Manipulations are not a new phenomenon; they exist as long as human society. Almost all people are somehow affected by the influence of others and it is common for everyone to convince others of something. It is good if the suggestion has good motives. But if, for example, there is a desire for profit behind it, a serious problem arises.
Therefore, every person should have the skills to resist other people’s manipulations. To do this, you need to know what the most famous of them are.
1. Built-in speech commands
It is possible to evoke emotions in the audience and create a certain mood in them with the help of ordinary words, emphasized by intonation or gesture. This is called an inline command. You can use both positively coloured vocabulary and negatively. Highlighting words with a change of intonation or active gestures, we force to pay special attention to them. Thus, you can set the direction of human thinking, and further convince him of something will be much easier.
2. Vertical method
You can convince without words, for this, it is enough to visually appear before the audience higher, respectively – significant. Speech on the platform above the audience’s eyes, a table on a raised platform, a high chair – it is important to look down at people. After all, subconsciously we perceive those who are higher as authorities, whether it be a politician on the stage or our parents when we were children. Also, a person who takes up a lot of space in the room “grows up” in the eyes of opponents. Active gesticulation, moving from place to place, confident wide postures, for example, with arms spread out on the back of the chair, help to achieve this effect.
3. Social proof
To illustrate this principle, we will plunge a little into the history and imagine the classic situation in the Soviet Union: the turn. In the USSR, it was often occupied before they understood the need for a product or service. People thought that if a long queue gathered, then everyone was definitely waiting for something worthwhile. The more there were those waiting, the more valuable the goods seemed. Another example: comedies with offscreen laughter. When viewing it seems that it is annoying, but if this background sound did not make people laugh, it would not be inserted into every second sitcom.
In other words, social proof is a herd instinct. It is the result of the protective function of the brain. So the brain relieves itself of responsibility for making decisions. When a person finds himself in a difficult situation, it is easier for him to do as everything than to seek a solution on his own. Hence the mainstream in everything: in clothing, food, cinema, music, etc. Manufacturers are actively using this principle, reinforcing the ads with reviews from other customers. And it doesn’t matter if they are real or not – the positive opinion of other people about the product forces us to buy it.
Marketers are not advised to show low statistics to the audience so as not to spoil the impression. For example, the number of subscribers: if it is small, then the new visitor is unlikely to want to subscribe. And pages that already have a lot of active audiences are more likely to subscribe. The principle of social proof has led to the emergence of a number of professions, the essence of which is only to create a certain mood among visitors.
4. Group reinforcement
This method is somewhat reminiscent of the previous one but is more focused on the beliefs of a person than on his behaviour. According to him, for a group of people to take some kind of judgment for the truth, it must be repeated many times inside it. And this, of course, is not always a true judgment. However, it is enough to declare the idea a group value or a doctrine. Then, if people want to become members of this group, they will believe in the idea without any evidence and will not critically evaluate it. That’s because most people have a fear of becoming an outcast.
Experts call this indoctrination. The opposite position – the intentional desire to exist autonomously from the group and the rejection of its ideas – is non-conformism. Each society has its own stereotypes, which by default are taken for granted, and the group reinforcement method works. It is constantly used by the media: by manipulating facts and repeating the same theses from time to time, they make the audience believe in the veracity of even the most absurd ideas. While critical thinking is rarely taught anywhere, most people can only choose what to believe and what not to do.
5. Reciprocal exchange
There is an unwritten rule: good must be answered with good. Or any service must be paid. We all know about this rule and unconsciously follow it. When someone provides us with a free service, we begin to feel obligated and want to repay the person as soon as possible. Even knowing this psychological effect, it is very difficult to overcome it. People who like to use someone else’s kindness always use the principle of mutual exchange: they provide an unsolicited service in order to ask later on what they need. And all kinds of companies distribute souvenirs, arrange free tastings and send gifts to customers for this purpose too.
6. Benjamin Franklin’s method or request for help
The famous American politician Benjamin Franklin made contact with his ill-wishers as follows. Franklin politely asked the man to lend him a book. He also politely and heartily thanked the ill-wisher when he agreed. And so they became friends. The essence of this method is that anyone is pleased when he is asked for help. On the one hand, it helps to feel important and useful, and on the other, relying on the previous principle, count on mutual service. When using this method, it is advised to ask for a little more than you want to receive. In the event of a refusal, then this request can be voiced and, with a high degree of probability, it will be inconvenient for a person to refuse twice.
