7 clever “psycho” tricks that really help you in the office


To gain confidence and sympathy, to be more competent and ultimately to get more salary – this is exactly what is possible with these psycho-tricks. And by “psycho”, we mean psychological, as every one of these tips draws on real human instincts. 

Professional competence is by no means enough: in the professional world, social skills are arguably just as important (sometimes more, depending on where you work!). With the right combination of human knowledge plus communication and negotiation techniques, managers and colleagues may actually be clamoring to work with you. And with these 7 tried-and-tested psycho-tricks, you wrap everyone around your little finger:

# 1 Fib allegiance / the feeling of belonging

Put on the power of similarities. So you suggest subliminal affiliation. Because the more similar a person is to us – whether in appearance, in body language or word choice – the more empathy it draws from us.

This knowledge is easy to apply: Your colleague likes to wear black? The boss has a very obvious flaw? There is a word that the colleague often and gladly repeats? A bit of copy and paste – and you’ve easily upped the empathy level.

# 2 Minority 

Often seen in the retail shopping scenario with deals like “almost sold out!” or “get them before they’re all gone!”, is the slightly manipulative psycho play known as the idea of scarcity. What’s behind this idea is that, as soon as things – whether that’s tangible things, services, achievements, facts, or what have you – are presented as rare or difficult to obtain, they gain in attractiveness. How can you use this trick in the office?: Highlight what makes you rare and what makes you a star. This tactic can also be successfully used in collaboration with others. 

# 3 The halo effect

The halo effect describes a perception error, in which individual characteristics of a person are so dominant on us that they create a transcendental overall impression. If this is the case for you, your counterpart will also trust you to be intelligent, hard working, have perserverance and stamina, and be socially competent. Unfortunately, the halo-effect is almost impossible to truly control. But if it occurs for you? Well, congrats!

# 4 The horn effect

The opposite of the halo effect is, by the way, the horn effect. This one leads to a spontaneous dislike/antipathy. For instance, in some cases, a single character trait is a enough to turn your counterpart off – and suddenly the mood/morale plummets. Then, every single statement is taken with a pinch of salt and likely interpreted differently than intended.

How do you better spot the horn effect? Make yourself aware of how subtle this effect works – and try to ask more critical judgments more critically .

# 5 The contrast principle

Ask for a lot, take very little. In the workplace, the contrast principle works too. In the workplace setting it goes something like this: first make a big request and then make sure you take less than that.

A concrete example: If you want to get on your coworkers’ good side, ask them to prepare for a 45 minute meeting but then only take 30 minutes of their time. What results is that everyone will be grateful for your kindness, but no one will be any wiser about the fact that you were planning it all along.

# 6 Reactivity trick

A lesson we can learn from a children’s book: Tom Sawyer pretends that painting fences is the most exciting business in the world. When a friend offers to take over from him, Tom declines at first referencing the high requirements for the task. Finally, his friend buy themselves the right to help him paint the fences. Smartypants, Tom! The principle behind this is reactance. The phenomenon states: Everyone prefers to do what they should not or should not.

So, try saying this to your stubborn colleague: “I’m not quite sure if you can do it at all”. You want to bet that he’ll rise to the challenge of proving you wrong?

# 7 Correction effect

From childhood we have learned that a reward is what you get for doing chores or things we don’t actually want to do. And for that reason, the idea of a promised incentive isn’t actually the best motivator. What’s much more effective is surprising praise. In other words, giving compliments and positive feedback spontaneously and when the recipient(s) least expect it. This type of praise does wonders to inspire employees, but it’s so rarely used.

What do you think? Would you use any of these tricks at work? Let us know @kununu_US!