Conversational Hypnosis &
Persuasion Psychology


Using embedded commands to influence behavior is the basis of conversational hypnosis, also sometimes referred to as covert hypnosis. Through the use of certain apparently innocuous verbal and non verbal communication techniques, what is effectively a light trance state can be induced whereby through conversational hypnosis the subject will act and behave in accordance with the indirect suggestions being made, without any conscious awareness of having been to all intents and purposes hypnotized.


Early Conversational Hypnosis


The original founder of this technique, Milton Hyland Erickson, was born into a farming family in the US in 1901. He faced some early setbacks in life, one of which was dyslexia which at that time was not recognised or understood for what it was, and was also apparently afflicted by polio which at one point is said to have brought him to the point of death, and which continued to affect his physical health throughout his life.


Despite these difficulties, Erickson gained certification as a medical doctor and also in psychiatry. Later he went on to become a hypnotherapist of legendary stature and the founders of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, were strongly influenced by his techniques and insights.


As Erickson's knowledge and understanding of hypnosis grew, he realized that to induce trance it wasn't necessarily essential to create the traditionally understood setting which most people associate with hypnosis, with hypnotist placing subject "under" and giving suggestions to the subconscious, but that hypnotic trance states occurred spontaneously and quite frequently during the course of a normal day.


For example, you'll have realized that while performing certain automotive functions such as driving in light traffic or performing some mundane and routine task at work or at home, your mind has been "elsewhere". To all intents and purposes you have been in a trance state, albeit a fairly light one, during which time your level of suggestibility has been higher than if you were fully alert to everything around you.


Erickson also believed that some people consciously or unconsciously reacted with resistance when a hypnotherapist tried to put them into trance, thereby largely invalidating any benefit that would have been derived from the hypnotherapy, so he looked for other ways of reaching a patient's subconscious.


Being aware that trance states occur naturally and spontaneously several times in the course of a person's normal day, Erickson began to formulate methods of indirect suggestion. He realized that this could be done best by indirectly introducing suggestions through seemingly normal conversation and body language. It's from this that the term conversational hypnosis was eventually coined.


Ericksonian Hypnosis


These techniques - which have been proven to be with study and practice workable and achievable and are being used by many successful individuals today - basically involve hypnotizing someone without their conscious knowledge. Broadly speaking, this is done by first creating a rapport with the person being spoken to, then introducing some slightly disconcerting statement into the conversation which either in itself contains the basic element of the suggestion or - because the person's conscious, analytical mind has been distracted - serves to open a "window" to the person's subconscious through which the desired suggestion can then be placed.


That's the basis of it, though of course there's more to it and practice and understanding of the techniques involved is required, but the end result is that behavior or actions can be influenced in such a way that the individual being hypnotized will act in accordance with the suggestion that they've been given but will be unaware of the hypnotic suggestion having been made and will feel on the conscious level that they are acting purely of their own volition.


This technique, as it has evolved since Erickson's day - he died in Arizona in 1980 - has emerged as a blend of conventional hypnotic techniques, NLP and the use of widely recognised and understood social mannerisms. If you're interested in finding out more about the actual practice of hypnosis, including the use of conversational hypnotic techniques, take a look at this page on how to learn hypnosis.


Using some form or level of hypnosis for sales purposes is common, ranging from salespeople giving a slight, almost imperceptible nod of the head while saying to a customer something like "This is a great product, isn't it" right across the spectrum to companies paying for their top sales staff to be fully trained in all aspects of conversational and covert hypnosis techniques.


It's actually quite a good idea to study these techniques for yourself, so as to ensure your ability to spot whenever a salesperson, politician or whatever may be employing covert techniques to influence your thinking, buying decision or whatever, as much as for any reasons of your own that you may have for learning and utilizing these techniques.


It should perhaps be stressed that the general consensus of opinion seems to be that Erickson was a fundamentally good natured individual who had no interest in using conversational hypnosis for any sinister purpose, and whose only use of the technique for anything other than therapeutic reasons was among his colleagues in his capacity as a well known practical joker. Having said that, there's no doubt that having knowledge of how to use conversational hypnosis responsibly and ethically could bring tremendously life-enhancing benefits into your life.

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