How Manipulators Get You to Buy into Bad Ideas…

Have you ever had a bad feeling about a pitch for a product, idea, investment, or course of action? There are five manipulation tactics people use to get you to buy into a bad idea or dubious partnership. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Stealing credibility. Manipulators inauthentically build their credibility by invoking big-name brands or high-profile people they’ve worked with in the past. Always do a little research to make sure their work backs up flashy claims on their resume or website.
  • Exploiting shared threats to win trust. Look out for people who always try to bond with you over shared negative opinions. Carefully consider any pitch that relies on shared enemies or common threats to build rapport.
  • Faking market validation. Before hiring or entering a business partnership with someone, be sure they haven’t exaggerated (or worse, fabricated) their performance in whatever marketplace they belong to.
  • Discrediting the competition. There’s nothing untoward about critiquing a competitor’s quality. But trying to discredit them by painting them as tainted, illegitimate, or taboo is a manipulative strategy that makes people fear stigma by association if they make the “wrong” choice.
  • Dividing and conquering. If you find yourself pressured to adopt a consensus view that you’re unsure of, investigate whether it has genuine support across your team or organization—or just compliance. Ask colleagues what they like about the idea, and take note of the sincerity of their responses.