Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns
We all know that words alone are only a small fraction of communication. The way those words are said constitute a much higher percentage of the communication received. In the same way, Hypnotic Language Patterns are hugely effected by the way they are said. The tonality with which they are said and the tonal shifts used to emphasize particular words or phrases (as addressed in a previous Blog post) are crucial. Also vital is the pacing and tempo of how you speak.

In today’s Blog Post we’re going to take a look at the use of…

In our last post we touched on Christina Hall’s exquisite use of punctuational ambiguity, but I’d like to also point out her brilliant use of phrasing.

Below we have the complete statement we quoted last week that Ms. Hall attributed to Richard Bandler. However, in the first example, we’ve altered the phrasing to be more the way most people would say it. Each phrase is essentially a complete sentence. 

Read these two examples out loud to yourself noticing what happens with the difference in how they’re phrased.

“Well, you know that you can sometimes feel confused and not know…

yet continue to learn…

because your conscious mind is very smart…

and your unconscious mind also learns in a variety of ways…

so why not let it do the work for you for a while?”

– or-

“Well, you know that you can…

sometimes feel confused and not know…yet

continue to learn   because

your conscious mind is very smart   and

your unconscious mind also learns in a variety of ways  so

why not let it do the work for you for a while?”

NOTE: Chris will vocally emphasize the conjunctions and always pays exquisite attention to the inflection of her voice. (Remember the upward inflection implies questions, a downward shift is congruent with a command, etc.)

To me, when I read the first paragraph, at the end of each line my brain gets to agree or disagree; the speaker has offered a complete thought or suggestion that I get to vote on. In the second paragraph I have no such opportunity. My imagination is captured by the speaker throughout because I’m continually wondering what’s coming next.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to experience first hand the importance of this. The issue of using Hypnosis for Pain Management was to become very personal to me, as I had elected to undergo surgery without anesthesia. In preparing for the operation my colleague and I discovered that when the suggestions were delivered as in the first example below it was less effective than when delivered as in the second.

Imagine yourself in the Operating Room, all prepped and ready to go. You hear the voice that says,

“You are deep in trance.
You will experience nothing but comfort.
You will breath easily and normally.
You will experience no discomfort.
You will have minimal bleeding.
You are floating in the middle of nowhere.

Well here’s what my brain would say at the end of each line:

“You are deep in trance. (No, not that deep really.)
You will experience nothing but comfort. (OK, I really hope you’re right about that.)
You will breath easily and normally, (Doing my best! In…out… in… out)
You will experience no discomfort, (OW! What the hell was that?!)
You will have minimal bleeding. (I’m bleeding?!)
You are floating in the middle of nowhere, (I wish! But right now I acutely aware I’m in a nightmare.)

Fortunately it didn’t come to that. While I can’t quote exactly what was said because I was in a pretty decent trance, I can tell you my experience of what was said was more like this;

“And, as you float gently down
into a deep and comfortable trance
you might find that you can
follow your breath in…and…
out. That’s right…
relaxing deeper
because you know a lot about how to
go into a trance… and
you don’t even have to try…to
listen to every word  I say…
You don’t
even have to be   here
You can go…in your mind’s eye…
To a beautiful beach… with many
beautiful… people and things
to   focus your attention
there now

Another great advantage of shorter phrases is you can create a nice rhythm with your speaking that itself facilitates trance. (This is especially true if you time the pauses to your client’s breathing.) 

Here’s an Idea:
For practice and for the fun of it, write out a script of your own and use all the different language patterns we’ve learned up to now. Now, of course, this is just for practice. You would never really do this in real life. These patterns are best used when you have a good reason to use them in the service of your therapeutic goal. But you know that, I’m sure.

In classes that I teach, I recommend to my students that they fold a piece a paper in half vertically and write your script in phrases down one side of the sheet of paper first and then down the second half.

Maybe you’ll want to do that too. Won’t you?

By the Way: We highly recommend the NLP work of Chris Hall. 

You can reach her here:  www.chris-nlp-hall.com

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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