How to manipulation

13 Proven Secrets to Manipulate People & Convince Them To Do Something

Most manipulation is pretty wrong in general, but there are some circumstances where it can be positive. Learn how to manipulate people the right way. 

Manipulative people have a stereotype of being, well, highly manipulative, narcissistic, and sociopathic. But that doesn’t mean that all manipulation is bad. Isn’t gentle persuasion a form of manipulation in some sense? We would say that there’s a scale of manipulation ranging from persuasion to, well … evil. But listen, sometimes when someone is prohibiting you from getting something that you want or need, you have to find another way to get it. In that case, you need to learn how to manipulate people the right way. 

So, if you find yourself being Mr. Nice Guy and getting shafted at every corner you turn, it’s time to play the game smartly.

We’re going to show you some techniques; however, you need to remember that manipulation only works when they don’t see themselves being manipulated. If they catch you, it’s too late. [Read: Psychological manipulation – 16 signs and tactics real manipulators use]

But we’re told that manipulation is bad!

Okay, let’s iron this out before we start. Yes, manipulation is pretty bad. But as we said before, it really depends on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

If the outcome is going to hurt that person or another person, then yes, it’s bad and you shouldn’t be doing it. However, if you’re using a gentle tactic that helps you get what you want and it’s not going to be to the detriment of anyone, is it really that harmful?

Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. Maybe you didn’t realize at the time that you were being manipulative, but you did it because you wanted the outcome. So, by learning how to manipulate people, you’re doing it for small reasons that either end up for the greater good or don’t harm anyone at all.

If you’re trying to learn how to do this so that you can stomp over everyone and get what you want, well, you need a different subject – one called ‘how not to be an idiot.

There is a difference which means manipulation isn’t always that bad. [Read: Manipulative people – How to spot them and stop playing the victim]

Is it ever a good thing to manipulate someone?

Let’s face it – no one really likes being manipulated. Regardless of whether it’s in our personal or professional lives, people usually think that manipulation is a negative thing. The reason for this is that people associate manipulation with people trying to take advantage of us or pushing us into doing something we don’t want to do.

But as strange as it may sound, sometimes manipulation can be a positive thing – or at least not completely negative.

Think about this – manipulation is everywhere in our world, whether you realize it or not. The power of manipulation is used by advertisers, marketers, and businesses everywhere to convince us to buy products, think about certain things, and persuade us to live our lives in a particular way. [Read: 21 tactics and qualities to persuade people and get inside someone’s mind]

For example, they want you to buy this brand of toothpaste, cut down on your salt intake, refrain from taking drugs, try this diet, or vote for this political candidate. So, as you can see, we are all being constantly manipulated every day.

Which of these examples are good for us and which are bad? Is it wrong to encourage people not to use drugs or to lose weight? Or can we see these forms of manipulation as a positive influence? 

Manipulation and the difference between persuasion and coercion

The first thing to understand is the difference between persuasion and coercion. The word “manipulate” means “to handle or control in a skillful manner” and “to control or influence a person or situation.” Those definitions don’t hold too many negative connotations. [Read: 18 signs of a manipulative woman that can leave you lost and confused]

However, how a person uses this control or influence is the determining factor as to whether manipulation is a good or bad thing. So, there’s a definite difference between persuasion and coercion. 

Persuasion is getting people to do things that they want to do or that are good for them. On the other hand, coercion is about getting them to do things that they don’t want to do.

It is important to keep this difference in mind. Be very aware of the distinctions between these two forms of manipulation and avoid confusing them. While encouraging or motivating people can be considered positive persuasion, coercion is a form of bullying or harassment. [Read: Manipulative behavior – why is it toxic and signs you shouldn’t ignore]

The good news is that you can use manipulation for positive change. Positive manipulation can be used to persuade someone to act in a way that can help others in need and make a positive change in the world.

Just as power can be used for good or evil, so can manipulation. Therefore, manipulation isn’t inherently bad in and of itself. It just depends on how a person uses it.

So, you should be asking yourself, how can you use human psychology to persuade people ethically? How can you promote awareness of important issues that most people need to understand so that they take action and make a change?

This is the right way to perceive and use manipulation. [Read: Emotional bullying – How to recognize a bully and stand your ground]

How to manipulate people – Proven strategies that work

It’s normal to feel bad when you are manipulating someone. But sometimes, you just have no other choice. If you feel like you’re getting walked all over and taken advantage of by someone, then it is useful to know how to manipulate people. So, here are some strategies for you.

