Communicating Concepts

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Reverse Psychology

What is reverse psychology?
      Reverse psychology is one method used to motivate someone to do something specific by telling the person to do the exact opposite of what is the desired behavior.

      Reverse psychology is a dangerous tool to use if the recipient realizes that you are trying to  manipulate them. A result might be a total "Back Lash" of permanent mistrust and rejection of you as a friend or associate.

     The use of reverse psychology to manipulate the subconscious mind, without an awareness of the conscious mind can become very complicated and difficult to carry out. To accomplish this requires you must:
  • Convince the person that you really believe in what you are saying,
  • Be sure that the person understands that you are not just saying the comments to motivate him.
     If you participate in this subterfuge, you be must be confident that accomplishing your goal by any means is worth the cost achieving the objective - even if it ends in the permanent loss of any future personal and/or career contact.

When should reverse psychology be used?
       Reverse psychology must only be used when the actions considered have a very high percentage of actually achieving the intended and desired goals. There always is a risk that the target will not accept your statements as being truthful. The unintended consequences in this situation usually result in far more damage than if you hadn't made any attempt. Please remember that "the way to hell is paved with good intentions".

      The negative repercussions of reverse psychology may result in motivating the target in exactly the opposite of the positive goal you desired. An individual, who lacks self confidence, might actually take your negative statements and substitute them as new limiting beliefs that makes the problem even worse.

      Reverse psychology is more likely to be more successfully when used with individuals characterized as being narcissists, stubborn, Type A personalities, or with inflated egos. Sometimes these individuals may be energized by igniting his/her fighting spirit and thus they make every effort to prove that you or others are wrong. The successful challenge of someone's ego must occur without their notice of what you are doing. Even when successful, it is not wise to use this technique frequently as the over use of reverse psychology increases the likelihood of alerting the individual of your attempted manipulation.

Who uses reverse psychology?
      Some parents incorporate techniques into their parenting style and don't even realize it. Reverse psychology works well with children who are at a stage where they automatically do the opposite of what Mom or Dad is telling them. Even in this situation, care must be taken to sparingly use reverse psychology techniques or a loss of effectiveness will occur. Parents must choose their words and situations carefully as well as being especially alert to sense when the child transitions to another behavior stage as reverse psychology can cause serious self-esteem issues if misapplied.

      Warning! Teenagers often can use reverse psychology to manipulate parents into giving permission to attend weekend parties, a car, shopping trips, and extra allowance money.

      Reverse psychology works best if you are seen, on some level, as an adversary. It also works best on individuals that aren't very happy and children who are trying to assert their own identities. If used subtly and skillfully, it can be one of the most effective tools a teacher or parent can use. Over use reduces its effectiveness. 

      It's easy to understand why a parent would use this on a teenager or why a teacher might use it on a student. However, a coach assumes the athlete is there because they want to be there to accomplish specific goals. They may work out/practice because they want to improve, they not enjoy required attendance at practices. If the athlete's goals and the coaches share the same goals, why should the coach want to be viewed as an adversary instead of a source of inspiration and respect?   Refer to Volumes and Issues of Coaching Science Abstracts.

Recommended Reading:

How to Use Reverse Psychology: 6 steps  How to Use Reverse Psychology. Reverse psychology refers to getting another person to do or say something by telling them the opposite of what is desired.

Reverse psychology  When words are rephrased in such a way that they trigger someone's fighting spirit they are said to be using the reverse psychology principle.

Manipulation Method using Reverse Psychology  Jan. 30, 2008 ... Reverse psychology can be a powerful manipulation method used to get the person to do what you want them to do.

Using Reverse Psychology with Children  Using reverse psychology with children and how it can help your parenting skills.

Integrating sports psychology into PE - Teaching Expertise  Using sports psychology as a tool by PE teachers and coaches tools has increased.

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