If you give them a chance, people will try to manipulate you. It’s a sad fact of life. And since knowledge is the best defense, here are twelve techniques they will likely try to use to pull a quick one on you.
1. Targeting your lack of time and attention.
Someone purposely convinces you to commit to something at just the right time, when you would have otherwise said “no.” This commonly occurs when you’re in a hurry or mentally fatigued.
At 5PM on a Friday, as you’re walking out of the office, your co-worker asks you if you mind handling X, Y and Z for him next week while he’s on vacation. “Sure,” you say quickly. “Shoot me an email with the details.” On Monday morning you learn that X, Y and Z are fairly substantial tasks that you wish you hadn’t committed to.
2. Misrepresenting facts based on popular beliefs.
When someone claims something is a proven fact simply because it’s a popular belief.
“Don’t just take it from me, 9 out of 10 doctors agree that Diet Pill XYZ is safe.”
3. Using complex words to explain something simple.
Especially in the high-tech business world, complex jargon and obfuscation are tactics often used to intimidate you into agreeing with something you don’t fully understand.
“Our dynamic flow capacity matrix uses an unparalleled downtime resistance protocol.”
4. Exploiting a position of authority.
You are far more likely to be persuaded by someone you like or by someone who is in an authority position.
A police officer tells you, “It’s legal for me to search your apartment right now.” And since he’s a police officer, (even though he never showed you a search warrant) you believe he must be telling the truth.
5. Making an unreasonable request first.
When someone first makes a request of that is excessive and to which you will most likely refuse. Then they look disappointed and make a second request that is more reasonable.
“Will you donate $100 to our cause?” “I can’t afford it.” “Oh. Well could you donate $5 then?”
6. Drawing loosely-related conclusions.
When someone tries to convince you of something by drawing a conclusion that is loosely related to the information they gave you.
“This baby food is fortified with the vitamins and minerals. It’s extremely healthy. If you’re still buying other kinds of baby food, you’re neglecting your baby’s health.”
7. The illusion of scarcity.
If the product is scarce, there must be a ton of demand for it, right? Oftentimes scarcity is an illusion engineered by the product maker. Because products (and opportunities) seem a lot more appealing when there is limited availability.
“One day sale! Limited supply! Get here before we’re sold out!”
8. Lightly sugarcoating reality.
When someone gets you to agree to something that’s not ideal by telling you it’s slightly better than it is.
“The table will be ready in five minutes.” Because it sounds a lot better than fifteen minutes.
9. Changing the topic.
When someone diverts attention away from the topic of discussion to a totally new (but vaguely related) topic in an effort to persuade you.
“So you don’t think green energy is a top priority right now with the current state of the economy. Well, we all saw what happened with the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010. Is that what you want? You want to see innocent sea creatures covered with oil? Then go ahead then, vote against the green energy bill this year.”
10. Presumption of guilt.
When a question or statement automatically presumes the subject is guilty.
“I saw the bruises on your son’s back. So when did you decide that spanking your child with all your might way okay?”
11. Creating fear and a solution for it.
Someone plays with your emotions and subtly invokes fear in you, and then when you start thinking about a possible solution, they provide one for you.
Your performance has been lacking around here recently and the CEO suggested that I put employees who are struggling on probation. Don’t worry, I won’t do this now. But I do want you to show me what you’re capable of. Do you mind working this Saturday to help build-up your numbers?
12. Start off small and up-sell.
Someone asks you for something small, and when you give it to them, they ask for something bigger. And then, maybe, something even bigger.
Son: “Mom, can I go out for an hour to see Anthony?”
Son: “I just called Anthony and he’s going to the movies. Can I go with him?”
Son: “I only have $5. Could you lend me a few bucks to get in?”
Son: “…Could you give us a ride there?”
Son: “…Could you pick us up afterwards?”
Also, check out these great reads on influence and persuasion:
Photo by: Rebecca Finch