Assert Rightness: Just say that you are right.It is surprising how often you can get away with saying things if you do it with confidence and an air of knowing you are completely right. Just saying 'I'm right' implies others are wrong and can cause them to doubt their own thoughts.This is something that politicians and various pundits do well. They appear expert and pronounce on matters where they actually have relatively little understanding. But because they sound like they know what they are talking about, then other people accept this.I'm right about this. I know what I'm doing.Yes, of course it's true. It's obvious.Assert special knowledgeWell I've spoken personally with Richard about this and let me tell you that he says it is right.I know this because I was there. Were you?Assert authority/expertizeI've done a degree in the subject. I should know.Ask Jim Bowen if you think I'm wrong. He asks for my help all the time.Ambiguous Statements: Many ways of being right.Make statements, assertions and predictions that seem to have one meaning but which are ambiguous enough that, if they prove wrong, you can reinterpret them to have another meaning.ExampleA psychic suggests that if a person invests in property, then they will find true happiness. Their investment fails and they lose all their savings. The psychic says their life's course has been changed and that happiness is now still ahead of them.A sales person says the product they are selling is covered by a warranty. They do not say exactly what the warranty covers, so when the customer returns with a problem, they can say the warranty does not cover that particular issue (and that it will have to be paid for separately).A child tells their parents they are just going over to a friend's house. They do not mention what they will be doing after that, so if they are caught, they can use this as an excuse.DiscussionLanguage is an imprecise thing, yet we seek to make it have simple meaning, even when we are listening. We quickly jump to conclusions about what is actually being said, even though there may be many possible interpretations.This can be encouraged, for example with the use of emphasis to make some words seem to have more significance. Later, the emphasis will be forgotten, even if the words are remembered.Avoid Objections: Do not give them reasons to disagree.When people disagree or point out flaws in your argument, quickly and easily reject them. Use simple counter-argument. Tell the person they do not know what they are talking about. Just say 'that's not true'.Feel free to make your rejection itself objectionable. Let things get personal. Allow them to digress away from your real point which then remains unchallenged.ExampleIn an argument, a person responds to a criticism by saying 'You have no idea what you are talking about'. The other person becomes defensive, forgetting about the point about which they are being critical.A speaker at a conference receives a difficult question from an audience member. She responds 'That’s not the key here, The real issue is …'DiscussionWhen people object, they may well just want to be heard. If you acknowledge them, this may be enough. If they have a more serious point, you still may be able to avoid answering it, simply by ignoring it or saying it is wrong in some way. You can then take charge of the situation, for example by changing the topic and continuing to talk so the person has no further chance to press the question.The bottom line is that the person who is talking is able to assert that they are right and the other person is wrong. When done boldly enough, the other person may feel they are unlikely to be able to have further influence and so may well just give up on their quest.Be Mostly Right: Let the exception prove the rule.DescriptionIf you cannot claim to be fully right, then you can still be partly right. For example you can point out that while this may not be right, that at least is right.You can play this as a trade, admitting to be wrong in one area in exchange for them allowing you to be right in another area. Of course you should make sure the area in which you are right is the important points. You can even set this up, giving them something obviously wrong to challenge so you can use it as a contrast to make right other things you say.A way of 'logically' using a failure as proof is to claim that 'the exception proves the rule', being surprised when something seems not to be true and then saying that this 'unusual occurrence' shows how you cannot always be right, that the system is not perfect, and that this failure means other claims will even more likely to be true.ExampleYes, well that may not be exactly right but this is clearly correct.Indeed, I'm not sure about that either. But I am sure about this.Well it didn't work that time, but that just shows how amazing all the other successes are.DiscussionIt is difficult to be right all the time and people will easily accept this. It can even enhance your reputation if you modestly say you are occasionally wrong (and hence imply that you are mostly right). This can make this method useful as an excuse that reframes failure as proof of success, the exception that proves the rule.People remember surprisingly little. This means when you do fail, if you claim it is an