Pacing and Leading


Pacing and Leading

Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns
In an expanded form, ‘Pacing and Leading’ can be used as a trance induction in and of itself. The general concept of pacing and leading is central to Erickson’s work. You establish a rapport with a person when you pace their experience.

In this language pattern, you make note of true, experiential facts (or ‘wonder’ about them) then connect them with a suggestion. Salesmen might say that you are setting up a ‘yes’ frame. People will tend to go with the flow of affirmative responses.

I used this pattern frequently when I used to work at New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital’s Department of Complementary Medicine. I was there as a Hypnotherapist to assist people in feeling better about their operations, facilitate healing and recovery, develop new, healthier patterns of living (e.g. becoming a non-smoker) and to help manage pain. Often I would walk into the patient’s room and say, “Hello, my name is Doug (easily verifiable due to the name tag on my lapel), I’m with the Department of Surgery (also on the tag), and I’m here to help you with your pain.” The two verifiably true statements set up the following statement to be accepted as true, too. By the way, did you notice that the patient was not in a formal trance at the time?

Some Connecting Words or Phrases:

and, as, while, so, since, you can also, like, at the same time, such as, begin to, meanwhile, being, as you know, also, then, etc.

A. Basic form

“You can feel the chair, you can feel your feet on the floor, you can hear the sound of my voice, and drift off into a nice, comfortable trance.”

B. ‘Might notice…as…’

“You might notice the sensations in your hands as you being to drift deeper into trance.”

C. ‘Might notice how good…feels…as…’
(In many of these patterns it is always a good idea to suggest that they will enjoy whatever they’re going to experience)

“You might notice how good it feels to relax deeply as you close your eyes and breathe comfortably.”

So now as you read these words and make sense of the material, you can stop and imagine how you will use these language patterns in your professional life.

By the way, as you read these posts regarding Ericksonian Language patterns, and appreciate the persuasive power their use can offer you, consider taking a pad and paper and writing out your own examples that you can actually use in your own life.

As an example, if you’re a dentist, write out twenty examples of things you can say to your patients to get them to floss more often. Or to make them feel more comfortable in the dentist chair. Or to get them to come to the dentist every six months for regular check ups.

Find the situations in YOUR life where you desire more influence and write out language patterns IN ADVANCE of the situation so that you can be ready to USE THEM when that situation presents itself.

You’ll be glad you did.

About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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