Here is a short story with mind-changing consequences. I was recently approached by someone on a night out while having a drink with friends. I knew what the person was going to say and I initiated the conversation first: “Yes, I know, I will be smiling next time”. I knew that the person had seen my straight face whilst slowly sipping my drink. And the person smiled and said:
“Life is about smiling, isn’t it?”
Without agreeing, some thirty seconds seconds later, I realised that this may have been the most covert persuasive tactic that I‘ve ever heard in a night club. It may be the most effective way to talk to someone about what they are not hearing. At the same time, it’s like an iron punch wrapped in a silky glove of reverse psychology. You are alive because you smile (establishes a pseudo-logical connection between two unrelated ideas). You don’t smile therefore you may not be alive! This phrase addresses one of our main subconscious programs — survival.
Let’s quickly analyse the line. First, we have the noun ‘life’. This is very important because it binds the second idea to the survival program. Next, the verb ‘be’/’is’ acts as a sign of equality bridging between the first and the second idea (in this case, ‘smiling’). The ‘equation’ is finished off with a tag question (‘isn’t it?’) which creates a slippery path to an effortless ‘yes’.
I thought that line was ingenious but also really dark. Being a health professional, you need to choose your words carefully when talking to patients and know the subliminal meaning of everything you say. Life is about successful communication, isn’t it?