Anacoluthon to bypass the critical conscious mind of your stakeholders

Anacoluthon is one of the rhetorical devices and can help you overcome resistance within your stakeholders.

As a project manager, you are dealing with change every day. But for most people change is scary. So, when you get to deal with your stakeholders in your projects, chances are that you get resistance. Resistance against your project in general or against specific deliverables of your project.

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How do you deal with resistance within your stakeholders?

In this article, I want to teach you a time-tested technique for dealing with resistance: the anacoluthon. So, if you can use some extra tools to deal with resistance within your stakeholders, please read on:

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How to use the anacoluthon to bypass the critical mind of your Stakeholders - Complete Guide

Get More Influence over your Stakeholders with this FREE Complete Guide on the Anacoluthon Rhetorical Device

Anacoluthon Rhetorical Devices - Dividerline

What is an anacoluthon?

An Anacoluthon is one of the rhetorical devices. An Anacoluthon means an unexpected discontinuity in the expression of ideas within a sentence, leading to a totally different subject. It can be a very powerful tool to get your important message across and bypass the critical mind of your stakeholders.

Most people are using an anacoluthon unintentionally, because they suddenly think of something different and immediately jump to another train of thoughts at the same expressing these thoughts. My wife is a great example of this! And again, every time I’m totally surprised when she jumps to a totally different subject in the middle of a sentence! Most of the time it takes me a couple of seconds before I realize that she started a new train of thoughts. And most of the time she herself is unaware of the fact that she is doing it. So, this is the unintentional way of using the anacoluthon rhetorical device.

Example of the unintentional use of an anacoluthon:

Someone is telling you a story and then she suddenly screams:

“Oh my God, I’ve left the gas on!"

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There is also an intentional way of using the anacoluthon. In this case, it is used as a rhetorical technique in order to pursue a goal which seems not obvious to the receiver of the message. The trick here is that when you are on a particular train of thoughts in your message and you suddenly leave that path for another, the conscious mind of the listener is left on the wrong trail. While in the meantime the unconscious mind of the listener gets the chance to really listen to the new train of thoughts which is as such bypassing the critical conscious mind.

So, when you have an important message to tell and you want to give the unconscious mind of your listeners a fair chance of hearing it, uncriticised by their conscious mind, you better introduce your important message with another unimportant story which you will leave halfway anyway.

In NLP, this technique is called the embedded command. It is a form of covert suggestion that is embedded within a logic communication.

Anacoluthon Rhetorical Devices - Dividerline

How to use the Anacoluthon for more influence?

5 step process for using the anacoluthon to gain influence

Anacoluthon rhetorical devices steps

Step 1: Determine your goal

Ask yourself:

  • What do you want to say to your stakeholder?
  • What do you want him to fully take into consideration?

It could be something like:

“We really have to scale up fast,

or otherwise we are not meeting deadlines."


Anacoluthon rhetorical devices steps

Step 2: Define the wrapper

Determine what the wrapper will be: which content are you going to use to embed your main message?

This could be a story which has nothing to do with your key message. In fact, it is even better when it has nothing to do with your key message, because the greater the contrast, the more puzzled the conscious mind of your listener. And the more puzzled the conscious mind is, the more the unconscious mind gets the chance of really listening to your key message.​

Pro Tip:

While you're at it, develop a couple of wrapper stories instead of one. This way you will be able to deliver the anacoluthon multiple times, without being boring or getting "caught".

Anacoluthon rhetorical devices steps

Step 3: Define your method for marking out


Choose your method for marking out the commands or suggestions: as you know with an anacoluthon the embedded command lies within another text, but what do you do to mark out the important part?

There are various methods for marking out your key message:​

  • You can use another tone of voice
  • Another tempo of speech
  • Use a pause just before the embedded suggestion
  • Use a particular hand gesture enforcing your message with a non-verbal anchor
  • Look the other person in the eyes in a specific manner.

Anacoluthon rhetorical devices steps

Step 4: Practice!

While using the anacoluthon to deliver an embedded command, is probably new for you, it is good to practice before delivering it to the person it is meant for.

