Have you ever found yourself agreeing to do something for a friend, that you set out to never do? They were just so nice though. And really it was only a small task compared to what they originally asked for.
What about purchasing something at a store, that was way out of your price range? But the clock was ticking, there was only a limited quantity left, and it was ‘such a good deal!’
According to the saleswoman, that is.
Well, although you may not realize it, your ‘friend’, or that ‘saleswoman’, may be using some secret psychological tricks. Tricks that can have them manipulating you to do whatever they want.
Well let’s take it easy here, not whatever they want. I mean, you still have common sense, right?
But for the psychological tricks out there that are not so obvious, I got you covered – as always.
Here are six psychological tricks to look out for.
1. They Use Your Name Often
Usually, when someone uses our name, it’s to get our attention. Think of your elementary teacher, or your piano teacher, or your boss during an important meeting. Often people use each other’s names to grab their attention and pull them back to focus.
But, we also like the sound of our names. Like, a lot.
Because, not only does it mean someone remembers our name, it could also imply a closeness or friendship starting.
You may not remember the other person’s name, and that may mean you might want to owe it to them, by listening more attentively – also because someone just said your name, and it pulled you out of the ongoing daydream inside your head.
“I’d like to thank the Academy. My family and friends have been so supportive during this long and invigorating journey that I-”
“Huh, what!? Oh right. Dinner parties…”
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Says Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People.
So, don’t you just get full of butterflies, suspension and positivity at your name!?
…Good. Good for you.
Because they’re not your friends! THEY’RE DECEIVING YOU!
-Kidding! Kidding. Please tell me you know I’m kidding.
2. They Make a Request Larger Than Intended, Then Get You to Agree to One Smaller
So your buddy comes knocking at your door at 2AM. You’re tired, annoyed, an hour earlier you stuffed down half a pepperoni pizza and a near gallon of ice cream watching The Real Housewives of New York City, and it didn’t set well with your tummy.
He’s asking for money. A lot.
Like three hundred dollars a lot.
What ya gonna do?
-Deny it! Duh!
But then, before you can slam the door in his face, he asks for just a measly thirty dollars.
Pfft. “Well, thirty-dollars-is-thirty-dollars. That’s a different story.” You mumble to yourself as you reach inside your wallet.
Stop it right there my friend!
This man. Is manipulating you.
In psychology, this technique is called the “door-in-the-face” (DITF) technique and can be used in many situations. Someone simply requests a lot from you, and then when you say no, they simply lower the amount drastically, so the new offer doesn’t sound as bad compared to three hundred dollars.
I mean, you just met this guy at a dinner party. Take it easy, buddy. We’re not ‘three-hundred dollars in gifts’ friends.
But uh… *under breath*:
Nobody said anything!
3. Science of Smiling
Go ahead, smile. It makes you feel happier right?
No? Uh… I’ll just, scoot this your way… “5 Signs You’re Emotionally Unhealthy (And Tips to Combat Them!)”
But if you do get happier from smiling, – Congratulations! You’re susceptible to manipulation!
So if someone smiles at you, and keeps smiling. You just may be in a more positive mood, more willing to please others and do favors, and more susceptible to-
And like yawns, smiling has been known as being contagious according to several studies. Not coronavirus contagious though.
Wear a mask people. Wear a mask. You’ll have to hide your pearly whites for now.
Ha! Take that manipulation!
4. They Ask You For a Favor When You’re Exhausted
Remember your ‘friend’? The one late at night, knocking at your door asking for favors? Well, now not only does he want three hundred dollars, but he also wants to move into your newly renovated guest room.
You just painted!
Jeez Billy. You’re such a bad friend.
Well, he may have planned asking you this specifically at 2AM. That’s right. He’s a manipulative little monster!
Bad Billy! Bad!
Turns out, he’s right for asking you late into the hours of night. According to several studies, people are more likely to be influenced to do something they initially didn’t want to do, when tired.
You’re mentally exhausted as well as physically, do you really want to be up in the wee hours of the night arguing with your barely-acquainted ‘friend’? You’d do anything to have this over with and simply get some rest. Which is why this method works the best.
