How Do You “Mark Out” an Embedded Command?

One thing Milton Erickson (1901-1980), the renowned American psychiatrist and psychologist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy) excelled at was a conversational style of speaking that made his clients very receptive to suggestions he implanted into their subconscious minds. It can put someone into a trance-like state without using any of the conventional methods of hypnosis.

The language patterns he used have become techniques and patterns used in NLP, and they can be embedded into seemingly ordinary everyday speech. Incorporating these “embedded commands” into speech without the use of any formal induction is a very subtle and elegant way of communicating and getting your suggestions to penetrate into the subconscious mind of the person with whom you are conversing. By reaching the subconscious mind in this way, you encounter far less resistance.

If done correctly, the embedded commands are outside of ordinary awareness–that is, not part of the listener’s conscious awareness, yet definitely noted by the subconscious mind of the listener. These words can also be quite effective to over-emphasize a point.

So how do we go about “marking out” the specific words you want your listener to notice?

Using NLP hypnosis, we mark out specific words with gestures, head nods, and the voice. You are actually having more than one conversation with your listener at the same time. To do this, you might use different sets of metaphors, voice tone and volume, and gestures, each linked to a particular point you are communicating.

The conscious mind is satisfied because the conversation at the surface level seems to be making sense. Once you get very adept at it, even making conscious sense doesn’t seem to be necessary.

When using NLP hypnosis, you mark out words or some directions you are giving, or key points you want to make, by doing something either visual or auditory. There are times you can employ other senses, such as touch, but usually it will be either visual and/or auditory. Your mark out could be with an emphasized voice tone, a sharp staccato, such as a finger snap or knock, some type of gesture or touch. Experiment and use whatever works, or try a variety. Also keep in mind that a visual gesture will be worthless if the person happens not to be looking at you during the moment you are giving the visual cue.

This is a conversational style of NLP hypnosis, so you can start simple by identifying the clear points you intend to make and how you will mark them out.

When there are no differences in visual or auditory input every so often, the mind gets fatigued, ceases to notice, and we tend to fall into an unguided trance. Using embedded commands provides the necessary differentials so that you can put the subject into trance on your own terms and get the desired results.

Beyond underscoring points you want to bring out, these marked out differences diversify a conversation or presentation’s rhythm and will keep your listeners’ attention riveted. You may want to practice this technique as your normal mode of speaking, using 2 to 3 tonal shifts per every sentence or so. Notice how good actors and even newscasters utilize this principle.