Hypnotic Language Patterns | Ways To Put People in the State of Focused Attention

Sometimes, hypnotic language is perceived as something mysterious, complicated, and more of a sinister art, but it actually is a very direct and straightforward art. Not only professional linguists can get a grip of it; you too can because there is nothing complicated in it.

We won’t get into too much talk,  we will go straight and define what hypnotic language is.

What is Hypnotic Language?

A hypnotic language is a way of communicating that has been designed to put people in a trance.

A hypnotic trance is a state of focused attention. Because a hypnotic trance is a state of being in highly focused attention, think of a hypnotic language as a language designed to focus people’s attention inwards, and help them take suggestions easily.

a person in a suit telling YES YOU CAN

The Work of Milton Erickson in Hypnotherapy

Milton H. Erickson is seen as the father of Hypnotic language patterns. He was the pioneer of what is referred to as the indirect approach of hypnosis. Before Erickson’s work came into the picture, persuasion was the way to go. By this, subjects were told what to do. Erickson realized that people hate it when told what to do_ accept it, you hate it too. Feels more like a master-slave relationship…

If we are told what to do, we tend to resist.

Besides, if the suggestions are too specific, it is likely to not match what your client is thinking. In fact, sometimes it may arouse some trauma, which may get you out of the focused attention state.

The Art of Indirect Hypnotic Language Patterns

Before Erickson came into the picture, the structuring of the language felt more like pushing the subject. For instance the subject will be told something like “you are sleepy…”. But now, with the Ericksonian structuring of the language, something like ” and as you lie there listening keenly to me, you may start to notice a pleasant sensation of drowsiness”.  See? This statement is inherently trance inducing.  At no point does it say or force anyone to do anything. It actually sends the subject to access their deeper feelings.

Secondly, an indirect hypnotic language pattern is permissive. This means that you will be given freedom to make interpretations of the statements to your best of understanding. You are free to interpret them in a way that they relate to you in your everyday life.

Thirdly, there will be no point where you are instructed forcefully to experience something inside you forcefully. Voice persuasion and embedded commands are long gone; they won’t just sit well with anyone.

Think of it like this, the speaker makes a fairly safe assumption by giving you a general outline of time and place. This will send you pacing into the past to help you find when things happened. If you find a relaxed past moment in your memory, it will definitely send a relaxed feeling to your present life.

Tools of the Trade to Get You Into Trance State

Using hypnotic  language pattern in hypnosis sometimes calls for the use of “tools of the trade”. Hypnotists use this to produce an attention focusing, and permissive effect, which when combined with specific language patterns the much d sired trance.

To give examples, the yes set of questions. These are questions that you cannot help but give the yes answer. They are self-evidently true questions. These help you agree with whatever is coming next. An example will be something like ” so you came here this afternoon, and now you are seated there, listening to me and trying to relax yourself?”

Use of Truism

Use of Truism is another loved and highly effective use of hypnotic language patterns.

Truism is when you use statements that cannot reasonably be denied. For instance…when you ask the subject in subsequent hypnotic sessions ” you already know how to relax your mind, don’t you”

The don’t you bit, or any question tag makes it more easier to accept.

Besides using pure Truism, combining suggestions and Truism could work the magic. It makes it easier for them to relax, while still giving them a chance to take commands. Something like ” you know how to relax your mind and body, now you can use those relaxation hypnosis techniques to relax even deeper, as you take in what we are about to discuss today.” See, smooth! Truism plus suggestions are a language pattern that gives results. As long as there is no form of ambiguity, it will work it out.

What are the Benefits of Mastering Hypnotic Language Pattern

Hypnotists use illusory choice methods or double binds to achieve their desired results. Besides, using nominalizations can work the trick. For instance, words that have no intrinsic meanings, but are open to individual interpretation can cause and effect in desired feelings of

  • relaxation
  • tranquility
  • safety
  • calmness,  and security

This is to say it may mean different things to different people, this is because different people have different experiences. Furthermore, when the mind tries to find the natural meaning of such words by turning inwards, trance is achieved.

