In the Harley-Davidson world, we talk a lot about the Harley-Davidson culture. Whenever I’m working with dealers or anyone involved in the H-D business, I mention the importance of perpetuating that culture, and I always receive prideful acknowledgement and agreement.
Then I ask, “What is that culture?”
Eventually people start shouting out, “Freedom!” “Adventure!” “Being bold!”
“Yeah, I don’t know what it is either,” I always say. “But we better figure it out.”
Of course, Harley-Davidson has figured out what the culture is and does a great job of perpetuating it. A “culture” can be considered the expression of a particular community. What people do, the way they dress and the way they speak all play a role. When I use the patois (definitely not a motorcyclist’s term) of the biker culture and teach it to others not yet engaged in that culture, it enables them to instantly feel a part of it.
Some linguists refer to this approach as “subversive prestige,” the notion typically used to describe the fairly common phenomenon of middle-class suburban kids who adopt the language of urban street gangs. It makes them feel “cool” or “tough” or “hip” — as if it elevates them somehow.
How can you incorporate this idea of subversive prestige into your persuasion process?
Well, every industry I’ve encountered has its own jargon. And when you use that vocabulary, correctly, you communicate that you are in the know, and that you have knowledge of how that company or how that industry works.
Insurance people speak of captives, floaters, and churn. Computer professionals talk of authentication, solutions, route directories. You get the idea.
Rather than call this subversive prestige, I refer to it as insider’s prestige — a demonstration that you know a bit of how things work on the inside. This is one way that you can use language to accelerate your persuasion success, and hear “yes” more often.
Logic makes you think. Emotions make you act. This type of insider’s prestige language is emotional.