So I had the most interesting conversation with someone earlier on today. For reasons that I won’t go into in this article, it turns out that there are a heap of people out there in the world who attempt to hide their accent when they speak English.
This strikes me as a great pity, because as a native English speaker with an accent, I am fully aware that most people find this to be a positive rather than a negative. Not only that, but when you appreciate the effect that the slightly different way you pronounce words has on someone’s mind, you gain the power to use it to your advantage to supercharge your hypnosis. The key to making it work is to view it as another form of fractionation. In this article, we’ll go over exactly how to do that so that you too can exploit your own accent.
What is fractionation?
Do you remember back in school when you were learning the alphabet and numbers?
When you first came across letters and numbers, they were nothing more than meaningless squiggles. If you’re like most people, it was probably quite challenging to draw them out at first. But you persevered, and in a relatively short amount of time, those squiggles took on meaning. And the way that happened was through a process known as rote learning.
As you’re reading this now, you probably don’t have to think about the letters or words that make up the sentences. The information kinda just flows into your mind. That’s because by the time we’re adults, we’ve already spent thousands of hours reading and writing. Our brains become so adapted to reading that we don’t even have to think about it. We just look at the formerly meaningless squiggles in front of us, and the meaning forms inside our minds.
It turns out that there are only two ways that you can make a brain learn something, and they work together. Rote learning is one of these ways. Each time you repeat something you’d like to learn, the associated neural pathways strengthen a little. If we do it enough, eventually that thing we’re learning becomes automatic. This is also how habits form.
But there’s a problem with rote learning in terms of survival.
You see, some things that can happen to us are so bad that we only get one chance to remember them. In short, if you see your friend being eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger, you want to remember that sabre-tooth tigers eat people.
Our brains handle this by having a handy back door. Whenever an event has a strong emotion attached to it, that event is encoded more-or-less instantly and permanently into our minds.
Strong emotions help us to learn much more effectively.
In hypnosis, we use these learning effects to massively enhance whatever we’re doing.
Early hypnotists discovered that when they hypnotized someone multiple times, they would go into hypnosis more quickly and more easily each time. Today this process is known as fractionation.
At its core, fractionation is nothing more than taking your subject through an experience multiple times so that they can recall it more easily. This is why it’s so effective for deepening hypnotic trances. Just like with everything else they’ve ever learnt, the subject is simply getting better at going into trance each time they do it.
There are a huge number of ways we can fractionate people. For example, when I hypnotize people, a lot of the fractionation that I do comes from the timing, the pauses, and variations in the rate of speech. It’s also embedded into the language that I use.
If you pay attention to the sentence structures in this very article, you’ll notice that some of the sentences are quite long. And others are very short. That is also fractionation.
Accents are a form of fractionation
Have you ever noticed that when you talk with someone who has a foreign accent, quite often you get a little bit more sucked in than you would if they had your own accent?
If you haven’t, you almost certainly know someone who has had that experience.
Now there will undoubtedly be some accents that you hate. I absolutely hate my New Zealand accent. But there’s an interesting thing I discovered…
I do most of my hypnosis online in video calls, with people from all over the world. And lots and lots and lots of the people I’ve worked with respond incredibly well to my accent.
This is the key: It doesn’t matter what you think of your accent. All that matters is what the person you’re hypnotizing thinks of it.
It doesn’t matter what you think of your accent. All that matters is what the person you’re hypnotizing thinks of it.
No matter what your accent is, there will be people out there in the world who love it.
So how can we exploit this for hypnosis?
In the previous section I mentioned that there are two things that force our brains to learn: repetition and emotions.
And when we perceive someone as having a foreign accent that we like, we get both of those. Not only that, but when you are talking with someone who likes your accent, that liking is the start of building an agreement frame with them.
First, the fact that they like our accent generates an emotional response all by itself. We literally don’t have to do anything other than talk. By itself, this causes anything we do to be more easily encoded into their mind.
And second, the key defining characteristic of an accent is that some sounds are pronounced a little differently. That’s what makes it an accent. And because it’s only some of the sounds, we’re constantly being fractionated from what our brain thinks the word should sound like to how it is pronounced with their accent, and back again.
When we listen to an accent, we’re constantly being fractionated because only some of the sounds are different to what we expect.
