How to have hypnotic conversations that won’t sound like you’re a therapist or a weirdo

There’s lots of talk about this thing called ‘conversational hypnosis’ but not everyone is talking about the same thing.

  • some are talking about a style of therapeutic hypnosis pioneered by a doctor called Milton Erickson
  • some are talking about ‘influential language patterns’
  • some are talking about hypnotising others in an everyday setting for influence
  • Some are talking about super stealth black-ops ninja Jedi mind control


Conversational hypnosis, to me, means having an influence conversation using language and frameworks from hypnosis.

This isn’t the Erickson approach – if you just go and listen to Erickson doing hypnosis it’s not very conversational at all. His work is only called ‘conversational hypnosis’ because it’s a lot more conversational than “10…relaxing deeply…9…closing your eyes now…8…sinking down in your chair…7…giving me your wallet…” Well, you get the idea.

You see, the first mistake most people make when they want to do conversational hypnosis – they learn hypnosis. Then they try and make hypnosis sound like a conversation. Then we all get to experience the great train wreck that is their new ‘conversational’ style.

Let me give you a specific example. There’s a thing in regular hypnosis called ‘pace and lead’. A ‘lead’ is a suggestion of some type. A ‘pace’ is a statement that the hypnotic subject can easily verify right-then-and-there. A classic pace would be “you can hear the sound of my voice”. Of course they can. And that’s okay in a clinical setting, but in a conversation? Are you kidding me?

That approach falls far short because there are basically three types of ‘pacing statement’:

  1. a good mind-read (this is an insightful acknowledgement of the subject’s experience) for example “you’re a little nervous, aren’t you?”
  2. environmental pace (stating a common experience in the environment) for example, “it’s a bit cold today”
  3. Captain Obvious Strikes! (a boringly obvious environmental pace) for example “you can hear the sound of my voice”

Most people slavishly follow the pace and lead pattern when trying to do conversational hypnosis without knowing why you might want to pace and lead in the first place. And they try to do it with boringly obvious statements:

“you’re listening to me, and I’m about to say something, and you’re wondering what it will be…” It sounds like Forrest Gump!

I went with a non-hypnotist friend to a presentation where the speaker was trying to pace and lead like this. My friend thought the speaker sounded like he was on heavy medication.

Pace-and-lead is all about building trust and testing the responsiveness of the hypnotic feedback loop (more about this in the fourth video – hypnosis in a nutshell).

My question is this: are you more likely to accept a suggestion from someone who is insightful and understands you, or from someone who is boring and shallow?

Clearly, the pace and lead approach will work well enough if you use good mind-reads. This involves a skill that is absent from formal models of hypnosis but is common in conversation: asking people about themselves, listening to the answers and making an effort to understand their point of view.

This is the second mistake – forgetting that hypnosis is an interaction. Formal hypnosis tends to involve lots of talk from the hypnotist and little, if any, from the subject. In a conversation, we share the talking more or less equally.

So if you’re using formal hypnosis models for a conversation and the other person goes off into a long story or veers off on a tangent, you’ll probably think “disaster!”. That’s far from the case, because that is what conversations do. If you do conversational hypnosis a different way, that tangent’s not just useful – it’s a bonus!

Am I talking about nested loops? Multiple embedded metaphor? Lesser-included-deep structures? Leveraging Archetypes? This is the third mistake – high tech hypnosis.

There are so many ‘techniques’ out there and so much structured language – hypnosis – and persuasive language in general – has become really high tech and complicated. There are 1001 tiny things to remember and track. What a juggling act!

Good hypnosis is simple hypnosis. The most effective methods for influence are really simple. And when complicated things break down, they usually need an expert to fix them.

My hypnosis model is really simple and anyone can learn it. It’s based on a single premise:

Don’t take hypnosis and try to make it sound like a conversation. Start with a conversation and make it hypnotic.

That’s it. There are some key elements of hypnosis that can be added to a conversation, but we start with the conversation first. That way, your influence conversation will sound like you’re a normal person and not a therapist or weirdo.

How do I know this? I wrote the book on it. You can learn the specifics of truly conversational hypnosis in my book Hypnotic Conversations: The Secret Structure Behind Everyday Hypnosis.

Or if you want to know more first, watch my next video on the Myth of Secret Hypnotic Language.

A quick reality check for your 2016 plans – 3 ways to seize control while there’s still time left

"So, Bookface, how are your plans for this year?" "Well, I filled my quota of cat pictures back in January..."Time for a quick reality-check. It’s now over a third of the way through 2016 – have your plans for this year materialised yet, or have you already told yourself “well, maybe next year…”

If that’s you, it’s time to be proactive and to begin designing your future.

