Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rapport (Courtesy of XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare)

What is Rapport and Why is it Important?

A hypnotic relationship requires trust and comfort. Only after those are established can a kinky hypnotic relationship build on that trust and comfort to craft intentional, consensual mistrust and discomfort.

Rapport is the subconscious or conscious connection between one or more people. This post talks about what kind of rapport to establish for a hypnotic relationship, and how to do that.
Rapport is not binary, nor is it a spectrum. A hypnotee might have rapport to do character play with one hypnotist, and not with another, but might be able to do memory play with the other and not the first. Rapport for hypnosis can affect overall comfort, trance depth, states of consciousness, suggestibility, submission, and the out-of-play relationship. 

A good goal for rapport is to have the same energy and mood, and have the same intentions. Good rapport is often enough to begin creating trance and altered states of consciousness on its own.

How To Establish Rapport

Here's a play-by-play of what to do when.

To be clear, none of these things should be used to make people want to play with you. These are things to improve rapport with people with whom you have already negotiated consent! Otherwise, you are being a creepy pick-up artist. Do not groom people as subjects. It's gross. The BDSM equivalent is calling people "pet" or "princess" when you first meet them. The vanilla equivalent is staring at someone's breasts for the whole first conversation. 


The rapport process begins at first glance and never ends. Here's what to do when you spot your play partner across the room.
  • Appearance and Hygiene: Hypnotists should cultivate a "look." For some, this is a power-suit and shiny shoes. For others, it's crystals and dangly earrings. For others, it's all about the cleavage or chest hair. What ever your hypnotist look, be clean. Smell doesn't come into play at first sight, but it really really does later. 
  • Body Language: Emit confidence with open, strong body posture. Stand up straight, keep shoulders back and take up some space. Keep arms and legs uncrossed. 
  • Eyebrow Flash: Humans in most cultures (except Japan) subconsciously flash their eyebrows when seeing or making eye contact with someone familiar or friendly. Cultivating an eyebrow flash can accentuate those feelings, even in someone you've just negotiated with for the first time. An eyebrow flash is a slight perking of the eyebrows upon eye contact. Spot your play partner across the room? Try an eyebrow flash.
  • Smile:

Rapport-Building Conversations

  • Handshake: Practice a good handshake. This is not subjective: there is a right and wrong. Maintain eye contact the whole time. Meet hands web to web first before clasping to ensure the correct positioning. Keep hands vertical--do not put your hand palm down or up. Clasp firmly but with a soft, warm grip, like a vagina. Do not shake the hand; sort of lightly jerk it once, and then let go. Practice this. You will get a job and your grandfather will be proud of you. That being said, some people don't like handshakes. I sometimes verbally ask "can I shake your hand?" while I'm reaching out to give the other person the ability to say "my hand's all sweaty. Let's bump elbows instead."
  • S.L.A.N.T.Sit up, lean in, ask questions, nod, track what the speaker is saying. 
  • Ask Real Questions: Ask a question that is pertinent to the situation. Bonus points if it's a person-specific question. Ask questions that may elicit real answers, as opposed to automatic answers like "how are you," which elicits "doin' pretty well. Doin' fine." Try asking "have you been to this venue before? How do you know the host?" or even "tell me something cool about you."

    Remember that in BDSM and kink contexts, it is not polite to ask about work, school, family, or other personal identifying items. It can be polite to volunteer such information about yourself, but not to ask. Most people don't want to talk about their kids at a dungeon, and most people don't want to reveal in public that they work for the government while wearing leather and a tutu. 
  • Listen to the Answers: Show that you are actually interested. If you aren't interested, you probably shouldn't play. 
  • Laugh: It's validating and creates positive associations. And you probably look good when you laugh.
  • Body Language: Keep the open posture. Square hips towards the other person to indicate that they have your attention.


  • Energy: Match the other person's energy level. Interpret "energy" loosely. It can mean a lot of stuff.
  • Body Language: Match body language like head-tilt and arm positions. You can even match their breathing. Do not imitate them gesture for gesture, but if they sit with their legs crossed, you can, at a time that isn't weird and noticeable, do the same. For best effect, this will be an easy mode to slip into without thinking about it.
  • Speech Patterns: Match the formality of their speech and the tone. Match pace and flow. Do not do that cool-dad thing of using words that are clearly out of your lexicon...groovy, -izzle, hella hyphy. Do not imitate accents or speech impediments or anything noticeable that might sound like you are making fun of them.
  • Modality: Listen and look for their modality and try to match it in your speech and when in scene. 


Negotiation should precede specific efforts to build rapport, but a good negotiation builds rapport on its own. Negotiating good consent and sticking with that negotiation builds trust. A good conversation about consent takes a while and makes sure that everyone's limits and interests are heard and respected. Here's a sample negotiation for erotic hypnosis. 

In Scene

  • Consent: Remember and respect the negotiation. 
  • Validation: Use validating language. "Good, you're doing great." 
  • Check in: Check in frequently. Acting like you can read someone's mind does nothing for rapport building even though you might think it makes you look omnipotent. It makes you look...overconfident and bad at communication--like that guy who's sure you're about to cum when you're sort of feeling soggy. Ask for check-ins frequently. "Tell me about that." "What are you feeling?" 
  • Suggestions: Suggestions themselves build rapport. Listening to and following out suggestions is a form of communication that requires and reinforces trust. Rapport builds as a scene goes on. 


Some rapport just takes time. Don't force it. Longevity is the best test of trustworthiness. The value of collecting and internalizing many social data-points is enormous. Do nice things for each other. A hypnotic relationship improves as the social one does.

Rapport goes both ways.

Often, rapport conversations are about how a hypnotist can establish a hypnotee's trust, but the inverse is equally important. Trust in the subject is imperative in order to confirm that the consent is genuine and well-informed on both sides.

Hypnotists shouldn't feel comfortable playing with someone who may or may not understand the play and/or potential risks. A hypnotist needs to be able to vet a potential hypnotee to decide whether or not they should play. With good rapport, the hypnotist will more easily be able to sense red flags for subjects who may be dangerous candidates for mental health reasons, dependency issues, poor current mental state, or are under the influence of substances that shouldn't be mixed with hypnosis.

Rapport improves a hypnotist's ability to read a hypnotee to create effective suggestions, notice what's working and what isn't, and to notice if something's going wrong. Rapport is also tied to desire; the more two players know about each other, the more inspiration there is for interesting, specific play.

Rapport can be created or destroyed. 

There are a lot of times when rapport or certain levels of rapport are undesirable. When a friend of yours walks into your space while you're in scene and you want to ignore them. When someone is being predatory and creepy. When that Hummus Lady at the farmer's market offers you a sample of her over-packaged, overpriced hummus for the eighth time. 

There are also situations with someone you like and want to play with where limiting rapport can be a good thing. Keeping a scene light, exploratory, and friendly can be unintimidating and easier with new play partners.

The XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare meets on the 2nd Sunday of the month at 3PM at Wicked Grounds cafe on 8th and Folsom in San Francisco. People who are new to hypnosis should come at 2PM to get the Hypnosis 101 language, terms, and practices.

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