The Chameleon Effect: How to Master the Art of Influence

07/20/2012 06:25 pm ET | Updated Sep 19, 2012

A man walks into a New York fish market with a wallet full of paper cut and folded like U.S. currency. But unlike currency, the paper he has is simply plain newspaper. He orders up three filets from the man behind the counter and looking him straight in the eye says casually, "It's okay, take it. It's okay." That man leaves the store with the fillets and only short three pieces of blank paper.

That man's name is Darren Brown, a British mentalist and arguably one the world's greatest masters of persuasion. What you may or may not have guessed is that Brown's power of influence started well before he stepped foot in the store.

In my prior posts I discussed NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and NRS (Neural Restructuring), both of which are conversational methods of hypnotic suggestion used in the art of influence. But what is more interesting is that anyone can apply these simple techniques in business and life to influence people.

Here are five tips for mastering the art of influence:

1. Create rapport by mirroring. Match the other person's body language.

2. Match the person's speech patterns. Match their pace, pitch, tone and volume of their voice and language.

3. Use their keywords. A keyword in NRS is a word repeated more than three times in a conversation that has a substantial meaning to the speaker beyond its traditional definition and context. Everyone has keywords that they use. Listen closely and when they use certain keywords, repeat those words during the conversation.

4. Speak convincingly. In the above video, Brown speaks indirectly to the man behind the counter but his words carry the power of his convictions. Like the Jedi mind trick, his order to "Take it, it's okay, take it" are convincing because he says the words without doubt or hesitation. It often helps to practice before you speak.

5. Create a mental state where you genuinely believe the information you wish to convey. Any hypnotists or NLP practitioner will tell you that one of the most important steps in creating a state in others is first creating that state in yourself. Get yourself in the state you wish to create in others and it will be that much easier to convey your message.

How it works:
The Chameleon Effect, a landmark study in 1999 proved that we like and are drawn to people that are like us. Our subconscious brain actively looks for traits in others that are similar to our own. When we find those traits we tend to like the person more. This builds a powerful instant rapport.

In my seminars I teach students how to use NRS to create instant rapport using not only mirroring but also other simple to learn techniques.

In my new book The Brain That Changes Everything : The Ultimate Guide to Accelerating Your BrainI discuss a variety of techniques for improving your life by powering up your mind.