Whenever you speak to someone who has a different accent than you do, that difference forces them to learn by repetition.
Now, you might be worried that they will hate your accent. Here’s why that’s never an issue.
Remember the sabre-tooth tigers?
When new information is associated with a negative emotion, our brains encode it far more effectively than when there is a positive emotion.
Our brains encode information associated with negative emotions even more strongly than with positive emotions.
Yep. If they hate your accent, it makes your hypnosis even more effective than if they love it.
Make sure they can understand you
Naturally there will be limits to this. If you pronounce every single sound differently, there’s a good chance that the person you’re trying to hypnotize won’t understand you. They’ll probably still go into hypnosis just from the rhythm, but if they can’t understand what you’re saying, you’re unlikely to be able to use that hypnosis for anything.
So what can you do to fix that?
Many years ago now I had the opportunity to do some 400 level courses at the local university. The company I was working for had this deal where they would not only pay your course fees, but also would give you time off work to do them.
When I found this out, I jumped at the chance, and filled out the appropriate paperwork to make it happen.
Now, the university was a good 30 minutes away. And some days I would have to go there twice, if I had lectures in the early morning and late afternoon. Which meant that my commute was suddenly going to increase by quite a few hours each week.
I don’t like to waste time if I can at all avoid it, so I decided that I would make recordings of the lectures so that I could listen to them while I was commuting. Essentially I was building part of my study time into the commute.
The classes for these particular courses were quite small. No more than 10 to 20 people in each. When university classes are that small here, they tend to be quite interactive, so it was inevitable that my voice was going to end up on the recording.
So I’m sitting there in my car listening to a lecture. My voice comes on. I discover to my absolute horror that my voice is going up in a questioning tone on every single sentence.
And I literally had no idea prior to that moment.
You might wonder how this relates to accent. Well, in New Zealand, a part of our accent is that our voice tends to go up at the end of sentences, making them sound like a question even when they aren’t.
The problem wasn’t that I was doing it. It was that I was doing it too much and in a way that was destructive to my hypnosis.
So to fix this, I recorded myself on my phone, then played it back. I wrote out a sentence, and then spoke it. Not once, but many, many times.
I leveraged the recording to teach me to hear my own voice when I speak.
And here’s the really cool thing. It didn’t take me weeks to fix that questioning voice tone. It didn’t take me days. It didn’t even take me hours.
Yes, I spoke that sentence a lot of times. But the thing is, it doesn’t take long to speak a sentence. Within well under an hour I had corrected the issue.
So how does this apply to you?
Well your own accent will have the same sorts of things that you are unaware of.
Some of those things will aid you in your hypnosis, and others won’t.
The easiest way I know to change things with your voice is to record yourself saying the same thing over and over again, listen to the recording each time, and on each cycle through, try to change.
You probably won’t get it right on the first try.
Or even the second.
But it’s a very quick process, and once you’ve identified something that you’d like to change, it’s just a matter of recording yourself so that you have feedback, listening to the recording, and trying to fix it a little on each round.
Calibration is everything
Now, it’s one thing to fix your voice yourself. At the end of the day though, it’s important to get feedback from someone else. If you’re unsure, ask a friend with a foreign accent.
If you somehow don’t have any friends with foreign accents, there are numerous online services where you can connect to a voice chat server and random strangers will appear and talk with you.
As a rule, people love to help if you give them the opportunity, so quite often it’s just a matter of telling them that you’re messing around with your accent and asking if they’d be interested in giving you their opinion.
Ask them what parts of your accent they can understand clearly. If there are parts they cannot understand at all, ask them if you can record them saying that word. Or get them to help you.
Ask them what parts of your accent they love, and what parts they hate.
Then, after you’ve talked with them, make a recording of yourself speaking and work through the process to change just one thing.
When you do this, you will find that you can very quickly modify your accent enough that most people can understand you, while leaving in enough differences that you get all the benefits of fractionation without doing the work.
So that’s how you can use your foreign accent to supercharge your hypnosis. First, record yourself to discover how you sound. Next, ask a friend with a different accent for their opinion. And finally, change only enough parts of your accent that most people can understand you.
As it turns out, foreign accents are only one out of many ways to fractionate your hypnosis subjects. If you’d like to know more about the other ways, check out my article on fractionation next!