Hypnosis is a vast topic, so there are lots of tricks you can use to supercharge your hypnosis. These are typically centered around ways of building agreement, building rapport, disrupting your subject’s conscious thoughts, sending their thoughts inside their own heads, fractionating your subject, and using anchors to guide them.
And as with all things, some of these tricks are a lot easier to implement than others. I’ve chosen 11 of the easiest ones, each of which can be implemented with anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours of practice.
As you work through this article, implement one thing at a time, try it out, and notice the effects that it has in different situations and with different subjects.
Smile and nod
When we smile and nod, it tells people that we’re agreeing with them. This is the beginning of an agreement frame.
Agreement frames are a core part of hypnosis. The more someone agrees with us, the easier it is for them to keep on agreeing with new things we might say.
This happens because when we make multiple statements that the person we’re talking to can agree with, they start to trust that the stuff we say is likely to be correct.
Our brains run all kinds of heuristics to allow us to get things done, and many of these are oriented around our predictions of the future. If we notice that someone always says stuff that’s true, we come to trust that they’re going to continue to do so. This allows us to divert some of those fact-checking resources elsewhere.
Hypnosis happens when all of our subject’s fact-checking resources have been allocated to things other than the hypnosis.
How to build an agreement frame by smiling and nodding
Smiling and nodding cause our subject to feel safe enough that they start to let their guard down a little.
That is, if we do it right.
You’ve almost certainly come across people who have fake smiles. And as you’ve noticed, these are extremely easy to spot.
This kind of smile has the opposite effect than the one we want. So does nodding when we’re not paying attention to the things we’re nodding about.
A quick aside: Some cultures use a head shake for agreement rather than a nod. Use whatever is appropriate for your culture.
So what can you do to make smiling and nodding effective?
First, allow yourself to think of something pleasant that makes you genuinely smile. Then hold that thought in the back of your mind while you’re talking with someone. As you do this, your smile will become anchored to talking with them, which improves your experience along with theirs!
Second, as they’re speaking, allow yourself to be fully curious about what they’re saying. Listen intently. Ask questions. But don’t interrupt them.
And most importantly: Only nod in agreement when they say something you actually agree with. There are lots of times you can do this. For example, if they are telling you about their day, any time they make a statement about anything at all that happened, that is an opportunity to agree.
How to use the agreement frame
When you smile and nod in the right way, the person you’re hypnotizing will come to trust you more. This makes it easier to get them to do stuff.
As a rule, the deeper they are in hypnosis, the more you can get them to do.
Here’s how to use smiling and nodding.
After a few cycles, they will have started to associate you smiling and nodding with them agreeing. Our brains associate everything that happens at the same time, so they don’t really have any choice in this unless they intentionally force themselves to not.
And how many people do you know who would intentionally force themselves to not allow you to smile and nod in agreement?
When you do it right, that just doesn’t happen.
People like to be validated.
So after a few cycles, run some tests.
There are lots of ways to do this. For example, you could ask them a tricky question, and then smile and nod when they give their answer. Especially if they seem uncertain about it.
Rather than giving you a huge list, you will derive far more benefit from exploring. Try out smiling and nodding when you’re talking with people, and notice what happens. Play with it, and discover what happens when you subsequently smile and nod while making statements yourself.
Use your subject’s exact words
When we use someone’s exact words, it causes the pattern matching to fire up inside their brain. This leads to them thinking we’re agreeing with them and can result in them going deeper inside whatever experience they’re having.
In many non-hypnosis courses, we’re taught that we should use active listening to convey to someone that we understood what they said.
Active listening is when we paraphrase what someone said, and say it back to them with the intention that they know we understand. The idea is that we wouldn’t be able to paraphrase it if we didn’t understand.
There’s a huge problem with this: In terms of the pattern matching inside our minds, only the exact words that they used will match exactly.
So when we paraphrase something, they will understand logically that it’s the same thing, but it won’t have the same emotional meaning for them.
This effect is so powerful that even changing the tense of the verbs that they use will cause a slight disconnect.
But there’s a problem.
If we repeat exactly what they say, they’re going to think that we’re parroting them.
And if we do it too much, they’re going to start to be annoyed.
To work around this, pick 1 to 3 words from what they said, and use those as a prompt to get them to say more.
For example, they might say: I was playing with my kitten this morning, and I noticed how soft and warm she is.
This opens up lots of possibilities for you to deepen their hypnotic state. You could say your kitten? and they will tell you more about how they have a kitten. Or you could say soft and warm while you smile and nod.
It sounds ridiculous, but when I do this what tends to happen is that people go further into the experience. It’s entirely possible to have them bring to life the experience of playing with their kitten by doing nothing more than creating a feedback loop in this manner.
The keys are to focus on their most emotive words, and to use sparingly.
Move like your subject
When we move in the same way as someone, mirror neurons inside their brain light up. This causes them to move further into agreement, which leads to hypnosis.
As with smiling and nodding, and using our subject’s exact words, it’s possible to lead them into agreement by copying their mannerisms.
And like other forms of agreement, there’s a problem: If we do it wrong, it will have the opposite effect.
