Tips for Working with Hypnosis Clients with Accents, Dialects, and other Potential Communication and Language Barriers

I've seen a lot of questions lately from hypnotists on how to work with clients when there are language or communication concerns - meaning, it is difficult to understand your client for one reason or another. The reason could be a technical issue, for example a bad telephone connection, or perhaps you're working with someone over Skype. Or it could be a language or communication issue, for example a client with a dialect or accent that is different than yours and difficult for you to understand. Here are some tips on working with these clients to determine if you can help them, and how best to proceed and minimize any potential language or communication barriers.

Tip #1 : Ask for Clarification

If you're unable to understand what someone says at any point during the hypnosis session (either while in hypnosis or not), ask for clarification. There is nothing wrong with asking your client to clarify or repeat what they just said, or describe it to you in a different way. Although this takes more time it's important that you as the hypnotist understand your client so you can help guide them as much as possible. This happens when clients mumble, speak too softly, speak in an accent or dialect that's difficult to understand, or even if they speak in a foreign language.

Keep in mind that even when someone is speaking clearly and you are able to understand what they've said, you still need to ask for these clarification questions - for example if someone says "I feel bad", ask them to explain what bad means. If they use an ambiguous term, ask them "and what do you mean by that?", "can you explain that further?", "describe that to me in more detail".

Tip #2 Ensure clients understand you

If you are having a difficult time understanding your client, you also want to determine if your client can understand you. It's a good idea to determine this before you begin working with a client, otherwise it can make it difficult to help them if they can't follow your instruction. Also keep in mind that the subconscious likes simplicity - keep your own language as simple as possible without the use of complex or uncommon words or phrases and be cautious with  idioms that may not translate well to your client.

Tip #3 Set expectations in the Hypnosis Pre-talk

If you anticipate communication being an issue, discuss it with your client in the hypnosis pre-talk and explain that while in hypnosis you may ask the client clarification questions.  Keep this in mind while planning your sessions to ensure you have time to wrap things up at the end. If it seems to be a big issue you may want to set up some ground rules while in hypnosis including asking the client to speak louder or slower, or using common words that you both understand.

Tip #4 Give clients Post-Hypnotic Suggestions for clear speech

During hypnosis, give your clients simple post-hypnotic suggestions for speaking clearly, loudly, and slowly.

Tip #5 There may be cultural differences as well, and that's OK

There's also the question of you understanding the deeper meaning of what your client is saying, for example cultural or other differences, and for that I'd recommend the same thing - ask for clarification on what it means to the client. We don't have to know or understand everything about a client to help them, and often the less we know the better because it's what it means to the client that is important.

Tip #6 Realize that by asking clarification questions you are helping your client think about things in another way

We don't have to know or understand everything about a client to help them, but sometimes asking these clarification questions not only helps us as the hypnotist, but it can help the client as well think about things differently. So not only are you helping yourself understand, you may be helping your client find insight that will be helpful for them by asking them to explain things in a different way.

Tip #7 Refer the Client Out

If you're having a really difficult time communicating with your client you'll need to determine if there's a way to work with the client that makes sense, or if you can refer them to someone who can understand them more clearly.

About Erika Flint, BCH, CPHI

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Erika Flint, BA, BCH, A+CPHI

Erika Flint is a Board Certified Hypnotist, Certified Professional Hypnotherapy Instructor, Software Engineer, Web Developer, and she's also AdWords Certified. She became a hypnotists after over a decade as a Software Engineer in Silicon Valley.

Now she enjoys using hypnosis to help clients, teaching hypnosis and hypnotherapy to students in one of her hypnotherapy certification courses, and she also provides website, SEO, and AdWords consulting for Hypnotists  to help them reach a wider audience by optimizing their website and bringing in new clients.

She's presented her material at the National Guild of Hypnotists, and you can review the details of that talk here: Get new Clients With Google, fast.