Learning the art of mental manipulation can be extremely rewarding. Below you find a lengthy article describing few of the most effective ways of playing with minds of others.
I summarize the following manipulation techniques of how to manipulate people:
- Fear appeal – scare and influence
- Mirroring – Copy what they do and they will start copying you
- Guilty approach – Make them feel guilty and they will do what you want
- Victim card – Act like you are a victim
- Love bombing – make them think you are a great person
- Bribery technique – People love to pay back for even something small
- Listen well – Understand what they are saying and how they talk
- Read their body language – To know who you are dealing with
- Play on their feelings – but don’t forget to master yours first
- Look good – halo effect makes people more sympathetic towards people who look good
Let us dive in and explore all the techniques listed above in details. I also cover how to develop the right skills for it and how to use looks for your advantage. Are you ready?
When it comes to moral discussion, manipulating minds of other people may seem unethical for many – and for a good reason. You are actually playing with other people’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions for your own interest. However, it’s up to you to decide what is ethical and what is not. This is a practical guide that includes methods you can use to influence others.
You can get plenty of emotional and financial benefits if you know how to play your cards right and how to make other people do whatever you want them to do – men or women (both needing at some point different approach). the key is to do it in such a manner that they do not realize they are being manipulated. That being said, here is an overview of some of the best manipulation techniques that you can use:
The first method on our list starts with a well-researched and documented manipulation technique that you can use in your best interest. In a nutshell, the fear appeal technique involves playing a bit with the other one’s emotions, and while it is true that this technique can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety, it is extremely effective.
The method has very simple two parts: First, make another person to fear something. It will quickly make him vulnerable to the illogical behavior that you can use for your advantage. Then you offer him a relief of the fear that he experiences. The most challenging part of this tactic is to actually know what to use to scare the person. You can’t, of course, keep coming up with scary stuff on spot, hoping that he will start experiencing fear. You need to have a clear idea of what to say and how to say way before you approach the person. Then you also need to have a solution that will save him from the uncomfortable feeling.
The tactic is often used in the media to hook the viewers. The news channel, for example, can scare people with a very dramatic announcement like “20 people are affected by the new virus outbreak” that will most likely scare the people. Then they end up with “for the updated information of what to do, keep watching our channel” which offers the solution to the viewer – keep watching and we will tell you how to survive this terrible virus.
You know, obviously, that you are not a news channel, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t use fear appeal technique to manipulate others. You can scare people with anything form their career goals to personal relationships. Be creative, analyze your target and come up with the best ways of doing the method.
Whenever you see that the one you are trying to manipulate is about to give up, that is when you help them relieve the stress and let off all the steam: you are basically trying to give that person sudden mood swings that will leave him or her completely disarmed. When that happens, the person in question is much more likely to do whatever you need them to, and as evil, as that may sound, it truly works!
This is one of the most famous manipulation techniques that involves two parts. In the beginning, you are trying to mirror the person you are trying to influence and then, during the second part, he or she will be mirroring you. This establishes the trust between you and another person and helps you build the connection that you will eventually start to exploit. The technique is quite basic and simple to do. All you need to do is copy the behavior. Take a close look at their body language, face and hand gestures and the tonality of the voice. Is he standing with his hand crossed? Do the same. Is he talking quietly without many emotions? You start talking the same way. Obviously, it is important to do it as carefully as possible. Otherwise, it will be too obvious that you are trying to mirror and the person will quickly start being suspicious of your behavior. You don’t want to do that as it will be really difficult to recover from that position.
After some time of doing the mirroring technique, the person will start to feel more connected to you. This is the time when he or she has a trust towards you and becomes vulnerable to the different manipulation methods. The cool thing about mirroring is that soon you will start noticing something amazing – now the person will start copying your behavior instead. When this happens, you know that you have successfully completed the attempt of establishing trust.
The technique is very important for the further efforts of manipulation. If a person doesn’t trust you, it is extremely difficult to influence him. Once the connection is established, other methods listed in this article will start working much easier. Make sure that you mirror for a long time and do not expect the magic to happen in a few minutes. Depending on a person, it might take hours until he opens up to you.
