Smart pacing – an easy alternative to boring your hypnotic subject into trance

When talking about hypnosis, most people get the wrong idea about what pacing is. The system in question consists of a pattern of pacing (matching) and then leading (sameness and then difference). As I mentioned in the first video, a pacing statement is commonly reduced to one which matches the obvious perceptions of the hypnotic subject, such as “you are aware of the sounds in the room” or something similar.

I’d suggest a broader definition may be more useful, as it would be better to be able to get things moving towards where you want them straight away, rather than all this tedious and unnecessary business about how things are right now.

I define pacing as “matching aspects of their model of the world.” Notice that I didn’t say anything about ‘statements’ and that I’m intent on focusing them only on certain aspects of the way they think the world works.

You see, you don’t need to ‘pace’ overly much when you’re making suggestions within their model of the world. You can work within their model of the world while asking questions which focus them on relevant and useful parts of it.

How do you know, then, what they suppose is true about the world, without making stupidly obvious statements or outright guesses?

Firstly, questions are better than statements, because they reduce the need for mind-reading, or for tediously stating things which are obvious.

More interestingly, we can ask questions which focus them on aspects of awareness that begin to lead towards where we want them to go.

A ‘formal’ example of a focus question would be “where in your body are you feeling most relaxed right now?” You can immediately understand how much more of an effect that would have than “you are feeling relaxation somewhere in your body”. The question sends them on a search for relaxation, while the statement can, at most, be a loose confirmation of a fact.

It’s self-evident that they’re feeling relaxation in some areas more than in others, even if they’re somewhat tense overall, so the question is partly a pace. It also will have the effect of focusing them on relaxation and causing more of it – a lead.

So the focus question (especially one which uses a comparison) is the most effective form of an indirect lead.

This form of indirect lead is a powerful substitute for the old pace – a smarter form of pacing.

If you want to know more about smart pacing, or to be led through the hypnotic process in detail, with plenty of examples and practical exercises, get my book Hypnotic Conversations: The Secret Structure Behind Everyday Hypnosis.

Or if you want to know even more first, then watch my next video – The best way to practice Hypnotic language without wanting to slam your head in a door.

The Truth at the Heart of the Myth of Secret Hypnotic Language

What’s so important about hypnotic language? If you browse the internet for info, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there are special words and phrases which compel others to do what you want.

There are a lot of myths about hypnosis, but this is something of a biggie – and even some hypnotists buy into this one!

Let’s look at the facts:

• There are special words and phrases used by hypnotists
• It’s possible to hypnotise people without using any words at all

In that case, what do the so-called ‘hypnotic words’ actually do?

Hypnotic language makes it easier to achieve certain effects in the hypnotic process.

By itself, with no hypnotic process in place behind it, it doesn’t do anything in particular.

It’s the icing on the cake, not the substance of the cake itself. But like little kids in Mom’s kitchen, the icing tastes so good – much better than the cake itself.

That’s why we hear so much about hypnotic language – and so little about the hypnotic process.

There are three other reasons hypnotic language is so popular:

  • it’s “high tech” and makes you feel clever
  • It’s the easiest bit of hypnosis to get across in a book
  • you can give it away without actually giving away any ‘hypnotic secrets’

Where did it come from anyway?

The main source of hypnotic language is Milton Erickson – and the models of his language created by Bandler, Grinder, Haley and a whole host of other folks who studied his ground-breaking approach.

Before Erickson, hypnotists believed that it was necessary to put the hypnotic subject into a special state of mind where they will do what you tell them to.

In that way of thinking, anyone who doesn’t follow your direct commands is resistant to hypnosis.

Erickson’s approach to hypnosis is a way of circumventing that resistance. By artful use of language, he made suggestions while generally avoiding direct commands.

No direct commands? No resistance. Simple and effective.

For example, one pattern in language that Milton Erickson used is called an ’embedded command’.
An embedded command is a phrase within a conversation which acts as a hypnotic instruction because it is subtly highlighted – usually by a variation in voice tone.

When your voice tone goes up at the end of a phrase, it sounds like a question. If the tone is level, that is a statement. When the tone drops at the end, it sounds like a command.

Embedded commands are usually “marked out” by using the tone pattern of a command for that phrase.

Simple, yes? High-tech sneaky stuff? You can understand the appeal.

However, most people that attempt to use embedded commands completely misunderstand how they work.

Many people just issue commands instead of embedding them subtly:

  1. I’d like you to feel very relaxed
  2. Relax only as deeply as you’re comfortable doing that.

The first example above is just a command. It isn’t embedded in anything. You might as well say “I’d like you to give me your money“. Not going to happen.

