Subliminal Hacking
The Art and Science of Social Engineering


June 11, 2014

This or That … The Fatal Aggressive Close

Influence and or manipulation is always an interesting topic, and we may often ask ourselves why we came to the conclusion that made us act in a certain way. In the past I have spoken about how we can do the mini brain buffer overflows with things like the yes sets, and how its important to give justifications to our requests with the big because, but on a recent trip to Switzerland for the awesome Area41 Security conference, I decided to try out something I have been reading about in relation to sales techniques, and this is something call the Fatal Aggressive Close.

This is a technique that makes the assumption that the work done selling already had a persuasive influence on the decision to take action, and now its not a matter of if they will do something, its what of your desired outcomes they will choose. So really this is similar to pre-supposition, which is always a good stance to take from a social engineering perspective, meaning its not a matter of if, but when.

When initiating the fatal aggressive close technique, there are a few components that are key. The first is that the options available should be limited and in the positive. It is of course possible that the person you are interacting with opts for none of the above, but its all about playing the odds, and providing the brain with simple decision, the fact you are providing the options, relieves the brain of working to hard, and it likes it easy. So, you really want to provide three decision options, so no complex decision making is needed. In true Derren Brown style you can add a subtle nod as you communicate you most desired outcome as well as a slight tone change to signify the emphasis, but if you have selected your options well, any of the options will be a good outcome for you, but why not sprinkle some extra magic dust to seal the deal 🙂


So what does this sound like in action, well its simple.
In my scenario I wanted to see if I could get an upgrade from economy to business or economy plus. I always ask, but typically have a varied level of success. To add to the challenge, instead of being suited and booted I had camo style shorts on and a marvels avengers tee on, so really looking the part 🙂

Check-In Assistant – Morning Sir, where are you flying to and could I have your passport please.
Me – Morning, sure heres my passport I am flying to Zurich Switzerland.
Check-In Assistant – Thank you sir, let me just check your reservation.
Me – Excellent, thanks. Could you please put me into a space in business or economy plus seating.
Check-In Assistant – Let me look for you sir, but I can only make this booking for your outbound flight only.
Me – That fine, thanks for sorting this for me.
Check-In Assistant – Thank you sir, I have put you in seat 1F business class,  have a great flight.
Me – Thank you, have a great day.

The key point in this discussion is that I didn’t ask if there were any upgrades, I asked to be put in one of my desired seating options. Of course the answer could of been no, or yes at a cost. Also in advance I also said thanks for sorting the upgrade out, before anything was offered, pre-supposing my request will be granted, and hopefully adding more influence and desire to provide me with that I had thanked her for.

I also did a similar approach when I arrived at the hotel, and got a room upgrade 🙂 Excellent.

Try it out and see how you get on in your every day discussions, it could be anything. Will you be adding on free delivery or a 5% discount when I place this order, will you provide a complimentary drink or desert with the meal? Just a couple of examples, remember if you don’t ask you don’t get, and if they so no, you have lost nothing, just remain polite and courteous at all times.


Be Sociable, Share!

    About the Author

    Dale Pearson
    has worked in IT since 1998, Infosec since 2004, and studied and performed hypnosis, mentalism etc since 2009. Dale is a full time Red Teamer with a love of social engineering and qualified hypnotherapist. He spends a great deal of time researching the various skills and techniques that make up the art and science of Social Engineering.

    One Comment

    1. trashy cat


      I was always taught that you ask for what you want – the worst anyone can say is no. I also found options work best… tend to ask for the one I expect I will not get and then the one I really want to get – or expectation. Of course getting the first is striking gold. I have had it turn out on flights many times. I have a little advantage as a cute old lady in a wheelchair – which I play to the maximum down to the little sweet old lady dress. People just generally want to help an when they are in situations where helping has little or no personal cost -like the ticket counter example – it feels emotionally rewarding for them to comply. I actually had a dentist agree to several thousand dollars worth of fillings at 15 dollars instead of the 200 plus a tooth after simply writing a sweet letter and making a phone call.

      I’ve gotten all kinds of access to internet based services by just asking the right way. The last example I wrote to the CEO of a company that provides a viral news service for major newsrooms. I told him that I was very excited about his new service and had used it for some of my college course work and I was investigating the factors that contribute to items going viral but I did not have the 400/month to pay for the service as I am a student. blah blah industry leaders, blah blah grew up in a housing project, graduated top of my class with full scholarship.. blah bah so could he give me access to his service either free – which would be best since right now I am hardly covering the ramen – or for a small fee? I got it for 15/month.

      Story was not true (other than the unemployed broke part lol) but it is being put to good use.

      Ah, I’m ranting. Lovely site again. I’ll check back.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.