The charm of the world around us is that it’s totally unpredictable. It puts us into the most unlikely, annoying, and challenging scenarios where we have to find our way through. And while some believe in luck, or lack thereof, others like to take matters into their own hands and use some pragmatic strategies. Like, psychological tricks.
And it turns out, most people have one ready when a particular situation strikes. From answering to “Why’s” in such a way that you redirect the question back to avoiding office small-talk so that nobody thinks you’re rude, to making yourself look like less of a self-obsessed jerk simply by replacing “I know” with “You’re right,” these are some of the biggest psychological tricks.
Shared in the comment section for the question “What is the most effective psychological 'trick' you use?” on r/AskReddit, some people seem to really know how to nail the mental game big time.
My 4-year-old got into the 'Why?' phase a little while back. I read an article that said the best way to get them to stop was to ask them, 'I'm not sure, what do you think?' It is a godsend. They answer their own question, you provide some feedback, and they immediately move on. [Freaking] awesome.
I work in an office. When people stop by my desk and refuse to leave me alone, I get up and refill my water bottle while they are talking to me. Instead of walking back to my desk, I walk them to theirs. They instinctively will sit down. Then I just sever the conversation and get back to work.
When my wife is talking to a man about something technical, often he'll talk back to me. When that happens I turn to face my wife, which forces his attention where it should be.
To find out what an expert has to say about these psychological tricks, Bored Panda reached out to Susan Petang, a certified life coach, teaching adults and teens. Susan runs “The Quiet Zone Coaching” and she has now prepared a set of essential life skills and solution for anyone who’s preparing for the post-pandemic world.
When it comes to mind tricks, Susan said that everyone uses one from one time to time, even if they're unaware they're doing it. Moreover, “There are many psychological tricks floating around out there—I couldn't possibly name them all,” the life coach explained.
To avoid workplace drama and be liked, compliment people behind their back.
Be direct and personal when you need things. Instead of asking IF anyone has an EpiPen, ask WHO has an EpiPen. Instead of saying, 'Someone call 911,' point to someone and say, 'Go call 911 and come tell me when they are on the way.
If you look happy to see someone every time you see them, they will eventually be happy to see you.
“One I use frequently (which isn't really a 'trick,' but a communication tool) is called reflective listening,” Susan said and added: “Often other people just want to be heard, and this tool provides not only that, but helps clarify information so misunderstandings don't occur.”
Some examples of the reflective listening include: "It sounds like you feel...", "I'm hearing that you want...", "It seems like you're upset about...", "I see that you're feeling..."
Don’t apologise. Thank them.
When you’re delivering food that’s taken a while to cook don’t say “sorry for the delay,” say “thanks for your patience”
Saying sorry focuses on your fault. Thanking focuses on their good quality.
I currently manage around 240 people among six restaurants. It is often hard to get them to do what is needed. I have found that saying, 'I need your help' is effective in getting them on board. People want to feel needed and that they are making a difference. Expressing that need to them as much as possible makes all the difference in the world.
Don’t say “it’s okay” when someone apologizes. Say something like, “thank you for apologizing.”
if someone needs to apologize to you, then it was something that isn’t okay. my mom teaches this to her kindergartners and it really does make a difference. opens doors for growth and conversation too. “thank you for apologizing, I don’t like it when you hit me.” or whatever.
In fact, “a lot of those little psychological 'tricks' we use come from our families. We either mimic what we hear growing up, or do the opposite because, as we are more aware of those around us as we mature, we find the way we learned to communicate from our parents distasteful.”
Susan warns that “if you try using a style or a trick that doesn't feel right to you, it'll come off sounding fake and manipulative.”
Instead of asking, 'Do you have any questions?' I ask, 'What questions do you have?' The first almost always results in silence, while the second helps people feel comfortable asking questions.
Saying 'You're right!' instead of 'I know' makes you look less like a [jerk] and doesn't diminish something someone else may have just found out.
On an airplane, if my seatmate is hogging the armrest or being too chatty, I grab the barf bag. Works every time.
On the other hand, one should use mind tricks and tools with caution since Susan warned that it is possible to do more harm than good with little psychological tricks. “For example, one little trick I read about is thanking someone for a trait they don't have. While that is usually very effective, it can backfire. For example, if you thank a coworker for being patient when she wasn't, she may think you're accepting her impatient behavior as 'patient'—and behave that way again.”
