Shaping People for Fun & Profit

by Lou

How to use shaping to change motivations

Have you ever wondered how to change someone on a deep level, maybe getting them to try new behaviors or even breaking their own rules?

Well, there is a psychological technique that can get people to believe they are a certain type of person. It’s called “Shaping”.

With Shaping you are molding someone into a person you would like them to be. Of course this can be manipulative, so I urge caution in using this technique. Always keeping in mind the ecology of the person with whom you are dealing.

Let’s use the example of trying to get a person to be more spontaneous. Here are three ways we can use to help shape someone:

1. Asking your target if he or she is that type of person. (“Are you spontaneous?” … “Really? I love spontaneous people.”) With this technique you can also ask them about a time when they were spontaneous. You can make this technique stronger by adding a negative opposite, like this: “Are you a spontaneous person or are you one of those people who lives a dull, boring life where everything is planned out?

2. Telling a third-person story about someone who exhibited that behavior, and then telling your recipient that you like that in a person. (“My friend John is a really spontaneous guy. He’ll just decide to take a trip somewhere, pack his bags and head off for the weekend. I love spontaneous, carefree people.”) You could leave it at that, where you planted a seed or you can add the previous technique by asking them if they are that type of person.

3. The person actually doing that behavior and then you label that behavior and tell them you love it when they do that or you love/like/admire that type of person. If the person does or did something that you felt was even a tiny bit spontaneous point it out to them. “You telephoned work and told them you were sick so you could watch movies all day? I love when people are spontaneous like that.

By using a compliment at the end of each of these you are making the person feel good about themselves and at the same time giving that person something to live up to which will change how they behave in the future.

Although it isn’t necessary, you can use NLP language patterns with the above techniques. Embedded commands, linguistic binds, even reframing their behavior as a type of behavior you want to shape into them.

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