by Dr. Joe Vitale

I’m sick of it. All the so-called communication experts keep declaring that your mind cannot process a negative command. They say “Don’t spill the milk” means you’ll spill the milk. They say your mind doesn’t respond to “don’t” and in fact skips over it. As a result, you end up seeing the rest of the statement as a command. You then spill the milk.

Bull. The very first words most people hear growing up is “NO” and “Don’t”. We learn right away not to poop in our pants, or eat the dirt, or swing the cat by the tail, or spill our milk. The only reason we might still spill our milk is sheer awkwardness or clumsiness, not because of a communication issue.

This is one of the things wrong with NLP and other communication modalities that claim to know how our brains work. They make wild claims and act as if they are universal truths. After all, no one really knows how the brain works. We’re still learning. To say we don’t process negative commands is an arrogant statement. It assumes god-like powers. And it’s wrong.

Look at the title of this article. I inserted the word “don’t.” Why? Because the word actually helps make the title more interesting. It increases persuasion. Had I said, “Read This Article,” you might not read it simply because it seemed un-interesting. But add the word “Don’t” and suddenly you’re curious. ‘Why doesn’t Joe want me to read this?,” you wonder. The word ‘Don’t’ is seen and registered by your mind. You didn’t miss it, did you?

Again, communication is more than assumptions about how our minds process information. You learned what many negative words meant at three years old. Your unconscious mind is well aware of what they mean today.

Don’t tell others about this article. Don’t pass this article to friends and family. Don’t go buy all my books and tapes. Don’t send me money.

You see the word ‘don’t’ and you’ll do what you please. If you want to pass this article to friends, you will. If you don’t, you won’t. My trying to trick you with a negative command is ridiculous. You’re smarter than that. Aren’t you?

Kevin Hogan, author of “The Psychology of Persuasion,” says, “Negative command words in general indicate the person will remember or code in deeper whatever was discussed. This doesn’t mean they will act one way or the other. It simply makes the command/idea/request more likely to be remembered.”

Exactly. My adding “Don’t” to the title of this article simply made it more memorable. It didn’t *make* you read this article at all.

The only time the ‘don’t trick’ works is to get someone to *think* something. In order words, if I say, “Don’t think of Sophia Loren,” you can’t help but think of the famous actress. But thinking is different than action.

Yes, thinking can lead to action. But what we’re focusing on here is communication. If I say, “Don’t think of buying my books,” you
*will* think of buying them, at least for a second.

But if I say, “Don’t buy my books,” it does not mean you will run out and buy them. You are not a robot.

Let’s wake up. Let’s realize that we are smarter than generalized rules of language. Let’s stop pretending we are all trained monkeys.

Don’t you agree?

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