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4 Ways To Psychologically Manipulate Someone

4 Ways To Psychologically Manipulate Someone

Ever thought about using psychology to your benefit your everyday interactions with others? You don’t need a psych degree, nor do you need any mind-reading abilities. In our countless interactions with friends, coworkers, and superiors, we have the ability to manipulate the situation and capitalize on these social exchanges.

When I say manipulate, I don’t necessarily mean it in a negative sense. Manipulation can be used for good — convincing someone to take a vacation or doing everything possible to get that promotion at work. Below are several ways in which a mere awareness of the psychology behind our interactions can help benefit us more than we would ever expect.

1. Use Body Language To Your Advantage

The way the brain stimulates physical movements and reactions during day-to-day interactions is almost uncontrollable. This type of movement can signal a lot to those around you. What does that mean? It means that you can use body language to understand things that words won’t tell you, or even influence someone with more than just words.

I’m sure you’ve heard that 90 per cent of communication is non-verbal (hard to believe, but it’s actually 93 per cent), meaning that so much in our interactions can be lost just because we asked for that promotion with our arms crossed while looking at the floor.

Learning to read body language is just as important as properly conveying it — it’ll tell you if someone is genuinely agreeing with you, actively engaged in what you’re saying, or even if they think you’re a complete idiot. Persistently picking up on the body language of others will help you improve your own abilities and identify opportunities as well as dead ends for every interaction.

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Doing things like mimicking postures, gestures, and movements can help get someone to like you or agree with you. Nodding your head “yes” when you really mean “no” can incriminate you — interrogators rely on body language to determine culpability on a regular basis. We’re all animals and behave as such when stripped away from our more sophisticated form of communication, the trick is to use this subconscious interaction to your benefit.

Some interesting facts about body language: 

  • Open palms create a sense of trust: Legoland workers are not allowed to point. Instead, they offer directions by using upward-facing hand gestures.
  • Shaking hands with your palm facing downward signifies dominance and, with your palm facing upwards, submissiveness.
  • When laughing in a group, the first person you make eye contact with is the one you trust the most

2. Change The Perspective

Cloak the reality of those you’re attempting to manipulate with a reality that you’ve weaved — go matrix on their minds. This one’s about tact, cunning ability, and most importantly, rhetoric.

“My car only has x mileage, never you mind the rust spots…”

“My bad grades and academic probation in sophomore year, contrasted to the better grades in my senior year, show how much I’ve improved since then.”

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And the classic: “This home is a real fixer-upper — think of the potential.”

We do this every day — turning half-empty glasses on their sides. A lot of the time, perspective can really mean a world of difference in the way that someone looks at something. This perspective itself can be influenced by your descriptions. Rhetoric is a crucial factor that underlies this notion as it encompasses so many aspects beyond just what was said and how it was said. It relies on tone, content, and appeals to reason, character, or emotion. Use rhetoric to be as persuasive as possible, exaggerate when practical, and shift focus where necessary.

Put thought into how your arguments are structured and delivered, whether they appeal to someone’s emotion or logic. Do you sound like you know what you’re talking about even when you don’t? If you can’t convince someone to stop wasting paper because of environmental reasons, can you convince them with a flawlessly logical argument as to how less paper means less work? Thinking outside the box and re-framing a perspective on any given situation can do you good in how you see things for yourself and can also build on the efficacy of any argument you put forward.

Some facts to put this into perspective:

  • Convincing yourself that you slept well the previous night tricks your mind into thinking you did (otherwise known as “placebo sleep”).
  • The Dunning Kruger Effect: smart people tend to underestimate themselves while ignorant people tend to think they’re brilliant.
  • Studies have proven that your favorite song is likely associated with an emotional event in your past.

3. Leverage Your Knowledge Of Others

Rely on people’s psychological needs and use them as a pressure point. This might be a need to conform, to be accepted or included, or the complete opposite — the need to stand out and swim against the current. The risky decision maker can be goaded into making a poor decision, the quiet crowd dweller can be discouraged from pursuing anything that would lead them astray from the comforts of conformity.

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Their weakness is your strength, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to harness that to your advantage. Are they prone to overconfidence that can cause them to stumble? Are they insecure about something that can help you make a convincing point? Everyone has their kryptonite.

The more you learn about someone’s psychological tendencies, modes of thought, and characteristics, the more of an advantage you can gain over their thoughts and your overall influence on said thoughts. The key to success here is knowledge. Like every other point, it may be more crucial to understand your own pressure points. A solid defence includes an acknowledgement of your own insecurities and vulnerabilities

Psychologist Jim Sniechowski details the how-to’s of emotional leveraging whilst also shining a positive light on the subject in his article: Emotional Leveraging: It’s Really Not Manipulation? In it, he provides three basic guidelines to achieve utmost success when using someone’s emotions against them:

  • Remain aware that their vision is the product of an emotional base and, no matter how they rationalize their position, they cling to it for some emotional reason;
  • See that if you want them move in your direction, your task is to discover the emotional value that drives their vision — their sweet spot;
  • Understand that once you know their emotional sweet spot, you can craft an approach that blends their need with yours so that you both can feel successful.

4. Be Aware Of Proper Timing and Opportunity

The jaguar is an effective and calculated hunter. Ancestral legacies of success and failure have given it the biological ability of great timing. It knows when to pounce, when to strike hardest, and when to abort its chase.

Know when to make your moves. This is something we learn from a young age (don’t tell mom what you want for your birthday when she’s in a bad mood). The trick is to actively maintain an awareness and have your eyes constantly scanning for opportunity. For instance, try asking for certain favors when someone is tired or preoccupied (they’re less likely to put in the energy to disagree or refuse you).

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Don’t force opportunities, instead welcome them and keep your eyes open. If you’ve been waiting to throw a pitch at your boss, don’t force the conversation. This may require waiting for weeks before you get a good opportunity, but once you do, don’t blow it. When we encounter someone with, say, a proposal, half the battle can already be won or lost depending on their mood in the moment.

Fact: Recently, a study of more than a thousand court decisions found that judges, who ought to be our rational-thinking exemplars, are just as susceptible to this notion as anyone. The study confirmed that prisoners are much more likely (up to 65 per cent more likely) to be paroled early in the day or shortly after a lunch break.

Endless Possibilities

The wonders of psychology are endless. It’s a field worth exploring, but is only useful by first putting in the effort to learn and implement. The above-mentioned ways to exploit psychology barely scratch the surface and require little more than mere awareness to employ.

Each of the above factors are immensely useful in and of themselves. For instance, kinesics (the study of body language) can turn you into a walking lie detector if you care to be. If you don’t care to pick up on the impulses or tendencies of others, don’t care to expose situations to your benefit, don’t become aware of the body language that you exert and that others send your way, then you’re blinding yourself to a very interesting way to maximize on your exchanges throughout life.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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