1. Work with their emotions

The easiest way to manipulate people is with their emotions. You’ve seen it on TV and in the movies, and it works like a charm.

You want to guide them into feeling a specific way … a way that benefits you. This is emotional manipulation. We mean, if you’re cringing at it, we get it. [Read: Emotional manipulation – 14 ways people mess with your mind]

2. Own your emotions

Before you can manipulate anyone, you’re going to have to master your own emotions. If you’re not in control of yourself, you’re making yourself a target of your own game.

You have to laugh when necessary, shed a tear when needed – in other words, you need to put on an act. Depending on the emotion you want them to feel, you’re going to need to be able to use your emotions on demand. [Read: How to control your emotions and become the pinnacle of restraint]

3. Make sure they trust you

People who’ve been manipulated before are usually pretty receptive to the signs, so if you think that trust may be an issue, you’re going to have to make them trust you.

The best way to do this is to open up to them and talk to them about something personal. When you open up to them, they’ll see that you trust them. If you’re not good at acting, perhaps stick to a somewhat true story. [Read: How to stop being manipulated in a relationship]

4. Be likable 

Listen, none of this will work if they don’t like you. Whether you’re a good person or not is irrelevant. Your goal is to make them like you. So, if you’re a negative person, put those true feelings aside and bring out that smile of yours.

Don’t kiss their asses, because they’ll notice. But if you act kind, then you’ll slide right by. You have to be likable for this to work. [Read: 20 fail-proof ways to manipulate women into liking you]

5. Learn to read body language

If you want to know how to manipulate people well, you’ll have to be able to read people’s body language. Most self-expression comes through nonverbal communication.

People may say “yes” or “no,” but it’s your job to read them and see if that’s what they really mean. It’s all in the body.

Are they avoiding your eye or fidgeting? That could mean they’re lying or feeling uncomfortable. If they’re holding your eye contact and they seem relaxed, they’re listening and probably trust what you’re saying. [Read: 10 subtle body language moves to appear more confident]

6. Try the old guilt trip approach

This is one of the oldest yet easiest ways to manipulate someone. The good ol’ guilt-trip approach. Your mom probably did that to you 1,000 times when she wanted you to do something.

When you make someone feel guilty about something, they’ll try to make up for it. That’s when you suggest to them the way that they can compensate. This works best with people who are prone to feeling guilty.

7. Play the victim

We personally can’t stand people who play the victim, but, it works sometimes. If you’re going to play this card, you can’t use it all the time. People get tired of victim behavior after a while.

But if you’re going to use the victim card, match it with the guilt trip approach for the best results. [Read: Can you manipulate someone to fall in love with you?]

8. Use what you’ve got

If you have a pretty face or a banging body, use it to your advantage. We know it’s shitty to hear, but it’s definitely the easiest way to get someone to do something.

People are shallow, so you may as well ride that train if it gets you what you want. Plus, sooner or later, your looks will fade, and then you won’t be able to use this method. Make the most of it!

9. Bring out the bribe

You’re probably wondering if people even use bribes anymore. Well, let us tell you, they do. If you want to make someone do what you want, bribe them.

You can bribe them with material, emotional, or mental rewards. They’ll feel persuaded to do what you want because they see it as a benefit to them.

First, make sure you find out what that person needs. And remember, you’re bribing them gently; you’re not blackmailing them – that’s something else entirely and something you should not attempt! [Read: Manipulative behavior – 10 devious signs you can never ignore]

10. Be flirty

Sex sells, people. So, what you should do is bring out your charming and flirtatious side. Blending both charm and flirtation will make the person feel good.

This usually works on people who are lonely and have low self-esteem. It sounds horrible… because it is. But we have the feeling that you’re not too concerned at this point.  

11. Fear and relief technique

This technique for manipulating people involves you playing with someone’s emotions. This consists of you helping out the person when you see that they’re about to give up.

The goal is to give them an emotional boost that leaves them unguarded. In those moments, they’re more likely to do what you want. [Read: The subtle signs you’re being manipulated by your lover]

12. Foot-in-the-door technique

This is another classic, and highly effective, trick. It’s very subtle and tricky, which is what makes it so manipulative.

You basically ask them to do a small task and then follow up with the actual task you had in mind. You’re basically catching them while they’re in a good mood and then hitting them with the actual task. 

13. If you get caught, don’t act manipulative

This is a rookie mistake when learning how to manipulate people. Once they’re caught, they continue to show manipulative behavior.

