delivering hypnotic suggestions

A Secret To Delivering Powerful Suggestions

A Secret To Delivering Powerful Suggestions

Hypnotic suggestion can be thought of as having two basic forms–direct and indirect.

Direct suggestions state the goal, such as “You exercise regularly.” Indirect suggestions may presuppose the goal, hint at the goal, parallel the goal or even disguise a suggestion inside a metaphor or embedded suggestion.

direct vs indirect suggestion

Which Is More Effective?

There have been a number of studies which have tried to answer that question and the results have been mixed. Most show similar responsiveness to direct and indirect suggestion. But I think the studies are missing the point.

Asking Which Is More Effective Is Like Asking What Is The Best Color Shirt–Red Or Blue?

Well, that depends on the person and the situation, doesn’t it? I believe the same thing is true of direct and indirect suggestion. Different types of suggestion work for different people and in different situations! And there are some times when you’ll use both. Let me give you some ideas.

  • When I’m teaching, I always consider the direct suggestions I’m giving to a demonstration subject are indirect suggestions to the audience.
  • When I’m telling a story in any context, I think about what indirect suggestions I’m giving to the listeners.
  • When I’m asking someone to do something in a non-hypnotic context, I often form the question according to the direct suggestion guidelines.

Different Methods Work For Different People

I remember demonstrating the Dave Elman Induction in an NLP Master Practitioner training. I was asking the subject to make their hand loose and limp, like a rag doll. A woman in the audience was taking notes and dropped her pen right at that moment. She was one I might use indirect suggestions with! Why? Because in understanding my suggestion to the demonstration subject, she thought about them in a way that caused her to respond to them herself. That’s a classic case of responding to an indirect suggestion!

What Should You Do?

You’ll probably be OK using either one but if you want to have maximum effectiveness with the most people, use both. You can always do some direct suggestion and some indirect and see if one style works better for a particular person.

My Hypnotic Language Mastery Pack gives you a comprehensive course on indirect suggestion, and you can learn more about using direct suggestions in my hypnosis course.


About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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  1. I really enjoy the emails that I receive. I plan to purchase many of your books once I come off of
    workers compensation which I have been on for about 2 years now. ( can’t wait to go back to work)…
    Any ways thank you so much for your teachings


  2. You certainly can’t be referring to something that starts off or includes “My friend Keith …” I Know Erickson had his, Joe or John wasn’t it and I learned with ‘My friend Keith’. I can guarantee “My friend Keith’ works excellently on everyone. Just a remembrance and a giggle that I found out who “My friend Keith’ is and may use him in my metamuffin someday myself.


  3. Keith, I always enjoy reading your perspective on things. I loved the idea of someone in the audiance doing what you told someone else to do…Here I thought perhaps I was the only one. lol

    Thanks again…

    1. Yeah,
      It really pointed out the power of indirect suggestion to me. And it taught me to be more careful with things I say–someone’s unconscious mind might be listening!

  4. Hi Keith – I wonder if that’s why I sometimes do things that seem incongruent? My suggestive friends and work mates?

    Will you be putting this out as web accessible, like your induction series?

    All the best,


    1. Hi Nils,
      We all have areas where we’re incongruent. It’s the what life does to us. We can work it out though where it causes problems for us.
      To answer your question–I may be putting this out in a web accessible form. It’s part of the plan, anyway.


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