So how do we do it right?
It comes down to practice.
When I work with people, I try to partially take on their state of mind. This leads to me naturally moving in the same sorts of ways as they do.
To get started, rather than trying to copy exactly what they do, go into hypnosis yourself and allow yourself to become fully involved in the conversation. Try on the things that they say. Be curious and be interested.
And if for some reason you really want to consciously mimic them, choose just one tiny mannerism. Maybe it’s the way they hold their head. Or the overall way that their index finger on their left hand moves. Choose just one tiny component, and copy that. Introduce a time delay of a few seconds so that they don’t realize that you’re copying them.
Ultimately though, when you allow yourself to sync up with your subject, you’ll find that you automatically move in just the right way to increase agreement.
Pause for slightly too long
When we speak, there are natural places where we pause. It’s possible to significantly enhance your hypnosis by pausing for slightly too long at some of these spots.
But there’s a problem: How exactly do we learn to pause for slightly too long without feeling awkward ourselves?
This comes down to practice.
Pausing for too long does feel odd at first. With a little practice, it will start to seem normal to you.
To build this skill, first pay attention to where you pause while you’re speaking. Then hold one of the natural pauses for as long as you can.
When you first do this, don’t worry about getting it right. Most of the skill is in being able to hold a longer pause at all. You’ll probably find that you have worries that people will interrupt you mid-flow, and other similar things. And it takes some time to overcome these worries.
The way you do that is by repeatedly putting yourself in the situation.
But not too much.
After a few tries, you’ll likely find that it starts to become a lot easier. That’s certainly what happened with me.
At that point, try to find the sweet spot. As you’re speaking and you pause, hold it until you feel the pressure just starting to build. Then hold it a moment longer before you continue speaking.
Your subject will feel that same pressure building inside their mind. Because they don’t know what you’re doing, it will consume their conscious awareness chunks. And when all of their conscious awareness chunks are consumed, they go into hypnosis.
Use small, emotive words
People process small words a lot more easily than big words. This has the side-effect that small words can be a lot more engaging, which leads to more effective hypnosis.
As we proceed through life, the neural network inside our brain becomes progressively more cluttered with stuff.
This is an inevitable consequence of our ongoing experience of life. If our neural network didn’t fill up with more stuff, we’d be constantly forgetting everything that happens to us.
There’s an interesting side-effect to this.
Small children haven’t experienced as much stuff as adults, so the things that we learn as small children can occupy more mental real estate.
We tend to learn small, emotive words first.
In this context, a small word is not necessarily the same thing as a short word.
I’m more referring to words that we learn early on in life.
Words like cat, dog, happy, and so on.
Because English is so complex, each small word will usually have multiple bigger synonyms that allow us to be more precise.
And as a rule, the further we progress through being educated, the bigger our words become.
Here’s the thing though: Hypnosis works with the emotional part of the mind.
When we use big words, we are automatically doing at least two things. First, we are connecting more to the logical part of our subject’s mind. And second, we are automatically connecting to the more educated part of their mind.
Neither of these is typically useful for inducing hypnosis.
On the other hand, when we use small, emotive words, we’re connecting to the emotional part of our subject’s mind.
Use small words whenever you can and watch your hypnosis results soar!
Use clean language
All the way back in the 1980s, psychologist David Grove created the clean language framework. It was specifically designed to elicit information from people without contaminating their thought process any more than is necessary. And it turns out that when we use clean language, our subjects tend to go into a hypnotic trance.
So what is clean language?
It begins with a simple question: What would you like to have happen?
Naturally, this question exists within the context of whatever we happen to be talking about.
When we ask this question of our subjects, it forces them to go inside themselves and figure out not what they want, which would involve effort on their part, but rather what would be the ideal outcome if they exerted no effort at all.
We then follow up by navigating their responses with further clean questions.
There are quite a few of these, so I’ll just give one here.
Suppose that someone has been ranting to you about how no-one listens to them, so you ask them what would you like to have happen.
They might pause, and say something like: I think I’d really like it if people would just pay attention for once.
There are multiple clean ways to proceed from here. Here’s some examples:
And when people are paying attention for once, what kind of attention is that attention?
And is there anything else about people?
And when pay attention, then what happens?
As a rule, when you use clean language, you’ll end up saying and a lot. The questions that you ask after what would you like to have happen often don’t technically make sense in English. But they make total sense in your subject’s current state of mind.
There’s a lot more to it. Over the past decade I’ve learnt a lot of hypnotic techniques, and clean language is one of the ones that I find myself using all the time.
To get started, next time someone has a problem, ask them: What would you like to have happen?
And notice what happens.
Turn questions into commands
In English, we have 3 basic ways of pronouncing a sentence: As a question, as a statement, and as a command. When we pronounce a question as if it were a command, it has the effect of leading the person to believe that they have choice while simultaneously restricting their choice. Done in the right way, this effect can be profoundly hypnotic.
So how exactly do you pronounce a question as a command?
First, write out a question and a command.
Next, practice speaking each of them as you normally would and record yourself doing so.
Then, listen to the recording. Practice until you can hear the difference in your voice.
