Mind tricks to try and use

On Reddit, a wonderful thread where redditors detail their favorite "mind tricks." Here's a smattering:

When I walk through large crowds of people, to avoid walking into anyone, I simply stare at my destination. I look no one in the eyes. People actually will watch your eyes and they avoid the direction you are going. If I look into people's eyes as we are walking into each other, we are sure to collide. You have to let people know where you intend to go with your eyes. It always works for me, try it! (Poo_Smudge)

I'm a paramedic. When a patient is possibly faking unconsciousness we have 2 tricks to determine if they're really unconscious or not. First, you can lightly brush their eyelashes with your finger. Their eyes will flutter if they're faking it. Alternatively, if they're on their back you can lift their arm over their face and let it go. A conscious person will drop their arm away from their face. (Monkeybrigade)

If you're trying to find something, try looking right to left as opposed to left to right. Your eyes tend to skim over things if you search in the direction you are used to reading in, so skim the opposite way. It takes me a bit more effort to do this, but I notice more details. (icameintoadarkroom)

If you ask a question, and receive only a partial answer, respond with polite silence. Simply wait. A more complete answer will usually follow. (Kromulent)

What is a "mind trick" you know of? (self.AskReddit)


  1. I leave comments on posts that I like, to reinforce future inclusion of similar posts, and remain silent on posts that I don’t like, to reinforce future exclusion of those types of posts.

    1. I do that too :) but, until now I did it conscienceless. Now I’ll stop “faking” it and continue to do so with my full consciousness. Thank you, awjt, for this awake :)

    2. Well maybe I’m misreading, but I think such a strategy is problematic and is making certain assumptions. Just because I personally don’t like a topic or idea doesn’t mean that it should be excluded from the discourse at large. If we surround ourselves with comfortable things we will never grow individually or culturally. And not wanting to see things that which one dislikes is the essence of censorship.

      1. If we surround ourselves with comfortable things we will never grow individually or culturally.

        Does that mean that, next time you go to watch a movie, we can replace it with Twilight to broaden your horizons?

        1. I don’t understand your counterexample. I don’t think I made a very out-of-ordinary or absolutist statement. It is well understood that part of education is that it involves stepping outside our comfort zones and trying out new experiences. This is straightforward and not a new concept.

          What that means is knowing when/how to separate our likes from what is intellectually challenging or pertinent. It’s part of critical thinking. So yes, I think the strategy suggested by awjt doesn’t make this distinction and I would go so far as to point out that it is somewhat manipulative. And that is problematic in terms of the kind of online community we want to be cultivating.

          Think about people who don’t “like” to eat carrots, or those who don’t “like” math, or don’t “like” (a.k.a. “disagree with”) a controversial idea. All this is related.

          Finally I will point out that the inaction of staying silent comes with its risks and perils. I’m sure that at least this concept is well understood.

          1. Are jokes outside your comfort zone?  If so, then the previous reply might be an educational opportunity :)

        1. Well, I can’t respond to this, but if you explain your quotation a bit maybe we could find some common ground.

      2. And not wanting to see things that which one dislikes is the essence of censorship.

        So I guess I should stop telling Amazon not to show me certain products then….

        But seriously, not wanting someone else to see things one dislikes is the essence of censorship.  Not wanting to see things you don’t like is just logical.

        1. Not sure why you are drawing a connection between online communication and consumer shopping.

          “But seriously, not wanting someone else to see things one dislikes is the essence of censorship.”

          That’s not inconsistent with the proposed way of manipulating forums (rather, I think your definition is subsumed by it):

          “I leave comments on posts that I like, to reinforce future inclusion of similar posts, and remain silent on posts that I don’t like, to reinforce future exclusion of those types of posts.”

          1. Dude the people in the audience your argument is supposed to target are the EXACT types who take the EXACT opposite stance and find self-censorship a delight. Let them wallow in their filth, you’re just breathing in a weird tone to them. There will always be a select few who rise above their peers. You have to adapt to their world because most people WANT self-censorship and will actively seek it out, even to the point of sponsoring state-based censorship.

            Adapt to the world of censorship. Change it when you reach the top because the idiots changed the world and realized they couldn’t sleaze their way to the top in their version of it, either.

  2. If you are trying to walk somewhere, don’t concentrate on your feet or the exact place you are stepping. Try to think of something else and the walk will seem to take much less time.

    1. I find that the opposite strategy works for me. I mindfully focus all my attention on my feet and the rest of the body, which takes me into a realm where no time passes at all.

  3. People standing in crowds shift around in place.  If you want to move forward, move forward when the person in front of you does.  When they move back toward you, stand still.  It’s difficult because you feel like maintaining your personal space.  The person in front will eventually shift to the side to maintain distance.  Keep doing this and you’ll gradually advance through the crowd.

    1. I tried this once and after, like, an hour found myself facing the Pope.  He just stood there, right in front of me.  So finally I said, “Dude, would you mind moving? I’m trying to see that thing on the wall behind you.”

    1. It happens occasionally, I was only an EMT (back in the day) but they did teach us the “drop the hand towards the face” trick and it seems to work.  I only used it twice – once on a presumably passed out drunk kid and the second time on someone who had simulated a pill overdose/suicide attempt by swallowing a bunch of vitamins.

  4. Mind tricks to try and (sic) use?  This means that the attempt is guaranteed to succeed.  Mostly a British usage, it has crept into the American vernacular as well.  One would think that the opposite would be true, as optimism is not a trait the British are known for.  But I could be wrong on that subject, my evidence being mostly anecdotal.  Also, mathematics is properly pluralized, math is not.  Just furthering the cause of internet pedantry.

    1. Rule number one of Internet pedantry: it’s generally misplaced.

      You’ve misparsed the sentence. “Try and use” means, “to sample and/or to adopt,” not “try to.”

      1. Pedantry is almost always misplaced. That’s what makes it so much fun.  Thank you for taking the time to correct me, Cory.  I will look into it.  It still sounds wrong to me, but that’s nothing new.

        1. Yeah, I’d say in this context, ‘try and use’ means ‘try to use / try, and use’ – which seems like a neat way of avoiding a clunky sentence structure.
          ‘Try and pull Excalibur from the rock’ doesn’t imply you think you’re talking to King Arthur.
          It always struck me as a fairly odd bit of common usage, but I guess it’s just another one of those figures of speech that people take for granted and seldom analyse. Now that I do, it seems the ‘and’ is conditional on the success of the attempt.
          Alternatively, you could assume this usage wasn’t intended, and ‘use’ merely refers to the successful subset of mind tricks.

          Which, now that I think about it, pretty much amounts to the same thing.

    2. 1) You are wrong in your interpretation of the phrase.
      2) Moreover, Cory is (so far as I know) a naturalized Brit, living in England. If he were to opt for a “British usage” it would hardly be some sort of affectation, or a sign that those darn Englanders are contaminating our pure and unsullied American English.
      3) Even if you had been correct in your spotting of a dangerously foreign turn of phrase, and even if it were some plot by Cory to undo the Revolutionary War by sneaky linguistic means: did you actually have any difficulty discerning what was meant?

