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The Possibility Shuffle

The Possibility Shuffle is a technique for weakening an objection. When a person has a specific option they’re convinced of, for example, “Your product is not good”, you simply insert other plausible options to confuse the person. Now, instead of one viable option, they have several, and the original one loses its value.

  • You simply ask a question in this format: “Is it possible that [ABC] and [ABC] are possible as well?”;

Our goal with this technique is not to convince them of your option at this point, it’s just to get them to lose conviction in their option.

  • Therefore the “Is it possible?” question. You just want them to admit it’s possible;
  • And once you do that, their initial option loses conviction;
  • It’s almost as if they have an extreme view, and you’re the reasonable person trying to break that extreme view;

The Persuasion Psychology Behind the Technique

This technique works because the person is convinced of a particular option. But, by inserting similar ones, they lose that conviction in the original one, because there are now several possibilities.

It’s based on the more general principle of suggestion, so it shares some of the same characteristics:

  • The more that the person is open to your suggestion (and the more they trust you), the more easily they will be convinced of this. Also, the more extremist and the more of a zealot they are, the less this will work;

Simply ask, “Is it possible that [equally viable option]?”.

The goal is to force the person to open up their mind and stop considering only the option they prefer.

Usage

Sub-Techniques
(2 in Total)

Examples

"Is it possible that X?"

When someone simply suggests that something else may be possible, they are using this technique. You’re forcing the other side to open their mind

"What about X?"

When someone is very convinced of something and you suggest another alternative to them, you’re using a version of this technique

"I'll find a contingency"

When you’re thinking of doing something, but then, in case it doesn’t work, come up with an alternative plan, you’re using this on yourself. You’re “possibility shuffling” yourself

Use Cases For the Four Quadrants

Key Takeaways
(4 Total)

How to Stack This Technique