What you’ll find is that when we ask questions, our voice tone tends to go up at the end of a sentence. And when we give commands, our voice tone tends to go down at the end of a sentence.
Once you can hear the difference, practice saying a question using the command tone.
Then try it out on one of your subjects, and discover what happens.
I’ve written about this previously, and you can find full details in my article How to Hypnotize Someone With Your Voice.
Develop your hypnotic voice
Signal to your subjects that it’s hypnosis time by developing your hypnotic voice. This is a tone of voice that you use only when hypnotizing someone, and it can significantly enhance your hypnosis.
Choose your hypnotic voice so that it fits in nicely with the state you’d like your subject to experience.
If you’re going for deep trance, slow, deep and quiet tends to work well.
If you’re going for a boredom trance, make your voice as monotonous as you can.
By the same token, if you’d like them to experience feelings of joy, smile and allow yourself to glow from the inside, then allow your voice to take on a happy vibe.
You can have lots of different hypnotic voices.
At the very least, you’ll probably want a deep trance voice, and a storytelling voice.
Add others as needed.
As with the command and question tones, you may need to record yourself speaking in order to hear what you sound like.
When you use a voice tone that matches the state you’d like your subject to experience, several things happen. Importantly, the nature of your voice guides them into that state. It also creates an anchor so that when you switch to that voice in future, they automatically switch back to the state.
Imagine being able to drop someone with any word at all, just by changing your voice tone.
My regular subjects go straight into hypnosis when I switch my voice tone and say Now.
Hypnotize yourself first
Hypnosis is an unusual state for many people, even though we all go into it many times each day. You can model hypnosis for your subject by going into hypnosis before you start hypnotizing them. When we do this, it gives our subject something to copy and provides them with feedback as to whether they’re doing it right.
Have you ever had a subject who claimed that they couldn’t be hypnotized? Or that hypnosis is fake?
It’s almost impossible for their unconscious mind to disbelieve hypnosis when it can see someone experiencing hypnosis right in front of them.
When we’re in a conversation with someone, we tend towards a state of rapport.
Building this rapport is the second step in almost all hypnosis inductions, right after you hypnotize yourself.
When we’re in rapport, we move in sync with the other person.
And guess what happens if we’re in hypnosis and in rapport with someone at the same time?
That’s right! They start to follow along.
Quite often it’s possible to get someone into hypnosis by doing nothing more than going into hypnosis yourself, then building rapport with them.
Now when you’re starting out, it can take a while to hypnotize yourself. If you’d like to know how to do it instantly when you’re hypnotizing someone, check out my article How to Hypnotize Yourself Instantly.
Give your subject time to process the hypnosis
A lot of hypnotists advocate that hypnosis works best when it’s done at speed so that the subject doesn’t have time to think about what’s going on and consequently doesn’t have a chance to mess with it. That can work well for certain specific things. I’ve found that most hypnotic change will tend to be more long-lasting when I slow down and give my subjects ample time to implement the changes.
Think about what it is that you’re asking your subject to do.
If you’re doing some simple stage hypnosis, and you’d like them to act like a cat for a time, it’s a good thing to be fast. You want them to get to the fun part as quickly as possible. So do they.
Here’s the thing though: That’s a short-lived change. Presumably you don’t want them to be a cat for the rest of their lives.
When you’re going for a longer-term hypnotic change, such as helping guide someone through an unconscious decision making process, give them time to fully process every step.
This allows their conscious and unconscious minds to work together.
Which means that any problems are likely to surface while you’re still there to help fix them.
Anchor your subject’s states
Hypnotic anchors can be used to help your hypnosis subjects readily re-experience states that they’ve already been in. Start off by anchoring the state of hypnosis itself so that you can more easily get them back there. Then expand to include other states.
A hypnotic anchor is something that we can cause our subject to perceive that will remind their unconscious mind to do something.
For example, we might link snapping our fingers to them dropping into hypnosis.
After self-hypnosis, anchoring is one of the most important skills you can build as a hypnotist.
There are many ways to anchor something.
If you’re starting out, you can begin with simple phrases like every time you hear me say the phrase SLEEP NOW you’ll instantly return to hypnosis, twice as deep as ever before while they’re in hypnosis.
This type of anchor is known as a hypnotic trigger, and it tends to work brilliantly with overt hypnosis. You’ll typically see an abundance of hypnotic triggers in any hypnosis stage show, because it’s easy for the audience to follow along and see what’s happening.
This tends to increase the entertainment value.
Most hypnotic anchors are far more subtle. For example, the voice stuff I referred to earlier in this article involved the use of tonal anchors. Small, emotive words are also anchors.
Anchoring is a huge topic, so I’ve written a no-fluff book on it. I’ve designed the book to help people get good at anchoring fast.
Inside Artful Hypnotic Anchoring, I cover what anchors really are, the exact steps to follow to create and test your anchors so that you know they work, why anchors degrade over time and what to do to prevent it, and much more.
I even go over how to use anchors to hypnotize someone by reading them a list of random words!
So if any of that sounds like something you’d like to have happen, go and check out my book Artful Hypnotic Anchoring right now.