Resistance and Rapport
We focus on high-order mental systems: those which determine whether to accept or reject statements made by another. The ability to reduce the resistance and increase rapport is an important part of hypnosis. This highly practical chapter gives exercises which take the form of two-person games which may be used to increase your skills in this way. We run through making impersonal statements; statements about yourself and then personal statements about another person: all in an everyday setting. Then, in a more "hypnotic" setting, we practise making every statement of an induction totally acceptable and then a series of personal suggestions acceptable.
The question of the difference between the system ofactive resistance and active rapport is discussed. No specific exercises are given for building up the latter: though you can find out by asking a few extra questions after the previous exercises how well you are doing. It is suggested that high levels of rapport depend on being good at hypnosis, on being honest to yourself, but on top of that there seem to be some innate characteristics that will make rapport between yourself and certain other people arise naturally.
This chapter is focussed primarily on one particular system which exists in most people: that which enables them to resist or reject suggestions or orders that others give them. You should be aware of activity of this system in yourself whenever someone tries to sell you something you do not want; or persuade you of something that you disagree with, or asks you to do something that you do not want to.
This is a fairly high level system, and includes component parts from many subsystems. There may well be a verbal response "No", which may or may not be expressed. William James - "The Father of Psychology" - remarked of consenting or negating "the opening and closing of the glottis play a great part in these operations, and. less distinctly, the movements of the soft palate etc., shutting off the posterior nares from the mouth." (Principles of Psychology Vol I, Chapter X) I find that when I am feeling resistant to what I am hearing then at times most of my muscles become tense, my gaze becomes averted and my tone flat. Each person doubtless has his or her own pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviour which are activated by the thought of resisting some influence and a contrary pattern which exists in the absence of resistance.
I have used the word "resistance" but "rejection", "refusal", "nonacceptance", "defensiveness" and so on may be used instead.
Images of resistance are a closing of doors, a putting on of armour, a taking up of arms, a donning of a mask, a stiffening of the sinews, of entering a shell and so on.
Fundamentally you are going to have a hard time changing anything about anybody if they are actively resisting. You may have tried arguing with someone to try to change their minds. The primary effect of this is only to activate still further thoughts and feelings of resistance. And so usually you will only succeed in making the other more, not less, in rapport with you. And even on those occasions when you seem to win the day, "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still", and you are unlikely to have made a deep or permanent change.
Now hypnosis is about changing things - quickly and without force - and so the ability to reduce the activity of the system of resistance is a major aspect of hypnosis. As long as it is active then you will not get much further.
The opposite of resistance may be called "obedience" if the emphasis is on obeying what another wants or "rapport" if it means being at one with someone else; in harmony with them and hence being happy to go along with whatever they want. Ideally I would like one word to cover BOTH of these meanings, but I have not found one. In the field of hypnosis the phrase en rapport has traditionally been used for the close relationship between hypnotist and subject which can develop to the point where the latter happily and willingly goes along with the suggestions of the former, and in this context it has always had the meaning of obedience or compliance as well. For this reason I will use the word "rapport" here as a convenient opposite to "resistance".
As usual let us look first at an everyday situation in which the balance between resistance and rapport is central. Consider the salesman or saleswoman with a customer. In any handbook on selling you will see the advice, "Always aim to get 'yes' for an answer." We may put this the other way around: once the customer has started saying 'no' then there is a good chance that the sale is lost. Consequently a good salesman will have a ready flow of statements that are likely to get a 'yes' response. "You will not want to waste money." "The cheapest is not always best." "It is best to go for what you will be happy with." Such sentences as those are almost guaranteed to get a 'yes' response. And with each 'yes' there is a chance that the customer will relax a little of the initial resistance.
If, on the other hand, the salesman jumps in with something like, "You must buy this one," there is far too great a chance of a "No, I won't" response, activating the resistance system of thoughts, feelings and behaviours rather more.
In addition of course the good salesman is always on the alert for even small signs of a decrease in resistance or an increase in rapport or enthusiasm. A slight smile or frown are quite good enough indicators of a growing 'yes' or 'no' response. A slight loosening or tightening of the muscles, or a slight changing in breathing or tone of voice are all noticed and assessed as to whether they indicate a greater 'yes' or 'no' response.
And finally, of course, the salesman uses such signs as feedback to enable him or her to subtly change path in such a way as to increase the 'yes' and decrease the 'no' responses: to activate rapport and inactivate resistance.
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