Now, Woody Allen wasn’t far wrong when he said “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

In other words, not all designs work out as planned, so I’ve provided some guidelines that successful people use implicitly and which you can begin to use explicitly.

These are:

While following these systems doesn’t guarantee success, they will definitely show you what is workable and give you ways to get started on your hopes and dreams instead of waiting and hoping.

That’s it. Be proactive – do something definite and do it today…

Getting Ahead in Business – Avoid This Mistake and Gather Influence

[how can I help?] [It's always 'Me, Me, Me' with you, isn't it?]

When thinking about influencing others in the workplace, most people start off by making the same cardinal error. Avoid making this mistake and you can begin to impress decision makers at work and take control of your ability to get ahead.

The mistake I’m talking about is thinking about influence from your point of view only. That’s a lot like asking “What’s in it for me?” each time a new task comes up. Now, there’s no need to become a selfless martyring type, but do you want to become known as someone who only acts in their own interests?

Think instead about ways you can anticipate the needs of those around you – and especially those above you in the hierarchy. Again, there’s no need to be a kiss-ass. Don’t ask for ways you can help, because it actually places a burden on others to find you something to do. Instead, do your research so you can anticipate what’s coming up and act accordingly.

If you do this correctly, it will show three things about you:

  1. You know your work
  2. You see the bigger picture of the business you’re in
  3. You’re highly capable and proactive

Additionally, you can quietly impress those around you without having to make a big deal about it.

That’s real, lasting influence.

Working with Belief Clusters – Part 3: How Values Form Chains

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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 3: How Values Form Chains

Previously, I demonstrated how beliefs and values are related and how beliefs form chains. In this third part of the series, I show you how values also form chains – but only if you elicit them correctly…


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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 3: How Values Form Chains

There is a completely different way we can track the formation of chains – this time through the connections between values.

However, it’s really important to elicit the person’s values without imposing any sort of order on them.

In this instance, we’re just modelling the value structure and relationships that currently exist.

There are, broadly speaking, two formal values elicitation questions and both have different functions.

1 – “What’s important about X?”

This question identifies the values in a particular area of life, X.

For example:

“What’s important about relationships?” will tend to elicit a value in the context of relationships.

So far, so good. One way to progress from there is to keep eliciting values connected to relationships. The formal way to do this is to ask:

“What else is important about relationships?”. This will tend to elicit another value in the context of relationships. Then keep repeating this question until you get a list of values.

However, if this is the only type of question you ask, you will get a long list of values relevant to the context of relationships, but you will not have any information about how those values are connected to each other.

So the classic thing which is done in this situation (especially by life-coaches) is to impose a hierarchy. This is done by asking:

“Which one of those values is the most important?”
or
“If you had to do without one of these values, which one would it be?”
or
“List your values in order of importance.”

(It’s quite common to advise people to do this – just Google ‘NLP values hierarchy’ to see some examples.)

However, if you do this, you’ve just lost something really important and re-structured how the person perceives their values. This is bad.

I know – some of you may be thinking:

“But I’m sure values form a hierarchy. What about the ‘hierarchy of values’? and what about Maslow’s hierarchy?”

Firstly, the hierarchy of values. We made it up and it has lasted because it appeals to our need for simple order. That’s all. Elicit values cleanly and you won’t find a linear hierarchy. Just test it out and see for yourself.

This is not to be confused with a ‘hierarchy of criteria’, which imposes order on criteria (which includes, but is not limited to, values) in order to leverage aspects of that order.

Secondly, Maslow’s work has nothing to do with values whatsoever. Read up on that if you’re still not sure about it.

So you have a list of values and imposing a hierarchy is not going to show you how the values are naturally linked together. What do you do?

You ask a second type of values-elicitation question:

2 – “When you have [value] what does that give you?”

Or simply

“What’s important about [value]?”

This allows you to identify direct relationships between values and therefore you travel down the values chain, rather than across the surface.

For example:

“What’s important to you about work?”
– a sense of accomplishment

“ok, so a sense of accomplishment. When you have that sense of accomplishment, what does that give you?”
– it gives me satisfaction

“Ok. So when you get that satisfaction from your work, what does that give you?”
– a feeling of well-being

So far, we have identified the linear chain [accomplishment -> satisfaction -> well-being] Is it a hierarchy? It looks a lot like one until we keep going.

“What does that well-being give you?”
– a sense of accomplishment

What we really have here is a simple loop. This is not uncommon, by the way and there are other structures to be found too, if you elicit the values chains cleanly.

[By ‘cleanly’, I don’t mean use the ‘clean language’ approach, necessarily. Just stop assuming how the system is ordered and find out what is really there.]