exception then few people may remember when you failed before and so will not challenge you.People also do not like to embarrass others and so may say nothing. You can encourage this by being friendly so they do not want to embarrass you, their friend.Challenge Priorities: Change what is more important.DescriptionIf you cannot claim to be fully right, then you can still be partly right. For example you can point out that while this may not be right, that at least is right.You can play this as a trade, admitting to be wrong in one area in exchange for them allowing you to be right in another area. Of course you should make sure the area in which you are right is the important points. You can even set this up, giving them something obviously wrong to challenge so you can use it as a contrast to make right other things you say.A way of 'logically' using a failure as proof is to claim that 'the exception proves the rule', being surprised when something seems not to be true and then saying that this 'unusual occurrence' shows how you cannot always be right, that the system is not perfect, and that this failure means other claims will even more likely to be true.ExampleYes, well that may not be exactly right but this is clearly correct.Indeed, I'm not sure about that either. But I am sure about this.Well it didn't work that time, but that just shows how amazing all the other successes are.DiscussionIt is difficult to be right all the time and people will easily accept this. It can even enhance your reputation if you modestly say you are occasionally wrong (and hence imply that you are mostly right). This can make this method useful as an excuse that reframes failure as proof of success, the exception that proves the rule.People remember surprisingly little. This means when you do fail, if you claim it is an exception then few people may remember when you failed before and so will not challenge you.People also do not like to embarrass others and so may say nothing. You can encourage this by being friendly so they do not want to embarrass you, their friend.Change the Rules: Change the way success is measured.If you cannot win the game, change the rules. Assert domination over what must and must not be said, how things can and must be done. Then act as referee, calling people out for breaking your new rules and allowing your own arguments as valid and truthful.To be right, assert knowledge and control of the rules, then assumptively act as if you have the right. You may want to start by being fair so people accept you in the role. Subtly make a rule that only you can change the rules. Make sure there is no way you can be challenged. Then you can change the rules at will.Sometimes you can just change the rules on the fly. Use force of personality to grab control and change the rules before people realize what is going on.ExampleSorry, it's too late to change things now. New input will be welcome next time, but now we need to vote on this.You can't say that.We have to leave now.DiscussionMost discussions and arguments are based on unwritten social rules. People generally work on the principle of everyone knowing the rules, with nobody in particular in charge. When the position of referee is hence empty, you can just step into those shoes.When confronted with a rule-bringer, many people will simply accept their authority as they do not feel they have specific authority to change rules by themselves. The surprise of a person taking charge can slow people down enough that the rules are changed before they realize what is happening.Creating Truth: Finding and making things true.What is truth? While there is an objective truth that exists without us, for all practical purposes truth is a subjective belief that we create or accept from others. Most of the things we hold to be true are subjective, even though we believe they are objective. This is both paradoxical and convenient, as it allows us to create and change truth without deep insight. In fact a bold assertion is often all it takes.Discovering truthTo create your own truth, you can take a number of routes, from scientific proof through to naive acceptance of the assertions of others. The limits of time and the hazards of trying things out for ourselves means we have to accept the word of others for much of the time. A problem with this is that we know others may make things up for their own advantage or simply be passing on an unproven belief from someone else. As a consequence we put much effort into discovering and developing trust.Ways we create truth for ourselves include:Doing rigorous experiments that prove something true.Doing a quick check, and if it does not fail then assuming it is true.Reflecting on experiences and concluding what is true.Thinking logically about available information and deducing truth.Accepting what credible experts say is true.Seeking truth in open conversation with others.Accepting what anyone else tell you as being true.Asserting the truthMuch of the time when we are seeking to achieve our goals we need others to accept what we say as being true. We hence have to work our way into their truth-creating process. Two main ways of doing this are by convincing them or getting acceptance. Conviction may be gained through evidence or logic. Acceptance may be gained through