NLP and Hypnosis – What I Do With It And What I Don’t

Someone gave me quite a challenge a few days ago:

“Matt, I bet you couldn’t hypnotise me.”

They were responding to news that I do a bit of hypnotherapy and a bit of NLP – and it was clearly a big deal for them.

My big question, I guess, is Even if I could, why would I want to try to hypnotise you against your will?

I do hypnotherapy – which means that people come to my office asking me to help them. It would be the height of stupidity on their part to pay a sizeable fee to me – and then refuse to be helped. I’m a therapist. I’m not Svengali and not Derren Brown, either.

It’s quite fascinating really. I don’t get people to “do” stuff that they wouldn’t do. The  NLP I’ve learned helps me find more quickly the common ground between myself and the person I speak with, and show them possibilities that might appeal to them, and help us both have a more fruitful life on the way.

I learned NLP partially because I was quite a nervy person myself and rather poor at chatting with others without letting the nerves get in the way. NLP gave me a framework within which to chat with others without letting my nerves rule my mouth!

I make jokes with friends about using “sneaky NLP tricks” from time to time, and it’s something I really should stop. Actually I don’t do sneaky and I don’t use tricks.

I just make sure that I use ways of talking that keep the mood “up” and the direction of the conversation heading where it’s good for them and good for me. After all, it’s so easy to get sidetracked in negative stuff that takes you away from what you want in life. I know that because I’m a past master at it!

For example, I used to be a really “down” sort of person. I had no idea that talking about all my woes and troubles would make people want to avoid talking with me. Nor did I “get” that those cynical little asides that I thought were funny when I was younger could actually offend people. That was way back in my 20s, and I’ve worked a lot on changing that.

NLP has been a part of that work – just to get me to think about changing my communication in order to get more positive responses.  Maturing has been a part of it, too.

I still get it wrong from time to time, and I do get stressed occasionally – but boy – from where I was before, it is a big difference, no doubt about it.

Another example: some friends of mine were recently interviewed on a radio for a show they were performing in. When asked how tickets sales were, a week before the show, they replied: “There are still about half the tickets left.”

Well, it was true. But the tickets were also selling well enough. So, just tweaking that answer and saying: “Ticket sales are going well though there are some left” changes the perception of the event. In the former case, people may well think: Oh, it’s not so popular, so why should I go? whereas the latter equally true statement may get people thinking: Oh, I don’t want to miss out, if so many others are going!

NLP is great for simple stuff like that. Like saying a glass is half full, rather than half empty. Both are true, but one emphasises what is to come, the other emphasises what is missing.

Getting the “mood music” right, when it comes down to it, is not magic, it’s just being more polite and aware of others.

As for negotiating with people by putting them in a trance like I do with clients who come to me specifically when they want to be hypnotised – well, it doesn’t work like that. We talk and we find common ground and identify the good stuff between us.

It sounds like common sense, but I used to be terrible at it!

Keeping the interplay “up” – that’s what I’ve learned from hypnosis and NLP.  I guess I could have learned the same from just watching really good businessmen do what they do.

I hope I can do it, too.  At least more often than I used to. Because it’s true to say that even these days I get it wrong. But I think I strike the right note more often than not! And for that, I am grateful to my NLP and hypnosis training, that’s one thing for sure!


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