Access the next part of this series to find out:

  • What other structures do values chains form?
  • What strengths and weaknesses does each structure have?

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Working With Belief Clusters 2 – How Beliefs Form Chains

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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 2: How Beliefs Form Chains

To create lasting change, we often need to look at the bigger picture, especially when working with limiting beliefs, which are connected into larger structures. In this second video in the series, I show four ways in which beliefs chain together.


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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 2: How Beliefs Form Chains

In order to identify clusters – complex structures with many linkages – we need to look first at simple connections. I call these ‘chains’. Let’s get started.

Working with the ‘If – Then – Means’ belief structure from the previous part, there are several ways that chains can form:

1. Cause -> Effect -> Further consequences

When we start with the cause and effect part of the belief, often the effect has consequences too.

if X then Y (means Z)
and
if Y then A (means B)

X -> Y -> A

For example:
If I try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)
If I fail then I’ll never try it again (means I’m a quitter)

These causes, effects and further consequences work like a row of dominoes.

2. Cause + Condition -> Effect

The chains can also branch, especially if multiple factors work together to create different effects.

For example:
If I try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)

If I fail and I’m stressed then I’ll never try it again (means I’m a quitter)
or
If I fail and I’m not stressed then I’ll try it again (means I’m learning)

This way, we get a complete and more complex structure.

X -> Y
Y + stress -> A
Y (no stress) -> X

Notice how ‘trying it again’ loops back round to the start (X)

3. Cause -> Effect 1 + Effect 2

There can also be multiple consequences to a cause-effect.

For example:

If I try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)
If I fail then I’ll never try it again (means I’m a quitter)
and I’ll get depressed

In this case, getting depressed is a second effect of failing, rather than a consequence of never trying it again.

4. Cause 1 or Cause 2 -> Effect

The or structure demonstrates that some effects can stem from a variety of causes.

For example:

If I try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)
or
If I don’t try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)

If a condition or its opposite create the same effect, as in the example, this is a bind, which is a special condition of this structure. In general, limitation is what happens when the flow from cause to effect narrows rather than branching.

From all this, it’s clear that cause and effect chains can form complex structures. However, those structures can be extremely unwieldy and when creating change, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to focus your efforts.

So we need to have a way of targeting the crucial areas. Values can help with this.

Access the next part of this series to find out:

  • How to identify and elicit values chains
  • how to elicit values without damaging the chains

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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 1

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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 1: Beliefs and Values

Beliefs aren’t isolated things, so they shouldn’t be worked with in isolation. This is the first in a series about working with beliefs as clusters. Part 1 describes how beliefs and values are connected.


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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 1: Beliefs and Values

Many people talk about beliefs and how they form into ‘clusters’, yet they only work with single beliefs when they want to create change.

They don’t describe:

  • how beliefs cluster,
  • why that is important,
  • how to identify the beliefs in a cluster,
  • or how they are interconnected.

I’m going to answer some of those questions in this series of videos, so when I’m finished, you’ll have some simple theory and some actionable knowledge too.

Values are an interesting place to begin, because

  • they’re easy to identify
  • they’re interlinked
  • they relate directly to beliefs
  • they focus you on the areas which are most important

Again, many people elicit values in a particular way that imposes order on them and will prevent you from seeing how values interlink.

So before we get into values, let’s look at how they’re related to beliefs.

Values and Beliefs – Relationship

First, some basic information about how a belief is structured:

It can be useful to look at a belief as a meaningful system of cause and effect.

Robert Dilts* uses this useful structure to map beliefs onto:

if X then Y means Z

where X is the cause
where Y is the effect
and Z is a value judgement

How is this useful?

Firstly, you can also use the ‘If – Then – Means’ structure to make sure you have identified all the elements relevant to the belief you’re examining.

For example: (If I try then I’ll fail, which means I’m a failure)

‘trying’ is the cause.
‘failing’ is the effect.
‘failure’ is the value.

So we can use this structure to identify values from looking directly at beliefs.

If we’re already working with beliefs, why bother with values?

Well, we can backtrack from a value to identify a belief, or set of related beliefs.

How?

In this case, we ask about the rules surrounding a value.

Suppose, for example, we elicited the value ‘failure’.

You can ask:
“How do you know when you have failure?”
and
“How do you know when you haven’t failure?”

You might get the answers: “I know I have failure when I try something and fail (don’t succeed)” and “I know when I don’t have failure when I try something and I succeed (don’t fail)”.

Again, it helps to use the ‘If – Then – Means’ structure to make sure you have the structure of the whole belief.

So that is how values and beliefs are connected.

