You might think you know nothing about reverse psychology, only to find out that you actually use it all the time. And if you think this is not you, ask yourself: have you ever found yourself doing the complete opposite of what you should be doing to achieve your goal?
If so, you have probably used it already.
What Is Reverse Psychology?
People use the technique to get people to do something they never intended to do. Quite simply, you just tell someone to do the opposite of what you want to be done.
While manipulating people is generally not a very nice thing, there are times when using it can be to everyone’s benefit.
Some people are needlessly resistant or defiant, and the only way to make them do what’s best for them or others is through the use of reverse psychology.
The whole idea is to make the person you are using it on to believe that they are making an independent decision.
So, a person who never wants to be told what to do would be a perfect candidate for this. And this usually happens with overly confident people.
It can also work brilliantly with children given their rebellious nature.
How To Use Reverse Psychology
1. Make Sure You Know What You Want
Reverse psychology can inadvertently get you undesired results if used wrongly. So, before that happens, ensure you know exactly what you want to achieve.
2. Use Reverse Psychology Only For The Person’s Own Good
Reverse psychology is manipulation, whether you like it or not. So, you should never use it to further your own agenda.
That will make you a really shitty person and a terrible friend.
But sometimes, and this rarely happens, reverse psychology is necessary to make someone do something that’s good for them.
For instance, a friend wants to find a new job, but they plan on quitting the one they already have prematurely and you know that will mess up their finances. In such a scenario, you can use it to help them hold on to their jobs until they find the job they desire.
In short, you should never use it for your own benefit.
3. Accept That It Won’t Work On Everyone
Reverse psychology does not work on everyone. And yes, that includes people who are certain to resist whatever you try to get them to agree to.
Some people don’t need reverse psychology because they are open-minded and will easily see reason in your arguments.
But even argumentative and resistant people might not respond to it. You might find them changing their positions over the course of the argument, which is perfectly normal.
Also, just because you used it on someone in the past does not mean it will work again on them every time. They might have gotten a glimpse of what you did, which means they might be on a mission to ensure it does not work on them once more.
4. Make Sure You Can Use Reverse Psychology Fairly
You should never assume that someone will take a particular stand in an argument. First of all, try to find out what their ideal choice would be.
You can start by stating all the benefits you can think of regarding the choice you want them to support.
For instance, if you want to get your spouse to travel with you and are not sure they will agree because they would prefer to visit the family, espouse to them the benefits of taking the trip.
After that, give the person time to think it through.
From there, address any concerns you know they might have about the idea such as costs and time. That will make the person consider your suggestion more seriously.
If the person agrees with you at this point, you can start encouraging them about their idea to make sure their minds are completely made up.
The idea is to make sure you don’t look like you don’t have any regard for their opinions.
From there, if the person is really in support of your idea, it will seem like a choice they made. You will have won, and they will be happy too.
Heck, you might find yourself backing their idea once you realize it was actually the better option, which is perfectly okay.
Using reverse psychology is not about winning at all costs, but achieving the best possible outcome for all involved.
5. Insist On The Opposite Of What You Want To Achieve
Some people are resistant by nature. So, telling them the opposite of what you want them to agree with is the best way to make them agree with you.
With such people, you should pose a challenging argument while insisting on what you want to achieve.
In their mindless desire to resist your argument, such people will make sure they take a position opposed to your own. In the end, when you finally “let them have their way”, they will do exactly what you wanted them to do, to begin with.
6. Stay Calm, Especially With Kids
Children can get emotional or scared when you get too intense, and that would be quite counterproductive. So, make sure you are calm as you use reverse psychology on kids.
Even with adults, you should be as gentle as possible.
You want the person you are trying to convince to feel that they are making the best decision for them.
You can even use a statement like, “it’s either we go to the movies or spend the evening cleaning up your choice.”
Remember, just because you are using this tactic, it does not mean the person is your enemy.
7. Use Their Desires Against Them
While “giving in” to the person’s demands or arguments, you can reinforce your willingness to “submit” to their better idea by saying that all you want is something they also want.
For instance, if someone is seeking your friendship, once they make their stand, you can tell them they can have “their way” because what matters to you is the friendship.
8. Be Ready For Consequences
Sometimes, your use of reverse psychology will be apparent to your targets. You want your buddy to go watch a movie he hates with you and he doesn’t seem interested.
So you tell him it’s because he fears he might actually love it.
To defend his stand, he agrees to go and watch the movie with you, just as you wanted. Mission accomplished.
But later he hears that you had been looking for someone to go watch the movie with you, but without success. And from that, he understands you manipulated him into doing it.
He might get mad at you, and you should be ready for such consequences.
And again, this goes to show that you should be certain that the consequences of your manipulation will not be too grave. It’s not worth losing a valuable friendship so that you can get someone to do something for you.
Certainly, you should never use it for your own personal gain, especially when the person is likely to get hurt if they found out the truth.
But if you are sure the discovery of your rouse would be justifiable to the person, then you can use this manipulative tactic if no other option is available.
9. Use Reverse Psychology With Caution
Reverse psychology can sometimes backfire. You might end up “winning” your argument.
That would mean you have lost because the idea would have backfired on you. For these reasons, use this technique only when you are fairly confident you will achieve your goal.
That is why you have to study the person first to see if they are the argumentative kind or are out to oppose anything you are telling them.
Additionally, you should never use it in scenarios where it would be too obvious. For instance, you might be known to have certain stands against such issues.
In those scenarios, suddenly having an opposing viewpoint can raise questions.
Keep in mind that if you use this tactic recklessly, you will earn a reputation as a manipulator. That, obviously, is the last thing you want because people will start to second-guess everything you say.
Trust me, you don’t want a life where people doubt whatever you tell them.
In any case, in scenarios where you can be direct and still achieve your goal, then it’s best to take that route.
10. Use Reverse Psychology In The Most Appropriate Scenarios
There is an ideal time to use this method and scenarios where it would not work as well. For instance, ask yourself if the person would oppose what you want to suggest.
Otherwise, even if the person is usually argumentative, it won’t work if you are suggesting something they would quickly agree to.
It’s important to have all this figured out before you use this form of manipulation to avoid using it unnecessarily and then achieving undesired results.
And under all circumstances, you should never use reverse psychology in serious situations, such as when a person’s health, personal beliefs, and wellbeing is on the line.
Even though some decisions are not good for the person, you might still have to respect them. That’s to say it would not be ideal in such scenarios.
For instance, if you have a friend whose faith does not allow them to use a certain drug, and you are convinced that it would be their best option, it would be wrong to manipulate them into using it. In such scenarios, it would be inappropriate because the issue at hand requires honesty.
To sum up, you should be careful not to use this form of manipulation too much. It can ruin relationships because no one wants to be involved with manipulators.
So, refrain from using reverse psychology as much as possible.
More importantly, when you decide to use it. Generally, make sure it’s not to push your own selfish agenda.