What you need to do is act calm, and allow them control of the situation. You have to create doubt if you want to get away with it red-handed. [Read: How to manipulate a manipulator and escape their manipulative grasp]

But ask yourself why you want to learn how to manipulate people anyway

Think carefully about why you want to use manipulation. Why do you think this is the only way forward? You’ll be surprised how people react when they’re directly asked to do something. Maybe they’ll say yes to your request without you having to resort to manipulation in the first place.

For sure, manipulation isn’t the most honest or best way to get what you want. Sometimes there is no option, and most of the time, it’s simply because it’s easy and nobody is going to get hurt. However, know that you run the risk of being labeled a manipulator if you do it one too many times.

[Read: How to persuade people – 17 tactics to get inside someone’s mind]

If you haven’t heard of any of these manipulation techniques, well, we’re somewhat pleased to hear that. Use these tactics to manipulate people, not necessarily to do harm, but if you can’t get what you want otherwise. 

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7 Manipulation Tactics to Know

Manipulative tendencies can surface in any relationship. Knowing what to look for can help you avoid them.

Manipulation can happen to anyone in all kinds of relationships, from friends and romantic partnerships to parents and family relationships. Even work colleagues and your boss might have manipulative tendencies.

Yet, a manipulative person can be hard to recognize.

Manipulation in relationships can sometimes be so subtle and effective, you may wind up questioning your perception of the situation, rather than the other person’s actions or motives. Gaslighting can make discerning manipulative tactics especially difficult.

But by learning what to look for, you may be able to protect yourself from manipulation tactics and psychological games before they start.

Manipulative people often use common manipulation tactics and behaviors to get what they want. Here’s what to look for.


Guilt-tripping is when someone tries to make you feel responsible or guilty of your actions or decisions.

Drake explains that guilt trips often involve using something one person did for the other as “leverage” to get what they want.

Some examples of guilt-tripping might be:

  • “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have gotten through college. You owe me.”
  • “I’m the one who is working all the time, while you are spending time with friends. I deserve this expense.”
  • “If you can’t come over, then I might as well not invite anyone else that night. There’s no point then.”


People with manipulative tendencies often lie to try to control or coerce others, as well as avoid blame or consequences for their actions.

For example, a teenager who’s been told they are not allowed to hang out with a particular group might lie about their whereabouts. Or, they may lie to the other parent about being given permission to go out with their friends.

“If one parent doesn’t check in with the other parent, the teen may be given permission to go with those friends,” Drake explains.

Pathological lying may be a sign of a mental health condition.


It can be hard to tell the difference between a compliment and flattery.

A compliment is given to sincerely point out something positive with no expectation of gain. But flattery is often used disingenuously as a tool to gain emotional leverage. With flattery, there’s often an expectation of getting something in return.

For instance, someone who wants a raise or promotion might regularly praise their manager’s strengths and accomplishments.


Projection happens when one person claims an emotion they’re feeling — such as jealousy — is actually being experienced by someone else.

For example, a person with manipulative tendencies might cause tension and drama, but blame someone else for creating that energy.

Maggie Holland, a licensed counselor in the state of Washington, explains that projecting aids a person who manipulates in dodging responsibility for their actions and helps them avoid changing their behaviors. “But it can also erode your trust in your own reality,” she adds.

If you think you might be projecting, Holland suggests pausing and asking yourself: “Is this my stuff or their stuff?” This can be helpful for disrupting projection.

“It’s also really important that we don’t project our own values onto a manipulator, because that just sets us up for a lot of disappointment and frustration,” Holland adds.

‘Moving the goalposts’

Sometimes, no matter how much you show up for someone who manipulates, they will change their expectations at the last minute to keep you constantly running toward their “goalposts.”

Someone who moves the goalposts can set you up for frustration and exhaustion.

Holland explains that with manipulative people, “you’re never going to actually reach those goalposts, and your efforts and success won’t be acknowledged if you do.

Believing in yourself, recognizing your own needs, and disengaging can be helpful for avoiding feelings of demoralization.

Holland suggests working to understand your personal values, goals, and standards to feel like you met your own expectations.

“Remind yourself that you’re just a human being, doing the best you can, and that is enough.”


Triangulation can take many forms, but often happens when a third person is brought into your communication, instead of keeping the issue between the two people it impacts.

For example, a manipulative person might involve your mother in a disagreement to take their side against you. “Now, all of a sudden, you’re disagreeing with two people and the odds are not in your favor,” Holland explains.