7. Motivation by fear
Fear is the strongest emotion, and manipulators often cry out for it. There are a lot of commercials showing the terrible consequences that supposedly come if you do not purchase this or that product. Insurance companies are always willing to provide accident statistics to encourage customers to buy an insurance policy. But you need to use this method carefully. If you scare a person too much, his future actions can become chaotic and ineffective. Therefore, it is wise to motivate with fear, starting with the “carrot”. If you tell an employee that they want to raise him, but this will not happen if he does not fulfil the plan, he will be more willing to subscribe to additional duties. It is the threat of loss that motivates best, as psychologists have proven.
8. Positive reinforcement
The expectation of a positive result encourages people to perform certain actions. Therefore, a fairly common method of manipulation is to offer rewards or praise. The method was confirmed by students from Harvard that somehow they set up an interesting experiment on their teacher. They agreed that they would smile when the lecturer stood in one part of the audience, and frown when he went to another. We think it’s clear where the teacher spent most of the lecture. The precedent was called the Verplank experiment. American psychologist Berres Skinner believed that praise is a better incentive than punishment. The whip method, in his opinion, is even harmful. The effectiveness of positive reinforcement was also noted by Freud. He wrote that most willingly a person will perform those actions that he associates with pleasure.
9. The logical chain
Psychologists have proved that it is natural for a man to strive for the sequence of his actions. Moreover, consistency is considered a great virtue, while inconsistency and irrationality are considered negative traits. Michael Faraday, a famous physicist, argued that consistency was more important than rightness. And often this makes us go against our interests. Therefore, skilful manipulators operate on this principle, starting a specific sequence process. For example, they take a commitment from someone. Most people will strive to fulfil it with all their might because this is what the logical chain of actions implies. You can use the method with good goals. If you call someone the best in his field, a person will double the effort to justify trust.
10. The spiral of silence
We always unconsciously divide people into two types: those who are not afraid to express their opinions, which drives progress, and those who rely on public opinion and adhere to stability. The concept of the spiral of silence was proposed by the German political scientist Elizabeth Noel-Neumann, precisely on the basis of this division. According to her, people are afraid to speak out if they think that they are in the minority. It is also associated with fear of social exclusion. To manipulate with the help of this principle, it is enough to confidently express your opinion. It is as if the majority is behind it, even if it is not true. And those who disagree are not only afraid to object, but they can also believe in the truth of the judgments.
11. The principle of aikido
In this martial art, the strength of an opponent is used to win. ‘Winning & losing’ is exactly what the 1st principle of aikido sounds like. In communication, you can also apply a similar method. It consists of returning to a person his own aggression and then agreeing with him. That is, in a dispute, you need to answer a person with his words and expressions, and then calmly state your requirements. For example, the interlocutor says that you are a fool and you are to blame for everything. Your answer: ‘Yes, you’re correct, I’ m a fool and it’s my fault. But let’s solve the situation like that … “. Instead of looking for more offensive words and wasting energy on endless disputes, you save energy and ultimately get what you want.
How not to give in to manipulations
Our subconscious mind works for us and evaluates any information for its benefit and safety. It rejects everything dangerous and useless. Therefore, the manipulator must be convinced that his idea is exactly what is needed. It is almost impossible to do this with a balanced person who knows exactly what he wants. But tired, hungry, frustrated to manage much easier. The load on the sensory organs also affects. Loud music, chatter, bright light, flashy colours, intrusive smells – all this can violate the protective mechanism.
Manipulators often deliberately create stressful situations: limited choice, time constraints, the same threat of loss. How this happens during sales in stores: goods are placed randomly, sellers warn that there is no time left, these are the latest copies and the best prices. A crowd of people and noise also undermine the defence mechanism. It starts to seem, if you don’t buy it now, something terrible will happen. Therefore, you should never decide anything in a hurry. No matter how profitable the proposal may seem, take at least a little time and think it over well.
Another trick is a false alternative. When they offer two or more equally inappropriate options. For example, pay in full or by instalments. The seller refuses to hear that his product is not needed at all, offering all-new, supposedly more favourable conditions. In the end, he can talk on an unnecessary purchase. If you are not initially interested in it, do not even enter into a dialogue with the seller.
To be sure to protect yourself from any suggestion, it is important to develop critical thinking and awareness. Always ask yourself what you want at this particular moment, how you feel – is it good enough. What exactly caused the desire to buy something, do it, help someone. And what result would you like to get. When you light up a new goal, make sure that it is yours, and not imposed by someone. And that on the way to the goal no one intentionally puts you in the way of supposedly harmless requests and suggestions. It is important that in any situation you are driven by a sincere desire and that you do not do harm to yourself.
If you feel that you cannot find the answers to these questions, or if you too often follow the lead of others, consider turning to a psychologist or coach. He will help you establish a dialogue with yourself and always remain independent.