I’m sure you have heard the exercise, “Don’t think of a pink elephant,” and of course, you think of a pink elephant.  I often do this with my students.  I will ask, “Don’t think of your favorite car,” followed by the question, “what color was it?” (It’s often blue). Towards Language simplifies bidirectional communication, increasing the likelihood any message one communicates to another will be most likely be understood and interpreted as the communicator intended.

The idea is that the brain works in an additive manner, not by subtraction.  Everything you ever have thought of is still in your brain; most of it is hard to access.  The brain can only process positive ideas.  This concept is used in all sorts of mental health therapies and sales.

You smirked, didn’t you? Aren’t all salespeople therapists?
Well, there might be some truth to that. Since the brain is additive, one must always think about the subject before doing anything. “Don’t chew gum” sounds like “chew gum” to the unconscious brain, then the conscious brain takes over the stops you from chewing gum, but by that time, the damage is done.


The phrase, “don’t chew gum” is an example of away language, while the words “chew gum” is an example of  towards language.

Here is the problem with using away language.  Our brain does not know what to do when we use it.  When you say to a child, “don’t run,” what would you like them to do?  Yes, I’m sure you are thinking, walk, but that is not explicit in the away language.  Now add that the brain is additive; the only conclusion is to run.

Another example, “don’t throw that away.” What would you like me to do with it?  This lack of clarity only adds to the brain’s stress.  Sure, maybe that example is small, but what about big things, like 7 figure deals.

The same happens when we deal with customers.

Have you heard some of these statements in a sales call? I bet you have:

  • We never give out your information”
    — Then what do you do with it?
  • “No Problem (worries, any variation)”
    — Problem? Worries?
  • “I won’t take much of your time”
    — I’m taking much of your time (even if they don’t, it sounds like they will)The list goes on.
You have now taken the red pill (or blue?). It will be difficult not to see this everywhere you go (see what I did there?  What did you read?). Now, you can utilize this to your advantage as well.

As far as I know, my competitor never failed an implementation (too low?)

Okay, maybe so, but this happens all the time.

So, what can you do?

  • Be aware of this phenomenon — Awareness here is critical. This concept is all very unconscious, and the only way to fix unconscious stuff is to bring it to the conscious.
  • Practice, practice, practice — Here is the good news, you can practice anywhere, anytime with anyone.  At the grocery store, “where is the mayonnaise?” not “I can’t find the mayonnaise.”
  • Rehearse — Get with some fellow reps and go through your standard pitches and remove them away language and add the towards language
  • Perform — Go get ’em — Yes, do it for real!

If you are looking to use these and many other advanced techniques as a sales professional, be sure to visit The Sales Conservatory Learning Community and sign up for a free seven day trial.

In addition, you can get a free self-directed learning assessment by using the code BLOG at check out.