According to Holland, triangulation often keeps manipulative people from having to take responsibility and may protect them from feeling like they’ve lost an argument.

Becoming aware of triangulation can be helpful for spotting it. Try to disengage with “triangles” whenever they come up unfairly.

“This means you’re going to have to set and stick to some firm boundaries, but remember that boundaries are not meant to control people, but to ensure that you’re still able to remain in a relationship with them in a healthy way,” says Holland. “Boundaries are not heartless, they’re actually really healthy.”

Love bombing

Love bombing is manipulation through excessive attention, often showering you inappropriately with gifts, compliments, affection, and time.

These things may be wonderful, which can be confusing. However, love bombing is when this feels enrapturing, takes all your attention, and is excessive.

“It might feel great at first, but it usually leaves you isolated and makes you lose sight of who you are,” Holland explains. “Once you’re ‘swept away,’ this attention might stop, and will leave you feeling like you’re seeking it out or chasing it down again.”

If you’ve already experienced love bombing and are on the other side, give yourself patience and work to forgive yourself. “You’re not blind. A manipulative person took advantage of your normal human nature to want to feel desired and cherished,” Holland adds.

Some ways to avoid love bombing include:

  • regularly spending time with friends and loved ones
  • engaging in your own interests outside of this person
  • checking in with yourself often to ensure that you’re aligned with your values and standards

Manipulation is coercive or unethical behavior driven by the goal of exploiting or controlling another person for your own personal gain.

Taylor Draughn, a licensed professional counselor, and marriage and family therapist, explains that manipulation “can be a very effective way to get what you want, but it can also be very dangerous.”

She adds, “If someone can manipulate you, they can control your actions and your thoughts. It is important to be aware of the signs of manipulation so that you can protect yourself from this type of abuse.”

While manipulative tendencies are often subtle and sometimes undetectable, there are four stages of manipulation.

  1. Flattery. The first stage is when the person who manipulates puts on a facade of being kind, caring, and helpful. “They may act like they want to help you with anything you need, but in reality, they’re just trying to get what they want from you,” Draughn explains.
  2. Isolation. This is when the person who manipulates may start to isolate you from your friends and family. They might try to convince you that your loved ones don’t understand you or want to control you. The goal is usually to separate you from people who might spot the manipulation, Draughn explains.
  3. Devaluing and gaslighting. During the third stage, someone who manipulates may try to make you feel guilty or confused. “They might start telling you that you’re ungrateful, or that you’re making them unhappy,” says Draughn. The purpose of this stage is to make you doubt yourself, your instincts, and your decisions. “It can be very difficult to break free from the manipulator’s control at this stage,” Draughn adds.
  4. Fear or violence. The fourth and final stage is when the person who manipulates may begin to threaten you. According to Draughn, they may threaten to leave you, hurt you, or hurt themselves as a way of keeping you under their control with fear. “It can be very difficult to break free from someone who is using threats as a form of manipulation.”

People manipulate others for many reasons, including:

  • Control. People who manipulate might be driven by a need for control or controlling tendencies, which may feel thrilling.
  • Low self-esteem. Manipulation can be a way for a person to avoid feeling bad about themselves. Jason Drake, lead clinician and owner of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, says that “People manipulate largely due to lack of self-confidence or self-esteem.” “They may not feel that they have the ability to get what they want on their own merits,” he says.
  • Ego. A common reason among narcissistic people, someone who manipulates “may believe that they are the brightest and most capable person around, and might use manipulation to feed their ego that they can outsmart others and gain from their efforts,” Drake explains.
  • Personal gain. A manipulative person might use these tactics to obtain something they want, such as money, power, or attention.
  • Avoidance. Manipulation might offer a way to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

Manipulation can be sneaky, but you can work to avoid it with these strategies:

  1. Know the signs. People who manipulate often exhibit similar types of behaviors. Watch out for people who are overly friendly, make empty promises, or try to make you feel guilty, Draughn explains.
  2. Be aware of your emotions. Evoking strong emotions is at the core of most manipulation methods. “People who use manipulation often play on your emotions, but remember that you can’t let them control how you feel,” says Draughn.
  3. Stay calm. It can be important to stay in control of yourself and not lose your cool when dealing with people who manipulate. “Don’t let them rattle you or get under your skin,” Draughn explains.
  4. Avoid personalizing. Even though manipulation can be hurtful, try to internalize that this behavior has nothing to do with you. “Manipulation has more to do with the other person and their inability to meet their own needs in a healthy way,” says Drake.
  5. Listen. While it doesn’t feel good for someone to attempt to manipulate you, being confrontational can inflame the situation. Try listening with empathy so that you can identify what their needs or wants are, Drake suggests.
  6. Respect your boundaries. After listening to the other person and feeling that you are being manipulated, it’s important to hold healthy limits and boundaries in check. “If you respond respectfully, yet assertively, and [don’t] give in to the manipulation, over time, they will generally see you as someone their tactics don’t work on and will move on,” Drake explains.
  7. Tell someone you trust. It can be emotionally draining and hurtful in dealing with someone who is manipulative. Talking with a close friend or family member about what you’re experiencing can be healing. “Close friends and family can often give you great feedback and advice, and it’s helpful to have a listening ear when dealing with someone who manipulates,” Drake adds.

People with manipulative tendencies may use these tactics to manipulate others for a variety of reasons.

If you have been the target of manipulation, it can feel confusing and hurtful. Try to understand that a manipulative person’s behavior is not a reflection of you, and you don’t have to accept negative treatment and manipulation.

Manipulation can sometimes be subtle enough to go unrecognized. But more often than not, manipulative people use similar behaviors that can be spotted. Knowing what to look for and responding can help you avoid manipulation.

The effects of manipulation can impact your mental health. Talking with a therapist can help you process what’s happened and teach you new skills for moving forward.

If you’re ready to seek help but don’t know where to start, check out Psych Central’s guide to finding mental health care.

The Art of Deception: How to Learn to Manipulate People in a Subtle Way

The techniques that attackers use to try to gain access to your passwords or data are based on social engineering, the science of manipulating people's behavior. Christopher Hadnagy, world-famous social engineer, talks about how to recognize manipulation, and Forbes Life publishes an excerpt from his book The Art of Deception, which will be published by Alpina Publisher

We live in an age of emojis, memes, 280-character messages and social media posts. The pace of technology development is amazing. However, these same technologies have created conditions in which people have forgotten how to observe the interlocutor. That is why we started our analysis of the topic of collecting information from methods that do not involve the use of technology.

Book cover

You may be wondering now:

— What does the term "observation skills" mean?

— How can these skills be developed in oneself? nine0005

- What will it do?

Let's discuss each of them and see what you can notice and understand.

What does observation skills include?

Several scenarios are described below, reflecting the application of observation skills in life.

Scenario one

Your task is to get into the office of a large medical clinic. And do it in daylight. Picking locks, climbing fences and climbing through windows is not allowed. You need to check whether the reception and security staff will allow you to enter a room with limited access. In other words, you need to get into the clinic and get into those departments where only staff is allowed to be. nine0005

Here are some data you can collect from open sources through observation:

Clothes. This simple factor is usually given little attention, but in vain. Back in the first chapter, I said that social engineers need to push the target to make rash decisions. Therefore, if you dress up in a three-piece suit when trying to enter a building where all employees come in casual clothes, you will definitely attract everyone's attention to yourself. So you need to understand how others will be dressed, and look accordingly. nine0005

Inputs and outputs. Entry and exit points must be found in advance before entering the site. Is there a smoking area through which one can enter the building? Are all entrances protected equally? When the guards turn in their shift, what entrances are left unguarded or without due attention from the guards?

Organization of passage. How is access to the territory and the building organized? Do employees have badges and passes? Which? Where are they usually fixed? Do I need to know some code? Is there a procedure in which third-party visitors are escorted through the territory to their destination by a security guard? Do they get special passes? Finally, does the planned entry point to the building have turnstiles, security posts or other obstructions? nine0005

Perimeter security. Find out what usually happens outside the building. Are there surveillance cameras installed? Do guards walk around the area? Are the trash cans closed? Are alarm systems or motion sensors installed?

Security personnel. How do they work: do they sit relaxed, staring at the screen of a phone or computer, or are the guards always on the alert and carefully watching what is happening? Do you think they are bored or interested at work?

Organization of space. Does the location of the access systems allow you to peep the password from behind the shoulder of the person standing in front? (In other words, is it possible to get close enough to the company's employees to see what code they use to sign in?)

Of course, there are still a lot of things to pay attention to, but these are the main ones.