      1. Dangerously foreign turn of phrase.  I love it.  I know of Cory’s residency having read his books, so I wasn’t trying to suggest it was an affectation.  Just sounds sloppy to me, but then it apparently does not mean what I think it means.  Live and learn.

        1. For an extensive discussion of “try and…” see Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage p 919-920.

          As for “maths”, that’s predominantly a British usage.  Here’s the OED:

          maths, n.

          Pronunciation:  Brit. /maθs/ , U.S. /mæθs/
          Forms:  19– maths, 19– maths. (with point).
          Etymology:  Shortened < mathematics n.; the final -s may originate in a graphic abbreviation or may be related to -s suffix2 (compare the form mathy recorded from Manchester Grammar School in J. S. Farmer Public School Word-book (1900)). Compare earlier math n.3 and French maths (1856 in form math’s ).


          Mathematics (esp. as studied at school).

          Cf. math n.3 (the usual colloquial abbreviation in North America).

          For real pedantry, you need references. :-)

  5. I’m tempted to write out the procedure for making decent coffee, as that’s the single best mind trick I can think of on this cold Sunday morning. Well, there’s one other in that same category: if you’re going to have to work past your bedtime or even through the night, take some gingko biloba many hours *before* you’ll need it. It will help keep the fogginess at bay.

  6. I have advice on where to look that contradicts the first item.

    If you’re ever stuck doing the hallway dance with someone where you each try to step to one side and happen to both step to the same side repeatedly there is a simple way to break it. Just look one way and step the other.

    People tend to walk where they are looking but also tend to follow one another’s eye movements. The dance happens because they look left and your eyes look to your right to see what they’re looking at then you both step to the same side because that’s the way you are looking.

    Pulling this off will make you feel like a Jedi. I’ve managed it a few times and once was asked how I did it by the complete stranger I had just avoided.

    Oddly I learned this trick several years ago here on Boing-Boing.

    1. What nonsense.  I always look the direction I intend to go, and exaggerate my intention by slightly turning my head that way, never making eye contact.  I have never, ever, bumped into someone this way.  No one has ever seen where I’m looking and succumbed to any putative instinct to look and go the same way.

        1. It seems to me that your tip may work in the event you’ve already made eye contact, but the Reddit tip would work if you haven’t.  I use the latter almost on a daily basis, but I’ll have to give yours a try.

      1. Have to agree, if you make no eye contact and only stay focused on your objective/direction/whatever, people will move out of the way. I rarely have people run into me or get too close if they see where I am looking and I am clearly not even concerned about their existence let alone if I run into them or not.

    2. I have always wished people would just adapt themselves to pretend they are like cars. In what ever country you live in, walk on the same side of the hall/sidewalk as the cars do. No more hallway dance/sidewalk shuffle.

      1. I think people generally DO this, but where I live, there are lots of foreigners, and I notice they tend to walk on the wrong side for this country. :(

        1. It depends. People do generally do this (presumably unconsciously), but many people don’t if there isn’t a big crowd of people walking to follow.

          I’ve explained to people that they should do this (invariably because I’m walking with them and they’re not keeping to the right, in the US) and some people are quite combative about it, saying “no, why should I do that, that’s stupid”. It baffles me. I think the logic goes that since other people don’t do it, why should they? *facepalm*

          And yes, it varies by country which side you would walk on, and so in places with a lot of foreigners afoot it gets noticeably messier.

          I tend to notice this type of thing and one of the most amusing places to walk in crowds that I’ve been to is Thailand. They drive on the left side of the road, but traffic rules are very loosely followed (it’s not uncommon to see people driving the wrong way to avoid traffic) and in crowds, people are more likely to keep to the right than the left… except far fewer people bother than in the west, so it’s utter chaos (slightly worse than the road traffic ;) and it’s always crowded.

          1. I’ve gotten the combative reaction as well. While it would be tricky to enforce as law, I suppose, it logically follows an existing standard. It blows my mind how anyone could opt -not- to walk to the right. Fun fact, Maryland law actually says to walk on the right in crosswalks so long as it’s feasible. 

          2. When I first visited London, I was looking forward to everyone walking on the ‘wrong’ side of the sidewalk. I discovered that, instead, it seemed to be a chaotic mess. :)

      2. I learned this much before I was a driver. It was drilled into me in elementary school. Single File, Right Side. To the point that I’m still uncomfortable walking on my left of anyone coming the oppisite direction. I always assumed we had to do this to prepare for the Military, but perhaps it was just for driving. 
        Fun side note, when I first started driving, if there wasn’t any oncoming traffic, I would forget which side of the road I was supposed to be on & just drive in the middle. 
        I promise, it’s better now. 

      3. I used to think that people expected me to move out of their way bc they were white and I was not (yes, I know its crazy).  I told my therapist who said try staying to the right.  I did, it cut down on head-ons by approximately 75%.  

        Once I pushing a huge unwieldy cart of groceries down the right side of the sidewalk toward a man pushing a stroller.  We stopped facing each other at a stand-off.  I asked if he was British or Australian, and here we stay to the right.  He yelled something at me in a British accent…and then moved.

    3. The “hallway dance” is more properly referred to as mutually frustrative bilateral avoidance failure.

    4. During motorcycle training, we were told that when rounding a bend to look where we wanted to end up and not focus on the edge of the road (which is more natural, as you are trying to avoid running off the edge).  You tend to drive to where you are looking, not where you intend to go.

  7. Here’s one that is amazingly effective at amusing people if you can pull it off.  Try to say “excuse me” AS you sneeze, not after.

  8. I find if I walk towards a crowd of people in the street, looking ahead and at them, they very rarely part, and let you pass through without a bit of side stepping. However if I seem distracted by something and do not look at them, they move out of the way. I think it is because if you are looking at them, there is some subconscious thing about territory, but if I’m not looking at them, they want to avoid a collision and any consequences thereof.

    I also find that if I’m driving on the motorway, in a hurry, and you end up behind the lane hogger, then I think nice thoughts about them, like I’d appreciate it if you moved over please, as opposed to get the f**k out of the way, then they usually move over. Its as if there is some mental connection between people? and moods can be sensed?

    1. Perhaps while thinking happy thoughts you’re not riding their ass, which many times could annoy that driver into purposely not changing lanes.

    2. I believe that if you think (have) happy (nice) thoughts you start to shine (radiate) positive. than you  start to spread that energy around you and others start to feel it (somehow) -> you connect -> everything starts to go in synchronizing harmony :) 
      we should all think, feel and act love :) <3 la la la la la la laaaaa <3 than it would be much easier to walk in the crowds not "fighting" for the teritory, but loving it unconditionally :)

      1. Oh, I don’t know about all that, but here’s a “mind trick” that’s related, and it tends to work very well.

        This afternoon, I had to pick something up at the store. My wife had purchased something on-line for in-store pick up, but unfortunately she only had her name associated with it. She was unable to pick it up, so I said I’d get it.

