Tag Archive for: reverse psychology

The Vacation Bathing Suit Revisited!

Last year I wrote a piece call Reverse Psychology and the Vacation Bathing Suit and people found it to be pretty funny. In fact, when I tell the story during training classes I always get quite a few laughs. I’ll leave it to you to read the post if you want but here’s the bottom line: I tricked my wife into buying the bathing suit I liked. I look at it this way; I’m the one who will be looking at it more than anyone else so I should have a strong vote. I got my way because I told her I didn’t like a particular swim suit knowing that would probably make her want the suit. It’s a husband-wife thing that guys will get for sure.

Well, not too long ago we (Jane and I along with Abigail and her friend) found ourselves in familiar territory once again. With just over a week to go before vacation we were at the mall when Jane announced, “I need a new swim suit for vacation.” My eyes lit up and the wheels started turning in my mind!
Immediately I said I was going to have to use double reverse psychology to get what I wanted. That was mostly to make Abigail laugh and throw Jane off the scent of the trail. But I did have a plan.
We got to the section of the store where the women’s bathing suits were and there wasn’t much of a selection, at least from a guy’s point of view. Mostly floral patterns and designs that looked like stuff your grandma wore when you were ten years old.
In psychology there’s something we call compare and contrast. Whatever you present first dramatically impacts what comes next. For example, a woman might think a certain guy is reasonably good looking…until Brad Pitt walks in the room. All of a sudden Mr. Reasonable becomes Mr. Undesirable when standing near Mr. Pitt.
Another example; you love your quaint little house with all its idiosyncrasies…until you go to the Parade of Homes and see what the Jones’ have. Now it’s a race to keep up with the Jones because your quaint home ain’t so quaint no more…by comparison.
You get the basic gist of compare and contrast and that became my angle with the help of my young accomplice. I told Abigail to go hold up some really bad suits so the ones I liked would look extra good by comparison. After seeing a few suits that might look good on her mother’s mother my choices looked pretty appealing to Jane. But the real test still remained – the dressing room mirror!
Jane took three suits in which was a good move on her part because it’s easy to compare three but get beyond that and it’s tough. Have only one and you won’t know if something might look better. Same goes for looking at just two swim suits. Think about it for a moment, most things are sold in threes: small, medium, large. If you’re at Starbucks it’s Tall, Grande or Venti. I’m a runner and running shoes always have a low end pair, medium and high priced shoes. Pay attention and you’ll be amazed.
So Jane tried on all three and I liked all of them. When she’d come out and ask my opinion of a particular suit I’d tell her I liked it. She accused me of playing mind games with her and said she didn’t know what to think. I did have one I liked most but I wouldn’t have been disappointed with any of them. It was like someone offering me a date with Miss Ohio, Miss California or Miss Texas – I might have a favorite but I’m going home happy no matter what. And so it was when we left the store.
So you might be wondering, where’s the picture? I did post a photo last time and got an email from Jane that read, “YOU MIGHT WANT TO ASK MY PERMISSION BEFORE POSTING MY PICTURE WEARING A BATHING SUIT ON TH INTERNET.” (Caps were her idea) Actually, she was good natured about it but I’m not about to press my luck. As you read this the family and I are enjoying a week’s vacation at Put in Bay and I’m enjoying Jane in her new swim suit. Life is good. ; )
My goal with this blog is to help you to learn to hear “Yes!” Become effective at using compare and contrast and you’ll be able to frame your persuasion appeal in a way that gives you the best chance of hearing that simple three letter word.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

The 7 Best of the Best

This week’s post is a little different. Rather than going with a new post on Dale Carnegie advice I’m going with “The 7 Best of the Best” for a couple of reasons. First, I have a lot of new readers and I’d like to expose them to some prior posts folks seemed to really enjoy.

Second, with the Thanksgiving holiday I didn’t want to work too hard because it was time to enjoy friends and family. I hope you took time to relax and give thanks too. So here goes, in no particular order, seven interesting influence posts. I hope you find them humorous, entertaining and most important, informative.

Reverse Psychology and the Vacation Bathing Suit
Okay, maybe I wasn’t completely ethical when I tricked Jane into buying the bathing suit I liked for vacation but I think you’ll agree, it’s a funny story.

My Best Parenting Advice
Want your child to be better behaved or smarter? Here’s a great tip to make one, or both, of those happen.

Why Influence is about PEOPLE
Learn about Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical.

Fanzese or Frazetta: Do Names Really Matter?
Did Dennis become a dentist because of his name? Did Mary move to Marysville because of the association with her name? Science says it’s very likely.

What Chevy Chase Didn’t Do Before Vacation
Don’t make the mistake Chevy Chase did before vacation and lose business as a result. Find out what you need to do before you leave the office next time. Timely advice with Christmas just around the corner.

“Because I Said So” Mom or Dad
One simple word can make you significantly more persuasive and help you get what you want. Read on and find out…because I said so.

Golf Advice from Corey Pavin
It didn’t matter that I said it first, Jane only paid attention when Corey Pavin said it! Sometimes it’s not what’s said but who says it that really matters.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, thank you to all of you who follow Influence PEOPLE each week. I’m amazed that people in nearly 70 countries have read what I write each week! I enjoy writing this blog and it makes my day when I hear you enjoy reading so if you have comment, click on the comment link below and let me know what you think.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Reverse Psychology and the Vacation Bathing Suit

This week’s post is more of a funny story and I’ll be honest, it was a bit unethical on my part. Having confessed that, I think you’ll appreciate the humor in it, particularly if you’ve been married for any length of time. The timing is also appropriate as we get ready for another family vacation.

