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Hidden Commands


Techniques > Use of language > Persuasive language > Hidden Commands

Pleading | Doubt | Assumption | See also


When people are given a command, they may well react against it, particularly if they see you has not having formal authority over them.

You can still issue commands, but the trick is to hide them within the words of a longer sentence. Here are a few ways to do that.

Here are just a few ways you can hide commands in other words. Note that the words of the command still exist -- they are just softened by other words which distract the other person away from any resistance and oblige them to comply.

A trick within this is to  emphasize the command, in particularly the verb. Be subtle with this -- if they realize what you are doing they will be likely to resist.


Pleading does not mean groveling, but it does mean using the word 'please'. In polite society, when the other person says 'please', you are pretty much obliged to do what they want unless you have a very good reason not to do so.

Please could you help me fold these sheets?

Could you help me please to fold these sheets?

If you could help me fold the sheets, please?


Talk almost to yourself or very conversationally, musing as to the possibility of the other person doing something for you. Show your uncertainty as to whether the other person is willing or able to do the job.

I wonder if you could help me fold this sheet.

I don't know whether you've folded sheets before -- could you help me fold this sheet now?

Can you fold sheets?... Great -- can you help me with these?

What is happening here is that you are using the fact that the person will react against what you say by


Act as if they will obey the command and they may well comply. Assumption forces the other person to either agree now or think more. If they are hurried, then they are more likely to agree (or not even notice). Note here that the command is not so much spoken as implied.

After we've folded the sheets, do you want a cup of coffee?

Which end of the sheet do you want to hold?

Here, can you hold this...thanks...where shall we go for dinner tonight?

See also

Using Commands

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