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Techniques General persuasion > Being Right > Mind-reading

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Watch them carefully to learn their body language patterns. Also listen to their language and vocal tone.

Pay attention to truisms and popular concerns. Notice issues that are often discussed. Newspaper headlines that repeat patterns are useful guides, as are common discussion topics in social media.

Prime them with an idea, offering prompts to think in a certain way without directly mentioning the message.

When you see their body language shift in response to your priming, tell them what they are thinking. Make it legitimate for them to think these things, for example by congratulating them or telling they are right.

If they appear surprised, you have likely hit the mark. Now take charge and guide their continued thinking.


A politician talks about unemployment figures and notices that the audience is warming to the topic. He says 'I know you think the current government is doing nothing about this, and you're right'. Cheers tell him he has hit the mark.

A sales person regularly tells customers who pause: 'I know what you're thinking. It's a bit expensive. And you're right, so let me tell you why that is a good thing.'


We all think our thoughts are private, so when someone tells us just what we are thinking, we are surprised and perhaps even shocked. Whether or not we like our minds being read, we become a lot more attentive as we conclude that if they can read our minds, they must know a lot of other things. As a result, we are more likely to accept they are right in other things they say.

When you are assertive with a suggestible person, simply telling them they are thinking anything may well lead them to conclude you are right. All it needs is for the person to have doubts as to whether they thought something or not and they will become less likely to challenge your assertion. You can also be assertive while being slightly vague, giving you an escape if they do not agree they are thinking what you say they are thinking.

There are many alternative approaches to mind-reading, including quite simply researching the person beforehand. Social media and general searching can often provide very useful information. Sometimes stage acts use stooges who pretend to be normal audience members.

Priming is the principle of giving them information beforehand so it is at the 'top of their mind'. Then when they are asked to think of something in this area, the most available item, which is that which was primed, is what they are likely to think of first.

See also

Priming Principle, Assertiveness


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