David, Bathsheba and The Sly Manipulator
Do ya know the story of King David and Bathsheba? Bathsheba is bathing, unclothed, on her roof (why she’s doing that, we’re not told) and David is relishing every minute of the view.
He invites her to the palace, sleeps with her, gets her pregnant, and arranges for her husband to accidentally, uh, get cut down in battle.
His #1 trusted advisor hears about it. What follows is a lesson that every copywriter, everyone who aspires to be a Strong Persuader should burn into memory. Here’s what happens next:
The Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story:
“There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle.
The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter.
One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”
David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “YOU ARE THAT MAN!”
Suddenly David admitted to everything.
Sly manipulator, that Nathan guy.
Sly manipulator, that God guy.
Wanna talk about writing for Influence, Authority and Impact? That story is 3,000 years old and still going strong. I betcha almost a billion people in the world can recite it from memory.
Nathan COULD have used the 10 commandments on David. That would be “Rational Logic.”
Rational logic is:
A bad thing >> Which needs to be changed >> creates a condition >> in which a person is feeling pain
But Nathan used Emotional Logic instead.
A person is feeling pain >> because of a condition >> which was created by a bad thing >> which needs to be changed
Nathan knew that with real human beings – especially humans who are already busy avoiding certain truths – you have to speak to the heart.
CONFESSION: I’m a Rational Logic guy. Engineer. In fact the original subject line I wrote for this email was “Emotional Logic vs. Rational Logic.” I was about to launch into this rational explanation and eventually get around to the heart stuff.
But I am trained to understand, that’s bass ackwards. You gotta start with a story that plucks heart strings, then deliver the truth in the punch line. After all, if David was logical, he wouldn’t have done the deed in the first place.
Almost every time I sit down to write, I have to flip everything around backwards before I’m done. A lot of people naturally start with the heart, but not me. I have to fix it as I go.
So if you ever feel like Nathan, whose #1 customer is really smart and really powerful and “ought to know better for crying out loud!!!” – take a move out of Nathan’s playbook.
Pluck the heartstrings first.
Writing For Influence, Authority And Impact – private retreat in Chicago