There is a competition running at the moment, sponsored by a technology billionaire in the States, to come up with the best possible message to broadcast out into the cosmos to possible alien civilisations. The prize for the winning message is $1m and a British group of scientists are amongst those competing. Interestingly, this team all agree that writing such a message is important, but they are split over the question of whether, once written, the message should actually be sent. What, for example, if we get the attention of a civilisation very different to ours and they decide to come and pay a hostile call (goes the thinking against).
The question I would ask these people is “What result do you hope to achieve from sending the message?”
It is so tempting to send messages. We are all sending messages all of the time.
Imagine a woman sitting alone in a bar. A man goes across to her and says “Hey Babe, you seem like you need company. You know, I’m a pretty sensitive guy and I can sense these things. I’m a natural empath. Do you like dancing? I bet you do. I love to dance. Let’s have a drink and then maybe go dancing. I promise you a whole lot of fun. Thrills and spills.”
The guy is wearing his best Friday night gear and he is handsome and thinks these are his best lines, but the woman turns round and says “**** off mate!”… and possibly he retires hurt. Both of them have reinforced some of their negative beliefs about certain members of the opposite sex. They will probably carry this extra baggage to future possible hook-ups.
In NLP we say: “The meaning of the communication is the response you get” In other words, whatever you THINK you might be trying to express is irrelevant if the other person understands something very different.
Maybe the guy thought he was saying “I really like you, physically at least, and I would love to find out more about you and see if we click.”… whilst the woman heard a smothering, “Me me me me me me me” from him. And it is what she heard that counts, because that brings him a particular result, a result he doesn’t want.
So if we were to send a message into space to unknown aliens, what would they hear, I wonder? And what would we like them to hear? What exactly is the result we want from such a message? With such a poor record of even getting the results we want from each other on this planet with the messages we send out, can we possibly imagine how to frame something wonderfully in unknown-alien lingo? And what IS it that we want to frame? Love for those aliens? “Love” means a certain set of stuff to me (images, sounds, memories, feelings etc.) and something else to you… and to the aliens? Who could say?
Let’s go back to that bar. It could be that the man has a particular idea about his attractiveness , about the effort he has made to look nice and so forth. He might have a view about his chances with the woman. He might be in a particular mood: e.g. he might have that happy-hour-on-a-Friday energy. He might have various inner dialogues going on about proving his attractiveness, options for the night, memories of previous pick-ups that went well or badly etc. etc. . Fine, this is all normal. We all do this. Now, what if (instead of putting that all into a shop-front to present himself in a make-or-break, 1-minute spiel) he sweeps all his stuff away. What if he goes across ready simply to find out about HER view/model of the world, her energy that day and the things that are really important to her.
Now, if she wants to be alone, full stop, then he will still have about as much chance with her as a PPI cold call will with a person who knows full well they never took out PPI, and might well elicit the same amount of irritation. But if he can, in one or two sentences, let her start to give clues about what makes her light up, and then use that to show her that he ‘gets’ that, that he gets her take on the world and can honour it, then she will feel amazing… and she might even think that she would like to spend more time with him.
Imagine that. Imagine if when we sent a message, the first objective was to get the other person feeling amazing, or at least feeling that we ‘get’ their take on the world? All our own stuff swept aside in order to let them tell us and show us what makes their very best neurons fire off joyfully, so that we can help them repeat that, until they glow with it?
Is this manipulation?
In the sense that you are many more times likely to achieve your own result if they feel great, understood, able to trust you with their precious values/beliefs/identity, then yes, it is manipulation. Whether you are in couples counselling, peace negotiations in Gaza, sending messages to aliens, wanting to clinch a sale or trying to pick up a date in a bar, this approach will work best for you and bring you more success.
And yet, how can making someone else feel good ever be a bad thing? We are not, after all, taking away anyone’s power to decide, any more than the man did when he chose his favourite “killer” shirt to wear to the bar. All of those activities listed in the previous paragraph, are about wanting to influence, so why not get good at it? At the deepest level, I am you and you are me and when one shines we all shine.
Personally I think we should work on this between ourselves before we go sending messages to the little green (wo)men. When the Muslims and Jews and Christians, when men and women, when right and left, east and west can all honour each other with their messages, and get better results for themselves as a by-product, then we will be ready to press “send” on the cosmic ‘hello’. Until then, practice makes perfect!
[To get details or sign up for my one-day intensive training “Unlocking Other People to Get The Result You Want” message me an email address. Whether you want to increase your sales, improve your love life or simply watch those around you blossom, this is for you. Very fast powerful techniques to connect! Sessions in London and Bath £190pp]