how to use emotional blackmail

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Emotional Blackmail

Using Emotional Blackmail

Using Emotional Blackmail

Playing with emotions…

Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.
~Napoleon Bonaparte

If you want something from someone there are few surer ways to ensure you get it than by emotional blackmail (except maybe actual blackmail). Basically, you’re taking advantage of their trusting nature, either by making them think you’ll be very sad if they don’t do something for you, or by making them think they owe it to you when they most likely don’t.

Humans are not particularly rational creatures; instead we are driven by a host of emotions and needs which can be used nicely to your advantage. Here’s how to get someone’s feelings to get them into trouble against their better judgment. The psychology behind all emotional blackmail is guilt. They don’t want to make you angry/sad/disappointed, so they will do what you ask even though they really don’t want to for often legitimate reasons.

If you always find yourself a victim of emotional blackmail, it’s important you read this article. It’s even more important to develop an Unstoppable Confidence to counteract any of the following methods. If you are looking how to emotionally blackmail someone, some badass confidence will work for you as well…

A subtle person who skillfully hides their intent can make people do any number of things by using any of the following methods. A real professional can accomplish emotional blackmail just with a pouty look.


You owe me

Using Emotional BlackmailThis is perhaps the best method of emotional blackmail because it does imply an exchange: a favor for a favor, information for information, etc. For example, If you need a favor for someone there’s no better time to do something for them or give them a gift. Most people don’t like the feeling of being in your debt (even when the gesture is dressed up as a gift) and so will go to lengths to not owe you anything.

A really sneaky way of doing this is to act like the favor (or information) you are doing for them is either way better than it really is or that it’s so difficult for you to accomplish or part with. Sex is often in this overblown exchange. “I slept with you. Now mow the lawn!”


Play on their curiosity

Curiosity is one of our biggest weaknesses and strongest drives; it can therefore be used to great effect when manipulating people. This type of emotional blackmail can be used in many situations to give misinformation, for example leave a document lying around that tells someone what you want them to think. Or to trap someone, maybe by luring them somewhere by having strange noises come from the room. It’s also a good way to tell someone something without seeming as though you are bragging – if you ‘accidentally’ let slip a bit of tantalizing information they will probably bully you into telling them the rest.

You can even use their curiosity as leverage to make a bargaining item more tantalizing. If what you’re offering to trade is somehow mysterious then it becomes worth more a.) because the other person will also get to find out what it is and b.) because the unknown element may be valuable to them (see using hope). Of course if the “mysterious thing” you are offering turns out to be crap, you will no longer be able to use this technique on the same victim again… unless they are in love with you!

The power of curiosity is something that’s well understood in the advertising business. One effective ad I once saw used a tiny font that was in the middle of a blank page. When I turned the pages, I couldn’t help myself – I had to find out what it said. Obviously it turned out to be a waste of time but that was one effective piece of advertising in terms of drawing you in.



You can push people into making bad judgments by taking advantage of their competitiveness. If someone is the peaceful type and not particularly aggressive then you can still stir them to competition. One way is to challenge them in front of a member of the opposite sex or someone else they are trying to impress. This is a strong emotional blackmail that will get anyone moving.

If there’s no one around you can attack them personally. If you can pick on one of their insecurities then they will become competitive to prove to themselves that your observation is untrue. Statements like ‘I suppose you never were a particularly masculine/sporty/athletic type’ will work quite well.


Play on their anger

When someone is angry, they obviously will make more rash decisions and as mentioned above it can be used to damage their reputation in front of others. Football players use this method all the time by taunting the other team using any number of insults. This is also done in street fights where one opponent will question the other’s sexuality or poultry-like state.

Obviously, this form of emotional blackmail has it’s disadvantages. An angry person is often unpredictable and might react in a way you had not planned for or they might be pushed so deep into rage that they overshoot how you expected them to act.



A basic understanding of hope allows you to predict behavior. Hope is a fantastic method for emotional blackmail. Best of all, only a small element of hope is enough to keep a person working towards a goal. In Auschwitz (the German concentration camp), there used to read a sign “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which translates as “Work Makes Freedom” The reason for such a sign was to give the prisoners hope that they might one day be released and thus keep them motivated enough to remain docile and continue working. As you probably know that didn’t really work out that well for them in the end.

How many times have you worked your butt off at your job in expectation of that end-of-the year bonus? Santa Clause has to be one of the most blatant forms of emotional blackmail of all.



“Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.” Laziness is an unfortunate element of human nature and one that we can use to manipulate others. Indeed it is often used by businesses against us. Many companies offer you a ‘free trial’ of their product. You sign up and happily use their service for a couple of weeks before it runs out. Now you read the small print and learn that the company is going to automatically charge you for the next month unless you ‘unsubscribe’. They know that a lot of customers will be too lazy to do this. Coupled with at least a mild appreciation of the service, that’s enough of a motivation to allow them to continue to take your money until you finally get fed up.

The best place to sit on the bus if you don’t want someone to sit next to you is the seat upstairs right opposite the stair case. The reason for this is that anyone coming up the stair case will want to first see if there are any double-seaters available – they’ll therefore head to the back to find out, and even if there aren’t any they will probably sit on the nearest seat once they’re down there.



