It’s that time of the year when you have to visit relatives that you haven’t met all year. Consequently, you don’t know much them. How do you keep the conversation flowing?

I’m currently studying for a Practitioner’s diploma in Hypnosis in order to explore its application and efficacy in communication. In Hypnosis, rapport is very important. Without it, the client may not trust you. This may impact his or her ability to enter into a hyper-suggestible state known as trance*. In a trance state, positive suggestions may be implanted into his or her subconscious for positive change in his or her life.

Here are 3 steps on creating rapport with anyone:

1. Opener

Make this general. In a situation where you know close to nothing about Uncle James or Aunt Patricia, you want to get as much information from them as possible to work on.

Use broad questions like:

    How was your year?
    What have you been up to recently?
    How’s work?

2. Use their own language

The hypnotherapist never offers answers. The hypnotherapist only guides the client into finding his or her own answers. To do this, use the client’s own words and own phrases when replying and probing. For example:

You: How’s work?

Uncle James: Same old, same old.

You: What do you mean by ‘same old, same old‘?

Uncle James: Nothing new. Just the same old grind.

You: Why do you say that it’s the same old grind?

Uncle James: Because you get up in the morning at the same time every day, go to the same place, do the same job- nothing new is happening. And those new graduates keep getting the promotions while you struggle and struggle.

You: How does that make you feel?

3. Ask the big questions

Finally you’ve hit pay dirt. Emotions are the result of a complex process which can lead you to the client’s thought and value systems.

Uncle James: It’s not the best feeling. All your life you’ve worked so hard and then these upstarts# come along and grab the promotion that is rightfully yours.

You: Why you do think that you deserve a promotion?

Uncle James: Because I put in the work– 9 to 5 and sometimes more. I work overtime and sometimes go beyond the call of duty to make sure that the job is done. I take great pride in doing my job well+.

You: Wow that is very commendable. Why do you think it is important to work hard?

Uncle James: In school they teach you to work hard. In our Chinese culture, they say you must work hard and study hard, then you will be a success. Well I did that. It doesn’t seem to be panning out.

You: Why do you think so?

Etc.

Enjoy your conversations this Lunar New Year. May they be meaningful ones that lead to new understandings and closer relationships.

* A trance state is a naturally occurring state. It happens when a person is completely engrossed in one activity to the exclusion of all others. Examples of naturally occurring trances are listening to a boring lecturer drone and dropping off to sleep or driving a car along a straight road.

#this can be another topic of conversation

+ this is another topic of conversation. A follow-up question could be ‘why do you think that it is important to do your job well?

Grace Ng Ee Wern is a former lawyer who maintains her interest for communication and problem-solving. With her teaching studio, Vocalogy, she pursues her passion for research and development down to the level of neuroplastic changes in the brain.