To summarise:

Working between beliefs and values is useful.

From beliefs to values:

  • What does it mean when X causes Y?
  • If X leads to Y, what does that mean?
  • If you Y because X, what does that mean?

From values to beliefs:

  • How do you know when you have Z?
  • How do you know when you don’t have Z?
  • What makes you Z?

Access the next part of this series to find out:

  • How to identify and elicit belief chains
  • how belief chains can branch and loop

*Dilts, R., Sleight of Mouth, (1999)

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Role 2: Role-modelling solutions

Now you’ve met your role model and had a taste of what it’s like to be them. Don’t you wish they were around when you needed their help of advice though?

Here’s a way you can have the next-best thing.

Role-modelling solutions

  1. Pick a situation where you would like the advice of a particular role model.
  2. Encapsulate the situation: Be sure where the experience begins and ends.
  3. Begin by running the experience through from your own perspective.
  4. Next, imagine your role model is present.
  5. As before, ask them questions and glean any advice you can.
  6. Now step into your role model and look at the situation again. From that perspective, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
  7. When you’ve gained all you can from that perspective, step back out, taking the knowledge with you.
  8. Now step back into yourself at the beginning of the experience. Given your new knowledge, how do you respond differently and how does the situation unfold this time?
  9. Cast your mind forward to a time in the future where you may encounter a similar situation. How does it play out in that instance?

In this way, you can draw upon a different, expert perspective for insight and problem solving. To gather further perspective, repeat the exercise with a second, different role model.

Interesting? Your questions and comments are welcome below.

(This is just one of the techniques you learn on our NLP Practitioner training. Go here to find out more)

Role 1: Who are your role models?

‘Role model’ has become a meaningless phrase, broadened to cover just about anyone who has something going for them. Whether it’s business leaders, teachers, athletes or rock stars, everyone is now considered to be a role model. The phrase ‘role model’ has become cliched and consequently lost all of its vigour.

That’s kind of a shame because the concept is really useful. I’m not talking about how it’s used traditionally either – you won’t need to slavishly mimic the attitudes and behaviour of someone you wish to emulate.

Here’s how to revive your role-model

First, you’ll need to choose someone you find inspirational or aspirational as your model.

What is it about them that inspires you?
What is it about them that you wish others could see in you too?

  1. Go to a room where you will not be interrupted for a short while.
  2. Stand with a clear space in front of you.
  3. With eyes open or closed, (whatever works best for you) imagine your role-model in front of you.
  4. Speak with them for a short time, asking them questions about the aspect of their life you’re interested in.
  5. In a moment, you’re going to step inside them to experience what it’s like to be them on the inside.
  6. Physically take a step forward into the space where you imagined them to be, allowing yourself to see through their eyes, hear what they’d hear and feel how they feel inside when they’re exhibiting the aspect you’re interested in.
  7. Take some time to just absorb this new experience. What are they saying to themselves on the inside?
  8. When you’re ready, step back out again, taking with you only the aspects that are relevant to you.
  9. Let the new knowledge and experiences settle in.

In this way, you can gather crucial information that is in a mental ‘blind-spot’ – namely, how they experience the world on the inside. What does this do?

You’ll gain insight into what makes them the way they are – deep motivations and ideals that drive them.

You’ll also pick up some of that too – by experiencing it for yourself, it becomes a choice you can take and a set of behaviours you can draw upon to expand your own growing capabilities.

Look past the cliche and become inspired again. Who are your role models?

(This is just one of the techniques you learn on our NLP Practitioner training. Go here to find out more)

Unlock Your Personal Creativity

Do you think you are a creative person?

If not, I want you to think again. Your personal creativity is probably locked up in how you define ‘creativity’. That’s not a simple case of semantics though. It’s about how you define yourself and the things you can do.

For example, are you creating a life for yourself? Or making a family? Do you have unusual ideas, make things or solve life’s little problems as you go through your day?

You might be wondering whether any of those things are really creative.

Creativity is often confused with originality – in fiction, there are really only 8 stories. However, writing is still considered to be creative. So creativity doesn’t need to be making something original.

Creativity is often confused with artistry – as though only painters, writers, sculptors and musicians could be creative. Engineers and artchitects make beautiful things, which are definitely creative, but rarely considered artistic.

Perhaps it’s time to admit that you are creative and let that aspect of you come to life.

How to Kill Procrastination

Question: What plans do you have for yourself that you’ve just been pushing into the future?

You probably know the type of plans I mean – the good stuff that seems to be always a few months out of reach.

If that’s you, congratulations – you’re just in time to prevent some regrets.

Think about this: do you really want to be in this exact same position this time next year? How would that feel?