conscious trust or unconscious adoption.Ways of getting others to accept and agree with our truths include:Demonstrating physically how the thing is true.Using rational argument and logic to show that something is true.Referencing other people who have proven it to be true.Describing direct experience that indicates the truth.Asserting that you know the truth through study.Asserting that you know the truth without saying how.Reframing perceived untruths.Building trust so subsequent assertions are more likely to be accepted as true.Repeating already-accepted truths to get them into a truth-accepting frame of mind.Using any of the many other methods of changing minds that can be found in this site.DiscussionSome truths are simple and obvious, such as that the sun is shining. Others may need more exploration before a solid truth is found, such as in scientific experimentation. Beyond this there are many 'truths' which are actually more like beliefs, or at least should be described more accurately as probabilities.We need truth. The problem with probabilities is that this also means uncertainties, which we try to avoid as uncertainties may mean threats. In consequence we reach for the illusion of absolute truths and close our eyes to uncertainty. Many arguments have this fear at their base, where opposing people seek to convince or impose their truths on one another.Criticize Research: Attack research that stands against you.If the other person's argument is based on some form of research, attack that research, showing that it is wrong, inadequate or invalid. For example you can say that:The sampling methodology is incorrect for the type of research.The sample size is too small.The selection of the sample is flawed, such as choosing only available people rather than a truly random sample.The execution of the research is poor, such as not using controls or blind trials.The analysis of data is incorrect, such using wrong algorithms or using them incorrectly.The conclusions drawn are inappropriate, such as generalizing too far from a limited finding.You can also accuse the person of misquoting research, misunderstanding it or generally bending to their purpose beyond its original intent.ExampleA marketing executive uses customer research in a presentation. The sceptical sales manager points out that this is an 'opt-in' survey that says nothing of those who said 'no' or who weren't even asked.An activist challenges pharmaceutical company findings, noting that they are funding drugs research that strangely always supports the company's drugs, with no negative findings being published.Evans and Prosser have done a little research in this area, but I will show you their research is not only wrong, but dangerous.DiscussionWhen people criticize others, they often appear to be more intelligent. This is known as the 'critic effect'. Research is a quite academic discipline that many people know little about. Quoting research makes you seem clever. Criticizing research makes you seem cleverer still.One of the great joys of academics is criticizing the research of other academics in order to gain status and appear as the more 'serious' researcher. In practice, very little research is perfect, making this a widespread game.Many people use outside of academics use research as a touchstone, quoting it widely, confident in the knowledge that much of their audience has not and will never read the original papers. For the ready critic, this makes them an easy target as the presenters often have not read the research themselves.You can also use criticism within an argument, for example quoting research then destroying it.Mind-reading: Tell them what they are thinking.DescriptionWatch them carefully to learn their body language patterns. Also listen to their language and vocal tone.Pay attention to truisms and popular concerns. Notice issues that are often discussed. Newspaper headlines that repeat patterns are useful guides, as are common discussion topics in social media.Prime them with an idea, offering prompts to think in a certain way without directly mentioning the message.When you see their body language shift in response to your priming, tell them what they are thinking. Make it legitimate for them to think these things, for example by congratulating them or telling they are right.If they appear surprised, you have likely hit the mark. Now take charge and guide their continued thinking.ExampleA politician talks about unemployment figures and notices that the audience is warming to the topic. He says 'I know you think the current government is doing nothing about this, and you're right'. Cheers tell him he has hit the mark.A sales person regularly tells customers who pause: 'I know what you're thinking. It's a bit expensive. And you're right, so let me tell you why that is a good thing.'DiscussionWe all think our thoughts are private, so when someone tells us just what we are thinking, we are surprised and perhaps even shocked. Whether or not we like our minds being read, we become a lot more attentive as we conclude that if they can read our minds, they must know a lot of other things. As a result, we are more likely to accept they are right in other things they say.When you are assertive with a suggestible person, simply telling them they are thinking