21 Powerful Psychological Tricks To Influence People

Human beings are like marionettes.

Attached behind each one of us, there are strings that, when pulled in the right direction, can guide our behavior.

This article explains some really powerful psychological tricks to influence anyone.

I will also introduce you to some weaknesses we have that can be exploited. And you can learn how to protect yourself from Machiavellians.

Before we begin, let me show you two human tendencies:

Tendency #1 – People resist attempts to persuade them.

Have you ever got an email from a marketer trying to sell you something, and you deleted it immediately?

Although he should hire a better copywriter, there is a tendency to resist persuasion attempts even though it might be in your best interest.

That’s why great marketers try to create rapport with you by sending you exclusive material and then selling you the main product.

Tendency #2 – People can’t resist what they can’t detect

Let’s say you go to buy a new car. And you encounter two types of salesmen.

The first one tries too hard to show you all the benefits even though you said you didn’t want his help.

You say to the salesman, “Hey, I’m just checking out” in the second shop. And he says, “I understand, take your time.” And then he doesn’t bother you until you call him.

Now, from whom you’re more likely to buy? You will probably buy it from the second salesman.

And the reason is that he is not pressuring you.

What do people really want?

We’re all biologically programmed with these eight desires:

  • Survival
  • Enjoyment of food and beverages
  • To be free from pain and fear
  • Sex
  • To have comfortable living conditions
  • To be superior
  • Care and protection for the loved ones
  • Social approval and friendships

Secondary Wants:

  • To be informed
  • Curiosity
  • Cleanliness of body and surroundings
  • Efficiency
  • Convenience
  • Quality
  • Expression of beauty and style
  • Economy/profit

Artificial time constraints

Have you ever been to a bar, library, or airport, and someone wanted to start a conversation with you? Did you feel awkward?

The discomfort comes from not knowing when or if the conversation will end.

Use simple phrases like “Can I ask you a quick question?” or “I have to leave in five minutes. Can I ask you a quick question?”

This trick gives you a pretext for talking to a stranger. Also, it can make that person more comfortable talking to you.

Related: How Social Engineers Manipulate People

Because…

Use the word “because,” and you’ll find others agreeing with you much more often.

People have an almost instant positive response to this word.

People decide emotionally, then justify with facts.

Build a lot of emotion into your argument, follow that with the word “because,” and then give a fact. This formula works!

[Command] AND [Command]

The word “and” joins the first and second commands.

The listener is overwhelmed with information.

He doesn’t know which command to resist, so he accepts both. When he is about to resist the first command, he is hit with the second.

Examples:

At home: “Take out the garbage and close the door behind you”. “Go upstairs and clean the room.”

At the office: “Call me at three o’clock and give me an update”. “Finish this project and let me know when you’re done.”

On a website: “Click here and visit our site.” “Contact us and ask how we can help.”

They are more likely to carry out your commands when they feel that you are an authority figure.

It helps if you appear strong- even a bit threatening- when you issue your commands.

Also, tilt your head forward and raise your eyes to meet your listeners. This gaze is intense.

Presuppositions 

Let me ask you a question, how soon will you start using the tricks in this article?

If I had asked, “are you going to use these tricks? You could reply with a simple yes or no.

But since the question started with the words “how soon…” you focus on something else.

I presupposed that you would start using them, but when?

Examples:

“How impressed will you be with this?”

“Are you curious about how my company can help promote your event?”

You have presupposed that your company can indeed promote the event.

Either Question

Instead of giving one choice, you give them two.

Examples:

Instead of: “Do you want to eat out tonight?”

Ask: “Which restaurant do you want to eat at tonight, X or Y?”

Instead of: “How come you never get your projects in on time?”

Ask: “When will I have your project on my desk, Friday afternoon or Monday morning?”

Tell me more about yourself

This phrase is the only icebreaker you’ll need.

When you meet someone for the first time, you can just say, “tell me more about yourself.”

It is a very broad question, and you both can talk about the things they are interested in.

A sense of hope

We might tolerate lots of things, but a lack of hope isn’t one of them.

Those who can create a sense of hope in the face of hopelessness can persuade and even manipulate the masses.

Those who keep their promises cement the loyalty of their followers.

Those who can do both are among the most powerful of all.

The rule is: When aware of an impasse, we will do anything to gain a sense of hope.

This is a basic, obvious drive, and it is strange how little attention we give to it.

To take advantage of this, you need to ask yourself, “what problem is that person seeking to resolve?”

And how our proposal will help satisfy their need for hope?”

