Modal Operators of Necessity/ Possibility
A “Modal Operator” is a word like “should.” As in, “I should lose weight.” If a client uses them with us we might use the meta model to elicit more information. We could ask questions like, “What would happen if you did?” or “What’s been preventing you from losing weight?”
People use modal operators all the time and they have varying levels of emotional impact. As an example, notice the difference in yourself if you think of an activity you’d benefit from doing and say to yourself, “I should do that.” Then do that again but replace the modal operator “should” with “must.” “I must do that.” Notice the difference. We have shifted from a model operator of possibility to one of necessity.
Speaking hypnotically, we can purposely use modal operators with great effect.
“You don’t have to listen to every word that I say, you can just listen to the sound of my voice as you drift down deeply into trance.”
Some modal operators are: should / shouldn’t / must / mustn’t / can / can’t / have to / will / won’t
Here’s an example from Milton Erickson, after his client said he didn’t want to come back from a trance:
“No, you don’t want to come back from a trance, you don’t want a charming movie to end, you don’t want a flower to wilt, but you do like reality!“
Chaining Modal Operators
You can chain them together in fun and creative ways.
“I know you think you can’t do it on your own, but when you feel you can’t, you must try, and when you try you’ll find that you can find new possibilities opening up to you that you will be able to take advantage of.”
You could practice your language skills and have fun, or your might practice your language skills and feel confident that you’re improving rapidly. Either way, you must admit, practice makes perfecter, don’t it?