To make you understand why I single them out, I'll tell you one real story in which clothes, entrances and exits, organization of passage to the territory and perimeter protection played the most important role. Together with Michelle (later my technical consultant during the work on this book), we had to implement the scenario that I described at the beginning of this subsection. To collect the necessary data from open sources, we, of course, used technological tools (which I will discuss in more detail later). But a lot of attention was also paid to non-technical intelligence. nine0005

As a pretext for the invasion, we chose the legend that a vermin company was supposedly called in to exterminate the breeding spiders. We called our “company” Big Blue Pest Control and chose the appropriate props: blue uniforms and spray bottles that we filled with “poison” for spiders (actually, the bottles contained bright blue isotonic from Gatorade).

To begin with, we went around the perimeter of the clinic, noted all the entrances and exits, the location of the cameras and smoking areas. We paid attention to where more and fewer people gathered. We noted how employees wear badges and how they dress. Then we chose a suitable, in our opinion, point for penetration and headed for the door. We needed to collect as much information as possible about how exactly the passage to the territory was organized. nine0005

Two guards watched as the officers put their passes on a metal machine and went inside. In addition, on the right was a security desk, behind which sat the employee responsible for registering visitors.

We decided to walk past the guards, blending in with the crowd. It didn't work: we were immediately stopped and asked what we wanted. I read the name on the badge of the nearest guard and said, “Hello, Andrew. We were asked to tell about the services of our company for the urgent destruction of spiders ... "The guard interrupted me in mid-sentence:" Ok, register at the counter. nine0005

I was glad that the job was done, but then the employee at the counter asked for our names. I made up something on the go, but he rummaged through his papers and said: “Unfortunately, you are not on the list of visitors. Unauthorized persons are not allowed to enter without a pass.

We tried to explain, asked for help and even tried to put pressure on him. Did not work. I had to turn around. We left through the main entrance and decided to go around the building one more time and at the same time discuss our further plan of action. And then I noticed how several people went out to smoke. I asked Michelle to wait and approached the smokers, while behaving like this, the word is busy with an important matter: I inspect the territory and make notes in a notebook. nine0005

Then we slowly continued around until we noticed a group of people heading for another door - and followed them. A corridor began behind the door, but it turned out that it led to the same checkpoint where we had just been turned around. Then I saw an elevator to my right - but without a call button. “Damn it, it must be being controlled from a security post,” was all I had time to think, as the elevator doors swung open. I immediately stepped inside, hoping that Michel would notice and follow me.

Fortunately, she feels like a fish in water in such situations, does not get lost and does not worry. There was already a group of people in the elevator. Loudly so that everyone could hear it, Michelle began to moan, addressing me as a boss: “Are we going to finish soon? I'm just dying of hunger, and you said that there will be no dinner until we finish everything.

One of the fellow travelers looked sternly at me and said: “They should give the man something to eat!”
To which I replied:

- I would love to, but we still have one more floor to check. And the sooner we do that, the sooner we'll go to lunch. nine0005

The woman sighed and asked:
— So which floor are you on?
— To our office, — I answered confidently.
The woman took out her pass, swiped it over the indicator, then pressed some combination of buttons on the screen and said:

— Now we'll drop you there.

Phew! We were lucky: thanks to Michelle’s incredible powers of observation and my ability to react quickly, we not only didn’t get caught by the guards, but also got an employee as an unwitting assistant and went through her pass to the guarded floor (by the way, Michelle was not very cunning, because she is always hungry). nine0005

We exited the elevator on the office floor and ran into a closed door with a sign that said, "If you need help, call." Well, we called.

A woman answered us:
— How can I help?
We repeated our story about the presentation, to which she said:
— Okay, I'll just call security and get the go-ahead from them.
If she did, of course we would be thrown out, so I said:
- Call if you want. But actually Andrew sent us here. nine0075 — Eh, Andrew? Then come on.
The woman opened the door and added:
— Just don't touch the letters, please.

We calmly shoveled the whole room: moved the ceiling tiles and stacks of letters, poked around in the wires.

As you can see, what happened was largely due to observation and the ability to sort the information found (and this was only the very beginning of the operation).

I had no idea if the name Andrew would be useful to me. Michelle could not have known in advance that we would come across a compassionate employee in the elevator. And none of us expected to meet a group of smokers who would not care at all that we entered the building after them. However, thanks to observation, all these trifles provided us with the conditions necessary for the success of the operation. nine0005

Scenario two

How do you like this task: to spear-phish a top lawyer from a large American legal corporation? Condition: only information from open sources can be used to prepare the operation.

