The So What Syndrome
17 July, 2017
You’ve been there, much like me, many more times than I’d like to admit. You’ve been talking away, really getting into your groove, saying all the right things and honing your presentation skills to a point of perfection so precise that you could use it to scratch graffiti onto a toilet wall of just how good you are.
And then, nothing.
The person on the other end of the conversation, the one you’ve targeted your laser-guided missile of immense communication and promise at, just… Seems to have… Wondered off, somehow…
But how has this happened? Well, if you’ve read this week’s edition (linked here), you’ll know this is what we call So What Syndrome, and is often paired with the So What Stare. That depressingly common and sickening sensation that happens when you’re so wrapped up in what you have to say, you almost forget the other person is part of your conversation.
However, all is not lost! Here are a few ways you can squeeze out of the tight situation and bring a new life to the conversation. We present, The So What Magic Cheat Sheet.
1. Stop Telling, Start Showing
The simplest way we’ve found to combat the So What Stare is by shifting attention away from what we’re saying to something we can start showing.
This means that whenever you meet us, we always have a magic trick, an illusion, or a model on hand to illustrate one of our principles. Now this is an incredibly important part, one we’ll touch on (pun intended) in the next part, but it must be something physical we have to show.
Everyone has a phone in their pocket now, with higher resolution screens than TV’s had 10 years ago. We’ve all got access to billions of pages of information at the swipe of the screen and millions of hours of YouTube clips that we can use. Whilst this might be satisfactory for most people, our goal is to always go above and beyond what’s expected.
Being able to hand people our models, give people decks of cards, have them move pieces of paper around, that’s where the true power of SNT comes in; Show, Not Tell. For us, it’s magic tricks, but for you, it might be something completely different. Either way, find a way to Stop Telling, Start Showing, and have these materials prepared with you at all times.
2. Move, Both Yourself and Them
There’s an odd hum that happens the first time in any magic show. It’s a split, half way down the audience. Some shriek with joy, some pretend to faint, some suddenly get very distracted by a piece of imaginary lint on their shirts. It’s that cataclysmic moment that the magician asks for a volunteer.
Whether you love it or hate it, get shivers of anticipation or shivers of anxiety, there’s a very important reason why this happens. And it only really happens with magicians.
You don’t get dancers asking their audience to join them on stage to witness the performance up close. Comedians don’t ask their hecklers to come up and tell jokes, (well, some do, but that’s Jimmy Carr for you). The actor performing Hamlet doesn’t request an audience member to come and be his Horatio or Ophelia. Magician’s need their audience as much as they need their stage and their props. It’s an integral part of what makes magic magical, the idea that someone who isn’t an expert can witness the magic first hand.
It also serves as a vital part of performance theory that you can take advantage of in all walks of life. By moving people around, you can create a buzz of excitement and a wave of energy that not many others can pull on. By having something physical to show, you can get people up and moving and actively participating in what you do.
How many times do you see the same person at the same meeting take the same chair? Or the same person at the same place next to the buffet table, or the same corner next to the nearest exit? We become habituated to our places. We become glued to these spots. We’re comfortable, and comfort is where the So What Stare buries itself.
How likely is it that people will be open to your new ideas if they’re stuck in their old spots?
Nothing wakes us up more than movement. Nothing gets us to open up as much as movement. Nothing tells our bodies that this is worth paying attention to a movement.
So next time you’re stuck, move!
3. Ask an Open-Ended, Intriguing Question
Communication 101 time, folks. There are two types of questions: closed-ended and open-ended. It might seem obvious to you if you know it, but when was the last time you were asked a question that you could only respond to with a one worded answer?
See, what I did there was ask an open-ended AND intriguing question. Closed-ended questions tend to illicit a simple, short and uninteresting answer. It’s not always yes and no, but it doesn’t usually give either person much to work on.
