The YES factor
By Gabriel Wong (Clinical Psychologist)

Do you still remember those days your friend came to knock on your door and persuaded you to buy the World Book which cost over $800? At the end you bought one set of the World Book plus other children books too that amounted to $800! Have you worked it out about how this had happened in just fifteen minutes’ time?

If you did not have that experience, think of when was the last time you bought a new car or an used car, or even a piece of furniture you did not intend to buy it. I am sure there were numerous occasions that you were persuaded by the salesman in this manner.

One interesting thing is my high school principal like to use the “Yes Factor” when she runs a post-suspension meeting with a student and his/her family. How does she do this? She always starts with “Today we are here to resolve the matter so that you can come back to school. In the last few days you probably have thought about what you have done. We would like to talk about this now so that we can move on and not to dwell on this matter any more.

“Today we are here”, “to resolve the matter”, “so that you can come back to school”, “In the last few days”, “you probably have thought about what you have done”, “We would like to talk about this now”, “”we can move on”, “not to dwell on this matter any more” are all the “Yes Factors” and undeniably true as everyone in the post-suspension meeting tends to agree with that. When people agree with what you say with the first few statements at the beginning, it is more likely that they will also agree with some suggestions you are going to bring up.

You may be amazed if I tell you that pacing is originated from conversational, covert hypnosis or Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP). You were not being hypnotised at all and how come you accept what someone asked you to do. This is because people are using the “Yes” factor or pacing technique.


Another term for the yes factor is called pacing. It is used to bypass the critical factor – the cognitive functions that would normally critically analyse and scrutinise information. It is just like going through a filter. That is the part of the mind that screening out what you feel is untrue or believe is unethical. If the statement was “The sky is green,” you would not even bother to look up as you already know the colour of the sky. However, deciding which information to accept and which to reject is not always that easy.

It is used to trick the person’s subconscious mind into accepting external information from the persuader into the subconscious mind as absolutely free. It is a powerful implant of information than even the person can usually communicate to themselves with his or her own thoughts. Normally only what you consciously know to be true is allowed to pass.

Dr Milton Erickson used pacing to neutralise the filter of a person’s critical factor so he can slip suggestion past the critical factor into the subconscious. The “Yes Factor” or pacing can be almost any technique by which a persuader gets your critical factor to lower its critical analysis and scrutiny of the information you are receiving. When the critical faculty of the human mind is bypassed, selective thinking established.

For instance, if many people entering the night club are searched by the security guard and nothing questionable is found, the security guard’s defense efforts become tired, lazy and lowered. Normally, though, everything in our world is questionable keeping the critical factor sharp and alert. The persuader paces the subject by providing the mind with information that is undeniably true, something the subject strongly believes, or is absolutely and immediately verifiable, in successive patterns until the subject’s guard is lowered.

This pacing can take any form of information that serves as an accurate representation of the subject’s current ongoing experience, including what they see, what the hear, what they truly believe, and describing or imitating the subject’s conscious experience or even subconscious experience, such as their breathing.

Pacing can be such obvious statements the subject truly believes or knows are true, or subconscious act/messages that the persuader does which the subject is not even aware of, e.g. mimicking or describing breathing. We can observe the pacing technique in many of the counselling therapy sessions.
Pacing can be nonverbal as well. Dr Erickson would match the persons rhythm and emotional state. He would copy and model the patient. He would breathe at the same rate as the person, blink at the same rate, if the person was pacing. Erickson might tap at that pace or speak at the same rate and use the same pitch of voice that the patient was using.

As an example Erickson once sat beside a man with schizophrenia in a hospital who was speaking in a word salad. Erickson then spoke in his own word salad for many hours. Eventually the patient became frustrated and told Dr Erickson to speak sensibly. These were the first words of any sense that the patient had himself spoken for many years.

Dr Erickson liked to give suggestions as statements which could not be refuted. He used a series of comments which were accepted by the person as true, the patient would develop a “yes set”, a momentum of acknowledgement which was usually accompanied by the patient nodding their head in agreement. This is similar to the purpose of the “fly wheel” in a car which gathers momentum to continue the motion of the engine. This mental set prepares the persons mind for them to accept the therapeutic suggestions which are to be given to the person to help them. A series of accepted suggestions makes it more likely that the next suggestion will be accepted also. Hence we often ask a series of rhetorical questions followed then by a rhetorical question for therapy.

Obama in his Denver 200 Convention Speech had used 14 separate “Yes Factors”or pacing statements. Obvious examples include, “now is the time”, and “as I stand here before you”. These statements are undeniably true in the simplest terms, and as a result it can be used to lower our critical factor defences to allow implantation of subconscious messages. Three of Obama’s favourite hypnotic paces were “that’s why I stand here tonight”, “now is the time” and “this moment”. He used “as I stand before you tonight” three separate times, around the beginning, middle, and end of the speech to continue pacing the audience throughout his whole speech.

After pacing you repeatedly in multiple ways and on multiple levels, your cognitive critical factor defences would be lowered. Then the persuader will implant a lead – the command or absolute unquestionable truth the persuader places in your subconscious mind. Essentially the pace or truth is connected to the new message or lead using connecting or linking language. In Obama’s speech, for example: “We need change… and… that is why I will be your next President.” Is a basic pace and lead.
After the person has been exposed to a few of the “Yes” statements, the persuader can use the lead in the direction of altering someone’s state at that point in time. One form of pacing or yes set is to comment on what the realities are for the person. When the pacing is under the control, the persuader can start to lead by giving out some suggestions which need to be congruent with the emotional state of the person. Politicians, salesmen, teachers, leaders, counsellors, and even CEOs apply these techniques in their work place. By applying the pace and lead technique, the person would be able to accept what the persuader was intended to ask for, and consequently the person is more likely to accept the suggestions given by the persuader.


Bandler, R., & Grinder, J. (1975). Patterns of the hypnotic techniques of Milton H. Eickson, M.D. Volume 1. CA: Meta Publications Inc

Barack Obama Acceptance Speech (2008). Barack Obama delivers his acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. Retrieved from

Grinder, J; Bandler, R. (1981). Trance-formations neuro-linguistic Programming and the structure of hypnosis. California: Real People Press

Reiman T. (2010). The yes factor. New York: