“How can I persuade someone who doesn’t like me?” was the question. It came in an email. And it reminded me of an email I got years ago, from a guy with a phobia. He said, “I’ve gained some weight, and I’ve noticed my phobia has been getting worse. Is there something trapped in the fat that makes it worse?”
And then there’s the old standard, “Make me stop smoking”, that we get from so many people.
These all reveal misunderstandings of the way things work. And guess what? If you do hypnosis and/or NLP, people won’t perfectly understand what they are, or what they can accomplish. Heck, we don’t even fully understand!
Let’s Start With Persuasion. . .
NLP and hypnotic language patterns, and hypnotic suggestions are not magical solutions for persuasion. There is no magic phrase that you can say, or thing that you can visualize, or anchor that you can set, that will persuade 100% of people, 100% of the time. There’s no magical deep state of trance that everyone can reach, that will result in 100% of people following 100% of your suggestions, 100% of the time. That’s not how it works.
What do our skills give us? They give us an edge. In some cases, it’s a small edge. In some cases, it’s a big, big advantage.
Can we help someone create a desire to stop smoking? Maybe. Can we help them amplify the desire they have? Yes. Can we decrease symptoms, attach positive feelings to actions, drain negative feelings? Yes.
How Do People Stop Hypnotic Suggestions?
I bought something on the internet the other day. Before I bought it, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to buy any upsells (additional offers, immediately after the initial sale). When the upsells showed up, I just scrolled to the bottom of the page, and declined them. I didn’t even look at what the offers were.
And that’s how we may be able to stop hypnotic suggestions. We have an outcome in mind already, and a strong internal frame of mind to achieve it.
On the other hand, a woman I know was once in a blue, comedy stage hypnosis show. The hypnotist handed a couple of the women participants large, penis-shaped ‘lollipops’, on sticks. “When I snap my fingers, you start licking the lollipops”, said the hypnotist. She remembers thinking, “No way. I’m not going to do this.”
But right before he snapped his fingers, he repeated the suggestion “When I snap my fingers, you start licking the lollipops”, and then added, “It’s your favorite flavor.” She remembers thinking, “Oh, it’s my favorite flavor — it’s OK then.” And lick it, she did.
What Does This Teach Us About Hypnosis & Suggestion
We’ve all heard the maxim, “You can’t make anybody do anything against their will, in hypnosis.” And that’s sort of true. Or mostly, anyway. If we set our minds to do something, or to not do something, we will typically stay the course, even if it’s against a hypnotic suggestion.
But think of it this way . . .
Let’s suppose your parking meter has expired, and you see parking enforcement headed your way. You’re half a block away, but you can get there before they do. You make up your mind to stop at nothing, and get to your car to avoid the ticket.
Right then, you notice a baby crawling out into the street and you have a choice. You can either let the baby get hit by a car, or get the ticket. Most of us would save the baby. Now, I look at it this way. You weren’t forced to do something against your will. You changed your own will, based on a different criteria. ‘Save the baby’ was more important than ‘avoid the ticket’.
Using Criteria & Aligning Will
That’s what happened to the woman in the stage hypnosis show. The ‘favorite flavor’ criteria overrode the potential embarrassment of licking the… uhm…, thing. Another criteria got brought in, and used against the old criteria. And that’s one way to utilize hypnosis, and NLP. Although I usually find it better to use the exiting criteria rather than bring a new one in the battle it.
If someone comes in wanting to stop smoking, we find out what criteria they meet, through smoking. Is it pleasure? Relaxation? A feeling of rebellion? We separate smoking from those criteria, and give them other ways to get those needs met.
We’re not making them do something against their will. Instead, we’re aligning the will of the parts of them that want to stop smoking, with the will of the parts of them that thought they wanted to smoke — but really just wanted to feel pleasure, relax, and have a feeling of rebellion.
Then the suggestions to be free from cigarettes don’t have to do battle with any internal motivations.
We can always bring in other criteria, such as feeling healthy and energized, and leverage those.
Persuasion As Alignment
And that’s what persuasion is too. It’s aligning the will of someone else, with what you want to accomplish. But it’s not a force from outside, changing the other person. It’s showing the other person how what you have to offer, meets their needs. And there are a couple of ways to do it.
- You can just assume you know what their needs are, and start pitching.
- You can attempt to shift their criteria.
- You can find out what’s important to them about the context, and show how what you have to offer, meets those needs.
Just Start Pitching
Let’s suppose you are buying a car, and your top concern is safety. You love nearly every member of your family, and want to make sure they stay safe. You go to the car lot, and the salesperson starts showing you the cheapest car on the lot, and talking about what a great value it is, for the money.
While that pitch might work for a some people, it probably won’t work for you.
But what if the salesperson asks you what you’re looking for in a car, and you say, “safety”? Then they take you to their safest model, and tell you about the safety features. In addition, they add that it’s a great value for the money.
That’s a much more tailored approach, and more likely to work.
But It Takes A Little Bit More Training
The reason sales people sometimes give canned pitches, rather than ask potential customers what they want, is because of their training. It’s easier for companies to teach people to memorize a sales script, than it is to teach them to listen, and be flexible with their responses.
And that’s why hypnosis schools teach people to read scripts. It’s easier, and they can churn out more students that way. But it leads to this . . .
How Do I Work With This Issue?
I see it over, and over again, in forums dedicated to professional hypnotherapists. “Hey, I’ve got a client coming in tomorrow with _______ issue. Does anybody have any idea how to work with it?” Now, each issue is a little bit different. But they’re not looking for the small differences between weight loss sessions, and smoking cessation sessions. They just have no idea how to approach an issue with which they have no direct experience. Here’s what I really want to say to that.
“You Should Have Taken A Different Training”
For the vast majority of issues, you follow the same processes. If there are bad feelings involved because of past events, you might do a regression. If the past event was a dog dying, or a speech that went poorly in a high-school speech class, the process is the same. The cintent is relatively unimportant.
In many sessions, you might find out what criteria they get out of doing a habit, you separate it from the behavior, you help them find other ways to achieve those good things, you get their unconscious mind aligned with stopping the habit, and you hook it all up with suggestion, or anchoring, or whatever techniques you use. It doesn’t matter much whether the behavior they want to change is smoking, nail biting, or it’s an anger issue. It’s basically the same process, no matter what the content.
How Can You Not Know?
Knowing this, how can you not know how to approach an issue? And how can a hypnosis training program graduate you without knowing this stuff? The answer is in a fundamental misunderstanding of how hypnosis and NLP work. And it’s scary to me that a large percentage of practitioners out there are in this boat.
And as for the guy who wanted to know how to persuade people that didn’t like him, I have this to say. Liking helps with persuasion, but persuasion is not about liking. It’s not an external process, one person does to another. It’s an internal process, a person does to themselves. If you want to persuade someone, you show them how what you want them to do meets their own, internal needs.
And no, there’s nothing trapped in fat that makes a person more phobic. Fat doesn’t cause phobias. However, a phobic reaction can cause shortness of breath. My guess is that this guy, after he gained weight, experienced more shortness of breath. That triggered memories of times when he’d been short of breath when having panic attacks.
PS: As I was writing this email, a question came in. “Is it possible to hypnotize yourself and program your unconscious mind to earn $50,000/month?” Folks, hypnosis and NLP can change your frame of reference. That can help you find opportunities that you may have overlooked before, boost your motivation to learn more about finances, or work harder. But it won’t make money drop out of the sky.