In the last chapter I spoke of the effect of mental atmospheres with which people surround themselves. You will notice that in my discussion of that part of the subject I spoke only of the general influence exerted upon others, and not of the direct personal influence exerted by one man upon another in personal intercourse. Let us now consider the channels of direct personal influence.
As I have told you elsewhere, every time two people meet there ensues a silent mental conflict, or struggle for supremacy, from which one or the other emerges a victor, and which victory is fully recognized by both of the parties to the proceeding. This mental struggle is usually the combat between the general mental powers of the two, without regard to special mental states induced at the time.
But the man who is skilled in the art of dynamic mentation goes further than this, for he recognizes that he may concentrate his mentative energy into definite shape and form, and focus the force of his mental imagery direct upon the other person, with such force and power that the second person will feel the dynamic strength exerted.
This direct personal influence operates along the lines of both Desire-Force and Will-Power of course. I have explained elsewhere how the Will-Power may be used to awaken desire in another; and how it may also capture the will of the second person. I have also explained how Desire-Force induces a similar desire in the second person; and also how it is often used to captivate the will of the other person.
It is not necessary for me to repeat these things—you are supposed to be fully acquainted with them, from your study of this book. And so I shall proceed to a consideration of the channels of expression of personal influence, and the methods usually employed by those using it.
The Instruments of Expression
These channels of influence may be classified as follows:
1. Suggestive channels, consisting of (a) the suggestive manner, and (b) the suggestive tone, and (c) the suggestive word;
2. The instrument of the eye;
3. The instrument of the touch; and all of these three forms are, of course, merely the channels or instruments by which, and through which, the Mind-Power expresses itself—the channel through which pours the mentative energy. Let us consider them in the above order.
In the chapters on "Mental Suggestion," you will find stated the active principles of that phase of the subject, with which you should thoroughly familiarize yourself.
You will see there that suggestion is the outward symbol of the inward mental state, and that it is the inner state that gives vitality to the suggestion. Get this idea fixed firmly in your mind, and always think of the force behind the suggestion.
I have explained to you, also, that when one receives a suggestion through a physical agent, there is induced in him the mental state corresponding to the one originating that physical suggestion. For example, if you feel yourself filled with confidence, energy and fearlessness, your outward appearance will reflect that inner state, and the outer appearance will become a suggestion to others.
These others will instinctively feel that your inner state is as I have stated. And, this being so, a physical suggestion made stronger than usual will produce a deeper impression on others than would any ordinary suggestion.
In view of the above, you will see why it is that those familiar with the subject deem it important to cultivate the suggestive channel instruments.
Beginning with (a) the suggestive manner, you will see why it is that we are impressed with the manner of a man who manifests energy, self-confidence, and power in every motion. And also, why we have confidence in a man whose manner indicates that he is a person used to being trusted by others— accustomed to having confidence reposed in him.
And so I might mention hundreds of examples tending to show that if a man's manner conveys the impression that he is used to being treated in a certain way, and that he is accustomed to acting in a certain way, we are very apt to accept the suggestion of manner, and fall into line with the rest of people.
And if the man happens to be a good actor, we may be imposed upon and fooled by his suggestive manner.
Not only does this law hold good in the case of the manner and appearance of success, strength, confidence, etc., but it also operates along the lines of the appearance and manner of failure, weakness, and distrust.
Do you not know of cases wherein you have felt that certain persons were not worthy of confidence; or were not to be depended upon where strength of character was required; or were not likely to succeed? Of course you have, and you acted upon the suggestion, too.
In illustrating this point, I have frequently used the illustration of the two dogs, the one carrying himself in a manner betokening self-respect and an ability to prevent and resent undue liberties, and the other carrying his tail between his legs, in a manner and appearance indicating that he expected to be kicked and cuffed.
The first dog is almost invariably treated with respect, even by the most mischievous youngsters; while the second one almost always invites to himself the kicks, tin cans and brick bats of the young hoodlums of the neighborhood. And this illustration is as true in the case of people as in the case of dogs. Better take the hint!
But, you may say, how is one to acquire the proper suggestive manner? My answer is that there is but one sure way, and that is to begin to think out the part; visualize it; and act it out. In other words, if you wish to convey a suggestive manner of confidence, you must begin to think "Confidence" from morning until night.
And you must also begin to visualize "Confidence" when you have the chance to do so—that is, you must make a mental picture of yourself as manifesting Confidence. And you must also begin to act out the part.
Now about this "acting out," I would say that I mean not only the "playing the part" in your interviews with people, but I also mean an actual series of rehearsals in private, just as you would perform if you were preparing to play a part on the stage, in public.
You must form a mental image of how you would look and act if you were filled with confidence, and were approaching people. You will find that practice will improve you very much in this way, and that you will soon acquire a manner that will be like second-nature and will really serve to give the suggestion of your manner to others with whom you come in contact. And, more than this, it will actually tend to build up confidence in yourself.
Imagine yourself as approaching strange people, and then act out the part the best you know how, improving a little in ease, and smoothness of action each day. Think of how the actor on the stage impresses you—and then remember that the manner was acquired by constant practice, and work. And you may do the same, and may manage to impress other people just as the actor does you.
