Sunday, October 16, 2005


Flashback Central last week: I get an e-mail from my friend, fellow journalist and author, Zalin Grant (If you were in Saigon during the Tet Offensive of 1968, you’ll recognize the name). Anyway, Zalin had read my first memoir a while ago, and wanted to know what I thought about Bush preparing to veto Sen. John McCain’s torture amendment. Within that same week I was watching a re-run of Oliver Stone’s "Platoon", and my eyes keyed in on the defiant look of an NVA prisoner being slapped around during what I like to call a “Hollywood” interrogation. And finally, I’m in a wonderful interview with a man of impeccable credentials in persuasion, a best-selling author of the best business book on the fine art of persuasion…which is what an effective interrogation is really supposed to be—it helps that he’s also an ex-high-level military and DEA operator with a TOPSECRET clearance!

First, I must say that I’m confounded by Bush’s resistance: anyone who has been in the US military knows that personnel are prevented from torturing because of the Geneva Convention, and even the Army Field Manual states that torture is not only illegal, but ineffective. More importantly, signing the amendment removes another propaganda opportunity for the terrorists.

But, it’s torture's ineffectiveness that revolves around TOLERANCE that really makes me ask—have we not learned? See when the Vietnamese were torturing me, I would have said anything to get them to stop—there would have been no accuracy in anything I said. There would have been more effect in the fear of torture than in the actual beating because what we create in our minds is what we have no defense against. Like working out in a gym, we can all build tolerance against pain...

SIDE NOTE: Many of you have written to me after reading my memoir to find out if I was tortured more than I described: of course I was, but for me to mention that extra amount in the The Bamboo Chest would have been distracting and off the point of the story—I basically used the events that fit the “coming of age” and “healing PTSD” story that is “The Bamboo Chest”.

Now if I were to have written about torture and interrogation tactics which are all directed toward persuading and manipulating, then I would have included more, or done something more beneficial…reveal persuasion techniques that don’t involve torture and are light years ahead of the pack!

As a negotiation specialist hired by Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to teach the fine art of negotiation, I am always on the lookout for the latest information that can’t be ignored: such as Dave Lakhani has delivered in his brilliant collection of battle-tested ideas in “Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You Want”

Almost magical persuasion revolves not around beating someone on the head, or putting them into embarrassing positions in front of the camera as in Abu Ghraib, but in making them see the similarities, building on those similarities and showing how unlike the enemy the subject is: an effectively turned enemy can be one of your most effective allies—if for no other reason than the information they carry from the other side!

It all comes down to what Lakhani calls “Tenets of Persuasion: if you follow them you not only get what you want, but you leave the person as an ally and potential “true believer”.

Here are the "Six Tenets of Persuasion" Lakhani describes in his book:
  1. Outcome based

  2. Best-Interest Focused

  3. Truthful

  4. Goal and Time Oriented

  5. Personal

  6. Ethical

Lakhani listed these because he wrote a book for people in dealing with people in business deals, marketing, and sales, even for just making a profoundly efficient impressions on people in day-to-day interactions, but how many of you would find that effective interrogations need these same tenets, not just for how we look to other countries, or how to do contrary only offers more fodder for the TERRORIST public relations fires?

Well as you’ve guessed this is a subject that I’ve learned not to take lightly. So, I’ve realized that I’ll have to make this a two-part series…

You can wait until the next installment to find out what’s more amazing about Lakhani’s book…how there are NEVER BEFORE PRINTED persuasion secrets that only the most effective orators, salespeople, politicians, military interrogators, and marketers know…or you could just get reading now getting his book here:
NEXT INSTALLMENT: You think you don’t need to know the skills of persuasion offered by Dave Lakhani, yet they’re used on you everyday. You think it’s only for people in sales, politics, or interrogation…but you can’t understand why your loved one can’t understand you… you’re about to get into a divorce…your team is just not getting the objectives and you’ve supposedly made them all clear…all the reasons for this will be revealed and what you can do about!

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