Religion offers hope for spiritual salvation.

Companies and salespeople offer an opportunity for financial gain or a way to resolve their problems.

What is your promise?

Keep someone busy

The more frequently we can get another person physically involved with us or our cause, the more we expect their loyalty to remain intact.

For example:

A church may ask its members to volunteer for small yet essential church activities. In that way, members who regularly volunteer tend to be more committed than others.

Businesses that engage in smaller but more frequent transactions with their clients get more loyal customers.

We tend to be more loyal to a grocery store or video rental outlet than an automobile dealership.

So, if you want to strengthen any relationship, make sure to do many activities together.

A secret!

You have seen YouTube videos where they claim to tell you a secret.

We’re all curious to learn it, and we click that video.

Consequently, that video goes viral.

Even though, 99% of the time, there isn’t a secret at all, just some unproven conspiracy theories.

We know they are probably lying, yet we look at the video.

The reason is that the opportunity to learn and understand information few people know is irresistible.

Tell someone, “I want to tell you a secret but promise you won’t tell anyone.” And you got his attention.

In sales, you can lower the voice at the beginning of the presentation. This tonality implies you have a great offer, and he should take advantage of it.

I don’t need you. You need me

You should subtly convey that “I don’t need you; you need me.”

Someone with the upper hand can afford to walk away from a deal.

For example, you can see this in negotiations.

When someone doesn’t agree with the terms, says,” It seems we don’t have a deal, so we’ll leave.” Then the other part will feel pressured and ultimately agree with whatever they want.

What’s the psychology behind this technique?

We act stubborn when we realize someone needs something from us.

But, if you can make him believe you don’t need the deal as badly as he wants, you have a clear advantage over him.

Show him that what he decides makes little difference to your current situation.

In addition, never give the slightest sign of desperation. You need to be very confident to apply this technique.

Related: How to Sell like Jordan Belfort

Playing Dumb

The smartest people you’ll ever meet are the ones who act like they don’t know much.

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Pay attention to people who built their fortunes from scratch. They consistently report that they are still learning. And never claim they’re perfect.

At the same time, some arrogant people think they know everything.

Just think for a moment, what will happen if you lead people to believe you know a lot?

It makes people suspect you’re smart enough to use them. But your manipulation depends on people not knowing you’re trying to manipulate them.

Often, ‘playing dumb’ can be a great advantage.

The reason is that people like a person who seems to know less than they do.

As a result, they’ll help you succeed.

Reveal the secrets of others

This trick consists of telling your friend “a secret” about what another person thinks of him.

It can enhance their self-image and improve their relationship with others.

Imagine what impact might have on that person when you compliment him and reveal that others feel the same way.

Example:

My little brother got a 10 in math (the highest grade), and it was a great accomplishment because he hated math.

I said, “I’m very proud of you, but I want to tell you a secret. Do you promise not to tell anyone?

Our parents are also very proud of you, and do you know how many people the mother said that you’re doing great in math?

She has been bragging about how smart you are to everybody. She didn’t tell you because she thought you’d get embarrassed. So, I just thought you should know how proud they’re of you.”

The encouragement made him form a self-image where he is good at math.

So, he started dedicating his time to math because it goes along with the image he created.

Ego suspension

One of the hardest to do, but it is one of the most powerful tricks.

Suspending your ego, and making others’ views, wants, and needs more important than your own, makes them want to be friends with you and like you.

Suspending or putting on hold your ego elevates another person’s ego.

Example:

I talked with my friend about my favorite TV show, “The Big Bang Theory.”

He had seen the first episode, and he told me that it was the worst television show. The jokes are hard to understand. And it gives too many scientific definitions.

And I was like, Are you fucking crazy? You saw only one episode, and you reached that conclusion!

Ok, I had that thought, but I didn’t express it.

Instead, I said calmly: “I understand why you think that way. When I first saw that show, I thought the story wasn’t that appealing – A group of scientists with poor social skills who like star wars, comic books, and video games. It is the complete opposite of what I prefer.

I never saw Star Wars or read a comic book, and I’m not a big fan of video games.

But, It’s interesting to see these brilliant scientists struggling with everyday situations. Plus, that show has some good damn writers and actors. I would suggest you give it another try.”

He is a big fan of Sheldon, by the way.

Now, I understand this isn’t the best example possible. But you get the point.

When someone criticizes your choices, don’t be angry.

And don’t offend them even if they’re dead wrong.

They will stick to their argument, and the harder you try to change their mind, the more you’ll make them feel they’re right.