You might tell yourself that a year can seem like a long time. One thing I do know is that time passes quickly when we idle away the moments. Procrastination – the failure to move into action – is not a modern problem either.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Listen to da Vinci. Information is not enough. Intention is not enough. There’s something fundamentally different about action which greatly outstrips mere knowledge or willingness.

Some of you might think that da Vinci sat around all day figuring things out. Far from it. He accomplished an immense amount in his lifetime.

So what causes procrastination and how do we solve it? How can you learn to move into action more of the time?

Where people fail to act:

  • Being unaware of choices
    There are certain things we’re culturally conditioned to decide and most of them aren’t really that important when you look at the bigger picture.There are other decisions that are invisible to all but the top 0.1%, the ‘great achievers’ of our age.These are the things that you ‘can’t’ or ‘aren’t supposed to’ decide.For example, you could just decide that this is going to be the year in which your life becomes transformed – the year your dreams and plans become a glorious reality.When you consider that, what did you tell yourself? Many people think “but I can’t just do that!” then reason away their future with faulty ideas about luck, random forces or what they think they deserve.
  • Being ‘all talk’
    There’s an old saying – “talk is cheap”. It’s a sad fact that talk doesn’t necessarily transform into action.The paradox is that when you get into action, you have something to talk about.
  • Being purely theoretical
    Pure theory involves plenty of supposition and no experimentation. It’s a world-view that only builds on existing assumptions. The only testing is for plausibility (i.e. does this match what I know?). As you can probably imagine, it’s possible to build towering edifices of theory on top of faulty assumptions.Good theory is intimately linked with action – and thus learning occurs. Books aren’t great for learning unless you test the knowledge presented there. Otherwise, the only exercise is one of memory.“Life is so unlike theory.” – Anthony Trollope
  • Being too clever
    If you’ve ever seen a doorstop with built in alarm clock radio, you’ll know that it’s possible to be a bit too clever. Unfortunately, this apparent exaggeration is not far from the truth in many cases. Complexity is not a virtue. To me, the truly clever people are those who can make a seemingly complex idea easy to understand. I’m not talking about ‘dumbing down’ ideas. I’m talking about good communication and the elegance of simplicity. Wallowing in apparent complexity is a great way of avoiding action.“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci
  • Being a perfectionist
    The act of perfecting something can take a long time. The standard of ‘perfection’ is, by definition, extremely hard to achieve. And often unnecessary. To wait for perfection is sometimes to wait forever. Sometimes good is good enough. Then you can act. Remember the saying “perfect spoils good”.
  • Anticipating failure
    Many people fail to act because their experience tells them that it just hurts too much to fail. This is a double whammy. Firstly, the focus is on pain and failure and you will tend to get what you focus on. Second, there is the barrier of ‘being safe’Isn’t it safe to begin living your dreams? The (often faulty) assumption of safety is that it’s safest to stick with what you’ve got and do nothing new.In many cases, ‘safe’ is like sitting in a car which is rolling towards a cliff. Everything is perfectly okay until that inevitable moment…

Decision is very often the process of cutting away all lesser options. Here’s how:

Exercise for moving into action:

  1. Identify: Where is your ‘theoretical’ knowledge?
    1. Imagine it’s true
      Close your eyes. Imagine and experience the actions that go with understanding that. What do you see, hear and feel?
    2. Imagine it’s not true
      Imagine and experience the actions that do with discovering that. What do you see, hear and feel this time?
  2. Integrate: Allow your unconscious mind to sort and combine all the information from both experiences.
  3. Action: What is the easiest way that you can test your theory in the Real World? Go now and do that before moving on.
  4. Fuzzy proposition: Few practical ‘facts’ are completely true or completely untrue. There are ‘degrees of truth’ to almost any statement based on the situation and circumstances. Based on your Real World experiences, decide where/when it’s true and where/when it’s not true.
  5. Learning: What did you learn from your ‘test actions’ that was not in (i) or (ii)? This is where learning expands through experiential knowledge.

NOTE:
It’s important to take any pain out of the learning process. Make it so experimentation feels neutral and successes feel good. Give yourself a little rewarding glow every time you do something surprisingly right or good or excellent.

It’s like being in the supermarket looking through oranges to find the best ones. Dented or unripe oranges don’t feel bad. It’s more of a neutral experience. The good ones feel different though, don’t they? Make your action steps feel like this and you’ll succeed more of the time.

Summary

This is how we kill procrastination.

The true test is in the testing – da Vinci knew this because he was an experimental sort. He was constantly modelling the world around him, testing and refining those models through action.

It’s time to take action now. Otherwise, all you can hope for is regret.