Several years ago, while getting ready to go on vacation, my wife Jane was looking for a new bathing suit and she was brave enough to take me and Abigail along. Mind you, shopping is not high on my list of fun activities but I thought it would be great to have some say in her picking out a new bathing suit. After all, I’m the one who will look at it most, so I was happy to go along for the ride.

After stopping at several stores she finally found one that had several suits she considered worth trying on. She brought three suits into the ladies dressing room as Abigail and I waited patiently outside. When she appeared in the first suit, a one piece polka dotted suit that was high cut on the sides, I thought, “Wow!” So she asked, “Do you like this one?” to which I replied, “Yea, I like it a lot!” She said, “Really? I don’t like the cut.” She went on to say a few more negative things about the bathing suit and my heart sank like a rock tossed into a pond.

Next she came out in another one piece suit, a royal blue one. I like royal blue but didn’t like how it looked so when she asked if I liked it I told her I didn’t. As fate would have it she began to tell us why she liked it more than the first suit. Damn!

Guys might relate to this more than the women, but it seems like whatever I like, at least when it comes to clothing, my wife doesn’t like! It’s as if she asks my opinion to verify in her own mind that her initial choice was right. Knowing this I turned to Abigail and said, “Pay attention because you’re going to learn about reverse psychology!”

She came out in the third suit which she immediately said she didn’t like. I dutifully agreed then said, “You know, I was thinking about it and I kind of like that second suit.” Surprised, Jane said, “Really? I kind of like the first suit.” “No, get the second suit,” I insisted. Now she was set on getting the first suit…AND I WON…FINALLY!

When we got in the car Abigail, only 10 years old at the time, blurted out, “Mom, dad did reverse psychology on you! He didn’t like the second suit, he liked the first one. He only said he’d liked the second suit so you’d get the first one.” Jane looked at me and asked, “You really didn’t like the second suit?” Then I confessed and she asked why. “Whatever I like you don’t seem to like and I really liked the first suit. If I’d insisted that you get that one you would not have bought it.”

Okay, I wasn’t totally ethical so I don’t suggest you try it. However, I must say, it was a fun little experiment which made for a great story. Oh, and one more thing, Jane looked great on vacation! ; )

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Associations and Michael Jackson


The passing of Michael Jackson has everyone talking. The morning after he passed away I was running with a friend and I wondered to myself, “How long will it take before Michael Jackson is mentioned.” It was less than half a mile, just three or four minutes into the run, before he became the topic of conversation.

I have to admit, I’m not nearly as bothered by his death as many people. I think it’s because I had a hard time dealing with who he’d become. The part of me that’s interested in the psychology of sales and communication was stuck on trying to figure out what was going on inside his head more than I cared about his music.

But, as more time passed and I saw the tributes, I was amazed at just how many songs I remembered. While I never bought his albums his music was so prevalent that it could not be ignored. What I quickly came to realize is, fan or not, his music helped define a part of my life. I was in high school in the early 80s and graduated from college in 1986. I met my wife right after school and we got married in 1988.

Those are all pretty significant events in a person’s life and music, as much as anything, triggers feelings and memories about those times. Michael Jackson’s music carries many of those associations and memories for me. And that leads me to the subject of this week’s post – associations.

Good or bad, people form thoughts about you when they meet you. Over time those thoughts can change but most people leave that to chance. Oh sure, you may work hard and hope someone notices but that’s like making a good product or offering a great service and hoping someone notices enough to buy. It ain’t gonna happen!

That’s why I always encourage people to do one simple thing after they’ve done something which elicited a “Thank you” response. First of all, never, ever, ever do any of the following:

Say nothing in response.
“No problem.”
“No big deal.”
“I’d have done it for anyone.”

Those do nothing except discount your efforts. Whatever you did might not seem like a big deal to you but it might have been for the other person. What I coach people so say is one of the following:

“That’s part of the great service you can expect when you deal with [company name].” Or
“That’s part of the great service you can expect when you deal with me!”

Why do this? Because, when you reinforce your great service time and time again, people start associating you with great service. The subconscious drives much more of your behavior than you realize and it’s the same for other people. The more you do something like I’ve suggested to set yourself apart, the more people will form that positive association and think of you next time they need something.

Too often when I interview people for sales positions they talk about providing great service but never talk about selling it. Great service and selling are two different things, just like a great product is different than selling. The problem is, people will take your great service for granted…if you don’t “sell” it.

So here’s where you want to end up. Let’s say you’ve reinforced your good deeds time and time again. After a while people pick up the phone and call you before they call a competitor because you’ve formed that association and they realize, consciously or unconsciously, they can rely on you. It’s easy enough, one simple sentence so why not give it a try?

As for Michael Jackson, strange or not, it’s too bad he’ll never fully know the impact he had on people and how much people loved him for that. To a lesser degree we all impact people and are impacted by people so this might be a nice time to let someone (parent, coach, friend, etc.) know how much they’ve influenced your life.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”