This is yet another very effective way to manipulate somebody – never underestimate the power of making somebody feel really guilty about something. When a person feels guilty about something, he or she will try to compensate for it one way or another: when that happens, you can easily suggest them an idea. This is when you are slowly planting your own desires into their subconscious mind, and just wait for them to go with the flow. This tactic works best with those who are already prone to feeling guilty, like friends or relatives who have let you down in the past, or who betrayed your trust.
The tactic of using guilt is not, however, the fancy one. You seem a bit too obvious that you need something and if you aren’t careful, other people might suspect that you are trying to manipulate him. Although it works like a charm most of the time and it is extremely easy to do. You are pretty much reminding your target that he needs to do something with sentences like “I helped you last time and now you don’t want to help back?” or “Do you want to disappoint everyone and refuse to do a simple thing we are asking you?”. Nobody wants to be a bad person, so even if they are quite stubborn, they will still feel like doing what you are asking.
The tactic is often used by animal rights organizations like PETA. Have you ever met them in the streets, showing you abused puppies and other cute animals? Then on top of the images, it says something like “You are causing this, but you can stop being evil”. And what happens? The people actually feel really guilty of not adopting animals or not donating to PETA.
The same psychological effect is happening when you use the guilt technique to influence others as people feel obligated to help you in order to avoid being bad human beings.
Play The Victim Card
This manipulation technique actually goes hand in hand with the guilt technique mentioned above, and you should consider combining the two for the best results. Be careful, though, as playing the victim card can sometimes be a double-edged sword and it can work against you if you overdo it. Use it sparingly, every now and then.
The concept of it is quite basic. You are pretending to be their victim, making them feel bad about how they treat you. This happens by letting your targets feel like they are the one trying to manipulate you. Some phrases, for example, go like this:
- “Wow, do I really deserve to be treated like this?”
- “Is this how you treat everybody or am I the only one you hate?”
- “What did I do so wrong that you treat me like this?”
Words like these make people think that their mental resistance towards you (even if it is very minimal) is too much and they are being rude. Then they feel guilty and start being nicer, ending up doing what you want them to do.
Love Bombing Method
Love bombing is a typical emotional manipulation technique used quite often by manipulators (especially narcissists). It is a method that is typically used at the beginning of the interaction with the person you are trying to influence. You demonstrate large positive attention and affection towards the victim and it is really difficult afterward for him not to feel good about you. It is a basic human instinct to treat people nicely if they do the same. When you start your conversation with being extremely nice towards somebody, you are setting up a huge emotional trap for him that he will most likely fall into. It creates intense feelings towards you inside the victim and overwhelms him with a positive attitude.
You need to keep in mind that the love bombing technique is not for every person. You can’t pick one tool and try to solve everything with it. The method works much better on the people who actually need love and affection in their lives. If the person feels lonely and looks for the positive human interaction, there is a much higher chance that the technique will work. You also need to be careful with the next steps even after the method works. Don’t be too obvious about your intentions and start to get what you want after a few minutes of a fake smile and praise.
If you are familiar with some annoying groups and cults, you can easily recognize the love bombing method. It is often used by them and millions of victims fall for it. They start being extremely nice towards you and you start wondering what kind of intentions they have. Their goals, however, is not very clear at the beginning as they know well that you can’t scare the people away by being too quick with manipulation. When some time passes and they actually make you sign up or join their group, it is already too late as you are already too influenced with their positive approach to understanding what is going on.
Try The Bribery Technique
This is yet another widely used manipulation technique that always works like a charm whenever you try to make somebody do what you want. If you reward somebody, be it emotionally or materially, they will somehow feel compelled to return the favor – make sure to use that in your best interest, when they do!
All you have to do is to figure out what your boss, your significant other or your friend wants or needs and just give it to them, then make sure to suggest that you would like something in return. Be careful not to make it sound as if you are blackmailing them though, as that will certainly not end well! Try to make it look as if you are genuinely being nice to that person.
Bribery is the easiest technique to implement if you aren’t too obvious. You are pretending to be nice by giving simple stuff away as a nice gesture. It works for hundreds of different marketing departments, salespeople and anyone who is trying to get the favor of others. Studies show that once people get even a small gift from others, they return the favor (purchasing products, doing what others want, etc) bigger than they received.
