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The Contradictor - Scott Adams' Blog

The Contradictor

In my recent post about bad personality traits, reader Littlepo mentioned The Contradictor. That’s the person who disagrees with everything you say, no matter what you say. I used to find that trait maddening until I took a hypnosis class. My hypnosis teacher taught us how to control that type of personality like a puppet. I couldn’t believe how effective it was until I saw it in action.

At the time, I was working for the phone company, and a big part of my job was figuring out which new features we should add to our services. This process had one gatekeeper individual who was in charge of deciding where the technical resources would be allocated. His response to all requests was invariably “That can’t be done.” It didn’t matter what the question was. The answer was always no. In time, I realized he was simply a Contradictor. If I said the sky is blue, he’d say color is just an interpretation that happens inside your head. He was genetically incapable of agreeing with anything.

And that was his weakness.

After my tenth unsuccessful encounter with the Contradictor, I started phrasing my requests for his help as statements of impossibility. For example, if I wanted him to implement feature X, I might say, “The market research says people want X, but obviously that would be too expensive to implement, if not completely impossible. So just give me the official ‘no’ and I can close the loop on this awful, awful, AWFUL idea.”

At this point the Contradictor’s need to prove me wrong would spring into overdrive. And feature X would become a reality. Since then I have used the method a number of times to great effect.

The trick is to make sure you don’t overdo it. Keep The Contradictor primed by feeding him a steady stream of unimportant topics to disagree with. That makes it easier to get the result you want on the important ones.

You’ll be amazed at how well this works.