Hypnotically delicious words

There's a lot of misleading information about how to use language to make the kind of suggestions that get carried out without resistance. The first step, the one on which everything else depends, is to understand that anything you say is only a suggestion.

The Oxford online dictionary defines a suggestion as an idea or plan put forward for consideration. If you keep reading, it adds what seem to be paradoxical dimensions to this word. In psychology (and hypnosis), a suggestion is not supposed to trigger conscious consideration. This is true whenever suggestion involves talking about one thing to call up another.

We can resolve this paradox if we add an element of playfulness to a suggestion. Playfulness is never mistaken for either commands or appeals for help. When we are playful, we suggest (meaning imply, meaning make a connection) that we are doing something together, something that will engage us both. Whatever is being suggested is part of an interaction designed so that we can interact and learn safely (that's what play does).

This is what is happening when hypnotic language is effective. It's not sneaking something past conscious criticism. It's an invitation to play that is accepted when the other person takes the suggestion by taking action.

If the suggestion isn't taken, then the relationship doesn't support enough play. How do you get someone to want to play with you? Of course, you pay attention to them, but you also keep in mind an intention of what will be good and rich and rewarding once they join you in play. You tantalize with a little puzzle here, a little humour there, a little charm. (You noticed - didn't you? - that charm is a suggestion that what we do when we play together is at least a little magical).


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