She also said that “Every situation and person is different. It's tough to create blanket techniques for dealing with others that are always effective, so learning to read the moods and motivations of others is a great skill.”
When somebody shy is speaking, if you look at them and nod your head, it encourages them to keep talking.
give kids 2 choices instead of letting them pick from whatever
could be 2 points of time. like "now" or in 10 minutes,
or do you want the red or the blue shirt on
things like that
works wonderfully. they feel in control, but have absolutely no control.
can work with some adults too
When I do something bothersome to my husband and he goes quiet, I wait a few minutes and then ask him a seemingly innocent question, usually on the subject of how certain parts of a car works. This gets him talking about the car thing and he rambles for like five minutes, and then, bam! He’s happy again and not quietly brooding. I’ll never tell him I do this because I’m afraid it won’t work anymore if he knows about it. It’s foolproof, though; it works every single time, no matter how bothered he is.
If you ever wonder whether anything you say or do may harm another person, you may want to ask yourself a couple of check-up questions. Susan counsels her clients to ask themselves these questions when they need to decide what to say or how to behave: “Am I hurting someone else?” (Think carefully!); “Am I hurting myself?” (Think carefully!); “Am I willing to accept the consequences of this action?”; “Does this fit in with my value system?”; “Would the person I want to be (or my hero) do or say this?”; “Is it kind?” (Kindness trumps honesty every time—unless someone is about to walk off a cliff!)
"Tell me about your day. " instead of "How was your day?"
I do it when I really want to chat with a person and not get the usual "It's been OK" then nothing out of them after that.
Heard it on reddit a while back and I am amazed at how well it works. You get some info out of the person that you can maybe relate to, or help with or share similar ideas/stories.
When I have something important to say to my kids, I say it very quietly so that they listen. They're immune to my yelling, but whispering gets their attention.
If you need to deescalate someone and get them to communicate, ask them questions about numbers or personal information. I work in emergency services. If someone is totally distraught and shut down, asking their phone number, address, Social Security number, or birth date can pull them out of an emotional place and bring them back to a headspace where they can talk about what happened more easily. I often ask these questions even after I have the information, just to deescalate.
At this point it's pretty well known, but Ive been using it for a few decades and has a special spot for me because I 'came up with it' (and was probably the 3 billionth person to 'come up with it').
Flip a coin if you cant decide something, and then follow whether or not you feel happy or disappointed with the result that it gives you.
I have a coworker who is an excessive talker. She has a heart of gold and means no harm whatsoever, but I don't have time to listen to her stream of consciousness every day. Anytime she comes into my office to chat, I give her a minute to get the gist out, and then I stand and walk out of my office. She always follows and continues yammering, and we walk right back to her cubicle. Sometimes I'll ditch her in the hallway under a guise of forgetting something at my desk. She hasnt noticed yet that I've been walking her back to her desk for months.
Put headphones in and play the music that fits your hoped-for mood. It shifts me over to it mentally. It really helps when I need to calm down or when I need to feel happier.
When you are standing in a group and somebody tells a joke or something funny happens, people tend to look towards the person they like the most while laughing.
If you're trying to pick out dinner with your partner, rather than ask, 'What do you want?' and getting the typical 'I don't know, anything' answer and then having suggestions shot down, start with, 'What do you NOT want? Used it a few times in some of my relationships, and it's the godsend question
If I desperately need to poo and I'm on my way to the bathroom (eg. driving home or walking to one) I'll imagine it in my mind as being really far away. This stops the urgency and I find I can get there calmly :-)
If you need to remember something, think about it while doing something noticeably unusual. This will pair the memory with the "something", so that when it is noticed later on it will trigger that particular memory.
e.g. I need to take out the garbage before going to bed.
Put your pillow at the foot of your bed.
Making people think that you need them is always better than asking them to simply do something for you.
i.e: instead of saying: "Can you do this for me?" you should say: "Listen I need you help; I can't do this."
Makes people feel good about themselves and even like you on a deeper level.
Say hello to everybody you know, and say it with a smile. Just imagine: If someone walks into you twice a year and both times you smile and greet them enthusiastically, they will think of you as a nice person. So little effort for a person to find you friendly!
If you hand something to someone they will take it. It’s a lot of fun
This is dumb and shouldn't work. But I'm a bartender. And if I ask someone if they want another drink and nod my head at the same time most people are inclined to do it.