People constantly discuss good communication and «using your words», many can explain it far better than me. So, I decided to go in the opposite direction, and give you a manual on how to be unethical.
Although, we should start with one important point: manipulation is not the silver bullet. It has attracted a lot of myths, some of which put it on a pedestal of the most lucrative type of communication. This, to put it mildly, is not exactly true. The end result of frank and skilful negotiations usually far outweighs that of a manipulative approach.
Manipulation can and does yield results that no honest straightforward interaction can achieve, but such cases are few and far between. In actuality, people might use manipulation to gain certain — and considerable — satisfaction from the process. And that requires some skill.
In the case of manipulation, as well as many others, you need to know its basic principles, otherwise the methods might fail you.
Here I give you some of them, partly based on my experience, partly on the experience of others. The order is random. I don't expect them to be news to anyone — it's more about collecting them in one place. It is always better to learn from someone else's mistakes. Well, almost.
1. Find a way in
When you meet someone, the first step is finding their weak spot. Everyone has at least one, some have a lot (that's what we like to see).
These are usually simple and are about family, first love experience, or one's insecurities about their appearance/intellect (often produced by the first two).
Human weakness is the lever that you can repeatedly pull, so you would benefit from figuring them out from the get go. The list can go on and on, but the main pressure points should come up from the start. What do they fear? What do they dream about? What do they want and what stops them from achieving it? These should go on their chart, and you would have to analyze the whole lot of information and form a number of complex inductions (going from specific instances to general conclusions) — and you would have to do it fast. Primary information intake shouldn't take more than 10 minutes, the rest is details. People like being heard — so listen carefully.
2. Screencapture the DMs
All of them. And never delete the pics. It is best to put them in separate folders, one per person. Especially focus on stuff that they tell in a feat of open heartedness, obviously: when they say «off the record», it means they are about to share something crucial. First, it will ensure your own safety; secondly, people tend to treat better those who have some damaging material on them; and finally, see p. 1
Sidenote: if you are a reporter, this does not apply. This is important: you-person and you-professional are two different people. If you are a journalist, it does not exist if it's «off the record».
3. Never let anyone buy you train/plane tickets
You do not want anyone but your mother to have any sensitive data on you, like your passport ID, do you? Believe me, you don't.
This is how I've been falsely reported to Israeli police once. Nobody should ever have this sort of data about you. Repeat after me: nobody. fucking. ever.
4. Do not open up
It seems hard to do: after all, the best way to help someone to open up is to tell something personal about yourself first. Yet it is better to make something up, or tell something insignificant, framing it as if it were a big deal for you. This is kid's stuff, really.
Telling something truly crucial, your real plans and thoughts is, however, not a good idea — that would give ammunition to this person to use against you, and you do not want that. Do you? People trust those who trust them. Whether you tell them the truth does not matter.
The main thing is to not get caught. We'll discuss it in the next section.
5. Lie to the judge!
One crucial thing here you need to remember is that there is no difference between telling the truth and telling a lie: they are both just words. There is an equal chance that what you tell people will either be one or the other, and the recipient will never find out, which — so long as you do not get overwhelmed with details and figure out the proper structure.
To be a good liar, you need to believe what you're saying, skip unimportant details, and never forget to fact check.
6. Be nice!
When you want to ruin someone else's life, you shouldn't inform them. Never tell people what your real intentions are — remember what happened to Ned Stark? Don't be a Ned!
Be nice, friendly and understanding. Be polite. Be polite even when it seems impossible. Do not let your emotions influence what you do. When you want to do something nasty, it is best to have the trust of the person you're scheming against — then they would be more relaxed around you.
7. Help people
Make them feel indebted to you. Forget the words «No problem», «Happy to do it» and start using «You are welcome», «We'll figure something out». Your favour should always appear like it costs more than it actually does. Everything that requires your resources is worth something, even if you are just sharing some information: people should appreciate how generous you are.
8. Ask for help
People like to feel strong, successful, and generally amazing. We like those who laugh at our jokes the same way we like those who'd be lost without us: they make us look bigger.
Ask for help and/or patronage of those who might not like you much; or better yet, look for their expertise.
This is almost as effective as a proper use of flattery, since it, in fact, is a form of flattery.
Your pleas for help should not become a burden, though: if people feel you are using them, that will push them away.
Try to strike the balance.
9. Find what is lacking
Figure out what the person lacks, and give it to them.
That makes them more likely to cling to your emotional support — so long as you are consistent and build on it.
Everyone has a secret, internal pain, and by alleviating it, you can get enough power to get your interactions on the right track.
10. Do not over-complicate things
In most cases, there is no need for some kind of genius strategy.
In «Gossip Girl», a TV series that in big part is focused on the subject of manipulation, was this one scene: a character comes to school where she is bullied by the classmates of hers. One of them snatches the bag out of her hands, and spills the contents on the floor. The character asks ironically: «Is that it? I expected something more.» They answer: «Simple, but effective.» This is true: if you keep doing something as simple and mundane as that every day, that can drive anyone to the edge. This can be anything, really: see p. 1.
11. Use the fear
Find out what the person fears, and show to them that you can either protect them, or help them overcome that fear.
And again: see p. 1
12. Be unpredictable
Figure out what the person expects from you, and do the opposite. The next time, do exactly what they are expecting of you. Then do something different. Whenever people can't understand what actions might influence your behaviour, and in what way, it makes them confused and afraid — this time, of you.
13. Never complain, never explain
This is the golden rule of any communication. You are never at fault, someone else is. As soon as people realise you are human and can err, they are no longer in awe — which means you can never make mistakes, apart from the instances discussed in p. 4, i.e. when you need to demonstrate how vulnerable you are to gain their trust.
In other instances, guilt is extremely useful in controlling people, so find out what makes your opponents feel guilty, and never wallow in guilt yourself.
These are the principles of manipulation that give life to other, more concrete approaches and methods. The main point is, if you feel the need for this kind of interaction, you'd better let it out in the right way with the right people, instead of eating yourself up for this kind of intention. Otherwise, these intentions will get out anyway, only not at the right time, in the right situation, with the right people. Skillfully manipulating those you don't care about much, you can preserve good relationships with those you respect and are close enough to share your real self with them.
So, divide and conquer, and may every lil racoon find a home.
Translated by Marina Bazarnaya