Broker Check

The Suggestion Triangle

June 27, 2023

The Message, The Messenger, And You 

We are all aware of the phenomenon known as the Power of Suggestion. You see, you stroll into the office (remember when everyone did that), and someone asks, “Are you feeling alright?” To which you answer, “Yeah, why?” Your mind is racing, and your evil cubical co-worker follows up with, “Well, you just look a little pale.” The rest of the day is filled with trips to the mirror in the restroom to check your coloration, and that voice keeps saying, “Yeah, I did kinda feel sluggish this morning. Maybe I’m coming down with something.” The mind is a powerful thing, and our psyche can be fragile. I feel like this is a cartoonish example with real-world implications.

The power that lies in a suggestion relies on several critical variables. The most important of which, I feel, is “the Who.” Not the band, the person delivering the message. Some time ago, I touched on this very topic in my blog “Third Time’s a Charm.” In the narrative, I used the example of your mother and college roommate telling you to take out the trash, same message, different messenger. 

Maybe I’m dating myself, but there was a time when kids listened AND did chores. That same kid would probably have a few choice words for his roommate, a trivial example but an important aspect of communication with real-world implications. 

Then there is the “You” in this communication equation. Are you always “you?Are there not days you could possibly find yourself more susceptible to suggestion than others? 

It’s early spring, Friday, and the forecast calls for bluebird skies with a high of 80 degrees. Your cubical co-worker calls and says they’re heading to the lake. You’re ordinarily steadfast and dedicated to getting on with whatever lies before you. But today, the message hits you the right way, and before you know it, you’re down 8 hours of PTO. Where you are mentally and physically at the time of message delivery can significantly impact your degree of receptiveness.

Where am I going with this one, and why? It was a recent conversation with a friend that rekindled my interest in the topic of suggestion. We’ve both undergone a small battery of health exams and procedures over the past couple of years, but her recent encounter with healthcare professionals spurred some interesting conversation. 

I’m not sure when this all started, but I could take a guess. I’m referring to the now regular line of seemingly off-topic questioning that we are mandated to endure in the doctor’s office. I’m not a healthcare professional, but I am a human being, and when I go to the doctor for back pain, I want the staff to focus on my problem and not cause a new one. 

So, when they ask, “Are you safe at home?” “Has anyone ever hurt you?” “Do you ever feel depressed?” I have to bite my tongue. First, they already know I live alone. Second, if I answered honestly, I fear I wouldn’t be allowed to leave. Now it’s the doctor that has caused me to feel unsafe.

Not long ago, a particular government official said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.Why? Because they know there is a window of opportunity in the public’s psyche. News, particularly a constant stream of bad news, can lead people to believe in a false reality. 

Whether it’s your health or your money, be critical of any message you receive if you are in a negative state of mind. Again, whether it’s your health or your money, fear or uncertainty are probably not the best times for decision-making. But they may be an excellent time to search for a different perspective or second opinion.   

If the news makes you worried or upset, please feel free to contact me. I can help provide you with a different perspective! And if you choose not to call, turn off the TV anyway.


Brian Pitell

BPG Planning