Our belief in Chance

Generally our belief in chance is completely irrational and this is obvious used to great effect by casinos and other gambling outfits. Humans are horrible estimators of chance. When we hear 1:10,000 odds, we can only think of how awesome it would be to be the one, yet rarely consider the 10,000 other losers. This emotional blackmail plays on something we’ve always been told by our families and friends: “One day, you’re going to grow up to be an astronaut/president/sports hero. What are the odds of any of that? Considering there are probably only about 18,000 professional (paid) sports stars, less than a thousand “presidents” and possibly another thousand astronauts, and on the other hand there are SIX BILLION people on the planet, the odds never look too good…

How about a simple test: you are flipping a coin with a friend. Heads, you get $200, tails they get $200. Now you’ve already lost twenty times and you don’t have any more money left. However, when your mate offers you another go you will probably jump at the opportunity. Surely it must be heads next; it’s been tails twenty times! What are the odds of a coin landing on tails 21 times? It’s a sure thing, right?

But duh! The odds are still 50/50.


Emotional blackmail using guilt

No matter how much you love someone, you still want to have your own way.
~Chuck Palahniuk

Another brilliant emotion you can use to blackmail someone is guilt. If you make someone feel guilty for their actions they will likely seek to change their ways. Moms are great at this. For example, if you suspect your child of smoking, a good tactic would be to say, “I’m so proud of you for not smoking…”


Wanting what you can’t have and jealousy

Jealousy and wanting something you can’t have is a classic flaw in the human condition. If you fancy a someone who doesn’t seem to be into you, as soon as you start dating someone else they’ll somehow find you irresistible.


Timing and priming

While not necessarily emotional blackmail, timing is, as they say, everything. If you want something from someone it is good sense to ask them when they’re in a good mood. You can do this by timing when you ask them carefully. Either wait until they display signs of being in a happy mood or ask when they’re likely to be cheerful like after a break or a good lunch.

Of course sometimes you can’t wait that long and so it falls to you to put them in the mood that works for you. As usual they mustn’t suspect your motives although this time it’s less of a concern as emotions can often override cognition. In other words, even if they smell a rat they’ll be too jolly to care. This gets us back into giving gifts…

You can subtly brighten someone’s mood by giving them a piece of good news, turn more lights on or to give them some chocolate (chocolate releases hormones associated with euphoria and love). If you’re playing the seduction game, it’s well known that you can set the mood with the correct music and lighting.

Alternatively, you may be trying to stress someone out. Heat and annoying noises can help to push them over the edge. This is some serious emotional blackmail! Crowding and noise have been shown in many studies to have an effect on a person’s mood too. Try to have your immediate environment be conducive to the results you’re after. If you want them to agree to something turn up the temperature to get them lethargic and docile. Crank it up more if you want to get them angry. Cool the temperature if you want their full attention.

Exploring your own emotions in this process can really get the juices flowing. Check out this great article on how to uncover and regulate your hidden emotions.
This website offers an insight into how your hidden emotions manage almost every aspect of your life.



Intimidating someone is a pretty standard way of getting what you want, although in this day and age you can’t just threaten to clobber someone. Successful intimidation in the modern age is subtle, almost operating on a subconscious level.

Many thugs have got it down to a fine art and will manage to intimidate you without using any overt threats. In fact they may act overly friendly and give you no reason to suspect foul play. Meanwhile they’ll be invading your personal space and making you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps touching you and using a lot of eye contact. This is how they’ll get you to move along or to “lend” them some money. “Have you got some money, mate?” Doesn’t seem threatening on its own, but if they’re invading your space and keep repeating it, it suddenly becomes uncomfortable. You will be trying to justify their behavior as is human nature. Meanwhile though, you suspect that you might regret not giving them the answer they want.

A similar tactic can be used when you ask for things, obviously without the implication that you’re going to hit them. If you’re asking to leave work early, stepping in a bit closer than usual and invading his personal space, will put extra pressure on your employer.

What do you do though to combat this kind of emotional blackmail? Use the step-back-hands-up technique: In the case of the thug you want to widen the gap between the two of you without showing fear and without giving them the opportunity to follow. To do this, step back on one foot – the foot that’s still forward will prevent them from closing in. If you’re really worried about them, raise both hands to about shoulder height in a natural way. At the same time have open palms facing them. This may go some way to showing honesty and calming them down, if it doesn’t however your hands are up and ready to block an attack or throw a punch. It’s basically an open handed guard.


Psyching out the opponent

Genghis Kahn used to psych out his opponents with human heads. It was kind of his thing. He would build giant towers of the things! His other favorite was to catapult heads over castle walls. Imagine you’re in the streets of your town gearing up for war, you’re a bit nervous but you’re sure your training will kick in, when all of a sudden a severed human head plops in your hands. You are going to crap yourself.

Obviously this might be a little bit extreme when psyching out enemy sports teams but a less extreme tactic can put some fear into the opponents and that will give you an edge.

Emotional blackmail doesn’t always have to be so sinister. As we said in the beginning, the guilt of owing a favor is probably the strongest way to emotionally blackmail someone. If that doesn’t work, there’s gotta be somewhere you can go to get some human heads…