Have you ever considered using reverse psychology on a loved one? If used correctly it can be a highly effective (yet slightly manipulative) way of getting the outcome that you want from a situation
However, you should only use reverse psychology for good purposes. You can use it not just in your intimate relationships, but also on your kids and your work colleagues.
What Is Reverse Psychology?
Before you can put it into practice, you first have to understand what it actually is. If used incorrectly it simply won’t work, or could end up making a situation worse.
Simply put, reverse psychology is the mind-bending technique of giving somebody the impression you want a particular outcome, when in fact you want the opposite. A good example of this would be getting a loved one to tidy up more.
Instead of constantly nagging them to do it, you could instead argue in favor of living in a mess. By doing so, your loved one will be more likely to start becoming tidier, even if they’re not entirely sure where their new motivation is coming from!
The same applies if you want to see a particular movie, but you argue in favor of a different one. As people generally hate being told what to do, they’ll often choose the other option just to be different.
Of course there are times when reverse psychology doesn’t work in the way described above.
Sometimes you need to adjust the strategy to get the desired outcome depending on who you’re dealing with. For example let’s imagine the heart wrenching situation of having a loved one with a drinking problem.
If you tell them, “You don’t have a problem, you’re fine,” they may well just agree with you.
So what do you do if your attempt is being met with resistance?
Tailoring Your Strategy to Suit the Person
What you need to do with resistant people, is to frame the conversation so they feel they’re making their own decision.
Using the alcohol example, you could simply say “I can’t force you to do something that you really don’t want to do. Only you can decide what’s best for you.”
This pattern of conversation will often make them stop and think about what you’ve said. You’re giving them the power to make the decision, but in a way that leaves them in no doubt as to how you feel about the situation.
How You Can Use Reverse Psychology on Your Kids
Surely it’s wrong to use such psychological “tricks” on your offspring?
Well, not if you’re using it in a way that benefits their life. Here are some examples of when it’s useful to brandish your reverse psychological sword on your little ones!
- When you want to improve their grades
- When you want them to do chores
- When you want them to stop a bad habit
You should only ever use reverse psychology on your children to improve their life, and again you need to think about your strategy.
Telling them “You’ll never get good enough grades” will likely cause them to feel like a failure. It won’t make them want to prove you wrong. Instead it will give them self-confidence issues and make them feel inadequate.
The more sensible strategy would be to say something like, “I bet you can’t finish your homework tonight.” Children love a challenge, and love to prove their parents wrong!
This is a more positive way of getting them to do homework, and you can reward them after they’ve done it.
The same applies for getting them dressed in a morning. All parents know just how hard it can be to get their children ready in the morning. A handy reverse psychology trick you can pull out is to say “I bet you can’t get all of your clothes on in 5 minutes!”
This will be met with something along the lines of “Yes I can,” from which you can say that you don’t believe them. This type of reverse psychology can work wonders. In fact it still works a charm on my children today!
Using Reverse Psychology on a Lover
Reverse psychology can be trickier when applied within an intimate relationship. You should never try to get your partner to do something purely for your own benefit. You need to think about what they want and need.
Using reverse psychology in order to make them happier and more fulfilled is great. Using reverse psychology to get your own way in an argument isn’t a very responsible way to use your new skill!
Perhaps you know that your partner is missing out on a huge opportunity that they’ll ultimately regret not taking. In this situation you could say “Yeah you’re probably right. It was just a dream; maybe you’d have struggled in that position.”
This could spur them on to rethink and accept the job. It’s a sneaky tactic that can work really well. But be aware of what type of person your partner is before using something like this. If they’re particularly sensitive it could end up having a very negative effect.
When Reverse Psychology Shouldn’t Be Used
While it can be effective, reverse psychology shouldn’t always be used. The time it works most effectively is when you’re dealing with very stubborn people. Those who have low self-esteem won’t benefit at all from reverse psychology, and in fact you could make their confidence issues worse.
You need to really know when reverse psychology will and won’t work. Some people require support, others require resistance. You know your loved ones better than anybody else, so use your instincts when deciding which method to use.
Most importantly, reverse psychology should be used responsibly! Although you probably won’t take any notice of my advice anyway… will you?