The master suppression techniques are designed to suppress and humiliate without presenting an argument. They must be called out, and here’s how to do it…
Subject: I list each of the master suppression techniques and present novel counter measures.
Length: 1397 words, 10-12 minutes read
I’ve spoken before about the value of memorizing the cognitive biases and logical fallacies, but I only advocate use of that power to self police. You absolutely do not want to become the kind of person that just spouts off the Latin names of logical fallacies to dismiss arguments. Remember, that is the fallacy fallacy – fallacious arguments can arrive at true conclusions, so therefore simply pointing out a fallacy is not adequate refutation.
Instead, you should use this knowledge to bolster your own arguments and ensure they stand up to scrutiny. However, there exists a set of debate techniques that should be called out when they’re used. These are the master suppression techniques, which are designed to suppress and humiliate without presenting an argument at all. These can catch you by surprise if you haven’t encountered them before and you might find yourself losing an argument despite being right if you don’t react effectively.
In this article I’ll be listing all of the master suppression techniques along with a few methods I’ve come up with for countering them. These are passive aggressive techniques (for the most part), so escalating to physical aggression will make you look like the instigator. Subtlety is required.
Master suppression technique 1:
Your opponent acts as if you do not exist. They might talk over you as you speak, or appear not to hear you, or disrupt your speech with background noise, coughing or laughing.
Taking up space – Try to physically take up more space, to make yourself more visible. Speak louder and more clearly. Insist on your right to be acknowledged without being aggressive.
“The Rearden Gambit” – This is a technique I first heard about via the Manosphere, inspired by Ayn Rand’s character Hank Rearden from Atlas Shrugged. It is a very effective defense against passive aggression and can be utilized against most (but not all) of these techniques. You simply point out the trick and confront the passive aggressor. “I know that you’re intentionally having a coughing fit as I’m talking. You need to be civil and respect my right to speak.”
Passive aggression is always utilized because the aggressor hates conflict. If you simply confront them openly about what they’re insinuating, they’re quick to apologize. In general you should use a 3 strikes rule – don’t let 3 comments go by without calling them out. This helps avoid situations where you’ve misunderstood an innocent comment.
Master suppression technique 2:
Your opponent belittles and insults you, rather than addressing any of your points.
Agree and Amplify – One of my absolute favourite techniques. You simply agree with their insult and enlarge it to the point of absurdity. Sometimes it is effective if your exaggeration exemplifies why their insult is ridiculous, but it often works just as well to frustrate an opponent who wants to see you offended. See the quote below for a good example.
“I’m not a paranoid deranged millionaire. Goddamit, I’m a billionaire.” – Howard Hughes
Assume Innocence – You can take the sting out of a underhanded insult by refusing to acknowledge it. This is the opposite of the Rearden Gambit, which is not effective against this technique. If you call attention to an insult, you simply invite the opponent to say “wow, calm down, it was just banter”. Instead, assume that the insult was in fact a compliment. This is especially effective against sarcasm. “Wow, well you’re clearly a genius.”, “Oh, thank you.”
Mushashian Pivot – Miyamoto Mushashi has a quote about swordplay:
“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him.”
This applies just as much to debates as swordplay. It requires finesse, but you can respond to an insult with an insult, as long as it makes a cut. This will require some insight into your opponent. But an effective pivot can make an opponent back off immediately.
Master suppression technique 3:
Your opponent talks behind your back, doesn’t invite you to discussions, meetings, debates. You are forced to make uninformed decisions.
The Rearden Gambit (see above) – One of the only ways to counter this is to call it out. If someone isn’t giving you a chance to present your side, they aren’t your friend and are unlikely to convert to your side. Such people are best avoided, so only engage if you are required to interact with this person (family, work colleague).
Master suppression technique 4:
One of the nastiest master suppression techniques, double bind is when the opponent is punishes your actions regardless of what they are, e.g., work too fast and you’re being sloppy, work too slow and you’re inefficient. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Demonstrate contradiction – Part of the reason this is such a nasty technique is because it can only be applied by a person who has power over you. If it doesn’t matter what their opinion is, the double bind is useless – simply ignore them. For people you can’t avoid, all you can do is lay out the proof. Usually a double bind has much deeper causes though and that anger will manifest in other places. The best move is to get out of this abusive power structure.
Master suppression technique 5:
You are made to feel shame for something you have little or no control over, with the aim of having you believe you deserve your own mistreatment.
Strengthen your Root – This technique is predicated on you having a weak grasp of morality and ethics. If you strengthen your own core beliefs and always act in a way that is in line with your own morality, it won’t be possible to convince you that you are in the wrong when you aren’t. You’ll also be able to construct a good counter argument to present your position. Normally this technique is employed when the opponent isn’t sure who deserves the blame. If you know who does, this will strengthen your argument and give you the moral high ground.
Master suppression technique 6:
Force/threat of force
You are attacked or threatened with physical violence.
Nonchalant Riposte – Non-escalating quip to diffuse tension. Effective against opponents that are likely to attack. You are demonstrating that you aren’t afraid, not trying to insult the person, so don’t use a cutting remark, which could increase hostility.
Fight, not Flight – Physical fights begin with a startup sequence. All creatures, when faced with violence, internally choose between fight or flight. If you can demonstrate the physical properties of the fight state, you can often discourage an aggressor who is looking for an easy target. Keep your chin up, eyes forward. Don’t lock in eye contact, but glance into eyes for a few seconds, then return to the horizon, remaining at eye height. Don’t make sudden movements, but slowly prepare your body for the possibility of attack. Move away slowly and confidently, but don’t turn your back to your opponent completely.
Fighting Stance – If you’re pretty sure you can win, you can push the fight response even harder. Stare into the opponents eyes, chin up, looking down your nose. Widen your eyes, stand up straight, try to look larger. Fix your tongue to the roof of your mouth and close teeth. Speak from the stomach and lower your voice. With the previous counter technique, you should be able to walk away from a fight safely. With this counter technique, your opponent will be the one to walk away.
Those are all of the master suppression techniques. Sometimes objectification is also included, but that can be countered in the same way as ridicule. If you have any other counter strategies, please comment below. I’ll add the best suggestions to the article. If you feel like someone is trying to use one of the master suppression techniques on you and you aren’t sure how to respond, post below and we’ll try to figure it out together.