In the second example, the surface meaning is to relax only as deeply as their sense of comfort will allow. The command is essentially to feel comfortable relaxing deeply.

It’s interpreted only by the unconscious mind because it isn’t explicit.

Secondly, many people think single suggestions will work:

  1. What’s it like when you begin to relax?
  2. What do you think of when your mind decides to let go of all tension? You might decide to relax only as deeply as you’re comfortable doing that, because you know deep down inside that it’s okay.

In the first example, the command “begin to relax” is hidden within a question. But, it’s only one suggestion.

In the second example there are four suggestions, all of which move the subject in a similar direction. They act as a second level of communication and set up a sub-context for the unconscious mind to follow.

And it works really well as a form of hypnotic suggestion when used artfully and with skill. It does take some practice to make this approach your own. Consequently, the two misuses of this technique I’ve shown you are usually a result of laziness or poor understanding of the purpose of the tool.

These are examples drawn from a “formal” hypnotic context. And it is possible to use these patterns of suggestion in a more “conversational” context.

Now you can see how this stuff comes across as clever ‘high tech’ hypnotic language.

The icing on that cake tastes good, doesn’t it? What would you do though, if you cut into a cake and found out it was just a hollow shell?

What about the rest of it then? Is hypnosis just a case of putting together vast streams of hidden commands?

Not really. As I said earlier, hypnosis is a set of behaviours, guided by a few simple principles. When you know the rules, you can learn to do hypnosis in any context – piece by piece.

If you’ve fallen in love with embedded commands, just remember – however effective they can be, it’s hard work when compared to the methods I show you in my book – Hypnotic Conversations: The Secret Structure Behind Everyday Hypnosis.

Or if you want to know more first, watch my next video on How to get started with conversational hypnosis.

NLP Word Power 2 – Words That Lend Influence

Some words can be used to ‘lend’ influence to others. In this pattern, two things become linked in a person’s mind. There are various simple words to do this, words that you use every day.

Linking with a simple conjunction, such as ‘and’, can be very powerful, because we tend to consciously ignore small words.

At this point you might be thinking “seriously – ‘and’ ? That’s it?” Bear with me.

Because we ignore words like ‘and’, we need to sharpen our awareness to notice the effect of this linking.

How it’s misused:

For example, think about the phrase “health and beauty”. We see this fairly often and don’t question it, but do the two necessarily belong together?

Are healthy people necessarily beautiful? Are beautiful people necessarily healthy? I’m sure we can agree that the link between the two is nowhere near as definite as the phrase might imply. How about “health and safety”? Again, the link is tenuous at best. This is true of many statements which are linked with the word ‘and’.

How about an advertising example: Have a coke and a smile

How you can use it powerfully:

On the upside, this language pattern is really easy to use. Just link something together with something else using ‘and’. Here are some examples.

“relax and enjoy yourself”

“have fun and do well in your interview”

“take your time and come up with the right answer”

It’s really simple and you can test it out for yourself.

Summary:

To add borrowed influence to an idea, use simple linkages like ‘and’.

NLP Word Power 1 – Words that magnify emotion

Influence. Most people want more of it. It can be frustrating if you are unable to affect important events and circumstances in the world around you.

Those same people don’t realise how much influence they already have, but are unknowingly frittering it away. It’s not really their fault – they don’t know any better yet.

This series will cover simple things you can do to use your language to reclaim your influence and expand on it easily.

Language that magnifies emotion

There is one simple word that you use every day which amplifies emotions: “why?”

More specifically, asking “why?” will tend to magnify another person’s current emotional state.

How you currently misuse it:

When dealing with problems and when you are trying to help people out, I’ll bet the first question that comes to mind is “why…?”

When I train people in NLP, I put a temporary ban on ‘asking why’ when dealing with problems, because it tends to magnify the problem.

In short, “why?” creates “because.”

Asking “why are you feeling sad?” results in the client generating more justification for the sadness. This brings them further into the emotion of ‘feeling sad’ and tends to focus their mind more on sadness. A downward spiral.

In this way, a carelessly worded, but well intentioned question can suck any remaining positivity out of their day.

How you can use it powerfully:

On the upside, asking “Why?” doesn’t just accelerate negative feelings. You can take a more positive emotion and build upon it instead.

If someone is mildly happy, asking “why are you so cheerful today?” tends to result in reasons for the cheerfulness, creating more cheerful feelings and focuses more of their attention on the good feelings. it creates an upward spiral.

Summary:

To amplify their current state, good or bad, just ask “why…?”