Instead, try to understand why they feel that way.

Explain your choice using logic or emotional arguments- It depends on how they express themselves.

And give them a suggestion on what they should do.

They need a scapegoat

A man is very frustrated with his life, and he feels there’s no place to go. Then he hears a story about how people have been sabotaging him. Immediately, his whole perspective changes.

His gratitude towards the one who told the truth is enormous as well as his hatred for the saboteurs.

Now, from our perspective, the manipulative intent is obvious. But he is seduced by the idea of blaming someone else.

In other words, to find a scapegoat.

You don’t have to be evil to apply this trick. And the scapegoat can also be something that is not in your control.

For example:

If you are overweight and fail to slim down, it’s not your fault. But simply a problem with your organism.

The use of the trick is ethical because the statement is true.

And you are shifting the responsibility from him onto something else. Consequently, it will be easier to persuade him.

Instant Confidence 

You can be more confident by just listening to music.

A study showed that listening to bass-heavy music can increase your confidence and performance.

Songs like “We Will Rock You,” 2 Unlimited, “Get Ready For This,” and “In Da Club.”

So, when you’re feeling nervous before a job interview or a date, just listen to a high-power playlist, and you will feel more confident.

Make someone feel needed

We are drawn to people who need us.

Give someone a sense that they’re truly needed, not because you are desperate, but because they are special.

Follow this strategy:

1. Explain the whole situation. What is at stake?

2. Explain the specific role he has in this

3. Emphasize the importance of his role

4. Tell him that he is the perfect guy for this task

5. Acknowledge that this request will require a sacrifice on his part.

6. Ask him if you can count on his help

How long will it take to employ this strategy? Very little. You can go through these steps in a brief conversation.

Helping a friend

Your friend is feeling hurt. Maybe he got fired, broke up, or failed in school…

So, what can you do to make your friend feel better?

Just saying, “It’ll be alright” or “I understand how you feel” (unless you went through it yourself) won’t help.

1. Listen. Your presence can be a comfort to a friend.

2. Empathize with them. You can say something like, “I’m so sorry you have to face this situation right now.”.

3. If you have gone through that situation yourself, explain briefly how you felt and how you overcame the pain.

4. Ask, “How can I help?”

You’re probably right…

Conflict is costly.

Not getting along well with your partner, coworker, or boss will make your life miserable.

And during a critical time, you won’t get any assistance because your enemy is waiting for the right moment to get his revenge.

Do you think I’m exaggerating?

Look at how many people divorce because one partner doesn’t know how to communicate and treat the other partner well.

Think about how many people are without a job because they didn’t get along well with coworkers or bosses.

A way to deal with conflict is by just using this simple phrase, “You’re probably right…”

“You are probably right honey, in the last weeks I haven’t spent enough time with family. I have spent so many hours working on this project. But, from now on, I’ll dedicate all my weekends to you”.

“You’re probably right, Mark. I have been acting like a jerk lately. Thank you for being honest with me. And I’m sorry. I have been going through a very stressful situation. Of course, that’s not an excuse for my behavior but I’m just trying to say it won’t happen again”.

Now it’s crucial to have a sincere tone when using this technique. We don’t want the other person to think we’re being sarcastic.

When you use this tactic, you defuse the anger and open the door for a more good & sincere relationship.

Choose your battles

Often we might debate with people about different matters.

I have an opinion, and I’m trying to convince him I’m right. He’s also doing the same thing.

It’s just a matter of time before we begin a hot debate trying to prove our point.

Which one of us will win the argument? No one.

The reason is that trying to convince someone he’s wrong rarely works.

It’s a characteristic of human beings. We don’t like to accept we’re wrong.

The rule is: If you disagree on a subject that doesn’t affect your mental, physical, or financial well-being, don’t debate.

What I’m telling you is that by avoiding arguments on unimportant subjects (politics), your opponent can’t make you stressed.

And that’s a victory for you.

You should carefully choose your battles. If you agree with them and make them like you, it’ll be easier for you to manipulate them.

You’ll realize how much mental anguish you can side-step by choosing your disagreements. You can conserve your emotional strength for the battles that matter.

Dealing with toxic people

I wrote about different tricks for connecting with others in my last articles. But, not everyone wants the best for you.

They might want to manipulate you, bully you or blame you for their mistakes.

To save yourself, you need to strip their power.

Takers

They constantly seek favors, but they never seem to have time to help you.

They can’t destroy your life but might ruin your day. And waste your time.

Next time a taker asks you for a favor, follow this scenario.