anything may well lead them to conclude you are right. All it needs is for the person to have doubts as to whether they thought something or not and they will become less likely to challenge your assertion. You can also be assertive while being slightly vague, giving you an escape if they do not agree they are thinking what you say they are thinking.There are many alternative approaches to mind-reading, including quite simply researching the person beforehand. Social media and general searching can often provide very useful information. Sometimes stage acts use stooges who pretend to be normal audience members.Priming is the principle of giving them information beforehand so it is at the 'top of their mind'. Then when they are asked to think of something in this area, the most available item, which is that which was primed, is what they are likely to think of first.Ignore Objections: Avoid attempts at exposure.DescriptionA simple method of being right is just to ignore the other person when they object. Carry on regardless, acting as if they had agreed.If they persist in objecting, just persist in ignoring the points they bring up. Continue to emphasize the points that you think are important.ExampleWhat? Well actually I think we should borrow more to get us moving.No, we mustn't. Not under any circumstances. We have to go now.DiscussionWhen one person does not agree with another person who is trying to persuade them, then the first person is likely bring up objections or otherwise resist persuasive attempts.Objections may mean the person does not understand, that they are confused or uncomfortable. It can also mean they want to knock down your argument so they can bring up their own agenda.When you ignore what other people say, they will usually repeat themselves or otherwise try to escalate matters. If, however, you continue to ignore their objections, then most people will eventually stop objecting.This is a method much used by politicians who ignore the comments and criticisms of journalists and other politicians. They typically keep talking about their own agenda, no matter what is said by other people.Misquote Research: Use real research to support arguments.DescriptionFind research that has some indication around the point you are trying to make, then reference the research, while changing it to make it sound as if it proves your point.For example:Take the main finding of the research and generalize it, extending the meaning.Avoid mentioning limitations of the research, such as it having a narrow subject demographic, few data points or limited use of statistics.Only reference research that supports your point, ignoring research that shows you may be wrong.Reference impenetrable papers that anyone reading would find difficult to interpret.Mention your own research, which may or may not have been published.Or just make things up, saying the research proves something when it does not go anywhere near the subject. You can even fabricate entire research papers.ExampleWell in research at Oxford University they showed that this treatment will be successful in over 80% of all cases. I think this proves the point and we should use this approach!I've conducted research in this area myself and I can tell you that this is the only way that will work.DiscussionFew people would ever look up any research that you quote at them (few would even know how). This allows you to make claims about research in many contexts.It helps if what you are claiming hat face validity, that is plausible and is reasonable when using 'common sense' thinking. Research then acts to reinforce easy views and to refute oblique challenges. A problem with things that seem to make sense is that they can be wrong a surprising amount of times. A classic example is in ideas to prevent and correct crime, where methods to dissuade criminals and make them see the light of the law often fail dismally.You can also claim to have conducted the research yourself, although quoting the research of others, especially from well-known and respected institutions can seem more credible.There is a hierarchy of research journals, with the top journals carefully scrutinizing papers offered to them and only publishing those which are well researched and meaningful. At the bottom are journals (which are much like magazines) which will publish pretty much anything that is submitted to them without any checks on the author or what they do. All kinds of claims may be found in these lower journals.One of the questions for any research is 'who paid for it?' as this can indicate where bias may be found. For example if medical research is funded by a big pharmaceutical company, then it might be unsurprising if the company's products are found to be useful (or at least not harmful).Beware of doing this with academics who delight in checking out and challenging research. Watch also for people who have academic qualifications and who might know something about the research in the area in question.Predict Future Rightness: Say you'll be proved right.DescriptionSay that, even though you may not be right now, you will be proved right in the future.This is particularly applicable when you are making predictions and giving warnings that others dismiss as unlikely, and even more so when predictions you have