Okay. I’ll stop.
This applies well with salespersons. If you’ve had a long day, and the saleswoman keeps dragging you around the store, throwing a ton of clothes and information down your throat all super-fast, they may be trying to make you overwhelmed and exhausted.
“Best deal in town! Limited time only! Final few hours of our sale! You’ll never get a deal like this again!” All while bringing you dresses, jewelry, shoes, and nylons you didn’t ask for.
It can be pretty exhausting. And sooner or later you’ll do anything to get it to stop.
Including the thing you said you’d never do…
Using your fifth, platinum credit card.
Well, say goodbye to that vacation in Hawaii.
5. Mirroring Another’s Behavior and Body Language
…Go ahead. I’m waiting…
-I talk about several behaviors you can use to your advantage. Behaviors that you can use for…
Just kidding. It’s an innocent article with a few fascinating tips on how to get someone to notice you.
That whole uh, ‘make someone chase you’ part? Yeah, uhhhh, go ahead and ignore that.
One behavior I mention, is that of mirroring.
Mirroring is when you mimic another’s gestures and expressions so they can relate and perceive you more like themselves.
And we just uh, are extremely positive and deeply in love with ourselves!
Right? Right? *sobs*
*Wipes tears* Refer to habit number six in “8 Habits That Destroy Your Emotional Well-being”. Sniff! Sniff! “Negative-Thoughts-and-Feeling-You’ve-Failed-Constantly!” *sobbing intensifies*
If someone thinks you are like them, they will want to be your friend.
So, someone could be mirroring you subconsciously, or to gain your trust…
Likely, they just want to be your friend.
6. They Nod Their Head. A Little Too Much…
People like it when others agree with them. So when your friend is nodding away, fascinated with your story about that time a wild hyena jumped in through the window at KFC’s and stole your potato salad –
True story-true story.
-they could be manipulating you!
According to a 1980 study published in the Applied Psychology Journal, psychologists found that when others nod while listening to someone, they are more likely to agree with them.
So remember the ‘chameleon effect’? And all that mumbo jumbo about mirroring we just went through? Well, if your new friend ‘Billy’ keeps nodding at that hyena-potato-salad KFC story you were just telling, that in turn may make you subconsciously want to nod in response.
Which means, he may not be interested in the hyena…
Or… the potato salad. *gasps!*
Now when it’s his turn to talk, – gosh Billy, you’re so boring! – he may start to nod his head while talking. Which may make you nod your head subconsciously. Which keys him into the idea his manipulation tactics are working. Which may then make your nodding become a further subconscious signal to your brain signifying to agree to what he’s saying.
Which may make you agree to anything!
Next, you’re on a high-speed chase to hide the: ‘chicken salad’, from his grandma’s house back to your own.
Ah, underneath the floorboards… safe and sound.
-Kidding! There actually is a chicken salad from Billy’s grandma. And no, it’s not under my floorboards, it’s in my fridge.
I said I’d store it for him… While he stays in my guest room.
…For a couple of weeks- er, months.
Hey! Don’t judge. He’s three hundred dollars short.
Written by Michal Mitchell
- Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: the perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of personality and social psychology, 76(6), 893–910. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-35126.96.36.1993
- Mitchell, Michal. (2020) “6 Behaviors That Make Someone Chase You, Backed By Psychological Research” Psych2Go https://psych2go.net/6-behaviors-that-make-someone-chase-you-backed-by-psychological-research/
- Mitchell, Michal. (2020) “8 Habits That Destroy Your Emotional Wellbeing” Psych2Go. https://psych2go.net/8-habits-that-destroy-your-emotional-well-being/
- Mitchell, Michal. (2020) “5 Signs You’re Emotionally Unhealthy (and Tips to Combat Them!)” Psych2Go https://psych2go.net/5-signs-youre-emotionally-unhealthy-and-tips-to-combat-them/
- Martin, Lauren. “10 Psychological Tricks People Use To Manipulate You.” Words of Women, 10 Feb. 2019, wordsofwomen.com/10-psychological-tricks-people-use-to-manipulate-you/.