Taker: Hey, could you help me with this PowerPoint presentation?

You: Sure. No problem! And can you help me with the presentation I have to do on Thursday?

Taker: Uhh…

You: I guess you don’t mind doing a favor for me in return, right?

Bullies

Bullies are everywhere.

It could be your boss, a coworker, or even a friend.

You need to understand that if someone is bullying you, they think you’re easy prey.

Refuse to follow their script, and they’ll usually give up and leave you alone.

Of course, sometimes, it is not a good idea to stand up to a bully.

For example, if you desperately need a job and your boss has the power to hire or fire you in a second, then you don’t have much choice.

Minimize contact with that person and look for a better work environment. 

What to do when a bully attacks you verbally!

You can make them stop yelling by simply not yelling back. They expect you to yell.

Make eye contact.

You can also say, “please speak more slowly, I’d like to understand.”

Often people will comply with this request. Have you ever tried to yell slowly?

Act politely and slightly bored as if your mind is elsewhere.

Also, your body language should give this message.

Stand up straight, be relaxed, and let your arms hang out casually. Don’t fold them defensively across your chest.

Often, this response makes bullies feel uncomfortable or even foolish and causes them to back down.

Psychopaths

Not every criminal is a psychopath, and not every psychopath is a criminal.

About 1 in 200 people is a psychopath, and most of them aren’t in prison.

The traits of a psychopath, such as coldness, lack of empathy, and ruthlessness, can make them very financially successful business people.

The not-so-bright ones end up in prison while others might end up as CEOs.

Now, the odds are that you’ll encounter one of these individuals at some point in your life. If that happens, there is only one solution…

Run.

Run faster.

They can destroy you financially and emotionally if they need you.

You might think you can influence a psychopath or touch them emotionally.

They might make you believe they care about you (and they’re very good at this), but they don’t.

They can’t because they’re not wired to.

Intermittent reinforcement

The most important pigeon story you’ll ever read.

Imagine a pigeon in a cage, with a bar it can peck on to get a pellet of food it likes very much.

This food is a reward for its pecking.

You might assume that the more often the pigeon received the food, the more often it would peck the bar.

But the results were different:

1. When the pigeon never got food as a reinforcement, it stopped pecking the bar altogether.

2. When the pigeon got the food, every time it pecked the bar, it only pecked the bar a moderate number of times.

3. The pigeon got the food intermittently. It means that sometimes it got the food for pecking the bar, and sometimes it got no reward for pecking. Here, the pigeon would peck the bar like crazy.

Our human nature is very similar to pigeons.

When we get reinforcement every time we see a person (when they treat us well), we begin to take that person for granted a little. Just as the pigeon only pecked on the bar moderately when given constant reinforcement.

This shows that people take for granted what they know they can have.

In the third case, the pigeon got only sporadic reinforcement for pecking the bar; the pigeon never knew whether it could have the pellets of food or not.

And this reveals an interesting fact about human behavior:

People want what they feel they could not have.

This desire is the cause of the many shortcomings people have.

This desire causes people to want products they can’t afford.

And it leads people to pursue a woman/man they can’t have.

Gambling

People get addicted to gambling because they never know when/if they’re going to win.

And I know how it works because I was once addicted to soccer betting.

I place a bet almost every day. But luck isn’t on my side.

It’s unclear if I will win. This isn’t fun anymore.

Now I’m just playing to recover the money I lost.

Finally, I could win one time. The dopamine flows in my brain. Damn, it feels so good to be a winner.

Should I quit and go home?

Heck, no. I might win more…

Relationships

Intermittent reinforcement it’s often used to manipulate others.

How does it work?

It occurs when a manipulator gives someone positive reinforcement (attention, praise, affection, sex, declarations of love) only randomly.

When “the reward” is given, dopamine and other feel-good chemicals flow into their brain.

Then, when they become cold, it creates a climate of doubt, fear, and anxiety, pushing the victim to seek positive reinforcement.

If you are a victim of this trick, you will sense the manipulator is withdrawing.

They aren’t giving you attention like they used to, and you become anxious if there’s something wrong with you.

When you ask them if there’s something wrong, they’ll deny it.

Eventually, they will repeat the cycle once again.

The manipulator does this on purpose to increase the power over you. And make you desperate for their love, attention, or approval.

Sources:

“Forbidden Keys to Persuasion” by Blair Warren

“Cashvertising” by Drew Eric Whitman

“Just Listen” by Mark Goulston

“Win the Crowd” by Steve Cohen

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