20 Magic Words for Coaching Conversations | Toby Sinclair
Updated: Sep 27
Can you imagine the change a person is able to naturally create if magic words could unlock their potential? Try to resist the scepticism. After you experience this article, your coaching conversations can go beyond the impossible. The more aware you are of the possibility, the more possibility of change. You can believe in this magic, can you not?
Do you feel hypnotised?
The paragraph above puts into action the magic words and language patterns shared in Magic Words and Language Patterns: The Hypnotist's Essential Guide to Crafting Irresistible Suggestions by Hand, Karen
Typically used within a hypnosis script, these “magic” words connect with a client's subconscious mind enabling change.
Magic Words and Coaching Conversations
Imagine what can happen as you find yourself automatically using magic words to help your clients easily reach their goals now because that’s what they want and because that’s why they’re paying you. You can imagine adding these words comfortably into your patter to create a set of suggestions, can you not? - Karen Hand
Words are codes or shorthand for the internal pictures, feelings, sounds, emotions, moods, etc. that are in our imagination, our mind. Words are the code used to get thoughts from the inside of your head out into the open so others can participate in your model of the world. Words can set up agreement or dissent or can be completely neutral.
These magic words are helpful for coaches in two ways.
Firstly the words used by the client may reveal a deeper story. This can help expand their horizons and connect with the topic at hand.
Secondly, the words can be used by the coach to relax the client, engage their creative brain and go beyond limiting beliefs.
What I find surprising about these words is that many of them seem normal. They are not magical words like Abracadabra. Karen highlights that it’s this normality of the words that help them connect with your subconscious mind. These natural suggestions go deeper and to create a change within the client.
As a coach, I’ve always been interested in hypnosis and how it might complement my coaching practice.
With hypnosis, coaches need to operate within the ICF Code of Ethics. In particular, it's key to have a clear coaching contract, stay future-focused and know your boundaries. If you wish to use Hypnotic techniques these should be agreed with the client as part of contracting.
Many coaches can unintentionally lead clients into a hypnotic state. The coach's authority, the emotion and suggestibility of the client are factors that can create this state. This is a reason for my research into hypnosis, to be more self-aware of how my actions and language influence the client.
The Top 20 Magic Words
How can these Magic Words be used?
These words are like pieces of stage direction. Whatever follows each of those words is softened. The subconscious mind is more likely to receive the information that comes after it.
These softening words can be very helpful to relax a nervous client. For example, my Yoga teacher uses these magic words at the start of a session:
“Focus on your natural and automatic breath. Let your thoughts easily come and go, with each natural and automatic breath.”
I have used a similar approach with clients. Often I'll lead the client through a short mindfulness exercise to ground them and become more present.
These words make the subconscious pay attention to some item. This could again be used to help your client relax and become aware of their breathing. Another alternative is raising awareness of emotions related to a particular topic.
“When you become aware of possibilities, what do you notice?
Go Beyond Limited Beliefs
These words focus the subconscious mind on space. This enables a greater expansion of possibilities and these words can help overcome limiting beliefs. It helps focus the client on what's possible beyond their current limitations.
“When you expand your horizon, what unlimited potential does that offer?"
These words trigger the subconscious mind to think of time. This can help create a sense of mobility. Particularly for coaching, these can help frame the thinking into the Now and After rather than the past.
“How do you feel now, in the present moment?”
This is a word that sends the subconscious mind into the creative hemisphere. This can help bring out the playful side of the client and help break free for logical, analytical thinking.
Directing the client using the phrase “Don’t think….” can do the opposite. Saying “Don’t think of a dancing elephant” and guess what they think of!” Coaches should particularly be aware of how their words can lead the client to think about the exact thing that they might want to avoid. Use this carefully.
Indications of a deeper story
It’s a tiny yet powerful word. It’s the master at making things disappear. But is an interesting word because once uttered, the mind erases everything that came before it in a sentence or a thought… poof… just like magic.
“You may drift off and have a variety of thoughts but your subconscious mind continues to go deeper with the sound of my voice.”
A great word to watch for with clients. I was once told “everything before but is b****t” and perhaps when a client uses this word there is a deeper story.
The Amazing Multiplier
It’s a secret suggestion to the mind to automatically include everything that follows it.
Because, It’s Magic
The Xerox Machine Case Study highlights the power of because. When you use this word the reason that comes after it is often automatically accepted by the subconscious mind.
Toby's Bonus Word
When a client says they will "try" to do something, you can be pretty sure they are not committing to the change. A great opportunity to explore further with the client the commitments they are making.
So what do you think about these Magic Words?
I must admit I'm still sceptical but eager to explore. With these kinds of approaches, there are always ethical questions. I think a coach needs to be aware of using techniques of hypnosis undercover to influence to coerce a client to change. Knowing your coaching contract and boundaries is vital.
Do you want to expand your knowledge further?
In addition to the 20 Magic Words Karen shares in her book 10 Magic Language Patterns.
If you want to learn about them, comment below or let me know on Twitter