Covert Hypnosis – What Is Missing…Incomplete Understanding

What is Hypnosis?

Before we dwell on the specific subject of Conversational Hypnosis, we need to understand what is hypnosis.

The following is normally what came across as the description of hypnosis for people with a certain knowledge and understanding of hypnosis:

  • A natural state of mind
  • Heightened state of awareness
  • High susceptibility to suggestions
  • Altered state of consciousness
  • Is a trance state
  • Body and mind relaxation

Does this mean that you can observe the above phenomena when you are in Conversational Hypnosis? The answer is no.

To understand Conversational Hypnosis or Covert Hypnosis, we need to know the other form of hypnosis called Overt Hypnosis.

Overt Hypnosis is also called traditional or conventional hypnosis.

It is a situation whereby the hypnotized person is aware that he is being hypnotized.

Examples of this form of hypnosis is Hypnotherapy and Stage Hypnosis.

The subjects are told that he will be hypnotized beforehand.

Here, both the hypnotist and the hypnotized person know that hypnosis is taking place.

As the name suggests, Conversational Hypnosis is hypnosis that is used during conversations.

Covert Hypnosis, on the other hand, is hypnosis being carried out on a person who does not know that he is being hypnotized. 

It is done covertly. He may think that everything is going on as normal during the conversation.

This is also known as Indirect Hypnosis. In other words, the hypnotist knows about it but the person in hypnosis does not.

We are familiar with a term used to describe magic – Sleight of Hand.

It is so called because the magician’s hand moves so fast that the eyes do not see a certain gesture or movement and this creates the perfect opportunity for the magician to surprise the audience.

Sleight of Mouth is used to describe Covert Hypnosis.

The hypnotist talks in such a casual and smooth flowing manner that the other party is not aware that ‘something’ is taking place on her.

A Little History

Milton Erickson was a renowned hypnotherapist who was the founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis. 

He specialized in family therapy and medical hypnosis.

He started a form of hypnosis that is different from the traditional hypnosis.

Instead of being authoritative in the approach, he chose to use a co-operative approach.

Instead of the hypnotist instructs and the patient follows, his method involves the patient being gently directed to go within and use his inner resources to find solutions to his problems.

He discovered a plethora of language patterns that was broad and vague, which communicated directly to the subconscious mind and achieved effective results.

This was later being used by hypnotists, advertisers, copywriters as an effective communication tool to influence and persuade people.

Covert Hypnosis is one of the areas using this hypnotic language patterns.

One category of power words are sensory words

Covert Hypnosis

Incomplete Understanding

You may notice that there are many articles/websites/blogs that talk about Covert Hypnosis.

The authors/writers mentioned the need to bypass the critical factor to enter the subconscious mind for hypnosis to take place.

Though this may be correct, it is an incomplete understanding. Something is missing in it.

And the missing part is….

Hypnosis does not necessarily take place when the mind is in the subconscious mode. 

Have you ever read a fiction book and you are so absorbed in it that time flies? This is hypnosis in action.

Are you in your conscious awareness when you read the book? Are you in your waking moment when you savour the story?

The same occurs when you are mesmerized by your idol singing on stage.

You watch your idol sings, you and the whole bunch of audience, scream and blow whistles to join in the euphoric atmosphere.

This is a form of hypnosis. Are you wide awake when you do that? Of course!

Covert Hypnosis can take place in both the conscious mind and the subconscious mind.

Let us say a speaker who is promoting his book after his speaking, he would have already established all the necessary settings (such as have a mesmerizing speech with stories and props, establishing a close rapport) that make the audience feel the impulse to buy his book.

The audience have entered into their subconscious mind while they are being mesmerized.

Put it another way, the stories/words/images used have successfully communicated with the audience at a subconscious level.

They trigger the emotions in the audience so much so they want to buy the products now or else they will regret.

Speaking directly to the subconscious mind is a powerful way to influence people, but it could also backfire.

If the person’s subconscious response is negative towards the thing you are selling, they would not want to buy.

In this instance, you need to jolt them out of the automatic response mode into their conscious thinking.

After all, Covert Hypnosis is about hypnotizing a person during conversations.

It does not matter If it is communicating directly to the conscious mind or the subconscious mind.

You need to observe the context. If the person is resistant, you choose to use the subconscious approach. 

If the person’s subconscious responses unfavourably to your offer, you use the conscious approach.

“Please clean your room this weekend.” – This sounds like a command and instruction.

People’s resistant will go up when they hear this.

“I don’t know if it would be good if you clean your room this weekend.” – The words “I don’t know” shows that you are not in anyway commanding the person.

Your express of “I don’t know” shows that your lack the knowledge to judge the situation.

The person can understand that sometimes it is difficult to come to a decision and they would then step in using their logical thinking to help you reach a decision.

Since empathy is involved, the decision made is most likely favourable to you.

How To Do Covert Hypnosis Step-by-Step

Step 1 – Observation

You must be observant.  In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) term, it is called Sensory Acuity.

If you are observant enough, you can use one or more of your senses to detect what a person likes or dislikes.

Once you know about his like, you will know what to talk about.

Step 2 – Build a Rapport

Anyone can have a conversation with anybody.  This is pretty easy. 

If you were to gain a person’s trust, especially from a stranger, then this first step of building a rapport is critical.

People are generally wary of strangers.  This was conditioned in their mind since young. 

You need to break the barrier by having a nice conversation with the person and later gain his trust in you.

Start by introducing yourself and talk more about yourself.

