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Ambiguous Statements

 

Techniques General persuasion > Being Right > Ambiguous Statements

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Make statements, assertions and predictions that seem to have one meaning but which are ambiguous enough that, if they prove wrong, you can reinterpret them to have another meaning.

Example

A psychic suggests that if a person invests in property, then they will find true happiness. Their investment fails and they lose all their savings. The psychic says their life's course has been changed and that happiness is now still ahead of them.

A sales person says the product they are selling is covered by a warranty. They do not say exactly what the warranty covers, so when the customer returns with a problem, they can say the warranty does not cover that particular issue (and that it will have to be paid for separately).

A child tells their parents they are just going over to a friend's house. They do not mention what they will be doing after that, so if they are caught, they can use this as an excuse.

Discussion

Language is an imprecise thing, yet we seek to make it have simple meaning, even when we are listening. We quickly jump to conclusions about what is actually being said, even though there may be many possible interpretations.

This can be encouraged, for example with the use of emphasis to make some words seem to have more significance. Later, the emphasis will be forgotten, even if the words are remembered.

See also

Using emphasis, Unclear Language, Vagueness

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