“Yes” Sets, Compliance Sets, and Cross-Examination

A compliance set is a series of instructions (three will do) that you give to your hypnosis subject to establish his physical compliance with your commands. They don’t have to be fancy, but they have to be things that your subject will do: “Put your feet flat on the floor [he’s already doing it]. Rest your hands comfortably on your legs. Now close your eyes.”

A yes set is a series of questions that you ask your hypnosis subject to establish his intellectual compliance with you. Again: nothing fancy. “Do you want to experience a hypnotic trance? Is this your first time to experience a hypnotic trance? Are you ready to begin?”

Start with a yes set, follow with a compliance set, and you’re off to the races. You’ve set up two patterns: physical compliance, and rapport.

But that’s with a subject who wants what you’re offering. What about a witness under cross-examination?

Terry MacCarthy’s “look-good cross” is an extended yes set.

(For bonus hypnosis points, Terry’s cross is the courtroom equivalent of an Ericksonian never-ending sentence. Scroll down a bit to “Avoid conclusive statements“:
. Some of Terry’s generation of trial advocacy teachers—Gerry Spence is another—know more hypnosis than they let on.)

Thousands of lawyers have learned cross-examination from Terry MacCarthy; the use of yes sets in cross-examination is well established. How about a compliance set now and then?


  1. I’m afraid those excerpts just spit out errors, at least on my phone. “You have either reached a page that is unavailable for viewing or reached your viewing limit for this book.”

    I’m guessing it’s tallying views against your IP because it’s embedded, but want to stress “guessing”.

      1. I use a computer, and using Chrome in both normal and incognito modes results in the same error messages. I hope this information is helpful in diagnosing what happened.

  2. I really enjoyed MacCarthy’s book on cross-examination. It makes sense and it goes hand-in-hand with our natural inclination to remain consistent as discussed by Robert Cialdini (https://justpleadthe5th.com/2017/12/30/influence-the-psychology-of-persuasion-by-robert-b-cialdini/). Has anyone read MacCarthy’s book on impeachment: https://shop.americanbar.org/eBus/Store/ProductDetails.aspx?productId=241499199? If so, how is it?

    1. Haven’t read it, Lee. But his audio recordings on cross and impeachment (available on the itunes store) are excellent.

      In lieu of Influence I’m recommending Cialdini’s follow-up, Pre-Suasion.

      I see that you also recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People. Based on Influence and that, I think you might be interested in my reading list.

      1. Awesome, Mark. I love the list, and Pre-Suasion is definitely on my reading list. Dumb question, but do you know the link to MacCarthy’s recordings in itunes? Thanks much.

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