When someone wants to do something and you manipulate him into doing the opposite, you are using a tactic called reverse psychology. Reverse psychology is especially helpful for self-centered personalities who like to argue with anyone about anything. You do not have to be a licensed mental health professional to use the principles of reverse psychology with your stubborn teenager, depressed friend, reluctant spouse or resistant co-worker.
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Agree with an oppositional person. This tactic will throw him off guard and cause him to rethink his original stance. If your spouse is telling you that they think it's girlie to do housework, for example, agree by saying: "I agree with you. I can see how insecure guys are. A guy has to protect his masculinity even if it causes hard feelings in his marriage." By agreeing with him in this way, he may start to take the opposite viewpoint --- which is what you wanted in the first place.
Take it to the next level. If someone is saying that she will never succeed, agree with her and project this idea forward into the future. You can say: "I agree with you. It is very unlikely you will meet another man ever that you can love. Are you thinking of downsizing your house because you realise you'll never have children?" By extending the idea out and to the future, she may see how ridiculous she is being and retract her original assertion.
Tell her that what she is saying would be extremely unpleasant, if it were in fact true. This tactic works well with exaggerating teenagers. If your teen says: "You are so mean --- you never let me do anything," you say, "I agree with you. I never let you do anything. No ballpark tonight, no roller-skating on the weekend with your friends. I understand." She will start to argue and eventually will have to agree that you do, in fact, give her quite a bit of freedom.
Do not say anything. This is a more sophisticated form of reverse psychology. If an employee at work starts telling you how your idea will never work, just stay silent and listen to him. He will perceive your silence as agreement and start to take an opposite view to maintain his bitter feelings toward you.
Repeat what he is saying back to him. This is the most sophisticated kind of reverse psychology that requires some practice and skill. If a customer says, "My present brand of batteries is fine," and you want him to buy your batteries instead, do not argue with him. Instead, repeat back to him what he has just said, raising your voice a half-inflection higher at the end of the sentence, so the statement becomes a question. You respond back: "Your present batteries are fine?" If you want to make the point even more strongly, try raising your eyebrows a bit when you say this. This tactic makes it look like you are agreeing with the person, but at the same time you are telling him in a very subtle way how foolish he's being. He may soon convince himself that he wants your batteries instead.
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