Have you ever acted completely out your character after talking to someone? Or met a guy selling you something that you have never found the need for and yet you ended up buying? If so, you were not under a spell. Someone just put an idea in your head. Sorry mate, it happens.

Putting ideas into someone’s mind and making them do things they wouldn’t expect is actually not as hard as it might sound. People manipulate others all the time. By learning the steps involved, you can get what you want without breaking a sweat. Be careful however, and always use it for the good of both you and your “victim”.

Learning how to manipulate the thoughts of others gives you a sense of power. However, it’s truly unnecessary to leave the person in a worse state than they were in. Let’s get into it.

There’s is actually a name for this concept. Reverse psychology. Yes, it might sound a bit too cliché but taking a deeper look at how it operates, you will find that it is actually a very convincing method. You can say “I don’t care if you drive too fast, it’s your life after all” to convince someone to avoid driving too fast. This really isn’t what reverse psychology is about. In fact you are more likely to come off as being passive aggressive.

Be Subtle

In order for reverse psychology to work, you need to take it easy. Avoid coming off as strong. Let’s consider a situation where you take turns getting coffee for your workmates and one of them is lazy when it gets to their turn. A simple way to remind them would be to say “hey could you get me a latte, I’m getting thirsty, thanks”.

This is the polite way to ask. However, we both know there would be no need for manipulation if things were that easy. The workmate might just decide to derail a bit just to get on your nerves.

A better way to handle the situation would be to say “hey, I’ve decided ill just be getting my own coffee, I’m getting too thirsty lately”.

Notice that with this approach, you have not set blame on anyone. The colleague will be left thinking of what is going wrong with the cool routine at work and play their part to rectify. This is what reverse psychology is about.

It was your idea, not mine!

Planting an idea in someone’s head is never as hard as it seems, however, if you are too quick, then they will notice what you up to. In situations where you want someone to do what they wouldn’t normally wish to do, the trick is to never talk about the idea. Instead, dance around it.

You can do this by offering the target a few options. When they suggest one, try and show why it could not be the best. Do not rush. Simply let them explore the options available to them until they arrive on the one you want.

Consider that friend of yours that is overweight and seems to hate their body. On the other end they are diehard fans of fried chicken and chips. As a concerned buddy, you want them to take action but how do you go about doing this?

One option is to simply ask them to stop eating too much fast food and inform them of the health concerns. Two ways this can go. They can acknowledge that they have adopted a bad lifestyle and make an effort to change, or they will simply shrug off the information.

Perhaps you can try out reverse psychology. Subtly start by mentioning how eating too much protein can actually harm your kidneys. Then let go of the topic. In a day or two, consider watching a health documentary that is graphic enough to send a message across.

The idea is not to be too obvious and to also give the friend a chance to get an epiphany. Be consistent yet provide a good time lapse between the messages you send across. This will eventually get to their head and they should make a conscious decision to change.

When they do start to take responsibility for their actions and finally start going to the gym, encourage them by telling them that they look different in a good way; more vibrant perhaps. Avoid coming across as making fun as this could cause them to revert back to destructive old habits.

The benefits of underselling

A different kind of reverse psychology is underselling. However, the concept is the same. It is a popular method used by successful sales people. So how does underselling work?

Consider a situation where you are selling men’s shoes. A customer has the option of either $10, $20 or $ 25 shoes. However, they say that they are looking for something within the $10 dollar price range. You on the other hand will be much better off if they picked the most expensive shoe as this means more money for you.

You will obviously not go telling them to buy the more expensive shoes. What you need is a subtle way to convince them to pick another shoe. For instance you can tell them that you have shoes within the price range they are looking for that will serve their interests well, however they may not last them as long as they want.

Let them know that they have the option of choosing a more expensive pair if they are looking for more durability but do not point them in any direction. Let them decide for themselves.

Placing ideas in someone’s head can get you what you want, but you should never put someone in a position of regret. Always ensure it’s a win-win situation.