Then at a certain point, ask question to find out what the person’s interest is.

After you find out the subject of interest that appeal to that person, you centre your conversation on it.

For example, if she likes to travel, you could focus on talking about your travel experiences (including the fun, the places, the people and the culture).

Also, listen to her describing her experience.

If the person does not talk much about her travel experience, ask question and encourage her to reveal more.

The more she talks about it, the better her inner experience will be.

Emotionally she will feel good and attach to the experience.  And you talk about yours in response.

The two experiences will then be linked inside her brain, stimulating it further.

A rapport is thus formed.

Step 3 – Bypass the Critical Factor / Jolt them out of the automatic response to conscious thinking

What is Critical Factor? It is a term used in hypnosis to describe an imaginary line that separates the conscious mind and the unconscious mind.

It is like a gatekeeper that opens and shuts the gate.

When open, information flows into the subconscious mind with no impediment.

If closed, information will be first scrutinized by the conscious guard.

When a person is not in the conscious state of mind, he is in the unconscious state of mind.

In order for Covert Hypnosis to take place, you talk directly to a person’s subconscious mind.

The reason is fairly simple. Our conscious mind is made up of logical thoughts, arguments and reasonings.

What you say to him (especially those that he does not think so, believe in, trust etc), his conscious mind will find reasons to fire back at you.

In other words, having a conversation with the conscious mind could be tougher because of the protective mind. 

You want a simple and direct way to communicate, thus you talk to his subconscious mind.

Why? The subconscious mind does not argue or reject, it takes in ALL suggestions.

As mentioned earlier, depending on the situation, sometimes you need to jolt the person out of the subconscious into the conscious thinking mind to achieve your objective.

Step 4 – Give Your Suggestions

Suggestions are words and/or images you used on the other party in order to achieve what you want.

These words or images would influence the person’s mind to come to a decision that is what you want.

Now that you are aware of the 4 steps, let us take a look at 2 scenarios and see how these steps could be applied.

Scenario 1: You are a salesman and you want to sell a laptop to a person hanging around the store

Let us called the character Mr A.  Mr A comes into the store and starts hanging around the IT products section.

You see him spending a minute or so looking at the laptop.

In your mind, you know that he is a potential client for your laptop.

You walk up to him and say “Mr A, this laptop is the latest introduction.

You are looking at the latest masterpiece newly ushered by XYZ company. You have the foresight! As you talk, you pass him a brochure to look at as well.

You then point at the laptop’s price to see what is his reaction.

If he expresses (whether verbally or non-verbally) discomfort, you can handle his objection (for eg. By saying there is a member discount of 15%).

If he seems to be alright with the price, you can start to talk about what size and colour he would like to have.

Have him physically touch the screen and keyboard to feel the smooth texture.

In Step 1 – You observe him and find that he likes laptop

In Step 2,3 & 4 – You approach him and build rapport by talking about what he likes about.

You appeal to his ego by using a few emotional words such as latest introduction, you are looking at the latest masterpiece, newly ushered, you have the foresight.

Remember, emotional words can invoke a person’s feeling that is stored in the subconscious mind.

You let him touch the laptop so that he is engaging his touch sense apart from the visual.

(Notice that in theory, the Covert Hypnosis is explained in Steps. But in reality, it is combined together in a process).

Scenario 2: You want your child to help out in some housework during school holidays

Your child, Mike, has been having his school holiday for a week.

He is hanging around doing nothing except playing games and watching TV.

One day, you tell Mike: Our former neighbour, Tom, your childhood best friend is coming to our town next week.

His mother said they will drop by to reminisce some fond memories with us.

Just like you, Tom likes to eat fried chicken and French fries.

You proceed: Please tidy up your room so that you can play with him when he arrives.

Also, please cut out some fried chicken coupons from the newspaper so that we can enjoy some discounts.

In Step 1 – You observe Mike is not doing anything productive during school holidays

In Step 2, 3 & 4 – You talk about his childhood best friend (someone he likes!).

You talk about his likes – fried chicken. You continue your conversation with Embedded Commands

Signs of Covert Hypnosis

As in anything, there are signs or symptoms you can detect when a person uses Covert Hypnosis on you. These include:

  1. Story – Especially when a stranger is telling a story. It is one of the easiest ways to ‘hook’ you into believing him. When we listen to a story, we just wish to listen and not question. That is a sign when you have entered into your subconscious mode.
  2. Emotional Words – When a person uses a number of emotional words that makes you feel good, such as “discount”, “beautiful”, “sensational” etc.

Is it Ethical?

The ethical question about Covert Hypnosis is debatable. 

One group may say it is unethical because you are using hypnosis on another person without her awareness.

The key words to take note of is – awareness. If a person is not aware, and you do something to her, then it is not ethical.

If she is aware, it is still your fault…but to a lesser extent.

On the surface, it may seem logical.

What if you realize that you have been hypnotized since young by the environment? 

One such area is advertisement.

Advertisers use words and images cleverly to secretly hypnotize us.


Whether it is hypnosis or Covert Hypnosis, it is about shifting a person’s consciousness.

It is more difficult to put your stand forward and get people to follow if you are having a conversation with their logical thinking mind.

It is easier to do so if you bypass the critical factor and speak directly to their subconscious mind.

The subconscious takes in suggestions and react to them. It is a stimulus/response mechanism.

However, you cannot be successful by solely using the subconscious approach.

Sometimes, the conscious approach has the upper hand. Read Utilisation

Learn More about Covert Hypnosis.