made in the past have not come true.You can support this approach with examples of where you have been proved right in the past and had the last laugh when others have thought you wrong.ExampleWell it may not be true now, but you just wait. You'll see.Nobody believes the harbinger. But mark my words, I know it will all end in tears.I cannot predict dates with certainty, but I do know that this will happen sooner or later.DiscussionWe all predict the future, sometimes naively so, and also want others to believe what we predict. There is story about a child in school who when asked by her teacher what she was drawing, she said 'God'. When the teacher pointed out that nobody knew what God looks like, the child replied, without looking up, 'They will soon'.We also seek the confidence of certainty about the future and will easily accept the predictions of others, especially if they offer their forecasts with an air of authority. Once we have accepted their authority we are then loathe to be proved wrong and so we also tend to accept excuses of authority figures, even when these excuses are rather flimsy.This is also a method used by business consultants who forecast problems for their clients and thereby get asked to help (at a good price, of course). If you predict problems and your ability to avoid them, then when they do not happen, you can claim a success. The 'Y2K' fuss around the millennium was an example of this.Pre-excusing: Excuse yourself before you begin.DescriptionWhen we talk with others, and particularly when we make assertions, we risk being corrected, contradicted or otherwise challenged. If such a thing happened we would easily become embarrassed, so we hedge our bets by setting up excuses even before we make our main statements.Here are typical qualifiers we use in order to pre-excuse ourselves:With any luck...Hopefully...Maybe...It seems likely...I think...I hear that...As far as I know...I suspect...From the available evidence...It sounds like...This may not work, but...Let's try...I've been ill, but...This pre-excusing now lets us backtrack or remain right, even if our statements are shown to be wrong.ExamplePerson 1: From what I have been told, it looks like the company is in for a rough time.Person 2: Nonsense, we're more than ready.Person 1: Good to hear that. I was beginning to wonder.Person 1: Fingers crossed, we will get there on time.Person 2: You'll be lucky. The traffic is always bad on a Friday.Person 1: Is it really? Maybe we should take another route.DiscussionPre-excusing creates a safety net as it prepares for failure, as when things go wrong it lets us say things like 'I thought so' or 'I warned you'. We also pre-excuse to ourselves. There is a question as to whether pre-excusing leads to a person not trying as hard as they might otherwise as they feel a reduced sense of risk and consequently are less motivated to work extra hard on succeeding.Pre-excusing also lets us be bold in our statements as any challenge can be deflected away from our selves, for example onto faulty sources or misfortune. With care, you can use the phrasing to allow you to reframe answers to show you are still right.Pre-thanking: Thank you for...DescriptionIf you want to persuade somebody to do something, first ask them to do it and then, before they have time to respond, thank them for doing it.ExampleHi, can you close the door? Thanks -- that's very kind of you.Could you lend me fifty? Thanks, I know it's awkward but I know you're a great friend and I'll pay you back tomorrow.Thank you for moving to the back of the bus.DiscussionA thanks is an act of closure, sending a signal for the completion of an agreement. An effusive thanks (but not over-done) can help cement the closure. This makes it difficult for the other person to 're-open' the case and contradict this.Do be careful when doing this -- if you ask for more than the relationship will bear then the relationship will suffer as a result, even if the person complies with the request.It can be useful sometimes to include an apology for having to ask. This increases the obligation to comply as you have now addressed any irritated thoughts by the other person and maybe made them feel a bit guilty for thinking them (as it seems clear you have 'found them out' for having such uncharitable thoughts).A variant on this is to put the thanks before the request. This is not as effective and can be quite irritating.Thank you for not putting your feet on the table.By putting the thanks beforehand, the other person is initially confused and is more likely to feel deceived by the subsequent request. Having said this, this form of the pattern is common in some cultures where it is accepted as normal.Progressive Guesswork: Guess and correct.DescriptionIf you are talking with a person about something where they may know better than you, then make short statements and test for agreement at each step. This is better than speaking at length and possibly getting yourself into trouble when they effectively tell you that you are talking nonsense.Testing for agreement can be done in a few ways. Firstly, you can directly ask them, pausing to ask if they agree or understand. For example you can ask 'Is that right?' or 'Does that make sense to you?'Another approach is to use tag questions, such as 'The world