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Vagueness

 

Techniques General persuasion > Creating Cognitive Load > Vagueness

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Keep them thinking by being vague and non-specific in the things you say.

Speak in generalities. Avoid naming people, including who did what. Do not say when things will happen. Use classification descriptors rather than unique types. Indicate possibilities rather than certainties.

If they ask you for more detail, keep them guessing by using continued vagueness. Or even engage them in it by asking their opinion.

Example

The work should be completed soon. [What work? By when? By who?]

I think someone might be interested. [Who? Interested in what? How interested?]  

Discussion

In our desire for certainty, we tend to respond to vagueness either by guessing, filling in the missing details ourselves, or asking for more information, probing for the missing information. Either way, this uses up more mental resources than having full detail.

Vagueness is often used in hypnotism, where the subject puts themself into the vague situation suggested by the hypnotherapist, or otherwise thinks consciously about the idea. This gives the therapist space to make suggestions that reach the unconscious mind without much conscious filtering.

See also

Vagueness (modifying meaning), Vagueness (hypnosis), Parisology, Uncertainty principle, Completion principle

 

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