        As I walked into the store I decided to make it a teaching moment, so I told my son “watch what I do. The person at the store isn’t going to be allowed to give me the package [making things more difficult is the fact that we have different last names], but they will give it to us. Watch.”

        So we went into the store, and a few minutes later we have the items, despite the fact that the girl behind the counter wasn’t supposed to give it to us.

        I’m not a charmer or a psychopath, so how did I do it?

        The “trick” is — and this almost always works whenever you’re separated from someone by a counter — is to smile. Approach the counter with a smile, greet the person with a smile, and smile when you’re speaking to him or her.

        People who work behind counters have to work with assholes all day, but if you’re actually nice to them, 90+% of them will do everything in their power to help you (a small percentage are mindless automatons who just have one script, but they are surprisingly few and far between). Of course, there are limits to what a sales associate can do, but if you’re nice, they’ll go to those limits, and they’ll usually bend them a little. (If this had been a multi-thousand dollar item, I probably would have been out of luck.)

        I learned this when I used to travel with a guy who was, basically, an asshole. I noticed how he would approach a counter all aggressive, and he would always get bad service. I, on the other hand, always got good service. Once, for example, there was a screw-up with reservations, and when we got to our destination air-port there were no cars available. They told him that, and he didn’t get a car. The helpful associate was able to find one for me.

        I hate traveling now, and only partly because of TSA. It’s all automated, so these days you can rarely find a real person to smile at. Traveling was so much nicer when there were helpful counter-people to smile at…

    3. I don’t tailgate these people, but wait patiently instead. Usually they move to the right lane unless they’re from California. If they seem to be distracted, I use “wandering” in my lane. Similar to shifting from one foot to the other while standing in line. Most drivers get the message at that point.

      1. In WA, they’re from OR. In OR, they’re from WA.  In NY, they were from NJ. (In NJ, I think they’re from NJ)  Where are you that they are from CA?

        1. I’m from NY, but live in CA. In CA, they’re from CA (NV drivers are fine… unless you go to Vegas, where it’s reversed).

          In NY near NYC, they’re from NJ or Long Island. In Western NY (where I’m from) they’re from NYC or NJ (drivers from Ontario – and there tend to be a lot of them – are usually fine, unless you go to Toronto).

          Like my earlier comment about walking in crowds… people in CA don’t understand keeping to the right when driving except to pass, and if you try to explain this to them they get angry at you :)

          1. Chris speaks true.  I was born in California, lived here for nearly all my life, and I’m the only Californian I know who uses the left lane for passing only.  Just this past Saturday, following a visit to my parents in southern Riverside County, I was heading up I-15 back to L.A.  Normally I stick to central lanes, but on this trip (I was in a hurry), I was amazed at how often I’d pass people in the far right lane.  The left lane was packed with people pooting along at 63 mph, the center lane had nearly as many doing 62.  And the far right lane was empty, except for my own hauled ass.  Not once, but several times, over 20+ miles. Californians are so dedicated to plopping their asses in the fast lane at everyone else’s expense that they often don’t even see the lack of cars way off to their right.

  9. The “silence evokes a complete answer” gambit may work with polite people who aren’t trying to hide anything, but few of the people I interact with fit that description. More often they are following their own train of thought and answer the question that they think I am asking, or the question they think I am leading up to  (I hate those). Quite often evasive answers are given in an attempt to steer the conversation elsewhere or to cover up the fact that the responder doesn’t know the answer.

    To get a complete answer, one must challenge an incomplete or misleading answer, directly and immediately. But it is not recommended to do that to your boss. They hate that.

    1. I was going to make a similar comment. Doing this to me will not get a more complete response. I’m happy to sit in silence – at best I’ll change the subject because I’ll assume the question asker doesn’t wish to continue that line of inquiry, since they were silent.

      1. There are some people who can do this. they are rare. even then they typically fall for, so if I understand you you are saying xxxxx? IT depends on the context too. If you don’t care if the person has a complete answer you can stay silent. But if you think that you have something to lose you’ll start talking.

        1. To be a little clearer… I would do this because I legitimately assume they’re not looking for a better answer. I have some level of Asperger’s (or similar – self-diagnosed, not really sure) and I just don’t perceive silence as a prompt to continue my answer. I mean, I *know* sometimes I don’t give good enough answers, but when “in the moment” I no longer know that (kinda hard to explain). I’m not doing it to slight them because I don’t want to give a complete answer (not all the time, anyway ;)

  10. ˙uʍop ǝpısdn ʇı ǝʇıɹʍ noʎ ɟı uoıʇuǝʇʇɐ ɹǝsoןɔ ʎɐd ןןıʍ ʎɐs oʇ ǝʌɐɥ noʎ ʇɐɥʍ ǝɹoubı ǝsıʍɹǝɥʇo pןnoʍ oɥʍ ǝןdoǝd

    1. This never bothers me as I’ve, somehow, never had issue reading things written upside-down or backward.

      That’s always something I’ve found amusing in bookstores:  sit in a comfy chair with an expensive coffee and flip whatever reading material you’ve selected upside-down for the reading.

  11. Pardon me. I feel sick. Let me through, please. I think I’m going to vomit. (repeat as needed)

    In a crowd, it’s like parting the Red Sea.

      1. Well, this one is more blatant, but what do you think all these other “tricks” are. It’s all manipulation.

        1. this one takes advantage of peoples good nature through your own LIES.

          Explain how looking where you want to walk involves making shit up so you can cut in line?

    1. I used that one to get out of a very crowded concert venue once. I put my hand over my mouth, bent at the waist slightly, and hurried at the crowd. It was spectacular.

      1. You are my new hero.

        The only potential flaw in this is that I might mistake someone who really is going to vomit for someone using this trick and need new shoes.

  12. I’ve had mixed success with staring-at-your destination trick. It worked very well in school hallways, but not so much in malls and crowded shopping streets where people are moving more slowly or casually.  Plus, if someone is facing away from you, they don’t know you’re there and trying to get by.  But I’ve always found it really useful at airports. (Except for the time someone “bumped” into me really hard and I found out later they’d pickpocketed my digital camera from my shoulderbag.)

    Another trick – If you want to reduce the chances that someone comes up to talk to you, let your mouth hang open slightly, optionally with your tongue a bit forward.  It makes you look like you’re concentrating and serves as a subconscious “don’t interrupt” prompt.

    1. If you want to reduce the chances that someone comes up to talk to you, let your mouth hang open slightly, optionally with your tongue a bit forward.  It makes you look like you’re concentrating and serves as a subconscious “don’t interrupt” prompt.

      That just attracts the people who want you to “smile”…

      1. The eye strategy only works for men. If your a woman, it’s different but not nearly the same.  If I walk in a crowded mall etc, I have tried the eyes ahead approach. It does not work I get run over by men. A lot!  I have to blend in to the crowd and perceive it’s movement if I want to get anywhere. *when I was younger.