is round, isn't it?' This offers the chance to disagree but is largely rhetorical so it will be less likely that you are challenged here.A final way of allowing challenge is to pause, giving space for listeners to interrupt. This can be encouraged by looking directly at them and raising the eyebrows in an unspoken invitation.This method can be used to build rapport when you want to sound like you understand a person. Just make brief statements about them and listen to their response. If they disagree, say something like 'of course' or thank them, perhaps looking a little surprised.As necessary, use reframing to make it all seem intentional. Then move on, asserting and testing the next point.ExampleThe house should have three bedrooms. Is that enough? And a big kitchen. ... And a manageable garden ...She is qualified, isn't she? And she has experience? Then she is the right person, wouldn't you say?You will meet a tall, dark stranger. Would this be right for you? ... You will have a thrilling romance with him. ... Would you like that?DiscussionBy inviting or allowing comment, you let the other person into the conversation, showing interest and concern for them. This leads them to like you more and hence reduces the chance of critical challenge.When you give brief space for questions, many will not challenge either because it seems impolite or because they cannot think of a response at that time. Then, having had their chance, they will be less likely to challenge you in future.This is an approach that mentalists and 'mystics' may use when reading your character or foretelling the future. It allows them to make a string of assertions, discarding those that do not stick and building on those that are accepted. This gives them much useful information about you. It is also used by sales people and those who want to quickly build rapport.Reframe Criteria: Change how decisions are made.DescriptionFind the decision criteria that people are using, then change those criteria to change the decision. Things you can do include:Play down criteria that do not support your causeAmplify criteria that help youAdd new criteria that will change thingsTypical criteria include cost, time, availability, usefulness, satisfaction of needs, support of other goals, alignment with beliefs and values and so on.Reframing takes an idea or opinion and, by changing one part, changes how it is perceived. So change the viewpoint in order to see the criteria differently and so change them.ExampleGoing away is a good idea, but does it have to be now? It'll be cheaper if we go next month.It seems cheap but cheap stuff doesn't last.DiscussionDecisions are usually made using one or more criteria. Each criterion used has an importance (often called 'weight'). With a relatively small shift in criterion weight, the final decision may be shifted.If they do not deliberately use criteria, you can appear knowledgeable just by talking about them. In everyday conversation, few people really think about the criteria they are using. This gives an opportunity to appear superior and to challenge their decisions.Reversal Tagging: Use opposing statements together.DescriptionReversal tagging is a way of gaining agreement, gaining compliance or just always being right. It uses a structure that includes two opposing positions within one sentence, with the first being a statement and the second component being a tag question.The principle is to make a statement and then add the reversal in a tag question that gives a binary choice. Then you can use whichever response they choose, reframing as necessary to make it seem this is what you intended all along.Example 1:You: You like chocolate, don't you?Them: Yes, I like chocolate.You: As I though. You like chocolate.Example 2:You: You like chocolate, don't you?Them: No, I don't like chocolate.You: As I though. You don't.This may cause a moment's confusion where they pause. It can be important here to keep talking and move them on before they have time to challenge you.Gaining agreementTag questions in their native form often add a negative reversal to statements, such as 'That's right, isn't it?' or 'It did happen, didn't it?'This structure hides a command in a rhetorical question, telling the other person what to think, then adding a question that offers disagreement while implying this is not wanted (as to do so would be to argue against an already-made assertion).A reason this works is because the first statement is stronger and hence is the major persuasive element. Reversing the negative can have a significant effect. Note how 'He's right, isn't he?' is clearly different in meaning to 'He's not right, is he?', although both are reversals.The tone you use when making such statements will also change the likelihood of disagreement. If you pause between the two halves and have a more pronounced rising tone in the tag question (That's right ... isn't it?'), you may signal more uncertainty and so invite challenge. You can also use other emphasis to change how the words are interpreted.Gaining complianceReversal tagging can also be used to persuade people to take action. This can take the same format as gaining agreement, so 'You can do it, can't you?' or 'You will, won't you?' embed commands in weakened opportunities to disagree.An interesting