Domination techniques are tricks used in discussions to gain an advantage over the people you are discussing with. Invariably, these tricks are horribly unfair, ruining somebody’s chances to have their say in a given discussion.

They are usually used unconsciously, in which case the abuse of a Domination Technique can be excused. If this is the case, pointing out the fact that someone has used a domination technique is usually enough to make them change their wording, or be a little more careful.

However, it is also often used consciously, in which case it is one of the worst things you can do in a discussion - using domination techniques consciously can lead someone to unfairly winning a discussion.

Who uses domination techniques?

There are two different kinds of people; Dominant and submissive.

Dominant people:

  • Tend to capture people's attention without really trying
  • Are usually "loud" by nature: "Stay away, I bite" (not literally, but that is the impression people tend to get)
  • Tend to keep eye contact and talk with a secure voice
  • Nearly always use domination techniques subconsciously
  • Can use domination techniques consciously

Submissive people tend to:

  • Listen more
  • "stay in the background"
  • excuse themselves for having opinions ("Don't bother biting me, I am not worth it")
  • Project an image of insecurity
  • Interrupt their own sentences
  • Let themselves be the victims of domination techniques

The Domination Techniques:


In this technique, the offender ignores, overlooks, forgets or pretends to forget their discussion partner. This especially happens when you are discussing with someone who is submissive, and lets themselves be hidden.


In this technique, the offender makes fun of their discussion partner, ridiculing them in front of others, making themselves seem smarter. This technique is in particular used against women ("Oh so you have an opinion - is it that time of the month?"), or against people with a visible or audible handicap. (shut up, you stupid sheepshagger!)

Holding back information

This technique can be used in discussions - instead of getting all the information and factson the table, arguments that the opponents may have are pushed away; either by coming up with new information in the course of the discussion, or by saying something like "Shut up - you have no idea what you are talking about"

Double punishment ("Damned if you do, Damned if you don't")

This technique is rarely used in discussions, but when it is used in other situations, it is usually aimed at women;

  • "If I sleep with lots of guys - I am labelled a slut. If I sleep with none, I am called frigid"
  • "If I work a lot, they say my family is suffering. If I am with my family a lot, they say my career is doomed"


This technique unrightfully takes away the credibility of someone, devaluating their arguments. The arguments may or may not have anything to do with anything

  • "You don't know what you are talking about. You are only 16 years old."
  • "You don't know what you are talking about. You are gay."
  • "You don't know what you are talking about. You are just a newbie."
  • "You don't know what you are talking about. You are a girl."
  • "You don't know what you are talking about. You are European."
  • "You don't know what you are talking about. I have a degree in Physics, and you don't."

The users of this technique might be right in their statements, but they are also guilty of not giving the victim of the technique a chance - Even a 16 year old lesbian newbie from Belgium without a physics degree might come up with an absolutely genius statement about physics.

(Threats about) violence

Users of this domination technique usually realize that all hope is lost for winning a discussion, and might resort to threaten or perform violence. This particular technique is especially visible in The Sopranos, and pretty much any other gangster film you'll ever see.

What can you do about domination techniques?

Be aware of them

When in a discussion, make sure that the discussion stays on track, making sure that it doesn't go on people personally, but rather on the topic that is discussed. If a discussion goes personal, you might as well give up the whole thing - nothing good will come out of it:

  • Not: "You are a jerk"
  • But: "You are acting like a jerk"
  • Not: "Your opinions are shit"
  • But: "I disagree with your opinions because...."

If you spot a domination technique, make sure to point it out in a friendly way - it is usually best to assume that the person you are accusing is not aware of their use of these techniques.

Do not use them yourself

Try avoiding the use of domination techniques. This can be very difficult, but people do notice if you win a discussion in a fair way or not.

Identify yourself

You probably have an idea of whether you are submissive or dominant.

If you are Dominant, try to work on these points;

  • You have two ears and one mouth - that means you should listen twice as much as you speak
  • Try to be understanding of people who are quiet, encourage their opinions to be heard
  • Don't hesitate to let other dominant people know that they, too, can listen some times.

If you have a submissive personality, you are up for a harder struggle. However; Start with the following two points:

  • Get used to standing up for yourself.
  • Make sure you have some facts to come up with, and let people know what you read from those facts.
  • Allow yourself to get angry.

Be aware of others.


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