        Now that I am pushing mid 40’s, I am invisible but I don’t walk around with a smile on my face anymore.  I have this “angry” look about me (it’s natural I am not angry, I just look that way.)  People move, have no idea how I do it either.  I don’t get the men coming up to me telling me to “smile” either.  Apparently I am a “scary Mom” now.

        1. I’ve always just walked like where I’m going is more important and treated it like a dance with objects. I never make eye contact– usually keep my eyes on my handbag instead and think of the other people as if I were playing asteroids. The effect seems to be that I seem to pass through the crowd, with people seeming to be slightly unaware that I was ever there. Then again I will shoulder some one else hard before I’ll let myself be bumped by them. 

          Works for me. I avoid eye contact like the plague. I watch hands and bodies instead. Eyes are distracting when moving through a herd.

        2. I have this “angry” look about me…

          When I space out, my eyes open up so wide that you can see whites all around the irises.  I look like a serial killer.  It took me quite a while to figure out why nobody would sit anywhere near me in places like the doctor’s office waiting room. 

          1. When opportunity presents itself, I try to convince people that neurologists have discovered that wide-open eyes are universally appealing and a sign of social standing, so in all photos they should open their eyes as wide as possible. It’s amazing how just a little bit of extra white around the iris makes anyone look like Charles Manson or the Runaway Bride.

            You have to embed it in real photography advice like the “3/4ths turn pose” and “Van Gogh Lighting” to make it sound plausible.

        3. I’m a young guy and I have a bit of a bored/depressed look by default (my face is just not very expressive and that’s how I always look), and I get people asking me to smile. I can only imagine how much more irritating that is for attractive women who get it from men all the time – even just the once every few months it happens to me is infuriating.

          1. my default expression is apparently one of slight disappointment and sadness, it has an unpleasant effect if I use it on most women, they think I’m unhappy with them

  13. I had a psych prof in a large lecture hall who always had something wrong with his clothes.  One shirt tail out, cardigan mis-buttoned, loose shoe lace, collar up in the back, pocket square dangling, mismatched socks, etc.  Always something.  Years later I figured out this was his strategy for holding the attention of 250 bored students.

  14. Frequently when I’m calling someone I want something from (information, customer service, them to buy something from me, etc.) and they answer the phone with their name (usually if its been transferred) I’ll say in a friendly, loud voice “Hi [their name], I was wondering…”. We’ll usually be several minutes into the phone call before they realize they have no idea who I am. This serves the dual purpose of getting treated better because they think they know me, and also makes them feel a little embarrassed and then greatful when I’m a good sport about it and we share a laugh. Totally disrupts that little mental math people do first thing when they’re trying to decide how helpful they want to be (basically some low-grade social engineering).

    I’ll do something similar when charity or election telemarketers call (the only ones that are allowed here). I’ll say “No thank you, [their name]” as I’m hanging up the phone. It does little for them, but makes me feel a tiny bit more humane.

    1. That’s the first thing that sets me off on the phone. I have very good voice recognition. If I don’t know you, I don’t appreciate being called by my name. Apparently it’s a self defense mechanism, I refuse to go further with the conversation until I know who you are, my bill collectors hang up on me. LOL

      1. Haha! Same. I always immediately hated a person who called me by my name on the phone or from my nametag– because I have had jobs where one wears a nametag. It’s such an obvious salesman type thing and power play. I usually just pretend that isn’t my name and act like it takes me a second to realize they’re talking to me. Makes them think  they heard/read it wrong. ;P

    2. The reverse is excellent customer service – you immediately instill a sense of value to a customer if you refer to him/her by first name. Freaks me out just a tiny bit (but in a good way) when this happens at lunch and I only later realize that the cashier had simply paid close attention to my employee badge.

      1. Really? For me, and most people I know, it’s creepy. One of the biggest fiascos a local store had a few years ago was trying to address people by their first name whenever someone used a credit card. People got upset, and the store pulled the policy.

        The clerk doesn’t know me in person, so they have no reason to use my first name. It’s just too forward. Also, I don’t like the idea of them broadcasting my first name to every other person in line. Even if I’m not buying anything sketchy, it just makes me feel uncomfortable.

        Another thing is that my credit card lists my full name, which I neither like nor use in real life. So hearing someone use it to address me is unpleasant.

    3. I don’t care if folk say there is no magick in the modern age: names have power.  I don’t like people using my “true names” (the names my family/wife call me), and it rankled me so much in my youth that I purposely go by different names publicly and privately in my adult life.  “Ha ha; Mr. Jones is my father… please, call me John.”

      I do my best to gauge receptiveness (if you sound pleasant on the phone, or give me your name freely) before I use someone’s proper name.  Same with handshakes; I’ve taken to a curt nod or slight bow until someone offers their hand.  If they offer it closed, I politely wave them off; open, I’ll shake with equal gripping force (and I have a mighty grip, so hand-crushers beware!).

  15. Protections – when in crowded places or around people that are a drain… these work.

    Brief explanation first… energies flow from person to person – connecting through the crown – top of head. As we create thoughts… they are released as energy into the collective consciousness. Problem is, most people have no discipline with their thoughts and we get bombarded by each others sentiments. Negative sentiments are dominant in our society. The TV is a sophisticated box that emits light and thought forms, most of it is trash.

    Negative thoughts appear as dark blobs of energy and clog up the crown area, headaches are often the result. One can easily swipe these energies off the top of head and headache goes away… do it discreetly, of course. Just swipe the area, grab it and toss it aside. Works very well.

    Also works on stomach area where we get hit with the emotional wave of the world. Lot’s of energies are stored there, heavy stuff. They can be removed.

    As ‘Akula971’ suggests… a sense of serenity makes a big difference in the quality of your energy, and the energy you put out into the world. We are all connected, and as we trash others, we trash ourselves. This is why I rarely post comments, too much darkness. People have no idea how they trash their energies when creating negative comments.

    Nothing is solid… everything is energy. It’s time to evolve.

    1. You sound like my Aikido teacher.  So true.  I push out with my “ki point” when I feel negative energy around me.

      1. “Every stone is light slowed down and tied in a knot, and light is every stone’s dream.” – Trance Mission (A world music band)

  16. I hav e found no crowd parting trick that allows easy movement in malls- people seem completely unaware of their surroundings. I was carrying a 46″ TV (my how they’ve gotten light!) the other week and was beside a woman- in her peripheral vision- and she turned to her left and walked face first into the TV! No mind trick will work on someone like that.

      1.  That’s where you need to use a sinus trick instead.  Just go a few days without a bath while eating a mix of beans and garlic.  They’ll keep out of your way.

    1. I tend to adopt a fierce gait and expression at the Maul; fear is a powerful motivator for the sheep.  Rarely do they meet my stare, and ever more rarely must I sidestep.

      Rarer still are my trips to the Maul.  Ugh – terrible places.  The ferocity comes easily, for sure.

