Cold reading elements #1: personality and character

I am going to summarise some of the elements of Rowland’s book, The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading. Cold reading does not involve a rehearsed script. It consists of numerous different types of statements (and questions) which can appear more significant or meaningful than they really are. Rowland calls each type of statement an ‘element’. The cumulative effect of these elements is to create the illusion that a reading of a psychic or mystical nature is taking place. He describes the 38 most useful and productive elements he has given them pet names for ease of reference and readability, and divided them into four groups. Today I am going to look at the elements for describing character:

The Rainbow Ruse

The Rainbow Ruse is a statement which credits the client with both a personality trait and its opposite:

You can be a very considerate person, very quick to provide for others, but there are times, if you are honest, when you recognise a selfish streak in yourself  or

I would say that on the whole you can be rather a quiet, self- effacing type, but when the circumstances are right, you can be quite the life and soul of the party if the mood strikes you.

Fine Flattery

Fine Flattery statements are designed to flatter the client in a subtle way likely to win agreement. Usually, the formula involves the client being compared to “people in general” or “most of those around you”, and being declared a slight but significant improvement over them:

I have your late sister with me now. She tells me she wants you to know that she always admired you, even if she didn’t always express it well. She tells me that you are… wait, it’s coming through… yes, I see, she says you are in many ways more shrewd, or perceptive, than people might think. She says she always thought of you as quite a wise person, not necessarily to do with book-learning and examinations. She’s telling me she means wise in the ways of the world, and in ways that can’t be said of everyone. She’s laughing a little now, because she says this is wisdom that you have sometimes had to learn the hard way! She says you are intelligent enough to see that wisdom comes in many forms.

The Psychic Credit

Psychic Credits are character statements which credit the client with some form of psychic or intuitive gift, or at the very least a receptivity to others who possess such gifts:

This card, the King of Wands, is generally indicative of a perceptive or even a psychic ability of some kind. Of course we all have these gifts, but they do vary from person to person. In your case, it’s the second card in the higher triad, which is devoted to your personal profile. This suggests you have very strong and vivid intuitive gifts, and good instincts which will serve you well if you learn to trust them. Since you also have the Eight of Coins in support of the same line, I would say that you have a very fine, almost psychic kind of acumen when it comes to dealing with material goods and financial affairs. You can perceive value in ways that not everyone else can.

Sugar Lumps

Sugar Lump statements offer the client a pleasant emotional reward in return for believing in the junk on offer. In general, the Sugar Lump relates to the client’s willingness to embrace the psychic ‘discipline’ involved in the reading, and to benefit from the insights thereby gloriously revealed:

Your heart is good, and you relate to people in a very warm and loving way. The tarot often relates more to feelings and intuition than to cold facts, and your own very strong intuitive sense could be one reason why the tarot seems to work especially well for you. The impressions I get are much stronger with you than with many of my clients.

The Jacques Statement

This element consists of a character statement based on the different phases of life which we all pass through. It is named after Jacques in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, who gives the famous Seven ages of man’ speech:

If you are honest about it, you often get to wondering what happened to all those dreams you had when you were younger; all those wonderful ambitions you held dear, and plans which once mattered to you. I suspect that deep down, there is a part of you that sometimes wants to just scrap everything, get out of the rut, and start over again – this time doing things your way.

Greener Grass

The Greener Grass element is based on the fact that we all retain some fascination with the options in life that we did not take. You could say they form their own sub-set of the Jacques Statements referred to above:

I see indications of material success and professional advancement which are a credit to you, and which reflect your own drive and ability to get things done. You are the sort of person who delivers results, and this characteristic has brought its rewards. However, it has also brought its penalties. Although you would not necessarily advertise them too openly, I sense some feelings here of a potential desire for more domestic security, and a more stable home life. I would not go so far as to say this has been a serious problem for you, but I believe your loyalty to your career has not always delivered the returns you expected. I sense that from time to time, you find yourself contemplating your more domestic instincts, and wondering if they could perhaps be allowed more room to flourish. I think this has been an area of conflict within you, and I foresee that you will take steps to resolve this issue within the next 18 months or so.

 

Now imagine a client who comes across as a contented housewife, whose every waking hour revolves around her home and family. Here is the same Greener Grass statement as before, turned on its head:

I see indications of strong domestic instincts which have been allowed to flourish, and which have brought you a sense of security and stability which is a source of great strength to you, and also very much to your credit. Not everyone can be a good home-maker, but you can, and you are. However, the stability and the stimulation of family life has also brought its penalties. Although you would not necessarily advertise them too openly, I sense some feelings here of a potential desire for more career progress, or at least being able to find expression and fulfilment beyond the four walls of your home. I would not go so far as to say this has been a serious problem for you, but I believe your loyalty to your home and family has not always delivered the returns you expected. I sense that from time to time you find yourself contemplating your more professional or academic instincts and wondering if they could perhaps be allowed more room to flourish. I think this has been an area of conflict within you, and I foresee that you will take steps to resolve this issue within the next 18 months or so.

 

Barnum Statements

These are artfully generalised character statements which a majority of people, if asked, will consider to be a reasonably accurate description of themselves. Here is a selection:

You have a strong need for people to like and respect you.

You tend to feel you have a lot of unused capacity, and that people don’t always give you full credit for your abilities.

Some of your hopes and goals tend to be pretty unrealistic.

You are an independent and original thinker; you don’t just accept what people tell you to believe.

 

It is possible to get more mileage out of Barnum Statements by combining them with a technique called ‘Forking’.

Take a simple Barnum Statement, like this:

You tend to be quite self-critical.

If the client seems to be broadly in agreement with this, the psychic can develop and strengthen the idea:

You often give yourself quite a hard time over mistakes and shortcomings which perhaps other people wouldn’t worry about. You have a tendency to be your own worst enemy in this regard, and this self-critical side to your character has held you back on more than one occasion.

On the other hand, if the client seems to reject the initial statement, the psychic can develop the same theme in the opposite direction, like this:

But this tendency is one you have learned to overcome, and these days it rarely comes to the fore. You have learned to accept yourself, and to be reconciled with your own special mix of gifts and skills. You have learned how damaging it can be to be too self-critical, and all credit to you for having matured past the self-critical stage.

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