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  • Writer's pictureDavid de Souza

The Art of Manipulation - 80/20 Summary

Updated: Feb 21, 2022


Mental Models from the book:

'The Art of Manipulation' can be summarised into 6 mental models:

1. Chain Reaction
  • Start a chain of concessions. Offer a compromise on an issue (or an unrelated one) or admit you were wrong on a minor point or statistic. This will make people feel like they have beaten you and allow them to concede on something else without looking bad.

2. Choice Architecture
  • When making a choice, we are more likely to make the selection that will make others envious.

  • An indecisive person will naturally follow someone who confidently leads them.

3. Ego
  • Tell a person how their advice has helped you. This is indirectly saying: "You are smarter than me"

  • Ask for advice on books, videos and work habits. Let them know their recommendation was good (if you liked it) and the result of the advice.

4.1 Emotions: Anger
  • When someone is aggressive, massage their ego by agreeing with their feelings (not their point of view): "I don't blame you for feeling that way. I've felt that way myself". Empathize with their feelings. Follow up with sharing an experience that caused you to feel something similar.

  • When someone is harsh be humble:

    1. It calms the person, taking the wind out of their sails.

    2. It embarrasses them.

    3. The best response: "You are probably right" or "I guess you are right"

4.2 Emotions: Resentment
  • Saying: "Yes, but...." causes resentment.

5. Liking/Disliking
  • Any attempt to sell to someone who doesn't know or like you will fail 95% of the time.

  • Humans are susceptible and open to people who think like them. When you think like someone, they will see you as a friend. It's easier to change a mind on 1 issue, after being seen as a friend, then on every issue as an enemy.

6. Randomness
  • When someone treats us continually well, we receive a consistent reward. The result is that we take them for granted. Give people sporadic reinforcement to keep them wanting you.

7. Resistance
  • When someone is condescending, smug or not listening to you. Ask a question and then remain silent until they respond.

  • 'In response to a major objection say: "9 out 10 times you would be right....and I believe you would in this case too, but it has unusual circumstances that make it a little different'. Explain the circumstances and tell him why it is in his best interest to do it your way.'

8. Scarcity
  • The most important tactic in manipulation is:' I don't need you, you need me.'

  • The lower your expenses in business and in life the more freedom you have to walk away and the more opportunities you'll attract.

9. Second-Order Thinking
  • Choose your argument wisely. Let sleeping dogs lie when they don't affect your primary concerns.

10. Supply & Demand
  • The person who can afford to walk away (or make his opponent think he can) has the upper hand. Humans are stubborn when we think someone needs something from us: we often react by not wanting to do it.

  • Never be desperate. Radiate confidence and independence.

11. System 1 vs System 2 Thinking
  • To help find the real motives. Ask: 'Is there any other reason apart from [their initial one]'


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