  17. Sometimes people like to blather a bit too long on the phone, or while you’re trying to inch towards the door. I’ve found a simple solution to get them to shut up and back off. When the time seems right (or right enough) to insist on ending the interaction, don’t just say “bye!” Simply saying goodbye gives some people the urge to deny this pleasantry and continue to hold you there while they chatter.

    By simply adding the word “now” at the end, you can shut down most boors. If you also focus on saying “now,” but not to the point where you’re obviously emphasizing the word, you’ll find that you DO emphasize it just enough to register with the other party. “Bye now” becomes “Bye Now.” And the over-long conversation is through. The message you’re sending becomes more of a command and less of a courteous request to mutually end the transaction.

    I have yet to use this trick and have it fail, even with the most gregarious windbags.

    (edit): Some people say “bye now” all the time, so if you hear it, don’t just assume they’re trying to get rid of you. I don’t mean to make anybody paranoid. ;)

    1. I used to volunteer on a listening hotline. There’s a lot of people who call  into those that are mentally ill or just very lonely and they call all the time, sometimes several times a day. Volunteers have to protect themselves from too heavy a dose of these people or they’ll burn out. So, I was taught by some very experienced listeners to listen for a little while, then say, “Well, I have to be going now!” It’s a funny thing to say to someone who called you for a long unconditional chat, but there’s something about the phrase that people can’t argue you out of it, it’s nice, but it’s also very definitive.

  18. Here’s a trick to get through crowds fast – go buy a large toilet plunger, wet it down, and hold it aloft while loudly proclaiming “coming through!”

    I have not yet tried this, but I bet the crowds just melt away from you. No one wants to have a wet toilet plunger smack them in the face.

    Words to live by from the Practical Jedi.

    1. I actually knew a fellow who walked with an elbow-crutch, the end of which had a rather over-large rubber cup.  The cup resembled a plunger enough that he sometimes did just that.

      The grown-up Osh-Koshes he generally wore probably helped reinforce that image.

  19. I discovered the “avoid people” trick myself a few months ago.  I hardly ever get into the “left or right dance” with people in crowds.

  20. I find being an homicidal manic to be quite effective in crowds, preferably whilst yielding a bloodied ax.

        1. @chgoliz … you and three others must have glossed over the ‘ ;) ‘, and missed the joke element of that comment. :D

          1. Zombie Leo Tolstoy’s going to visit you in your dreams tonight and give you a long-winded lecture about proofreading; Think ‘War and Peace’, but with more suppurating and incoherent moaning. I wouldn’t want to be you tonight mate. ;)

  21. Here’s one of my favorite mind tricks, enabling ninja-like reflexes and feats of skill, plus incredibly good night vision: learning to not just see, but to perceive.

    There are two different types of receptors in your eyes– the rods, which are used for reading and details at any distance, which I like to call seeing; and the cones, which are used for peripheral vision, which I call perceiving. We get very invested in using the rods in this culture, in looking directly at things, but at the expense of seeing with the cones. Here’s the thing– the two different receptors actually go to different portions of the brain, so you have to really learn to see all over again if you want to use the cones; it’s an entirely different skillset that you might not even know you’re lacking in. Is it useful? You bet your ass.

    What’s remarkable about the cones is that they’re attached to the part of your brain that processes spatial awareness. So the best way to describe the difference is that the rods are for seeing, and the cones are for perceiving. Perceiving with the cones is basically building a real-time 3d model of your surroundings in your brain, it’s all objects, and there’s not much detail so it processes extremely quickly, and is more rapidly transmitted to the part of your brain that controls your body. The cones also require MUCH less light to function, so your night vision is entirely dependent on learning to use the cones. Not only are you creating a map of your surroundings, but that spatial awareness also translates into better understanding of movement and trajectory. Did you always suck at sports? If you learn to perceive it might make a big difference. And then there’s the martial arts implications, for hunters looking for movement across a field, for hand-to-hand combat, or for shooting from the hip. I do full-contact sparring with shinai, and my swordfighting got massively better as I learned to perceive rather than just looking at the sword or the hands or the hips or the shoulders or the eyes or whatever. I do usually look people in the eye while sparring, but blankly, as it’s just a reference point and not where my concentration is. Fighting two people becomes possible, the better you become at building that model in your brain. The thousand yard stare? This is what that is.

    I first learned to perceive by learning to juggle. You can’t deal with that many objects if you’re trying to watch every catch, so you just stare at one spot in empty space and perceive the balls as you’re throwing them. For training nightvision, get a baseball cap and a ruler, and tape the ruler to the cap. Put a little dot of luminescent paint at the tip, and stare at that dot when you’re out in the dark, so it’s about a foot in front of you. This is to teach you to not look directly at the obstacles in your path, which is the biggest error people make when walking in the dark. At night, what is directly in front of your line of sight will be the darkest. It takes some practice, but it’s considerably easier than learning to juggle. Some people get good enough that they can literally run through the woods off trail on a cloudy night without injury or getting lost– I’m nowhere close to that yet, but I live in the city.

    The more you do with training your perception, the better you are at applying it to new activities, regardless. You can use it to thread through crowds, with your mental map keeping track of the directions that people are moving, so you sort of flow through, or while driving in traffic, looking for the anomalous dangers through the corner of your eye. 

    Aside from all the practical implications, it’s also meditative in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s like another level of awareness, generating a centered feeling that seems to help with every other aspect of movement, particularly balance. It’s easier to get into a state of flow, somehow. When people talk about the zone in sports, this is an indispensable component. Easily one of the most useful mind hacks I’ve ever learned. We all do it to some extent naturally, sure, but it’s definitely something that can be massively improved with practice. Especially if you spend most of your time in front of a screen.

    1. Aaaaugh.


      1) Rods are the low light receptors, Cones are the color-high-light receptors. You’ve got that backwards.

      2) Rods are not “used for peripheral vision” – at least not only peripheral vision. Rods and cones are found across your peripheral vision.

      3) Rods and Cones don’t send signals to “different parts of your brain”. Signals from the rods and cones converge on ganglion and bipolar cells for preprocessing before they are sent to the lateral geniculate nucleus.

      Just. AUGH.

      1. Yeah, people who are really into this stuff love pseudo-scientific sounding explanations and don’t bother to find out whether or not any of it is true.

        It’s too bad, really, because it diminishes their message – which in this case is not incorrect, you really can learn to perceive things in the way he’s described. It just has nothing to do with his rods & cones explanation :)

        1. I do well in the dark from training myself to get around without my glasses. My vision is terrible, after a while you stop fighting it and just do the best you can. Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks they can drive without their contacts in or anything, but you *do* get better at getting around with poor vision when you practice seeing the way you see instead of trying to see the way you’re supposed to.

        2. Oh, no complaints at all about the actual suggestion. It’s a good one!

          Just … my rods and cones! Oh my poor rods and cones! It distracts somewhat. :)

      2. Rods, cones, whatever. Just as an amateur astronomer, I can attest that slightly off-center of the visual field is FAR more sensitive to deep-sky objects like very dim nebulae, and the effect is magnified by steady motion. 

