For people in the UK, you will know about a comedy duo here called the Two Ronnies. For those of you outside of the UK, they were a comedy duo that were famous and popular in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s, and although it is not cool to mention it (they are not that fashionable now and are a bit dated!), I thought they were very funny.
The smaller of the Two Ronnies used to have a section of the show that saw him sat in a very large chair ready to tell a joke and he would sit alone on the stage in his big chair, with a spotlight on him and he would tell jokes that involved him telling a story. I can remember him once telling a truly brilliant set of stories that anyone can tell their children before bedtime, or tell family members or you can use it to talk with your employees, your boss or colleagues that you might want to motivate, to inspire, or educate. Or you can use them in writing - like I do every now and then here in my articles. The amount of possibilities to use this set of hypnotic stories is limitless.
Ronnie Corbett, the smaller of the two Ronnies said a very simple set of stories, that I am about to share with you, and it reminds me of the Hypnotic story telling method that is another classic method that Milton Erickson created and used successfully for many years in his hypnotherapy practice. As you may already know, Milton Erickson was a very big influence on modern hypnosis methods and he used to teach with the clever use of stories.
In very simple terms, with the story telling method that he often used, you are building anticipation and intrigue. You pick up to 5 stories, that are interesting to your listener and you begin to tell them. Milton Erickson once told a group of people he was teaching that you open one story after the other, and on a particular break away point in that story, you switch to the next story. Once you eventually open and tell the fifth of your stories, you deliver your hypnotic message and then you close the fifth story, and you proceed to complete and close the remaining stories in reverse order.
But while he was teaching this, he did something that was very unusual for Milton Erickson.
The fact that he did something very unusual reminds me of the unusual pattern that was discovered by Richard Bandler and John Grinder when they subsequently studied Milton Erickson and then modelled what he did.
Using their process for modelling, they were able to identify a structure to what Erickson was doing. One of the first steps that they then illustrated was that when you use this clever process, it is valuable to have a well formed outcome for what you are doing.
Bandler and Grinder stated that you must firmly decide what you want to accomplish before you use this technique. You need to know what outcome you want for your listeners and you. When you have this outcome in mind, it is easier for you to create your stories and your embedded message is going to be more effective and influential.
What do you think the link was between Richard Bandlers early computer programming learnings and this pattern of story telling? There is a very distinct link you know.
That link reminds me of the mental link I make about this way of telling stories, because I first experienced it happening when I was at a training seminar and I was watching a brilliant trainer, Michael Breen, explain some of the concepts of it and he was so funny and enjoyable to watch that I did something really, truly embarrassing, I mean totally embarrassing.
When I saw another trainer indicate how to use this technique, I learned again that the second step in the process is to think about what your message is going to be in the middle of the loop of stories and get ready to deliver it in the middle. You are then nesting your message in the middle of your set of stories.
I also learned that you tell the first section of your five stories and open them all up. Well worth bearing in mind here that you should do your best for them to be entertaining and ideally captivating in some way. It is much better if the stories you use are from your own life, that way, you attach natural feelings to them and you do not have to struggle to remember them.
Once you have your five stories, choose the place where it would be enticing to break off from that story, yet is still piquing the interest of the listener; so they want to hear more and discover what happens in the end.
Fourthly, you start your first story and proceed to tell the stories, you open the loops. You have got to remember the order of the stories you tell them.
So, as I struggle to remember my own stories here, that allows me to tell you about that really embarrassing thing that happened on that training watching Michael Breen. I laughed so much while I was sat in the audience eating a banana that I spat some of it out on the extremely lovely lady who was sat in front of me and everyone in my immediate vicinity saw it happen! They all looked at me and I went crimson with embarrassment. I mean a very bright shade of red! I may have felt embarrassed, now I want you to feel really good. I mean I want you to feel really, very good right now.
The thing that helped me recover from my embarrassment was the fact that Michael Breen taught with such brilliance that he distracted everyone with his jokes and content and he illustrated that When you get to the break off point for your first story, you then use a linking phrase of some kind to move on to the beginning of the next story.
When you subsequently get to your fifth story that is the time for delivering your message.
The link between Richard Bandler's early computer programming knowledge and this technique was that he called this technique using "nested loops" which was early computer technology jargon. They went on modelling Erickson and showed that next up, in the middle or at the end of your fifth story, you deliver your message or give some suggestions that you want your listener to absorb fully. It is so easy you won’t believe me until you get out there and use this technique.
Almost always, your listener will not even realise what is occurring. Your previous stories have already overloaded their conscious mind and your suggestion or your message is not being observed consciously. You just observe what is usual, the stories that you want to hear the end of.
Is that usual? Well how about what is unusual... That unusual thing that Milton Erickson said in that training he was running. Milton Erickson was famous for teaching in stories and most people would find this very hard to decipher. Therefore it was very unusual that he explained that the next step is that you then close the rest of the loops by finishing the stories in the right order. He explained that you must be sure not to frustrate your listener. Don’t leave their mind grasping for the end of the loops. Remember to close the stories in reverse order. By that I mean, after you have finished your fifth story, you go back and finish (close) your fourth story and then close your third story and so on.
So you see, when he had that spotlight shining upon him in the centre of the stage, Ronnie Corbett used to seem like he was getting himself in a muddle with his fabulous jokes all worked into a long story telling spree that was a great part of the Two Ronnies TV show, but he was actually being deeply hypnotic and very funny in my opinion too.
By the way, did you notice that I added my message of you feeling good into the middle of my loop of stories?
Your mind does not really like loose ends such as the loops of stories in this technique - your mind looks for the completion of the story, and while it waits, there is another story and yet another that are being methodically opened, causing a conscious mind overload to keep track of. In the middle of it all, you embed your message and more often that not, the listener (or reader) allows that message to be nested in their unconscious mind and has no conscious recall of it. Pretty cool, eh?
This week, enjoy being hypnotic and use stories in this wonderfully clever way to generate some hypnotic trances in your listeners, especially if you are thinking of telling some Christmas stories!
Adam Eason, Author, Trainer, Speaker, Coach and Consultant. Specialising in NLP, Hypnosis, Personal Development and Human Potential.