So, first write down the embedded command within the wrapper. Then practice the whole anacoluthon a couple of times. If the whole wrapper story and message gets out fluently, then add the non-verbal cues to it.

​After that practice again a couple of times including the non-verbal cues and if you feel comfortable with it, then it's ...

Anacoluthon - Rhetorical Devices list - showtime
Anacoluthon rhetorical devices steps

Step 5: Deliver the anacoluthon (aka Showtime!)


Now that you've done all your preparations, it is time to use the anacoluthon in real life. You've done all your practicing, so you can feel confident about what you are doing. Just get out there and rock and roll!



How to use the anacoluthon to bypass the critical mind of your Stakeholders - Complete Guide

Get More Influence over your Stakeholders with this FREE Complete Guide on the Anacoluthon Rhetorical Device

Anacoluthon Rhetorical Devices - Dividerline

Frequently Asked Questions

How many times do you need to deliver an anacoluthon in order for it to get accepted by the unconscious mind of your stakeholders?

 Well, this depends of course from situation to situation. But above all: it is not important. Because you can use the anacoluthon as many times as you want, as long as you use different wrapper messages for the same goal every time you deliver the anacoluthon. The trick here is to deliver your message in multiple forms and in multiples ways until you get the results you want. And you know when you are there when you see a change in the behavior of the other person.

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What are the best conditions for an anacoluthon?

An anacoluthon is best delivered when the embedded command starts with an imperative. For  example:

  • Pick up the phone.
  • Make the arrangement.
Anacoluthon_Rhetorical_Devices_Dividerline SHORT

Do the same techniques for using the anacoluthon in speaking also apply to using the anacoluthon in writing?

Partially yes. When you are writing an email, you use the anacoluthon to bypass the critical conscious mind of your stakeholders. But the trick is that part of the power of the anacoluthon lies in the way it is delivered. Because the non-verbal part of delivering it is used to accentuate the embedded command. And of course, in writing you don't have that important non-verbal part. In fact, writing is only a digital way of delivering your message.

So, the most powerful way of delivering the anacoluthon is by delivering it face-to-face.

Pro Tip:

As you could have guessed right now, the anacoluthon is a pattern interrupt. It interrupts conscious train of thoughts. You can even enforce this pattern interrupt by using accompanying the verbal anacoluthon with a non-verbal pattern interrupt.

Two examples of a non-verbal pattern interrupt:

  • The famous detective Columbo always left the room, before asking his most important question to the prime suspect, saying:
    • "Oh, before I forget ..." or
    • "Oh, one more thing ..."
  • Give somebody a handshake, but a split second before the handshake takes place, you interrupt the handshake. This is for the conscious mind such an unusual behavior that you leave it puzzled for a few seconds. An ideal time-frame for delivering your embedded command.
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Anacoluthon Rhetorical Devices - Dividerline

It's Quiz Time!










Test your skills now:


How to use the anacoluthon to bypass the critical mind of your Stakeholders - Complete Guide

Get More Influence over your Stakeholders with this FREE Complete Guide on the Anacoluthon Rhetorical Device

Conclusion

The anacoluthon is one of the rhetorical devices which you can use to deal with resistance within your stakeholders. You can even enhance the effect by also using an non-verbal pattern interrupt.

Anacoluthon helps you to bypass the critical conscious mind of your stakeholders.

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Be aware that you only use the anacoluthon, as well as any of the other rhetorical devices for that matter, when you already have established rapport with your stakeholders.

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Over to you

Please leave a comment below by telling us how you uses the anacoluthon in your communication arsenal.

Thank you already in advance for sharing your thoughts and insights!

About the Author

Harry Heijligers - Smart Leadership Hut

Harry Heijligers has more than 25 years of experience as a Project Manager and more than 17 years of experience as an NLP Trainer. He has a Dutch blog about NLP here: HarryHeijligers.com. If you'd like to know more about the Smart Leadership Hut, please check this: Smart Leadership Hut.

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Harry Heijligers
 

Harry Heijligers has more than 25 years of experience as a Project Manager and more than 17 years of experience as an NLP Trainer. He has a Dutch blog about NLP here: HarryHeijligers.com. If you'd like to know about the Smart Leadership Hut, please check this: Smart Leadership Hut.

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