How Hints, Expectations, and the Power of Suggestion Influence Others

The power of suggestion might kill you.

The Smithsonian Magazine reports an individual who attempted suicide using placebo tablets. The pills could not harm him. He experienced dangerously low blood pressure and required medical intervention.

The symptoms quickly disappeared after he was informed that he had taken sugar pills.

Erectile dysfunction:

Half the patients taking a drug to relieve symptoms of prostate disease were told the drug could cause erectile dysfunction (ED). 44% of them experienced ED compared to only 15% of the uninformed group.

Patients who experienced ED while taking a placebo recovered 5 days after they stopped taking the placebo.

The power of hints:

I start feeling queasy when the doctor says, “This medication might cause nausea.” How about you?

Tell patients that the side effect of a sugar pill (placebo) is a headache and about 20% get headaches (nocebo).

Leverage the power of hints:

The power of suggestion is most powerful when it comes to feelings. “Placebos may make you feel better, but they will not cure you.” Professor Ted Kaptchuck.

#1. Listen to yourself.

What emotional response do your words and body language invite?

#2. Stop blaming others for the relational environment you create.

Provide constructive feedback with forward-facing confidence instead of despair or anger.

#3. Experiment with different words and body language.

Monitor responses when you shift to smiling and affirming instead of frowning and criticizing.

#4. Take responsibility for the way people respond to you.

When you see frustrating responses in others, ask yourself, “How might their response reflect something in me?”

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” Ken Blanchard

How have the power of hints brought you or your team down?

How might you leverage the power of hints for good? (With integrity.)