And what is true in the case of "Confidence" is true regarding any character that you wish to play. Any and all characters may be played out in this way, and an appearance and manner acquired which will give the suggestion to others. I wish I could make you realize how much there is in this method. If you could realize how some men have used it to acquire qualities that have enabled them to prey upon the public, you would realize how important it might be for you for legitimate and honorable use.
In this acting out, you must remember that the practice will make you so perfect that the part will appear natural when you play it in public. But without practice, an attempt to play it in public will make one ridiculous.
Remember the illustration of the real actor, and you will have the secret of acting out. And also remember this, that in the measure that you "throw your mind" into the part, so will be your success. When you practice, you must throw your mind into the acting, just as you would if you were in earnest. It is the mind back of it all, remember.
The second suggestive channel or instrument is "the suggestive tone." This, too, may be acquired by acting out. You must practice until you are able to express your meaning with "feeling" that all who hear may be impressed.
You should begin your practice by choosing some simple words in everyday use—"Good morning!" for instance. Try it now, and see how roughly, clumsily and crudely you give the morning greeting. Then try to imagine that you are full of good cheer, energy, and brightness, and then throw your feeling into your "good morning," and see how different it seems.
Practice this awhile and you will soon acquire a natural, cheery, bright, and invigorating tone when you say "good morning." You will not need a teacher in elocution to tell you how to do this.
Try to feel the part, and you will express it naturally. Make your feelings more flexible, and your tones will reflect them. After you have mastered the simpler terms of expression, work up to larger sentences, and speeches. Try them on the chairs in your room, in imagining that people are seated therein; speak to them feelingly and with expression until you acquire the art.
You will not realize how much you may gain by such practice until you actually try it. I wish that you could hear the testimony of some people who have acquired this art.
There is nothing more important in personal influence than a good suggestive tone. Think of the people whom you know, and then remember what an influence their voices have on you. Not only the quality of the voice, but the tone.
You readily recognize the difference between the tone of the hesitating, timid, self-doubting person, and that of the confident, self-reliant individual. There is a subtle vibration about the tone of the latter that causes one to feel confidence and respect, and which exacts obedience in a quiet, calm way, devoid of bluster or rant.
If you will but think a moment, you will see that much depends upon the tone. You will see that when you say to a person, "You can!" the tone in which you say "can!" goes a long way toward producing the response.
And so it is with the suggestive tone, no matter what it is made to express. It always impresses upon one that the speaker using it means what he says. And that is why many public men practice year after year in mastering this instrument of influence—the suggestive tone.
Again would I refer you to the example of the actor—see how he manages to throw feeling into his tone. And you may do likewise, if you will but practice in earnest, and throw your mind into the work. Think of the thing you wish to express—visualize it— and then act it out in your tone.
You will be surprised at the rapid progress that you will make. Remember always, though, the tone is but the instrument of expression of the mind back of it.
Many people make the mistake of "speaking with the muscles instead of with their nerves," as one writer has expressed it. In other words, they seem to throw muscular force into their tones, instead of nervous energy, and in so doing they make a great mistake, for the former has a dull, non-penetrating effect, whereas the latter vibrates subtly and reaches the feeling part of one's mind. Feel, feel, feel, when you wish to speak impressively, and your tones will reflect the same, and induce a corresponding feeling in others.
The voice is a mighty indicator of the mental state within. Excepting the eye, no outward form of expression of character responds so quickly and fully to the inner mental state as the voice.
The voice and eye are the two principal outward avenues of expression of the mental states within, and both register the subtle changes and degrees of the inner state. If you will stop to think for a moment and consider the different voices of the people you know, you will see that in nearly every case the voice gives one a clue to the character or prevailing mental states of the speaker.
Not alone the quality of the voice but the tone. Every reader knows the difference between the tones of the hesitating, timid, self-doubting person, and that of the confident, self-reliant individual. In the tone of the latter there is noticeable that peculiar something that denotes power and authority, and inspires attention, interest and respect, without need of vulgar self-assertion or blustering speech. Let us listen to the tones of our dynamic individual.
First, it is under the control of his will. It is loud or soft, as he wills it to be— it never runs away from him. If the person to whom he is talking raises his voice to a strident pitch, our individual does not follow suit. On the contrary he puts a little more force into his tone, but keeps the pitch the same, and before long, by his will, in his evenly pitched tone, he will actually force down the pitch of the other to a normal degree.
I have seen many instances of this fact, and have noticed that the temper of the other person is toned down in accord with his decreasing pitch of voice. A calm, even positive tone, in which the will is apparent in self-control and in forceful effect, will master the tones of others pitched in a fiercer key; and in the mastery of the voice of the other you will often effect a mastery of his will. By making captive the outer expression you often capture the inner man.
There are two very good reasons for one studying the voice of the dynamic individual, as follows:
(1) Because it is by his voice that he manages to make some of the most powerful suggestions upon others; and
(2) because by the expression in his voice, or rather the inner impulse causing the vocal expression, he causes to flow out strong mentative currents which affect and influence the other person. So in its inner, and outer, aspects the cultivation of the voice is quite desirable.