We will explore this story in more detail in the section on collecting information using technology. However, now I want to share the story of my mission failure, as well as the important lessons I learned from that failure. nine0005

In completing the task, we found out that the lawyer, among other things, handled some cases in the state of Massachusetts. It was there that shortly before the events described, the tax legislation changed. I thought that this news would surely attract her attention and force her to open the file attached to the letter.

I began drafting the State Law Change Letter and planning every step of the operation in great detail. The letter was written in a professional manner, there was not even a hint of any threat in it, but there was a huge temptation to open the infected file. The fact is that the letter formulated a realistic timeframe for reading and formulating a response, and besides, it was detailed just to the extent that the recipient wanted to click on the link that promised to continue. nine0005

Alas, within minutes of sending the letter, our plan was figured out and the operation failed. Did you guess where the mistake was made?

Massachusetts is not legally a state, but a commonwealth. A lawyer who was obligated to pay attention to details received a letter about changes in the Massachusetts tax law and said to herself: “Hmm, because they should know that this is not a state!” She then took a closer look at the sender's address and the link to the document, which made her suspicious enough to complain of spam. The scam failed. nine0005

For our part, we did not pay attention to this "trifle", and the lack of observation in this case cost us dearly.

Conclusion? Observation must always be maintained, there are no insignificant details. Think like the person you are trying to influence. Try to understand what he is waiting for, and justify his expectations. Otherwise, the devil, hidden in the details, will destroy you.

How to master these skills?

This topic is difficult to fit into a short book chapter. Each person has an individual set of innate and acquired abilities that can both complicate and facilitate the process of mastering skills. And since we don't know each other personally, the only thing I can do is talk about my own method. nine0005

It can be compared to playing Capture the Flag. When I enter a new building (for example, a dental clinic), I say to myself: “I will need to remember the first two people I see: the color of their clothes, what they are doing.”

Also, I set my own limiting conditions:

- These people should not be representatives of the wait staff behind the counter.

- Do not forget about the main task or deviate from it.

- No records! nine0005

So, while in the building, I observe and try to remember as many details as possible until I go out into the street. It turns out something like:

An elderly woman was sitting on the left in a blue sweater and reading Woman's Day magazine.

A boy in a striped T-shirt was laying out cubes on the floor.

I make such notes in my mind and try my best to remember them. To do this, I use various mnemonic techniques: for example, I repeat information several times, trying to imprint it into memory. nine0005

Once I get the hang of taking these mental notes without extra effort, I make it harder. In the end, my "flags" look something like this:

- What gender were the people.
- What are they wearing.
- What were they doing when I saw them. - The subject -applied communicative profile of everyone - that reported the language of their body. nine0005

Based on these data, I formulate in my mind a story about why they ended up in the place where I found them. With the help of this story, I remember the necessary information.

Honestly, this method gave great results. Even with my terrible memory, I managed to remember the office I went to three or four years ago and where I met two women in black skirts and white button-down shirts reading from their iPads. One of them obviously didn't like her neighbor (well, or she just needed to go somewhere). I came to this conclusion because, although the women were sitting side by side, the body of the one on the left was directed in the opposite direction. nine0005

There was also a man in the uniform of a security guard behind the counter: I remember his black suit, white shirt, black tie. He wore a gold watch on his right wrist, from which I deduced that he was left-handed. His hair was neatly combed and his beard trimmed. He kept a close eye on me and everyone in the hall, making handwritten notes in a notebook.

A young man was sitting on a chair at the counter with a newspaper in his hands. But it seemed to me that he was only pretending to be reading, while he himself was looking at one place and the edges of the newspaper were shaking. I made up a story that he came to the interview, of course, was nervous and unsuccessfully tried to distract himself by reading. nine0005

Now, when I write these lines, I imagine this room absolutely clearly, as if I am in it. Small observations can be of great service to you as a social engineer. Also, I recommend keeping track of your weaknesses and building on them, starting small. Feel this thought: without practice in our business, nowhere. Too often I meet people who want to achieve everything at once. However, it takes time to develop any skill.

Failures can teach us even more than successes - if we allow ourselves to learn, of course. That is why I have to talk separately about expectations. nine0005

Hidden tricks: how to manipulate people

  • David Robson
  • BBC Future

Photo by Getty

Are we always in control of our thoughts? As BBC Future correspondent David Robson found out, manipulating people's minds is much easier than we imagine.

Perhaps we are all just puppets in the hands of some powerful puppeteer? Most people believe that this is not the case. They make independent decisions and create their own destiny. nine0005

But they are wrong. As psychologist Jay Olson of McGill University in Quebec, Canada notes, "many of the decisions we make depend on external things that we are not aware of, and we are pretty sure that the idea is ours." The question is whether we can learn to recognize this influence and successfully resist it.

