How to Scare Someone (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

Have you ever considered using psychology to improve your everyday interactions with others? You don't need a psychology degree or mind-reading abilities. We have the ability to manipulate the situation and capitalize on these social exchanges in our numerous interactions with friends, coworkers, and superiors.

When I say manipulate, I don't always mean it negatively. Manipulation can be used for good, such as persuading someone to take a vacation or going above and beyond to get that promotion at work. Here are a few examples of how simply understanding the psychology behind our interactions can benefit us far more than we might expect.

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1. Take Advantage of Body Language

The brain's ability to stimulate physical movements and reactions during everyday interactions is nearly uncontrollable. This type of movement can convey a great deal to those around you. What does this imply? It means that you can use body language to understand things that words cannot, and even to influence someone with more than words.

I'm sure you've heard that 90% of communication is nonverbal (it's hard to believe, but it's actually 93%), which means that so much in our interactions can be lost simply because we asked for that promotion with our arms crossed and our gaze fixed on the floor.

It's just as important to learn to read body language as it is to properly convey it; it'll tell you if someone is genuinely agreeing with you, actively engaged in what you're saying, or even thinks you're a complete idiot. Picking up on other people's body language will help you improve your own abilities and identify opportunities as well as dead ends in every interaction.

Mimicking postures, gestures, and movements can help you gain someone's approval or agreement. Nodding your head “yes” when you really mean “no” can incriminate you — interrogators frequently rely on body language to determine culpability. When stripped of our more sophisticated forms of communication, we are all animals and behave as such; the trick is to use this subconscious interaction to your advantage.

Some interesting body language facts:

Employees at Legoland are not permitted to point, so open palms create a sense of trust. Instead, they use upward-facing hand gestures to give directions.

Shaking hands with your palm facing downward denotes dominance, while shaking hands with your palm facing upward denotes submissiveness.

When you're laughing in a group, the first person you make eye contact with is the one you most trust.

2. Shift Your Perspective

Cloak the reality of those you're attempting to manipulate with a fabricated reality — go matrix on their minds. This one requires tact, cunning, and, most importantly, rhetoric.

  • “My car only has x miles on it, forget about the rust spots…”
  • “My poor grades and academic probation in sophomore year, compared to my better grades in senior year, demonstrate how far I've come since then.”
  • And then there's the classic: “This home is a real fixer-upper — just think of the potential.”

Every day, we turn half-empty glasses on their sides. A lot of the time, perspective can make all the difference in how someone looks at something. Your descriptions may have an impact on this perspective. Rhetoric is an important factor that underpins this concept because it encompasses so many aspects other than what was said and how it was said. It is based on tone and content, as well as appeals to reason, character, or emotion. Use rhetoric to persuade as much as possible, exaggerate when appropriate, and shift focus when necessary.

Consider how your arguments are structured and delivered, as well as whether they appeal to someone's emotion or logic. Do you make it appear as if you know what you're talking about even when you don't? If you can't persuade someone to stop wasting paper for environmental reasons, can you persuade them with a perfectly logical argument about how less paper equals less work? Thinking outside the box and re-framing a perspective on any given situation can help you see things more clearly and can also improve the effectiveness of any argument you present.

To put this in context, consider the following facts:

Convincing yourself that you slept well the night before tricks your mind into believing you did (also known as “placebo sleep”).

The Dunning Kruger Effect states that smart people tend to underestimate their abilities, whereas ignorant people believe they are brilliant.

According to studies, your favorite song is most likely associated with an emotional event in your past.

3. Make Use Of Others' Knowledge

Make use of people's psychological needs as a pressure point. This could be a desire to conform, to be accepted or included, or it could be the polar opposite — a desire to stand out and swim against the current. The risky decision maker can be persuaded to make a bad decision, and the quiet crowd dweller can be discouraged from pursuing anything that would lead them away from the comforts of conformity.

Their weakness is your strength; all you have to do is figure out how to use it to your advantage. Are they prone to overconfidence, which can lead to a blunder? Are they self-conscious about something that could help you make a convincing argument? Everybody has a kryptonite.

The more you learn about someone's psychological tendencies, modes of thought, and characteristics, the more control you will have over their thoughts and the more influence you will have over those thoughts. Knowledge is the key to success in this situation. Understanding your own pressure points, like every other point, may be more important. A solid defense includes being aware of your own insecurities and vulnerabilities.

In his article, Psychologist Jim Sniechowski details the how-of to's emotional leveraging while also shining a positive light on the subject: Emotional Leveraging: Is It Truly Manipulation? In it, he outlines three fundamental guidelines for maximizing success when exploiting someone's emotions:

Keep in mind that their vision is the result of an emotional foundation, and that no matter how they rationalize it, they cling to it for some emotional reason;

See, if you want them to move in your direction, your job is to figure out what emotional value drives their vision — their sweet spot.

Understand that once you've identified their emotional sweet spot, you can devise a strategy that combines their need with yours, allowing you both to feel successful.

4. Recognize Appropriate Timing and Opportunity

The jaguar is a skilled and calculated hunter. Ancestral legacies of success and failure have endowed it with the biological ability to predict the future. It understands when to pounce, when to strike hard, and when to abandon its pursuit.

Understand when to make a move. We learn this from a young age (don't tell mom what you want for your birthday when she's in a bad mood). The trick is to actively maintain awareness and keep your eyes open for opportunities. For example, try asking for favors when someone is tired or preoccupied (they are less likely to disagree or refuse you).

Instead of forcing opportunities, welcome them and keep your eyes peeled. Don't force the conversation if you've been waiting to make a pitch to your boss. This may necessitate weeks of waiting before you get a good opportunity, but when you do, don't waste it. When we approach someone with, say, a proposal, half the battle is already won or lost depending on their current mood.

Fact: A recent study of over a thousand court decisions discovered that judges, who should be our rational-thinking role models, are just as susceptible to this notion as anyone else. According to the study, prisoners are much more likely (up to 66% more likely) to be paroled early in the day or shortly after a lunch break.

Infinite Possibilities

The wonders of psychology are seemingly limitless. It's a field worth investigating, but it'll only be useful if you put in the time to learn and apply what you've learned. The methods of exploitation of psychology mentioned above only scratch the surface and require little more than awareness to employ.

Each of the aforementioned factors is extremely beneficial in and of itself. For example, kinesics (the study of body language) can transform you into a walking lie detector if you so desire. If you don't care to pick up on the impulses or tendencies of others, if you don't care to expose situations to your advantage, if you don't become aware of the body language that you exert and that others send your way, then you're missing out on a very interesting way to maximize your exchanges throughout life.

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