        I’ve always assumed it was because of the optic nerve’s interruption of the retina at the point of direct focus. 

        1. the point of direct focus on the retina is the fovea http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fovea . The optic cup, from which the optic nerve emerges on the other side, causes the blind spot.

          Cones are most concentrated in the macula especially the fovea, while rods are most abundant in the periphery. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jl4rLDuewo4C&pg=PT189&lpg=PT189&dq=concentration+of+rods+and+cones&source=bl&ots=zStxbr2ENB&sig=pESAxFpm4UIe9M3LFk-z8KgOx4s&hl=en&ei=TCzcTqK6DsnptQaRybSKDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=concentration%20of%20rods%20and%20cones&f=false

    2. the peripheral vision is much better at catching motion. if you want to be able to respond to things before you even realize they’re happening, don’t look at them directly. I first learned this in fencing — the experience of parrying an incoming attack before I’ve even consciously realized it’s coming makes me feel like a god.

  22. To feel more strength when walking (when fatigued), imagine a strong bird is flying alongside you, and imagine that bird’s strength in you — rather than concentrating on, say, your own heartbeat. You’ll feel stronger.

    I learned that from Highlander.

  23. At the age of 19 – an especially scrawny and geeky 19 – I was regularly ejecting bums twice my age and body mass from cafes where I worked.   There were two ways to eject a bum.

    If the bum was new, drunk, confused, mumbling to themselves, or otherwise behaving erratically, you could approach and give them a hearty hello and ask them their name, give them your own name, and then say something like, “Gee, Sal, have you been drinking?” or “Say, Henry, it seems to have been a while since you’ve had a bath.”  Ask them to understand you’re trying to run a business, and if they’d mind coming back when they were sober/had washed up/had gotten some rest, or whatever.

    If the bum was familiar, provocative, hustling, haggling, or otherwise testing your boundaries, a quick and sharp “I thought I told you not to come back here” while sternly pointing at the door (whether or not you had previously told them such) could save a lot of time.

    Now I work in a public library, and people are always asking us for services and favors that we don’t offer.  “Will you take a look at my computer?”  “Can’t you waive my late fees, because my sister had those books?”  “Why can’t I log into Yahoo!?” “Can I use your fax machine?”  “Let me use your cellphone.”  “[Because our public PCs don’t have flash drives] let me use the staff computer for just 2 minutes.” Etc.   Any one of these requests could spin into 5 minutes of pleading, but I find that I can keep the conversations much shorter with a very sincere (shaking head sadly) “I’m sorry, that’s not a service we offer.”

    1.  I’m a 6 foot, 2 inch tall woman with an appropriate body mass and I’m always astounded by the number of short people who seem to think it’s my job to stand aside for them, especially when they’re on my half of the sidewalk.

      If I’m in a hurry I sometimes shoulder check them and watch them careen like a pinball, but I prefer the passive aggressive approach by simply stopping and let them walk into me.

      1. You and I are the same size, so it would make for a memorable collision; but since I am probably twice your age, you’d win.

      2. Especially when they’re on my half of the sidewalk? But also when you’re on their half of it? In other words, did you mean to sound like you were saying you get the right of way because you’re bigger?

        1.  I stick to the right side of the sidewalk.

          No, I don’t get the right of way because I’m bigger, but I do not yield to unconscious morons simply because they’re smaller.

  24. My clocks and watches run exactly 5 minutes fast.  I live in my own time zone ahead of everybody else. 
    The only reason I’m not 3 minutes late for everything any more. 

  25. Here’s my contribution.  I always know what time it is, even when I’m asleep, and I don’t use alarm clocks.  I trained myself in my 20’s to be able to do this by waking at first light.  I trained myself to wake at first light by not ever turning on lights in the evening.  This meant I had to do all my studying during the day and early evening or morning after I woke up.  Since I had no lights in the evening, I ate dinner earlier and went to sleep earlier.  Like being on a long camping trip.  When you go to sleep with the stars, you wake up with the sun.  Actually, you wake up well before the sun, when false dawn tickles your windowpanes.  That’s the first step.

    The second step is to consciously associate the time the sun goes down with the clock time, and also do the same with sunrise.  For a while, you’ll have to read the newspaper or go on the internet to know sunrise/sunset.  Then, during the day, you’ll know approximately what time it is at all times, as evening approaches, as you awaken before sunrise in the morning.

    There is a third part of the process, and this is to listen carefully to your stomach.  If you give yourself a regular schedule, you’ll get hungry at the same times every day.  I get hungry at 9 am, 12pm, 3pm and 6pm.  I make sure to eat then, too.

    To this day, some 20 years later, I still wake up at first light, even though I use lights in the evening and sometimes stay up late.  It’s because I wired this pattern many years ago.

    Because it’s hard-wired now, basically, I can get up at 3am without an alarm if I need to catch an early flight.  And if anybody asks me the time, I can just say it, even though I don’t have a clock in front of me.  It’s because I trained myself to always know what time it is by following the sun’s diurnal pattern viscerally for a few years.

    1. I travel. I have trained myself not to pay attention to the light. Oh man, because that will kill you in the north. 

      1. I live way up north and have no problems with the light; although I used to have SADs before I trained myself to be in sync with natural light.  Now it’s not a problem…  It was either Prozac and a light box, or what I did and x-country skiing, so I chose the latter and it worked!

        1. Even when it is light at like 4 in the morning? Or do you get to set your own hours, because that *would* make a difference. I hate having to be at work while it’s dark and leave while it’s dark.

          1. In summer, when it gets light early (not 4, but just before 5) it’s a blessing to be up early.  I don’t wake up the INSTANT the horizon lightens – it’s like 15 to 20 minutes after.  If I am still tired, I can turn away from the window and fall back asleep.  It’s not absolute.  I can bend it.  But my initial inclination is to wake at sunrise.  I can then choose to go with it, or ignore.

            I work 8:30 to 5, pretty inflexibly.  This month and January, when it’s dark before 5pm, it is definitely a drag.  It means that I have to scrape up an hour before work 7-8am and try to go do stuff outside a couple times during the week, and try to go on walks at lunchtime. I also have to use the weekends wisely and spend as much time as I can outdoors, playing with the kids and doing yard work.  When there’s snow, I ski or cut wood.  

            The main thing is staying loosely with the rhythm of the sun, as best I can.

    2. I’ve done essentially the same thing for years. I can guess the time within 5 minutes any time of day and will reliably wake 3 minutes before the alarm if one has been set. I live in the country, which means there is little light pollution to mess up my internal clock – it’s harder for me to get my bearings when I sleep in a city; the light pollution really messes with me. 

      1. Yes, that’s part of it.  I’m rural too.  If there were street lights blazing into my windows all night, this wouldn’t work.

  26. The next time you find yourself transporting contraband droids, and you are stopped by a police checkpoint, simply look one of the officers directly in the eye while waving your hand and chanting, “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”  You’ll know if it has worked if the officer repeats “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.”  Then simply continue on your merry way.

