Primarily, there are two species of answers to questions. There is the answer that entertains and interests everybody, and there is the personal reply that usually remains of interest to one person only. If you are performing a Question and Answer routine as part of a mental act—then your first concern is entertainment so your answers will be framed accordingly. On the other hand, if you were giving a Private Reading—there is no need to be entertaining—since your audience is composed of one and that one is far more concerned with personal attention than amusement.
With this difference in mind, we can foresee that almost any question will do for the personal reading but for "open" readings (i.e. from stage or platform) we must become a showman. We have already considered the best type of question and now let us consider the best type of answer.
The personal reading is easiest to describe so we shall deal with that first. Your prime concern is to make the subject happy. No matter what they tell you or what you deduce, sort out something from the interview that can leave you in a position to advise a pleasant change very soon. There is no need to be commital. Ambiguity is the very essence of personal reading—and so is the art of introducing happiness. Try to discover what interests the subject most, and if it is money—advise a gain shortly to be met with; if romance, advise new friends, new faces and contacts from old associates are on the way, , etc., etc. Speak in broad terms, never specialise or pin-point your suggestions too much. Allow the subject to create a meaning to your words—as they will if you do it rightly. Reflect for a moment that since the days when Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet "To Be or Not To Be . . tens of thousands of people have sought their own meaning to that most ambiguous phrase. It suits ideally any of the vast number of problems that do occur in every life— and people, forgetting all about the original intention of the line from Hamlet —seek their own meaning.
Flattery can be a sin, a deadly weapon and a medicine depending upon how it is used and when. The Mentalist should study the uses of flattery and particularly so when it comes to readings. An obstinate client can be inflated to an endless degree of self-importance, and then become quite a chatterbox when the tongue has been loosened with a few flattering remarks! A self-conscious timid client can be relaxed when you tell him that his talents are more than he supposes, that he is too tolerant and considerate. With an understanding of the use of flattery, you will find that this alone can be the means for you to bring success to your private reading. Very, very few people are immune to the effect of flattery and whenever you discover a talent or skill in the client, build it up as though it is something worth having and something to be proud of—again using your personal judgment in the matter. For example, having discovered that your client was a first class burglar— it would not be advisable to flatter and thereby endorse his talent!
To reduce the requirements of an answer given to a personal question, to the very minimum, let us cay this. First find out what they want and as far as possible, twist your answer round so that you say they will get it. Keep the interview "alive" with suggestions and inferences of good things that may happen. Stick in a couple of sure-fire predictions for good value and act the part throughout. For example, during the reading you vary your attitude. Sometimes you are serious—the matter is grave, and sometimes light-hearted, the future is bright! One thing is vital knowledge to the Reader and should never be forgotten; that is, nearly all clients ask a question which has already been considered by them and they have invariably formed their own opinions as to what to do. More often than not—if you advise against the decision they have already formed in their mind, you are conflicting with their wishes and they don't like that. ,As long as you can, make it a rule to find out what they have decided they sRoyld do—and you advise the same. The only time to break this rule—is wher> you know without any doubt that it will cause lots of trouble, if it is illegal or extremely dangerous. If you keep in mind the slogan "Tell them what they want to know"—you will be successful.
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To do this successfully you need to build a clear path of action by using tools if necessary. These tools would be facts, evidence and stories which you know they can relate to. Plus you always want to have their best interests at heart, in other words, you know what is good for them