How To Get People To Do What You Want (Or Stop Trying To Guilt Me Into Stuff!)

Published January 7, 2012 by jrm17

There are a lot of ways to get me to do something I don’t want to do because I don’t like to disappoint people.  Some people have it easier than other people.  Some people have to work really hard to get me to do stuff.  In my contemplating a recent situation, I’ve come to the conclusion that getting what you want and the use of a guilt trip have a negative correlation (I haven’t done any actual research on this–hmmm, maybe for my Sociology practicum–and this isn’t always the case…but it is for a recent situation in my life). 

Let’s start with the most current example I keep referencing to (and I’m going to do this like a court trial for fun and anominity…sort of).  The plaintiff (me) has asked the defendant numerous times over this break if she wanted to hang out.  Each time the defendant has declined the offer with the excuse she has other things to do.  No problem (Though I would like it noted that I even said yes one time she asked and then she decided she had other things to do despite her offering the original invitation).  A few days ago she asked if I wanted to go to the mall one of the days she was off work this upcoming week.  I said yes with the stipulation that I did not want to eat out because I have been doing that too much lately.

This is where the issue comes in.  The defendant said that was okay but she was bummed because she really wanted to go to Reb Robin or Miyako’s (The defendant is known for trying to guilt trip me into doing stuff so I saw this as the beginning of one).  Not wanting to play into her desires and end up giving in, I simply thanked her for being understanding.  She then furthers her attempts by saying she just hasn’t gotten to do anything over break and she really wants to go out to eat.  I refrained from response.  In the end, the plaintiff is angry that the defendant is trying to guilt trip her by using a BS excuse since the plaintiff has offered numerous occassions to hang out only to be declined.  Plus, the defendant tries to employ this tactic far too much.  Game.  Set.  And Match to guilt trip not getting you what you want.

Since I realize this is a personal vendetta of sorts, I decided to actually find out if my theory is true and figure out the right tactics to use to get what you want.

I gathered a couple of things from a thread from the DC Urban Moms and Dads.  The first is that people who employ guilt trips sometimes don’t realize they are doing it.  I think that it is certainly possible this is true but what if these people only want you to think that?  The defendant in my case comes off naive and sweet to most people but those of us who really know her know the scheming, conniving person she can really be.  The second is that people who use this tactic tend to have emotional and communication issues.  This could apply in my case.  Keeping her life private, I won’t say any details but she’s has some life experiences that could definitely lead to these issues (I would need to call upon my friends in the psychology department for a definitive diagnosis but I’m pretty sure this one is legit).

The last thing I learned…well, I found it really funny (Other Big Bang fans will see the parallel between Howard and Bernadette’s mothers in this one): Jewish and Catholic mothers/families stereotypically employ this method in getting what they want.  Okay, I have absolutely no knowledge of whether or not this is true.  But I can say that my mother, who is neither Jewish nor Catholic, did not use guilt trips.  She was the classic case of using positive reinforcement to get me to replicate good behavior and negative reinforcement to get me to correct a behavior (or do what she was telling me to do).  And in this case, while I never really buy into negative reinforcement over positive, it worked.  When you know the threats are not empty and that you will have every aspect of your life taken away, you do what she wants.

I think what all of this says is that guilt trips are used by people who either don’t realize it or they don’t know any other way to try to get what they want.  Also, that in certain cases (as I said), they do work–especially when it comes to your parents, family, and anyone else you really want to please.  What I am adding to that is, it must be used very tactfully and carefully.  It does not work for my defendant because she overemploys it and the reason she was using to try to guilt me was BS since I’d asked to hang  out a few times before this occurrence.

So in case any of you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “Well, I think I use guilt trips a lot.” I decided to look up ways that actually work and you will get what you want in the end.

Sometimes, I love Yahoo! Answers because you get real answers and some of the craziest ones ever.  I’ll start with the real ones.  There seems to be an overwhelming consensus that money or some kind of material gain (I’m going to include the guy who said sex  and anyone who said food in this category) can be used into bribing people to do stuff for you.  I really hate to think about what this says about our society but, yeah, I’m pretty sure this will work as long as the reward justifies the work.  Meaning, that the reward must be of worth as much or more than the effort, work, and time put into doing something for you (like to give me $5 to go dumpster diving for you…that’s not going to work).

Betting was another way to get what you want.  I like to employ this one because I’m pretty good at poker (Okay, not always the case since I lost a lot last night) and just being right in general.  You just have to make sure you are going to win and that the other person will keep up their end of the bargain.  Slavery or doing something in return for the person you are asking was also suggested.  Slavery may be taking it a bit far depending on what you are asking for.  However, I like the idea of doing something in return.  You get what you want and I get something I want.  Seems like a good deal for both ends as long as one isn’t much worse than the other.   The final legit answer will work in almost every case: alcohol.  Whoever suggested this is really smart because get someone drunk enough and they will be open to doing just about everything.  The only issue here would be if you are dealing with someone who doesn’t drink.

Now, let’s switch over to some of the odder suggestions (I’m not saying these won’t work.  I’m just saying they are weird…and some are really drastic).  Guns seemed to be a popular answer.  Yeah, I’m pretty sure if the defendant held a gun to my head and gave me the option of going out to eat or dying, I would choose eating (Heck, I’d buy her meal and break vegetarianism if she did that).  Hostage situations came up a few times, too.  I’m sure for most people this would be a means for giving in.  For me, that is not the case.  Why?  Because I know anyone she would take who is important to me would be given back unharmed almost immediately because everyone I love would (I’m 99.9% sure here) annoy her to the point of giving up in no time.

My favorite suggestion of all just proves that I’m as weird as the guy who answered the question this way: do something like out of Saw (I truly believe Jigsaw is one of the most creative killers ever seen in film with Jason as a close second and Freddy in third).  There’s no way to dispute this one.  Doing something out of Saw will probably get you your way 999,999 times out of 1,000,000.  There’s probably some dude who would be all tough and end up dying but in his head, he was definitely ready to give in.  But if you have to go to this drastic measures to get what you want, you may want to rethink what you are asking and realize that what ever you want is just craziness and out of the question.

In the end, there’s only one way to get what you want: ask.  You might have to convince the person that they will benefit in the end.  But asking is the only way when it comes to a friendship (or any other relationship that does not involve a hierarchy).  If the person says no, just accept it and move on.  I really don’t think a friend will say no to anything that will kill you so there’s no big deal.

As a side note, here’s the exact scene from Big Bang Theory that the mother-guilt trip thing made me think of.  Enjoy, my nerdizzles!


9 comments on “How To Get People To Do What You Want (Or Stop Trying To Guilt Me Into Stuff!)

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