In this trance state, the unconscious mind is more willing to receive new information, and manipulate it. Also, the hypnotic language pattern works to deliver the language more acceptable to the mind in the trance state.

Milton Erickson Hypnotic Language Patterns

The hypnotic language patterns Milton created are comprehensive. We, however, put them simply below.

Cause And Effect

From this hypnotic language pattern, one can reduce that one thing will cause another to happen. It’s like connecting two things.

For instance deep and slow breathing will cause you to relax.

Example: because you are now breathing in and out slowly, it will make you feel more relaxed.

Complex Equivalent

With complex equivalent, one thing means another.

For instance, “the fact that you are responding to these sessions well means that you are healing well”

Mind Reading

If you state something you don’t know well, it may appear like you are reading someone’s mind.

“You may be wondering what it feels like to get past insomnia…”

Lost Performative

This entails a value judgement where the performer is lost.

Think of it as the gut reaction that answers the question “says who?”

My therapist says breathing slowly and deeply can relax you vs breathing slowly and deeply can relax you…Spot the difference?

a woman with closed eyes
different colors and shapes speech bubbles
different colors and shapes speech bubbles

Modal Operators

There are two modal operators. Necessity and possibility.

Necessity – words you can use include must, need, should, have to and shouldn’t.

For instance “I should lose weight”

“I must attend the party”

“I have to quit drinking”

Possibility – words you can use are can, might, could, can’t and won’t.

“You can’t resist going into trance”

“You can allow yourself to shift deeper into trance”

“You might be able to see a bright future ahead of you”

“You can become more influential if you master these language patterns”

Universal Quantifier

To put it simply, it’s either true or never true. There is no in between.

Words common for this include nobody, everyone, always and never.


This is a verb that doubles up as a noun.

For example, relaxation.

It’s the process of relaxing.

Unspecified Verb

A verb that is not well described. People are  free to use the verb how they want.

“Breathe in and out.”

You are not told to breathe deeply, quickly or slowly. You are left to do it how you want to.

Words have power note on the red background
Bowl with Letters & Words

Tag Question

We have given this a mention already.

A question tag helps weaken or soften the resistance. Just like it’s used in sales language.

“You want to learn the art of language patterns, don’t you?”

Lack of Referential Index

This is a statement that does not identify part of the listener’s life or current experiences.

For example: “a person can go deeper into trance”

Comparative Deletion

This is about a verbal deletion of something in a comparison.

“if you breathe in and out deeply, you will relax quicker”

Well, quicker than what? Get it?

Pace Current Experience

This is stating facts that are happening in someone’s current life. You are mentioning what’s happening from the facts you have. Not guessing.

For instance, for someone who has explained to you their social anxiety problem. You could go in lines of:

“You dread social gatherings? (They will answer yes) You panic when you have to speak in public (yes),

Get the gist of it?

Double Bind

This is an illusion of choice, where two or more possibilities may lead to the same result.

For instance “Do you want to sit on our trance chair or lie on our hypnosis bed? ” It doesn’t matter, either way, somebody can still go deep into trance.

a patient listening to her therapist

Embedded Commands

Embedded commands send clear and precise commands to the mind of an unconscious client.

This is a way to plant an idea into the mind.

The downward inflection in embedded commands can help enhance the trance.

Conversational Postulate

These are commands that are posed as questions.

The answer will unconsciously be yes. A downward inflection makes it even more powerful.

To give examples:

“Can you close your eyes now?”

“Can you imagine the possibilities of this situation?”

Final Thoughts

To smuggle information into the mind, the information has to be readily available for different forms of interpretation. Forms such as deliberate confusion, ambiguity, puns, metaphors, stories, and analogies will surely help the clients be more receptive to information. Furthermore, they will be more critical to information, sending them further into the trance.