Jolene Pole glanced down the list of contracts for the company she had just set up and sighed. If she didn’t get some new business in quickly, she wouldn’t have enough work to keep her staff busy. And not enough work meant not enough money, which could prove disastrous for the future of the firm.

But instead of panicking, the 33-year-old director of a cleaning enterprise knew exactly what she had to do. Jolene didn’t create a marketing campaign, print any flyers or go to the bank for a loan. She sat down and clearly said the word ‘Give’ out loud 10 times.

‘I wasn’t sure it would work but I’d just read a book about the power of “switchwords”,’ Jolene says. ‘“Give” was the word that could be used if you wanted to sell something or manifest generosity or business.

‘I thought, “What if using Give could help me secure some new cleaning contracts?” So I said it out loud, then repeated it over and over in my head. I did wonder if I was being a bit silly, but I didn’t have anything to lose.’

The next day, Jolene landed a new contract that was bigger than any she’d had before, and months later she’s been so inundated with work she’s looking for a new member of staff. ‘It’s incredible,’ she says. ‘I use switchwords all the time now.’

Jolene’s not alone. From CEOs to business gurus and employees, switchwords are the new buzz words of industry and can be used to attract money, success, repair reputations and crisis management.

‘Switchwords are powerful, uniquely chosen words that switch on your subconscious,’ says Liz Dean, author of the Amazon Number 1 bestseller Switchword: Use One Word to Get What You Want. ‘They flip a switch in your beliefs and behaviour at a deep level so you connect with your goals and attract what you want in life.’

That can be anything from making your business a success to writing a book, reaching for a good idea, speaking in public or even enhancing your reputation.

So how does it work?

Switchwords can be traced back to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who said in 1905 that they were the bridge between the conscious and unconscious dream state. But it was an American advertising executive James T Mangan who created a list of 60 switchwords to help people change their lives in his 1963 book The Secret of Perfect Living

‘The words aren’t literal, they are counter-intuitive,’ explains Liz. ‘They work by tricking the left, logical side of your brain and get under the radar of your conscious to get into your subconscious.

‘These power words speak directly to our subconscious mind, helping clear blocks to success and activating our ability to manifest money, creativity, self-healing and success. Switchwords work because the subconscious mind actually directs up to 95 per cent of our actions and decisions.’

And here’s the rub. We might openly declare that we want to be the next Steve Jobs or Sheryl Sandberg, but what if deep down we’re still the same person who struggled at school, were never picked for the team, or were told by friends, family, colleagues or former bosses that they weren’t good enough?

Unless our conscious is aligned with out subconscious, success might never happen. ‘We’re often left bewildered by our failure to complete a task or make a substantial change to our lives,’ says Liz. ‘When our subconscious mind appears to ignore or even sabotage our conscious desire through action or inaction, it’s virtually impossible to create and sustain the new reality we want.’

Quite simply most blocks to achieving success or making money are down to our own self doubts or subconscious self sabotage. Switchwords work by clearing our negative thoughts and creating the idea in our subconscious that we really can achieve what we want.

This all goes on in the amygdala, the part of the brain that responds to ‘fight or flight’ threats to survival, Liz claims. But because switchwords aren’t literal, they can get through without revealing their purpose. That means the conscious mind can’t intervene, question or block the words and our ability to get what we want. The switchwords clear bad thoughts, which limit our potential and replace them with positive energy.

In one workshop Liz was conducting with business people in New York, she came across a woman who said she wasn’t making as much money as she felt she could. ‘I asked her to imagine signing contracts, knowing that the last one she signed would be for a large amount of money,’ Liz says. ‘The woman could imagine all but the last – she just kept saying” “I can’t do it, I don’t deserve it.’” She was blocking her own success and she had to go back and look at why that was and then use switchwords to clear those negative thoughts. She’s now currently working on doing that and replacing those blocks with positive switchwords. She’s now ready for success.’

Which words are right for me?

So how do you know which words to use? Simply do a muscle test with your fingers, says Liz. It works by testing if the word has a strong or weak connection to your subconsious, like testing an electrical circuit.

‘Make a circle with the thumb and index finger of one hand, it can be your right or left,’ says Liz. ‘Now touch the tips of the index finger and thumb of the other hand together and say the word ‘strong’ as you firmly push through the circle. The circle holds. This is the ‘yes’ position. Now repeat, saying the word ‘weak’. This time, you’ll find that the circle breaks; this is the ‘no’ position. Keep repeating this, noticing the difference between your strong and weak position.’

Now you can say your chosen switchword as you push your fingers into the circle - if it holds that means the word works for you, if it breaks try another. Only say the word once so it’s working on your subconscious not your conscious. ‘If you repeat the switchword it’s likely your conscious mind is stepping in and trying to engineer the response it wants,’ Liz says.

To believe or not? It still works

Sceptics might be looking away right now, wondering how they’re going to do all this while juggling staff and looking for new business – or simply don’t want to appear weak or silly. ‘You don’t have to believe for it to work,’ Liz says. ‘That’s why I asked two friends to say the switchwords ‘together count on’ which means bring me money now. One was a total sceptic and the other really believed in the power of words, but the next day they both rang me to say they had both received money from out of nowhere, and both for the same amount, £12. It’s not a lot, but it shows that it works. You just have to have an open mind.’

You can start off with one switchword to chant 10, 28 or 108 times and then add on other switchwords to create powerful phrases. ‘Say them anytime,’ says Liz. ‘I say mine while I go for a walk but lots of people say them under the shower so they’re done first thing in the morning. Make them part of your every day life and you’ll soon see the difference.’

Of course there’s no scientific proof that the switchwords phenomenon works. ‘Sadly there hasn’t been any scientific research done into it,’ admits Liz, ‘but these words do work and are used in marketing and advertising all the time. ‘I’m reaching out to you,’ is often used in sales techniques and that ‘reach’ switchword is inspiring the reader to listen. If they are then given a sweet offer that is likely to increase the sale by up to 300 per cent, as ‘sweet’ is the switchword for being amenable and lovely to everyone, so it’s an offer that is hard to resist. Lots of successful business people use switchwords embedded in emails and every part of their sales and interactions with clients and customers to incredible effect.’

Jolene, from Loughborough in the UK, is adamant that switchwords transformed her working life. ‘My business is booming,’ she says, ‘and that’s all down to using switchwords. I have no doubt they work.’