Cooks follow recipes. Chefs follow principles.
This post will help you upgrade your hypnosis skills to super-hero status. You’ll move from cookbook hypnosis to becoming a hypnotic chef. We’ll do this with three interlocking principles.
As a professional hypnotist with over forty years full-time experience, I spent a lot of time learning a wide variety of techniques I could apply. These consisted of different inductions, suggestions to deliver to subjects onstage, things I could do therapeutically, etc. It was very much a cookbook approach to hypnotic work, as in:
If x happens, do z…If a occurs, do b…
Over the years though, I have really come to appreciate the larger chunks; the principles of hypnosis, that are really foundational to excellent work. The big chunks are things like:
- Engage the subject’s imagination
- Continuously calibrate the subject
- Activate unconscious searches
- Build and maintain rapport
Have you ever noticed how many new hypnotists ignore principles because it’s just so much easier to read a script? This is cookbook hypnosis. It’s an easy way to get started, but you’ll never feel comfortable when your client’s issue doesn’t perfectly map across to what’s in your recipe book.
Mastering the big picture principles will turn you into more of a hypnotic chef. You’ll be able to adapt techniques to fit almost any situation.
The cook versus chef metaphor applies outside of hypnosis too. In our British Jiu Jitsu class, we teach principles that are proven to work in the street, even under adrenal stress. That’s because specific techniques are notoriously difficult to apply outside the dojo. Your opponents just won’t co-operate! But large chunk principles are immediately adaptable to real world considerations. The self defence chef will thrive where the cook gets crushed.
The same metaphor works for constructing a house.
It’s possible to design beautiful stained-glass windows and fancy wrought iron fencing. But it’s much more important to build a secure foundation and a roof that doesn’t leak. These are important principles, not recipe details.
Building upon this observation, I would like to offer a set of three interlocked principles that will help therapists do more elegant work, stage hypnotists do better shows, and keynote speakers deliver more engaging talks.
The Three Principles That Form the Mandel Triangle
Imagine an triangle. Each side of the triangle is labeled with one of these words:
In the center of the triangle is another letter C, which stands for Calibration. More about that in a moment.
It has been my personal experience, and proven by dozens of my students, that we can greatly improve our hypnotic skills, and our human interaction, by simply paying attention to these three big chunks.
Confidence is something we all want and need. When we feel confident, we are aware of our abilities and resources, and believe we will be able to apply them. We radiate optimism.
Congruence occurs when all our systems are sending one consistent message. Our body language, vocal tone, gestures, internal dialog, and actual words are all saying the same thing. Humans don’t like incongruence in others. It feels fake.
Conviction is difficult for many people to get their heads around. Think of conviction as intention. It’s about activating your focused willpower. When you have conviction, your confidence and congruence will also improve.
We model this as a triangle because if you increase the length of any line, the other lines must also increase. And that’s what we’ve noticed happens in real life. If you get better at congruence, you automatically improve confidence and conviction. The triangle gets bigger.
The C in the middle of the triangle stands for Calibration, which is the continuous observation of your subject so you can adjust your own behaviour as needed.
How to Enhance Your Version of the Mandel Triangle
Let’s start with confidence.
You can build your confidence through experience, training, and practice. As you get more skilled, your confidence will naturally increase. By just acting as though you’re extremely confident, you’ll become more confident. It’s another way of saying “fake it until you become it”. This isn’t a good idea with brain surgery or flying a 747 aircraft, but it’s perfect for communications skills.
Congruence also comes through practice, but you need to calibrate yourself to ensure you aren’t sending mixed messages. If you tell someone you’re happy to see them but your vocal tone is flat and bored, you’re being incongruent! Check in with yourself to make sure you’re messages are consistent and support each other. Ask your training partners for feedback, too.
Conviction can be built by focusing your will. You can directly experience this through a simple experiment:
Walk through a crowded shopping mall or along a busy street, while looking at the people in front of you. Now do the same thing, but this time focus intently, directing your will on where you want to go. Amazingly, the crowd will part like the Red Sea, as they pick up subtle non-verbal clues from you.
And always keep Calibration in mind. It’s central, because unless you calibrate your subject, you’ll have no idea what result your actions are getting you.
By focusing on increasing these big chunks, you’ll become a more effective communicator, and a far better hypnotist.