  27. When dealing with children (and quite a few adults as well), you can easily do the linguistic equivalent of “forcing a card” by placing the item you want them to choose in the last position of your list. For example, like this:

    “Do you want pizza, a hot dog, or chicken?”

    Chicken it is, much more often than not.

    1. When dealing with children (and quite a few adults as well), you can easily do the linguistic equivalent of “forcing a card” by placing the item you want them to choose in the last position of your list.

      One notable exception is, “Cake or death?”

      1. Bwahahaahaaa!  I first said CAKE, but then I thought, ooooooo wait, death is an option too?  Is this just another way of saying you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

    2. I thought is was the other way around?
      Because of the way we put the ‘preferred/better’ option first when using binaries in language.
      e.g. light and dark, good and evil, male and female, civilized and savage.

      (Thinking along the lines of the explanations given from structuralism, to the post-colonial/gender based analysis (Feminist) and post-structural deconstructions.Phew, that was a mouthful.)

      1. In psychology, both primacy (preference for the first item) and recency (preference for the last item) are known effects. So I’m guessing the general rule is at least to put the option you DON’T like in the middle.

        1. So … “Death, cake or taxes?” then?

          (I wonder if primacy stacks with the preference for the first binary and outweighs recency?)

  28. Mind tricks eh?  I have this thing where I can finish people’s sentences.  It drives me crazy some days, but other days I tend to be able to get through huge amount of social interaction because I can. I come off rude sometimes, but my god if they would say something UNIQUE and INSIGHTFUL, I wouldn’t be pushing them to finish.  It doesn’t even have to be a subject I am interested in either.  I hate knowing what someone is saying unless it will benefit me or them in the near future. It makes for very boring conversations.  The minute I meet someone if I can’t predict what they are going to say, they have something to teach me! I start talking up a storm. :D

    1. The drawback of this is that you might be driving a certain percentage of people away who don’t care to correct you or continue a conversation with  what you might call a competitive conversationalist :/

    2. Wait, you specifically talk up a storm  over the people whom you believe have something meaningful to say?

      Pro-tip: It’s not the first statement wherein lies the wisdom, that’s the context. If you interrupt the context, you’ll never hear what they actually have to say.

    3. There’s somebody at work who does this, and it really pisses the rest of us off. Don’t do this.

  29. When small or medium sized children who are not mine want to wheedle something out of me my default response is “I’m not allowed to do that”.  For some reason, this stops them cold. I may even get a sympathetic, understanding nod because they understand not being allowed to do things.

  30. If I am looking for something I always find it when I’ve become exasperated enough to ask where it is, out loud, even if I’m just asking myself.
    It seems like verbalizing my need jogs my subconscious, which must have already noticed it & had just failed to notify me until I ask. 
    Seriously works every time, though.

  31. Surfers are obsessed with tube riding.  Why?  Here’s a plausible explanation: they’re deriving drug-like pleasure from the resulting visual field distortion.  Try this at home: stare down at  a single point on the floor and then walk in a tight circle around the point, several times around, and never blinking or straying your visual attention from the same spot on the floor.  Then stop and look forwards…

  32. I have a nifty trick for remembering things “on the tip of your tongue”. Instead of searching for the fact like you normally would, try to imagine yourself talking about it. Actually try to remember a time when you discussed this topic/person/place/whatever. I find that shifting my mental focus in that way will often bring the thing to the surface.

    (Pseudo)scientific explanation: Declarative memories (memories that can be consciously recalled) can either be semantic: facts, or episodic: experiences. When you’re having trouble accessing a semantic memory, sometimes you have no trouble fishing out an episodic one.

  33. Whenever you’re trying to learn something new, attempt to explain as much as you can about it to someone that knows less about said topic than you do, and is at least somewhat interested. Vocalising what you do know, and what you’re unsure about will help you reinforce what you need to concentrate on to better understand it.

    If they’re interested in the topic they’ll usually ask trigger questions that will further highlight what you don’t understand. Once you’ve had a chance to look more into the topic, you can repeat the process with the same person and learn more again.

    In simpler terms; to learn, teach.*

    Of course, this only highlights what you don’t know, other times you’ll have to seek answers from those that know more.

    *Can anyone tell me if I’ve used the semicolon correctly here?

    1. Semicolons are used to separate two full sentences when they are very closely related; a period is used otherwise. In your sentence, “In simpler terms” is not a full sentence. A colon would probably work.

  34. About 30-35 years ago, when ‘body language’ was a new catchphrase, the look-where-you’re-going thing got out there.  It doesn’t work well with people on the phone  –they’re generally tuning out their environment.  Supermarket’s a great place to experiment.  If you look intently across the path of oncoming people they will usually veer to your other side or slow down a bit, till they understand what you’re really going to do.  Watch closely for the little flash of annoyance.

  35. Kromulent’s contribution ties in to a classic interrogator’s trick.  When the interviewee finishes a response to your question, say nothing.  Often the poor wretch will feel compelled to volunteer more information, to break the uncomfortable silence.  Teachers and tour guides use a variant of it: ask the group a question, and let the silence build the tension until someone can’t stand it, overcomes inhibition, and answers.

  36. When you need to jay walk across a busy street , fake an exaggerated limp, ala The Usual Suspects. Works everytime.

  37. 1) try not to use the word “just” when typing. The mere act of of being conscious of using the word “just”  will dramatically improve your writing.

    2) People often form lines or queues for no good reason.

    It can be useful to think to yourself: “why am I in line?”

    Many times the answer revels that the queue is bullshit. 

    In these scenarios, skip to the front of the line.

    1. The use of the word “just” in conversation indicates the speaker is either an expert or profoundly ignorant about the issue. Typically it’s the latter.

      1. Oh Lordy, please tell the Southern Baptists! They interject “just” into nearly every prayer, multiple times. I’ve always been distracted by that because I interpret that inclusion as a diminishing modifier. Replace the word “just” with “only” and you’ll catch my drift.

      2. Likewise, the use of the word “basically” in conversation indicates the speaker is either an expert or profoundly ignorant about the issue. Again, typically the latter is most often the case.

    2. Cutting in front of other people isn’t a mind trick, that’s just being a dick.
      (See what I just did there?)

      1. Nah, if I get far enough ahead to make the lane change without cutting them off it’s just a lane change. In power mode I can be up to the speed limit and half a block ahead by the time other people wake up to notice the light has changed. And a faster driver (within reason, like <= 7mph over) ahead of a slower driver isn't impeding anyone.

          1. Oops. Looked at the last minute before work. Thought your comment was in reference to passing at the green light.

        1. Ugh. It’s people like you that drive up my car insurance rates. And greedy insurance corp execs. Do you really want to align yourself with greedy insurance corp execs?

          1. Nah, just want to get to my customer who has been waiting before I lose the call. And I’m not going to get an accident because I can’t afford to lose time dealing with an accident (besides the obvious not wanting to hurt anyone).

            Slowpokes who refuse to go the speed limit create a hazard because everyone else has to manouver around them.