reversal is to put the negative first, such as 'You can't do it ... Can you?' (with maybe a pause between). When you tell a person they cannot do something you set up a reactive dynamic where they feel insulted by the suggestion that they are incapable, and so pounce on the tag with a response such as 'Of course I can!'Always being rightA further use of reversal tagging is to make statements that allow you to appear right, no matter what the response. The basic principle is that because you are making two opposing statements, you can choose the one that you 'really meant'. For example if you say 'You are happy, aren't you?', then you can reply 'I thought so' whether the response is 'yes' or 'no'.Some reversal tag statements will have more influential first parts, for example 'You are happy, aren't you?' pushes for agreement that the person is qualified. This power can be weakened by swapping the negation, so 'You aren't happy, are you?' makes it easier for the other person to feel less pressure about their choice. This can be useful when testing for something about which you are not sure. For example if you say 'You are married, aren't you?' then it can be awkward if they say 'no'. saying 'You aren't married, are you?' is more tentative and allows for wise nodding if they say they are not married and mild surprise or delight if they say they are.This method is often used by mentalists and 'mystics' who pretend to read your character or predict the future. So rather than saying 'You have a sister' they may say 'You have a sister, don't you?' Then whatever their response, they can say 'I thought so.' While they are suggesting you have a sister, the tag question provides an escape route if you say that you do not.Sow Seeds of Doubt: Make them doubt themselves.DescriptionIf the other person seems sure, try finding ways they could be a bit wrong. Then widen the gap so they are even less sure.If they doubt you, doubt their doubt. Say you do not know how they could think what they are saying. Tell them others all agree with you.Few people know everything and if you can find the areas where they are less sure, you can turn a little doubt into a lot of uncertainty, even to the point where they completely withdraw.ExampleSo indeed you know James. But do you know his history? Like what he did last year?Is the system tested? No? Do you know what could happen if it goes wrong?DiscussionWhen people challenge you, they often feel confident and certain of what they say. Yet when they are challenged, that certainty begins to evaporate. And the more they are doubted, the more they doubt themselves.Another way to create doubt is to do it through other people. If you can get others to say they are not convinced or otherwise criticize what the target person says, then the weight of social doubt may well help persuade them otherwise.Strategic Forgetting: Forget inconvenient things.DescriptionWhen talking about something that has been said or done would be inconvenient, awkward or embarrassing, act as if it had never happened.Strategic forgetting can be very selective, forgetting things best left quiet while still remembering things worth keeping.Typical situations where strategic forgetting is useful include when you have predicted something would happen, but it did not, and when other people have said or done things they probably regret and you want to help them save face.The simplest type of strategic forgetting is when you do not bring up the subject and others do not mention it. If other people bring up the subject then you have to decide whether you would be successful in claiming not to remember. You may even be able to counter a claim with flat denial. It can be surprising how often a strong assertion that something did not happen is actually accepted.There are hence four types of strategic forgetting: mutual ignoring, claimed forgetting, flat denial and heated argument.ExampleA classic use of strategic forgetting happens in business when objectives have not been met and people just act as if they had not made any commitment to them.Another use of strategic forgetting is where a mystic ignores failed predictions (while trumpeting their successes from the rooftops).DiscussionA common purpose of strategic forgetting is to save face -- yours or other people's. It may also be used to avoid getting into further difficulties.Sometimes strategic forgetting is to avoid punishment. Many children, and adults too, when caught red-handed will still brazenly deny guilt. It is surprising how often this bold strategy works. Simple confidence persuades surprisingly often, even in the presence of incriminating evidence.The Mystic Fog: Things reveal themselves slowly.A way to be right is to act like a mystic, as if knowledge is arriving out of a mystic fog. This approach can be used in all kinds of other situations, but rather than having a supernatural theme, the implication can be more that knowledge is coming from deep thinking.MysticThe principle of 'mystic' is basically magic, as opposed to scientific. This confers the significant advantage of not having to give reason, explain cause or name sources.The mystic principle is a wonderful excuse for anything, from explaining why you are wrong to attribution of any unexpected phenomenon. The same principle is used in