Open-ended questions, on the other hand, lead the answerer to reply with more details, giving them a greater chance to open up and you a greater chance to follow up. But, I hear you ask another open-ended question, what makes it intriguing?
I could write an entire volume on what makes something intriguing, and if you want to know a bit more about the theory, see our feature on The Zeigarnik Effect here.
For now though, in brief, you can create an intriguing question by focusing on them and asking something different, something unexpected, something that’s exciting. Some great examples are:
- What was the highlight of your day so far?
- What personal passion projects have you been working on?
- Got anything exciting coming up in your life soon?
- What’s your story?
If you want to learn a bit more about what to say when, I’d recommend reading Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People.
4. Start your deeply personal story
Now this can start to be a little uncomfortable, but trust me, it’s worth it. As you may know, last feature I shared the story of the time I was booed off stage and Simon Cowell called me by far, the worst magician he’s ever seen.
It stings a lot to this day, and it took me a long time to write it and work out what was really going on. It’s not the fact I failed utterly and completely at the trick I was trying to perform, although that was a sizeable part of it. My failure illustrated that my life wasn’t going to go the way I wanted it to. I couldn’t just luck my way into success, I had to work to get the most out of my passion.
See, what happens when you tell a true story that has a message behind it, is that people will listen. It’s an unassailable fact that we are built to love stories, and stories that revolve around our missteps, our failures and learning to overcome them, provide great inspiration and learning points to any presentation, pitch or meeting.
Stories are how we talk to each other, create bonds and share our learning. Your job is not to tell people facts, but to tell them stories. Think about that the next time you’re stuck with a So What Stare.
Below is George’s deeply personal story for you to listen to and think about.
5. Simply leave
This is a bit of a cheat, and even though this is a cheat sheet, I still think it’s necessary to point this out. If none of the other steps above work, your other choice really is simple to leave.
At the end of the day, life is too short to spend your precious time drilling your message into someone who doesn’t want to receive it. As I said in this week’s edition, your message is a treasure, and it shouldn’t be handed out to absolutely everyone at the drop of the hat.
You voice deserves to be heard, and the right people deserve to hear it. You need to know who they are and not waste time with those who won’t listen. As the great philosopher and song-writer, Taylor Swift, once said;
I hope this has given you a few tips and few chuckles along the way. Hopefully it has helped you to set up more success in your future. If you’ve read this far and liked it, you might want to check out some of our new kits for sale in the coming few weeks. We also provide a lot of material in our training that you can see below.
Come To Our Show
I would like to invite you to our Game of Thoughts events. These are magic and mentalism shows all about our mindset and the psychology of how we think using Psychological Artistry. They are about having some fun at the show and seeing our approach. Also, if you want to, we are around afterwards downstairs where we can have a chat, have a coffee and explore opportunities.
You can find more details here: http://www.mindsways.com/game-of-thoughts.html
Many people see magic and mentalism as very entertaining. It’s this and the underlying principles that allow magic to work that make it so unique and powerful when applied in business. They can impact:
- Staff retention and well-being
- Sales and income
This is what we look to demonstrate and explore in the Game of Thoughts. The evening events are being held on 18th and 25th of July and 1st of August in Birmingham Centre, the show runs from 5:30 pm for about 45 mins.
We’re also running our Psychological Artistry day on 19th September, so if you want more magic and in even more detail, please come along to that. You can see that here: www.mindsways.com/pa/
Let me know what you think and if you would like to attend, you are welcome to bring others along too. We just need to know numbers because of room size.
Also, I would appreciate any help by sharing it with your networks.
Thanks in advance,
07970 480 615
P.S. “If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.” – Robert Baden-Powell
About Author: Alexander Rowley
Alexander is a creative thinker, website designer, trained performer, experienced actor and magician, writer and stage director who produces online experiences, high design and adapts the materials used in training courses to deliver the best online experience. His history of stage acting and 10 years working behind the scenes delivers the highest quality performance and the best, cutting edge online technology available.