  38. Here’s one that can be really useful in day-to-day life.  When engaging in high-G maneuvers, take a huge breath in, then start to say the word “hook”, but clamp your throat shut during the vowel part while continuing to press out with your diaphragm, and hold that for three seconds.  Finally, expel the remaining air by opening your throat and finishing with the “k” sound, then draw another big breath and repeat for the duration of the maneuver.  This controlled breathing, if done in conjunction with squeezing the big muscles in your arms and legs, helps keep your brain supplied with blood and can avoid G-induced loss of consciousness.

    If pulling negative G’s, assume an inverted orientation in your seat and proceed as with positive G’s.

  39. The key to all mind tricks is to hold your nerve.  Stance comfortable, breathe in and out regularly, and put your mind elsewhere (I find that easy – it’s in jar at home).  Simply describe to yourself the nice outcomes that will flow from the process you’re in once you succeed, even as you’re being bombarded with criticism and warnings.  Smile gently, in a knowing and informed way.  Appear even saintly.  Never back down.

    Well, that’s what I’m seeing every time I get rolled over by my local lunch joint – the price seems to vary according to mood.

    Ex prez Clinton was rather good at this.

  40. Cab driving mind tricks:

    “Your cab is 3 minutes away. I WILL SEE YOU in 3 minutes.” or “I will be there TO PICK YOU UP (not to commence waiting for you) in 3 minutes.” Both to have people ready when I arrive. Neither works consistently. :(

    “Is 123 Main St the right address? I don’t see anyone here!” In other words- “Where the hell are you? Your not being ready is unthinkable and you might miss your cab.

    For a known slowpoke, from about 3 minutes away “Your cab is right by your place.” to bluff it and set in motion the “Oh, my cab is here, I have to start getting ready soon.” This works.

    For the driver in front reluctant to keep up with the speed limit: Slowly get closer without actually tailgating to trigger their not wanting to feel slow and in the way. Tailgating feels confrontational and that will make people dig in their heels and actually slow down to feel that they are holding their ground.

    If I need to pass the driver next to me when the light turns green, I’ll either pretend to look for an opportunity or turn, or fake yawn to appear non-alert when the light is about to change.

    1. I wish other drivers actually paid sufficient attention that they would notice a faux yawn. I’ve found that stopping 3 full car lenghts behind a slowpoke at an intersection helps their pace a touch. But some of this stuff you recommend (as well as what I said) is just PA manipulation, not so much mind hacking passively for more information so you can make better decisions. 

  41. It’s all but impossible to laugh and sneeze at the same time. If you can catch someone as they’re just about to sneeze and say something funny, it stifles the sneeze uncomfortably. Oddly enough, just uttering the word “Purple!” can be all it takes…

  42. If you’ve got some blathering lugnut who just won’t leave your office or work area and let you get back to work, simply standing up will often signal that the conversation is over. If all else fails – and I used to have to do this routinely with a subordinate – announce that you’ve got to go to the restroom. If the blabbermouth follows there, call Security.

    1. All the bloggers spent way too much time reading the comments on this post, so they’re having a hard time waking up this morning. Except for Xeni. She stayed up too long laughing at cat videos.

  43. One of my favorites and, frankly, I’m surprised it has not been mentioned here…

    “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”

  44. More of a mind trick applied to oneself rather than others, but still a favourite of mine, is a method of stopping hiccoughs.  I had tried all sorts of tricks and found that the only one that worked for me was holding my breath by continuously pulling with my diaphragm – rather than “closing” my windpipe (presumably with the epiglottis) which is the common way of doing so.

    I read though (somewhere in the magical land of interwebs), that what’s really doing the job is the fact that you’re concentrating on your breathing at that point, and that you can stop hiccoughs by simply concentrating on your breathing and consciously controlling your diaphragm.  Ever since reading that, I’ve used that technique and found it works perfectly.

    1. I can confirm this one works with me too. My variation though is that I don’t hold my breath by force, but by relaxing the diaphragm completely. 

  45. One more.  When I was a waiter I was taught to touch the customer on the shoulder when presenting the check.  This unwanted intimacy makes people uncomfortable.  But many of them will leave a larger tip once you’ve forced them to acknowledge you by touching them. 

  46. Here’s my mind trick. We have a tendency to mirror people we feel a connection to. We don’t do it exactly, but we very closely simulate the person we are talking to. For example, if someone is scratching their neck, you might unconsciously raise your hand toward your neck and rub it.

    You can prove this is happening by consciously changing something about your body – say recrossing your legs the other way – and seeing if the person reacts by mirroring you.

    In a job interview, I will consciously mirror the person interviewing me and I will also  test to see if they are mirroring me.

  47. A good phone trick when calling someone who might blow you off is to say “Is this a good time to talk?”  Most people can’t come up with an excuse when suddenly challenged like that so you’ve got their buy-in for a few minutes at least.  In any case, it’s courteous as well, since you don’t know if they’re eating, driving, having another conversation or whatever.

    1. I always do that, especially since most people I call work freelance or irregular hours. Then it just takes a moment to schedule a good time for a call, for which they can prepare. But I don’t think it works the way you say… you’re already giving them an out, all they have to do is say ‘Actually, not really, can you call me back later?’ without giving a detailed excuse.

      Which, really, shouldn’t be expected anyway. I don’t think people should have to explain why they can’t drop everything they’re doing to pay attention to someone else. ‘I can’t talk right now, sorry, I’ll call you back’ is more than enough. 

  48. I totally forgot about the “drop their hand on their face” trick to assess unconciousness. Learned about it in my EMT class many moons ago…

  49. This one sounds really simpleton-ish, but it works for me. If I have something to do that I don’t want to do–say, washing the dishes–I tell myself that I’m just going to do part of the job. That gets me going on a task that I’ve been putting off, and in most cases, I end up doing all of it. And even if I don’t do all of it, I feel okay because I’ve at least done some of it.

  50. When I want to respond to someone but I don’t have anything pertinent to say, I use a technique called bullshitting.

    When I need to answer a question and I don’t want to tell the person the truth, for whatever reason, I use a technique called lying.

    Not sure if these are great techniques overall, but they have been effective in certain crisis situations.

  51. I recently heard about the “dangling so…” technique. Essentially you explain your problem and let the other person fill in the solution:  

    To check in person at airport: “I did a dumb thing, My flight is in coach but I booked a meeting two hours after this flight lands and I have to be on the ball for this meeting. It’s a long flight so…” 

    So she bumped me up to business. How nice of her. 

    Of course, this might not work and you have to be okay with that – and long uncomfortable silences. You can’t talk first or you’ll wreck it. 

  52. The best mind trick I know is, when people ask you questions — actually answer them realistically as if they were genuinely interested in the real, actually real, like genuinely existing truth. Typically this completely throws anyone on Planet Earth for a loop, since it has been generally agreed on this planet that everyone will lie all the time as much as they are able in order to promote their own self-interest.

Comments are closed.