A mind of its own

Ever woken from a great dream and wished you could return to it, but couldn’t?

Ever woken from a bad dream and hoped you’d seen the last of it, but you hadn’t?

The way your mind refuses to think what you want it to think, you could be forgiven for thinking it has a mind of its own. (Just wrestle with that thought for a moment.)

Of course, your mind does have a mind of its own. It’s called your subconscious. That’s where your dreams came from. In fact, that’s where most of your thoughts take place.

Roughly 90% of the 70,000 thoughts you have every day take place in your subconscious. Your conscious mind plays no part in them.

Within ten seconds of meeting a new person or confronting an unfamiliar situation, your subconscious has assessed it. Is that person friendly? Trustworthy? Gentle? Sociable? Your subconscious knows. Or thinks it does.

Is that situation dangerous? You subconscious has decided yes or no in the time it took to read this sentence. Your ancestors’ minds developed this skill to survive. They had to decide in seconds if that big cat with the sabre teeth was a danger or dinner.

Today, if you’re lucky enough to live in a safe community, you don’t call on that skill for survival. However, you’re still using it – and you’re still unaware that it’s happening.

Every day your subconscious makes flash assessments of people and things you encounter. It decides if it likes strangers by the way they dress, speak, walk and treat their partners, children or pets.

If you’re a business owner, potential customers assess your brand on first contact. They’re influenced by your logo, your corporate colours, your website and your packaging. They’re influenced by the way your drivers drive and the way your customer service agents handle their enquiry, the tone of their voice and their accent.

Here’s the thing. Once your subconscious has made its assessment, it then subconsciously looks for evidence to support its first impression. If its first contact with your brand was a negative one, it looks for more negatives.

Your subconscious might rely on your eyes for cues, but it is blind. If it has made a negative assessment, it won’t see the positives. Have you ever wondered how partners of serial killers are shocked when they learn of their partner’s murderous ways? They fell in love with that person, and have only been able to see the good, not the bad.

Can you influence how another person’s subconscious reacts to you or your brand? Yes. You can dress in ways that identify you as one of them. That’s what sports fans do. And soldiers.

You can talk as they do.

You can smile. Some devious people use smiles to trick another person’s subconscious into letting its guard down. Hence the phrase, smiling assassins.

For brand owners, the lessons are simple. You must be sure that your brand’s personality and message and language are consistent at every possible contact point. You must be sure that everyone who represents your brand creates a positive first impression.

If your audience has a negative first impression of you or your brand, you’re doomed. They won’t hear you. They won’t believe you. They won’t buy what you’re selling.

Try as your conscious mind might, it can’t control your subconscious. Its secret anxieties, lusts, greed and crippling skepticism remain.

It’s as if your mind has a mind of its own.

You will rarely change your subconscious mind. The best you can do is heed your instincts.

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