Psychologically Proven But 'Extremely Manipulative' Way To Get Someone To Agree To Anything

Why that 'no' is really a 'yes'.

conniving woman looking at man MAYA LAB/Dmitry Morgan - Shutterstock

When it comes to compromise or getting people to do what you want, the way you ask is very important. 

A TikToker recently shared what she claimed is a psychologically proven, but manipulative way to get anyone to agree to anything.

In the video, Valentina Issler offered that asking a question that has ‘no’ as a likely answer has a better potential outcome than getting asking questions that have a high probability of a person saying ‘yes’.




It’s all about how the questions are positioned.

One example she gives is, “Would you be opposed to going shopping with me?” The recipient of the question is forced to say no because they have no opposition to accompanying you on a shopping trip. No specific date of time was given to reply. The question was simply about your desire to be or openness to being in the company of someone at the store.


On the flip side, had you simply asked the person, “Do you want to go shopping?” the answer is based on their current circumstances and their interest in taking a shopping trip right then. If you first establish that there is no opposition to the idea, they have already agreed that there is no reason not to go, so when it is time, they are likely to stand by that unofficial commitment.

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Do negative questions increase the likelihood of gaining agreement?

According to the TikTok video, posing that question in a negative way is shown to have better outcomes than phrasing it positively. But does that really ring true? The short answer is “yes.”

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) shared a 2016 study on the impact of polarity in questions: positive vs. negative framing. The study found first that implicit negative questions lead to more “no” responses or disagreements to the question at hand, while those questions with implicit “yes” answers actually have that expected outcome less frequently.


So, people are much more likely to answer a negative question in a negative way.

Psychologically, this is a result of the ‘forbid’ or ‘allow’ tone of the questions as well as negativity bias: the idea that things of a more negative quality like unpleasant emotions or events impact people’s evaluations and processes more than things seen as ‘positive’ or ‘neutral’. Negative contrasts tend to carry more meaning than their positive counterparts, making it more difficult to respond positively to a negative question than it is to respond negatively to a positive question.

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People know exactly what they are against but may be more willing to change what they are for.

The answer to why people are more apt to gain agreement after a negative question is that people have a strong response to something they are against. In the example above about going shopping, by asking if they are opposed to it, you force a person to consider whether or not they have a strong aversion to shopping or to being in your presence, both of which are an easy “no” to them. So, you’ve inadvertently gained their agreement and they must prove they have no issue with going.


If you had asked them to go shopping right then and there, the answer could be a lot less certain. There are factors like time, interest, motivation, money, etc. to consider, making it a flip of the coin as to whether or not they are willing and ready to join you on your excursion, though people-pleasers might agree whether they really want to or not.

So, getting them to commit to not being against something is a good way to gain agreement without the person you’re talking to even knowing that they’ve just agreed, although it could be construed as conniving and manipulative.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.