own. Perhaps another 20 meetings or conversations.
  6. Next, include observation and use of nonverbal language in your meeting preparation. Plan to establish rapport. Note how you will know if you have succeeded. Plan how to lead the other person or people to think the thoughts you want them to and say the things you want them to say. The nine block model in module 2 of the Blackboard Sales Stages course may be useful for this purpose.

Keep following your development programme until it is second nature and master the ability to have others willingly and unconsciously follow your lead.

Article by Clive Miller


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