The key is timing. It is important to give people things they want carefully and way before you want them to do something. You can’t give your boss a watch or luxury pen and ask for a promotion in an hour. Just like all the other methods, bribery for manipulation requires a careful approach. You need to build trust and connection over time, slowly influencing others.
Bribery also does not require something expensive or time-consuming. You can start working on it with small stuff like free coffee or sweets. Eventually, when it comes to making others do what you want, they will have ‘sure, I’ll help, he is always so nice to me’ thoughts running in their heads.
Become a Good Listener and Actually Learn a lot About a Person
Do not think that manipulators simply use a few code words to hack into your brain and make you do whatever they want. It doesn’t work like that. As I mentioned above, developing the trust between you and another person is a fundamental part of influence. If a person doesn’t trust you, he won’t want to do anything with you and you will lose a chance of influencing him. That is why it is important to actually be friends with him and one of the best ways of doing it is to become a good listener. This has two beneficial parts for you:
1. Being a good listener creates an illusion of friendliness during the process of conversation. You seem much more appealing and trustworthy to others when they see that you are interested in what they have to say. This is especially true for the people who do not get much of social interactions in their lives and are desperate to talk to other people. They love to discuss their lives, tell you what they did yesterday, where they are planning to go next month for a vacation and even quite intimate details of their personal lives. All you have to do is stay quiet and listen. If things get extremely boring, at least pretend you are interested, but remembering what they said is important for the second part.
2. The trust towards you strengthens significantly when you after some time mention something that they told you before. That is the moment when they believe that you actually cared and genuinely listened. It is difficult to listen and remember everything they said, especially if the conversation was extremely boring and you listened only because you want to manipulate them. However, try to remember at least a few details. If they say something about their upcoming vacation, instead of repeating every detail like a parrot, casually mention how the vacation went.
Learn To Read People’s Body Language
Did you know that people express themselves more through their body language than through actual words? If you are having a hard time “deciphering” a person, then all you have to do is to pay attention to their body language, and reading it can really be considered an art. In order to be able to fully and effortlessly manipulate somebody, you must figure out that person’s psychological and emotional makeup, and you cannot do that without taking their body language into account. People can lie and twist their words very easily, but concealing the signs your body is trying to send is a lot more difficult.
Also, make sure to keep in mind that most people are susceptible to emotional responses: if the person you are trying to manipulate is a particularly emotional one, then you will have to play with their emotions – yet again!
There is nothing complicated about reading people’s body language. Yet it is extremely important and pretty much the basic requirement if you want to manipulate others. There’s no secret knowledge of it to master in order to understand what people express using their bodies. The basic expressions are the following:
Do you see a person with crossed hands, not very emotional facial expression and does not engage with eye contact with others? Then he is most likely disinterested, not ready to be engaged with a conversation or is under stress due to unhappiness or anger.
Is he relaxed, closer to you, maintains long eye contact and has an emotional facial expression? then he is ready to be engaged, has a positive attitude and wouldn’t mind jumping into the conversation with you.
While this article doesn’t go into details of reading body language, we highly recommend you master the advanced knowledge of it. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to understand the people you are trying to influence. We have several articles about it here, so browse the body language category.
Use Your Looks In Your Best Interest
Whether we like it or not, human nature is quite shallow to a certain extent – we are naturally drawn to charismatic people, and that is a fact. If you are a good-looking individual, then you can make the best of it and manipulate other people. Life really is easier for beautiful people, but your charisma alone will not get you very far: you actually need to work on it and to learn how to take it to the next level.
You must be positive, cheerful and you must also have an approachable and welcoming body language – if you manage to do so, then this can greatly benefit you both in your personal life and your professional one. Make people feel special and make sure to always be self-confident: do not overdo it, though, because at the end of the day nobody likes cocky people regardless of how charismatic they are.
Prey On Their Feelings, But Make Sure To Master Your Own First
Last, but not least, the easiest way to manipulate people is to simply make them fall in love with you. When a person switches from being rational to being emotional, that is the right time to “strike” and to make them do whatever you want them to. All you have to do is to slowly guide them to feel a certain way about you. However, this technique is usually reserved for the real masters of manipulation, because if you do not master your own emotions first, you may end up being the one that gets manipulated. You need to be able to invite both fear and sympathy without falling into your own trap, and that is certainly the most difficult part!
