Show Mobile Navigation
Humans |

10 Psychological Tricks to Make People Do What You Want

by Patricia West
fact checked by Rachel Jones

Getting what you want does not mean you are Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. You don’t have to be a spoiled (rotten) kid; you can be a meticulous workhorse asking for a raise. Or a tired spouse looking for a quiet date night. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to make people do what you want; start by trying psychological tricks to get what you want. Here are 10 psychological tricks to make people do what you want.

Related: 10 Psychology Tricks You Can Use To Influence People

10Use Body Language

10 Ways to Use Body Language to Get What You Want (Web Exclusive)

Your body language can influence how others perceive you; it can even help change the minds of those on the fence about you.

For example, when you look big (lean back in your chair and push one elbow to the back of the chair top), it will make other people see you as powerful, and they will do anything you want. If you attend an important work meeting, talk directly to others and don’t fidget—be confident in your body and how you can make it move. These simple actions will significantly impact your confidence and overall influence on others.

If you are seen as a leader or powerful, others will wish to emulate you; this is known as the chameleon effect. The chameleon effect will make people unconsciously copy postures, facial expressions, and mannerisms, making them more like you; you can make them do what you want.

9Favors Are Your Friend

4 Best ways to ask for ‘FAVOURs’–Get a perfect ‘YES’ – Personality Development videos – Skillopedia

After performing a favor for someone, they are likely to return the favor. Favors are powerful when seeking to get people to do what you want. Even if you do a small favor, it can return large dividends.

According to sociologist Alvin Gouldner, no society can escape the reciprocity principle. The reciprocity principle emphasizes the need to help those that help you. It makes people on the receiving end feel that they owe you a debt and will have the urge to repay it.

For example, if you help someone at your workplace when they are thanking you, ensure you use a phrase like “That’s what partners do for each other.” When you label your favor as an act of partnership, the phrase will make your colleague return the favor.

8Go Big!

How to Create an Irresistible Offer No One Can Refuse with DJ Richoux

When getting people to do what you want, offer an outrageous proposal straight out of the gate. When this offer is struck down, come in with a more reasonable offer. They will more than likely accept this because it appears to be the better deal when, in reality, it is the offer you wanted them to agree to. (Think a car salesperson with a crazy price tag on a car, but you settle on a “better” price with some back and forth.)

For example, when negotiating with your teen, say they need to complete five chores before earning their Xbox. Of course, there will be moans and groans, but they may counteroffer with two chores, and you finally offer three. They will agree, and you will still get the work done that you wanted them to do. Score one for parents!

7Maintain Eye Contact

5 Eye Contact Tips | How To Communicate With Your Eyes

We are often told to maintain eye contact when speaking to others. It is more than just being polite; maintaining eye contact can increase attraction, understanding, and honesty. But make sure you don’t hold someone’s gaze too long, or you may be labeled a creep.

Eye contact can:

  • Display honesty
  • Create a bond
  • Improve understanding
  • Build respect
  • Increase empathy
  • Foster attraction

Eye contact may be difficult for many of us, especially those with social anxiety or other disorders like autism, but even making eye contact for a second or two and then briefly looking away can have the same effect as maintaining consistent—but not creepy—eye contact. This is a skill that you can learn and practice with each interaction you have.

6Scare People into Action

How To Use Scarcity and Urgency To Increase Sales – Sales Tips & Negotiations

People suffering from anxiety are the best to trick into doing what you want psychologically. The cognitive mentalities of the people suffering from anxiety tend to think about the potential danger they can encounter in case they fail to act.

An example is where salespeople will use the illusions of scarcity to make people buy more of their products. The psychological trick applied here is that people desire to get products when they are scarce. Companies will also make products scarce or sell on discounts to make their customers purchase products before the offer ends.

Other types of scarcity tricks companies use include:

  • Seasonal offers; “Outdoor Summer Sale.”
  • Shipping, sales price, or purchase countdown; “Free shipping ends in X:XX:XX”
  • Low stock notice; “Only 7 in stock.”
  • Limited production; “75/1000”
  • Leverage real-time activity; “X shoppers have this item in their cart.”

5Like Mother Said, Use Your Words

6 Secret Phrases That Instantly Persuade People

As a general rule of thumb, it is better to use someone’s name instead of “Hey, you.” This is especially true if you want something from someone. Simply using a person’s name makes the other person listen; they will be drawn into what you have to say. After all, we have been conditioned to respond to our name from birth.

At most places of business, employees wear name tags; it is your job to utilize them. Utilize desk plaques, names on doors, online listings, etc., to make a connection. Even if you don’t have a connection, the person whose name you just used will assume you have one based on the simple fact that you used their name. This is an extremely powerful tool that is most often underutilized.

4Be Excited to Get Others Excited

Quick Tip to Speak With More Enthusiasm

To get others to do what you want, you need to be excited. Speak highly of the task, pump up the location, or sing the praise of its eventual success. When others see you are excited about something, they will inherently be excited too.

Parents and teachers are the best examples of those who show enthusiasm to achieve enthusiasm:

  • No one can pump up a room of drab 7th graders like a goofy teacher talking about the cell’s powerhouse. (It’s the mitochondria, by the way).
  • Parents are masterful at getting their kids to brush their teeth to the tune of a made-up song. (My kids like, “Brush, brush, brush your teeth. Brush your stinky teeth,” to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat).

3Time (of Day) Is on Your Side

File:Wall clocks at IKEA store.jpg

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Choosing the right time of day to talk to someone is essential to make people do something you want. As a young child, you knew a good time to ask your mom to go to your best friend’s house or when to pick up a broom and sweep the floor. Am I right? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The same is true in other situations.

You don’t have to force opportunities; instead, use the ones you have. If you know your coworker is more likely to be relaxed after lunch, schedule a meeting with them following their lunch break. They will be more likely to say yes to a new assignment when their guard is down, and their belly is full.

2Slow It Down

The surprising secret to speaking with confidence | Caroline Goyder | TEDxBrixton

How you say something is more important than what you say. Speak with others, don’t just talk to them or even at them. The cadence, tone, speed, and pitch of how you speak is the most important aspect of persuasion.

For example, in movies and literature, a king is generally depicted as still. Calm. They don’t fidget while members of the court frantically relay issues to the king, fretting about what to do next. The king slowly stands and retains self-control. When they do open their mouth, it is with calculated precision.

People inadvertently listen to these cues and subconsciously react to them. Controlling the level at which you speak controls the conversation. If you speak quickly, it creates urgency, and urgency lowers your status, showing yourself at the mercy of others. But if you speak slowly, methodically, you retain status over the conversation by remaining in control. Calm is king.

1 Don’t Assume They Know What You Want

How to Be Clear and Concise

Each of us goes throughout our day giving and giving, usually in exchange for something in return, whether it’s food, money, or a healthier body. But when you want something from another person, you have to be direct. You have to be explicit. Your wants seem obvious to you, but only because you spend all day in your head. Others don’t; unless some people are mind readers—then kudos to you.

Approach the person you’re trying to get your want out of and make your case. Provide any necessary background details to strengthen why you want what you’re about to ask, and then ask it.

Be specific about what it is you want. Don’t be vague, and don’t drag it on. Keep it short; keep it sweet. For best results, keep each of the tricks listed above in mind as you make your request, like eye contact, time of day, and pace of speech.

fact checked by Rachel Jones