Jay Olson devoted his life to researching the means of influencing people's attention. And it all started with magic. "I learned tricks when I was five, and at seven I was already on stage," he says. nine0005

When Jay started studying psychology, he was surprised at how much the scientists' new discoveries about attention, memory, and human psychological reactions matched up with his own experience as a magician.

He was especially captivated by one trick, during which the magician asked the participant to mentally choose one card from the deck, which then, to the surprise of the audience, he unmistakably pulled out of his pocket.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Image caption

Many of the decisions we make depend on external things that we are not aware of

The secret is to get the participant to choose exactly the card from the deck that you have prepared in your pocket. (In our conversation, Olson did not reveal how he manages to do this, but other specialists say that subtly bending a card during a deck demonstration causes the participant to subconsciously notice this). Even these seconds are enough for the card to come to mind when the participant is forced to make a choice.

As a scientist, Olson's first step was to test the objectivity of the trick's success. And the result was amazing - 103 out of 105 participants chose exactly the card he wanted. nine0005

It is not surprising that these results attracted a lot of press attention, but the most striking, according to the scientist, was the second part of the study.

A survey of focus participants later showed that 92% of them were absolutely sure that they had made an independent choice, that there was no manipulation of their consciousness.

Even more surprising is the fact that most of them gave reasons for their choice. "Yes, one person said that he chose a ten of hearts, because 10 is the largest number, and he guessed the suit before the experiment began," says the scientist. nine0005

The type of person or the color and size of the cards, as further experiments found, also did not play any role. It seems that we are all equally prone to such manipulation.

The conclusions from this experiment go beyond the art of magic and force us to reconsider our ideas.

Despite our strong sense of freedom, our ability to make independent and independent decisions can be a big illusion. "Freedom of choice is just a feeling, it's not really about the decision making process," Jay Olson explains. nine0005

Hint menu

Don't believe me? Think back to your last trip to a restaurant. Olson claims that you are twice as likely to choose a dish from the top or bottom of the menu, as these are the parts of the list that first attract attention.

"But if someone asks you why you ordered salmon, you will confidently answer that you really wanted to try it," says the researcher. In other words, we come up with reasons for our choice, despite the fact that it was planned by the restaurant administration. nine0005

Image copyright, Thinkstock

Caption before photo,

Touch is a form of manipulation

How about choosing wine in the supermarket? Jennifer McKendrick and her colleagues at the University of Leicester found that the French or German music played in the store influences shoppers' choice of wine from these regions - purely unconscious, of course.

It is less clear how these findings relate to other forms of thought manipulation, which are the subject of lengthy debate. During the 2000 US presidential election, supporters of Democrat Al Gore claimed that the video shown by the Republicans contained frame 25 with the caption "rats". nine0005

Gore's supporters were convinced that this subliminal message had harmed the candidate.

An experiment carried out in a laboratory under similar conditions confirmed that the 25th frame with an inscription really has a negative effect on a politician's rating.

Whether such a strategy can have a long-term effect remains doubtful. But it is likely that other types of manipulation influence our behavior without our awareness of it.

One impressive experiment showed that showing a photograph of a winning athlete markedly increased the effectiveness of telephone sales, despite the fact that most respondents did not even remember the image. nine0005

There is also evidence that if someone gives you hot tea, you will perceive that person as more emotional. And bad smells can make people judge more harshly.

How to define manipulation

It is clear that this knowledge can fall into "unclean" hands. Therefore, it is worth learning to determine when someone is trying to subdue you to their will without your knowledge.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Image caption,

If French music plays in a supermarket, you might unconsciously buy French wine

Below we offer four manipulative moves that your colleagues or friends can use in everyday life. So beware!

1) Touch can be powerful

Patting someone on the shoulder and making eye contact is an effective way to make the person more open to your offer. Jay Olson himself uses this technique during his tricks. It is also very common in everyday situations, such as when someone is trying to borrow money from you. nine0005

2) Speed ​​of speech

The researcher says that magicians always rush volunteers to make the first decision that comes to their mind. But as soon as they make their choice, the pace of speech decreases markedly.

3) Field of view

Photo by Thinkstock

In an effort to draw the volunteer's attention to a particular card, magician Olson makes it more "noticeable" so that the participant in the trick subconsciously remembers it.

Learn more