Developing Skills – 3 Things You Will Need To Manipulate People
1. You should have great verbal communication skills to be able to influence others. If you want to manipulate people, being able to speak clearly and expressing your thoughts skillfully is important. There are several ways of improving your verbal abilities and we won’t be able to go into details for each, but we will still list a few so you get an idea.
Improving Verbal Communication For better Manipulation
a. Start reading as much as you can. It is important to have a great vocabulary and reading is the best way to improve it. You can read books about any topic, as long as they challenge you. Avoid simple texts that require very little effort and even 5th grader could handle. Besides vocabulary, reading will expand your knowledge about different subjects and that, of course, will let you speak about stuff easily. Some people hate reading and you might be one of them, but we promise it is not as bad as you think once you read for a while. Besides, traditionally when we are kids we are forced to read boring classical literature. That is not the case here. You can read modern novels, newspapers, magazines and interesting articles online.
b. Practice your speaking in front of a mirror. It is important to observe the way you speak and get comfortable with that. In the process, you will be able to find things that you do not like and will change it. If you don’t like those details, neither will others. You can also practice talking to other people that you want to influence and manipulate. That way when you actually meet them, it won’t be the first time you will talk about the subject. You can make it like a play and rehearse it a few times. Things might not go 100% according to the script in reality, but for the most part, it will most likely be the same and you will be ready.
c. Work on your voice and a tone. What you are saying is not the only important thing. How you do it is not any less crucial. Record your voice, listen to it and analyze things. Write down what you like about it and what not. Working on it will increase your success rate of mental manipulation. Don’t speak monotonously and quietly. Make sure everything you say is clear and with confidence. How can you influence someone if you are mumbling and cannot even hear yourself? Imagine yourself as an actor on the stage. More you practice, better you will get at it.
2. You should be able to look good in front of the people you want to manipulate. We are including this in the list of skills because it really takes one to be able to look good. Genetics do play a role here, but you need to do as much as you can to use that ‘Halo Effect’ for your advantage.
How to look good to manipulate people
a. Basic hygiene is a fundamental part of looking (and smelling) good. We all know this. Yet so many people fail it. Humans have an evolutionary attraction towards the clean people because they were the safe ones to be around with throughout history. We still have those traits and simply like the people who are clean and smell good. How can you manipulate someone if you stink? It doesn’t take much effort to achieve that. Simply wear a deodorant, shower and use some nice perfume.
b. Have a haircut that suits you and makes you look good. How your hair looks directly affects your entire outfit. When you talk to a person you are trying to influence, your haircut will be one of the things he will notice. It is annoying to see how many people ignore their hairstyles and still want to look good. You need to also be realistic about it. If the haircut does not suit you, simply let it go. Don’t try to rock it when it obviously looks terrible on you. Have a sense which one is for you and never try to save money for a salon and visit the terrible one.
c. Dress nicely and don’t go crazy about fashion if you can’t rock it. You need to impress a person you are manipulating. You can’t go wrong with a simple, classic look and unless you know what you are doing, do not experiment. If a person will not like your dress, he will not take you too seriously and it will be really hard to influence someone in that situation.
3. Learning more about psychology and the neuroscience will teach you more about how to manipulate people. You need to have at least the basic understanding of the human mind if you want to be a master manipulator. Sure, what we are teaching you here will help you with that, but you need a broader, more general understanding of human behavior to really be able to manipulate others easily.
How can you do that? First of all, start with browsing our website and read general psychology articles. Then go to Youtube and watch some videos. Next step would be to start reading actual psychology books. If you want to learn basics, there are always some good psychology university textbooks.
Conclusion – Crucial formula
You have all the information, for now, to be able to manipulate others. With these techniques, you should be able to get easy prey. For the people who are aware of them, you will need much more psychological knowledge and follow our advice on that. You need to remember that combining techniques with your looks and verbal skills is extremely important. If you do not look good and confident, you won’t be able to use these techniques effectively. So, the crucial formula of mental manipulation is Tricks + Looks + Talking. Good luck and hopefully the article was helpful in answering your question about how to manipulate people.