You will find that the dynamic individual particularly if he is engaged in an occupation necessitating his giving orders, and directions, or advice, to others, has developed a voice resembling in many details the "suggestive voice" habitual to the practitioner of mental suggestive therapeutics. The reason is plain.
Both the man of business affairs and force, and the suggestionnist, have accustomed themselves to speaking in a forceful, firm, positive manner, and thus fairly "driving home" their ideas expressed in words.
The man of affairs does not know just why he does this, but his tone is the outward expression of his forceful mental state. And this is likewise true of the suggestionist, although he may have deliberately cultivated the suggestive tone at the beginning of his practice.
It is somewhat difficult to correctly define and explain the suggestive tone, although if one once hears it he will never forget it. But I will try my best to make it plain to you here. In the first place, the suggestive tone is fairly charged with the mental idea back of the words.
Each word has an inner meaning, and the suggestive tone carries this idea with it, so that the hearer gets the full mentative benefit and influence of it. Do not imagine that this tone is theatrical, or tragic, or unnatural. It is none of these. It is a forceful, natural tone. Its expression is that of "being in earnest" and meaning just what you are saying.
You know how you would speak if you were earnestly telling someone to do some important thing, upon which much depended. Well, that's the tone, modified of course by the particular circumstances and necessities of each case. It must be in earnest—must be more or less "intense"—must have focused in it the "feeling" behind it, in such a way as to awaken in the mind of the hearer the feeling back of the words.
The voice of the dynamic individual is flexible, and adaptable to any mood or phase of feeling that he wishes to induce in his hearers. It may be positive and masterful, along the lines of suggestion by direct command, or authority. Or it may be subtle and insinuating, along the lines of suggestion by association or imitation.
Or it may assume a teacher-like tone, along the lines of suggestion by repetition, in which the statement is made in a quiet, convincing way, as a teacher makes his statements to his class, the repetition of which brings conviction to the mind of the hearer. Or it may take on that peculiar caressing tone which is noticed in magnetic men of a certain type, who allure, charm, fascinate and draw to them other people by reason of their subtle power of "charming."
This power, which finds its expression largely in the voice, always reminds me of a female leopard or tiger, for the feline is mingled with the feminine in a peculiar way. This tone of the voice can be best described as "caressing"—when it is exhibited by one well versed in its use every word seems to be a soft caress, and has a peculiar soothing effect upon the hearer, lulling his will to sleep and opening his emotive mentality to the suggestions and mentative currents of the speaker.
In short, the dynamic individual, in his use of the voice, has acquired to a certain degree the art of the actor and orator. He is able to express "feeling," real or assumed, by his voice, so that a corresponding mental state is set up in the minds of his hearers. And one may acquire this art. By practice a vibrant, resonant, expressive voice may be cultivated, and used, too, with the greatest effect in personal magnetism.
As an instance of this let me cite you the case of Nathan Sheppard, the well-known lecturer and authority on public speaking. Mr. Sheppard relates that when he first made up his mind to devote himself to public speaking he was told by his tutors that he would be a perfect failure in such a profession, because, as he says "My articulation was feeble; my organs of speech were inadequate; if I would screw up my little mouth it could be put into my mother's thimble." These facts were enough to discourage any man, but Sheppard rose above them, and determined to apply his will to the task of conquering these disadvantages, and mastering the subject of public speaking. And he succeeded marvelously.
By pure will-power he, as he says,'' increased my voice tenfold; doubled my chest, and brought my unoratorical organs somewhat in subjection to my will." He became one of the best public speakers of his time. So there is hope for all of you, if you will but manifest persistency and earnestness in your application of the will.
The third suggestive channel is "the suggestive word." I may be able to explain this more clearly when I call your attention to the fact that each word is a crystallized thought. In every word there is an imprisoned thought. And when you lodge a word in the mind of another person, the crystal covering is dissolved, and the released thought manifests itself.
And, this being so, it becomes important for one to carefully choose the crystallized thoughts, or words, which he wishes to implant in the mind of another. You should study words until you are able to distinguish between those which carry a live, active, feeling thought, and those less strong.
Take the word ''strong'' for instance. Does it not make you feel strength when you hear it forcibly and feelingly pronounced? Take the word "kind," and see what feelings it arouses in you. Pronounce the words "lion" and "lamb," and see the different feelings you experience from the differing sounds.
Take the word "crash," and see how it suggests the crashing, crunching, tearing, startling thing for which it stands. Compare the sound of the words "rough" and "smooth"—and you will see what I mean.
The only way that I can point out to you to acquire the use of suggestive words is to study words themselves. Listen to the words used by others, and note their effect on you. Take a small dictionary and run over its pages, and you will soon have a collection of good, strong, effective terms for handy use when occasion demands.
A man does not have to be ''highly educated'' in the usual sense of that term, in order to use strong, suggestive words. Some instinctively choose vital words, charged with feeling, and such make their words felt. Think over this matter.
In the use of all the three suggestive instruments, or channels, remember that the object is to make others feel the mental state you are expressing. This is the whole thing in a nutshell.