4 psychological ploys to get others to do what you want

4 psychological ploys to get others to do what you want

CultureAugust 25, 2014

Most everyone loves being seduced and rages the tiniest hint of manipulation. What separates manipulation and seduction — getting what you want while making others feel appreciated vs taking with complete disregard for consequence — might just be the key to unlocking everything you want in life. Use these psychological tools at your discretion; we can’t take responsibility for you missing the point. You can use these tools for good or evil, for seduction or manipulation, but know they only work if people are actually willing to interact with you. Get everyone what they want, or at least be sure most of those involved think they’ve won, and you’re using these tools as they’re intended.

1) Argue Against Your Self-Interest

This technique, like many other psychological maneuvers, is fairly straightforward. It’s used every day by Fortune 500 companies, salespeople, lawyers, negotiators and everyone in between. This creates the impression you’re to be trusted because you’re not being visibly selfish at all. This technique can sway all types of people, and it can be used by anyone. 

Car salespeople use this technique well. By mentioning the car’s weaknesses up front, especially ones the buyer wouldn’t find on his own — the brakes will need to be changed in a year, gas mileage in the city is actually lower than advertised — salespeople present a much more trustworthy image. This puts that salesman in a position to be more persuasive when promoting the genuine strengths of the car. This also works in law and in negotiation, where mentioning the weaknesses of your argument up front creates the image of being more trustworthy to your jury or counterpart and then allows you to be in a more persuasive position when arguing your point because your audience has been prepared to look past the weaknesses instead of looking for them.

It’s important to note that this only works if your weaknesses are genuinely minor. The car salesman who tells you the new Volvo has a 10 percent price premium will be more likely to sell you a car than the salesman who tells you the breaks will randomly fail some day after 10,000 miles. What’s also important is that after you mention the weakness of your product or argument, you should follow that statement with a benefit that relates to the weakness. For example, if you’re a car salesman and trying to sell an expensive car, you should say: “On the face of it, our new Volvo has a 10 percent price premium, but this is more than offset when you consider longevity and reduced maintenance costs.”

2) The Two-Question Technique

It goes like this: “On a scale of one to 10, with one being (insert what you want here) at all and 10 being completely into it, how into it are you?” Then, unless the asshole says zero, you reply, “OK, why isn’t your number lower?” What happens next is magic. Your audience will subsequently talk his or herself into what you want.This technique is powerful. Unlike other persuasion techniques, it lets the other person convince him or herself to do something. With your friends, it looks like: “On a scale of one to 10 with one being not wanting to go at all, how much do you want to go? Why isn’t that number lower?”

3) The Straight Command

There’s a famous sociology experiment conducted by the psychologist Robert Cialdini, in which Cialdini asks volunteers to skip in front of a line to make a copy at a busy office. Cialdini instructs the volunteers to say a command, then follow that command with “because,” and then give any reason. For example, a volunteer might say: “Can I go in front of you (command) because my lunch is getting cold (reason).” The idea behind this was to test how people respond to the word “because.” What Cialdini found is, if you say why you are going to do something, the likelihood that people will let you do that will increase. In the experiment, 93 percent of the people that were being cut in front of agreed to allow the volunteer in front of them, even when they were in a rush.

The power of this dramatically increases when you use a straight command. “Let me go in front of you because my lunch is getting cold” may sound impolite, but this works unbelievably well. In pick-up when you don’t have enough time to close, “Let me have your number because I want to see you again,” works exceptionally well, as does, “Party with me tonight because you’re going to have fun,” or even “Offer me a free drink because it’ll make both of us happy.” The formula: command, followed by because, then state any reason. It’s also noteworthy that when you use this, you must say it with conviction.

4) The Labeling Frame

Have you ever been told you’re a certain type of person, such as a jock, a slut, a bookworm, a drug addict, a good businessman or maybe a manipulator? Of course you have. What you might not know is that when you’re labeled as something, it actually increases your identity toward that something, whether you like it or not. Every sentence, every word, we say has a huge weight attached to it. Our words are our power, and the labeling frame is a great example of that power. We create identities by saying, “Wow you’re so funny” or “Wow you’re so stupid,” and these sentences can ultimately change that person’s self-image. If you want to persuade someone to do what you want, label him or her as a person who will align toward your needs. For example, by saying to a customer service agent, “You must be someone who helps out a lot of people,” you manifest getting the help you need. On another side, you can also really screw someone up by using this.