religion, where gods move in mysterious ways and the will of the deity is a common explanation for any undesirable event.In a business situation knowledge can be be assumed to come from a deep understanding of the market or some other non-data intuition.FogThe fog principle is that knowledge is obscured as if by fog. Obtaining knowledge is not like the religious prayer and revelation but more by peering into the fog and coaxing forth the information desired.The difficulty of seeing in the fog may be explained as a preamble, boosting the mystic's apparent skill. The process of scrying may also be drawn out, reducing the time available for potentially embarrassing forecasts and building the dramatic tension. If you are proved wrong, you can quite 'reasonably' blame the fog.The fog also provides a useful hiding place. Even when bold predictions are made, the mystic will retreat here when they seem to be wrong. Things become not as clear as they were and have to be re-interpreted and reframed.Fog is useful also in business 'visioning' and forecasting, where peering into the future may be excused even as it is guessed at, for example where qualifiers are used to excuse uncertainty. For example you may say 'Given the data, it looks like the market could well be in for a long decline'. While listeners hear the final statements, you can always recall the (triple!) uncertainty in the assertion.Fog can give a reason for delay, as in waiting for the fog to clear. Mystics may start by making a statement and seeing if the person reacts positively. If not, they blame anything wrong on the fog and try other things until you get it right, then declare 'the fog is clearing' and move to other things still 'obscured'.DiscussionThe mystic fog is such a fundamental thing, it is often an unquestioned and unchallenged assumption. Rooted in ancient history, from the oracle at Delphi and before, mystics have always dressed their forecasts in ritual and seemed to peer darkly into nether worlds of truth.Tools of the mystic's trade include scrying instruments, from bones and tea-leaves to crystal balls and tarot cards. These add to the mystery and imbue the reader with apparent added interpretive skills. In business the tools of those who predict the future include graphs, charts, reports and, of course, PowerPoint presentations.Scientists also use the mystic fog when they deliberately use complex language and dive off into side issues in order to avoid awkward questions where their research is not as definitive as one might expect. They may also talk about future research and statistical uncertainty as a natural reason why they do not have all the answers todayUse Fallacies: Use fake reasoning.DescriptionThere are many fallacies that can be used in arguments. The reason they have been named and described is because they have been regularly used. And the reason they have been used is that they work surprisingly often. So just pick what you like, try them out and adopt those that work best for you.ExampleHah, that's daft [appeal to ridicule]. You must be stupid [ad hominem].I heard that Jeff doesn't agree [red herring] and you know where that will lead [slippery slope].DiscussionFallacies use illogical statements and ways of framing arguments that often seem right but are actually wrong. This is the essence of using fallacies: that seeming right is enough. You do not have to be right -- all you need is to be plausible, and this is as much to do with how you speak and present yourself as the actual words used.Many other people are not knowledgeable enough about rational argument and are easily persuaded by false arguments that appeal more to emotion than to logic. This is a fact often utilized by politicians and advertisers.Win the Game: Play to win by understanding the game.DescriptionDescIf a game is being played (and there often is):Learn the rules.If you can, use the rules to win.If you cannot, change the rules so you can win.Do this boldly, as if you have every right. If needed, get key players on your side beforehand to back up your new move.ExampleA sales person competing with others to be awarded 'salesperson of the year', times the signing of a big order to just before the date when the sales manager decides who is going to win.A person in work finds there is competition for the boss's approval, which is generally gained by delivering results ahead of time. She changes the rules when she finds that the boss has children in a school near her and she volunteers to help out with school activities at the weekends, thereby meeting the boss in informal setting and proving she is a good citizen.DiscussionIn any social situation where you are competing with others there is likely to be some kind of game being played. This is a very common situation, even if you do not recognize it.Games are defined by their rules, which again may be hidden and only known to deliberate players. For example a rule may be 'the words of last person to speak are accepted as true', which leads to endless repetition and wearing down of opponents.But who defines the rules? Often nobody knows as players just blindly follow them. This can make it easy to simply assert a rule change. Another variant is to find the rule arbiter (such as a group elder) and persuade them to let you use a new variant.