Reverse Psychology – Make Yourself Stutter, Hesitate and Get Tongue-tied in order… NOT TO!

By Robby

If you are new here please read this first.

Reverse psychology

Improve Spoken English

Human is a creature of conditioning – the more often you find yourself in situations when your English fluency is compromised, the deeper your mind gets wired to make sure it happens when such conditions are met next time.

For example, if you’ve found it a bit harder to speak in English with a particular person on a couple of occasions, it’s highly likely that this person will cause the same English speech difficulties for you every time they’re around.

If you let it happen for long enough time, you get conditioned to stutter, mispronounce words and find it difficult to verbalize your thoughts whenever you speak to that person or even when speaking with someone else in that person’s presence.

Sometimes the English fluency issue manifests itself in so seemingly random situations that it may look like a totally out-of-hand problem. You may find yourself making plenty of mistakes when speaking in English having had very fluent conversations with other English speakers the day before, for instance, and there’s nothing you can think of that should trigger such behavior.

In order to overcome such issues I recommend different fluency management strategies – starting from speaking slower and pronouncing words clearly, and ending with such non-standard approaches as speaking with a harder accent.

There will be moments, however, when you find it quite difficult to get back to your normal English speech regardless of what strategy you apply.

You may have tried to speak in English in a number of different ways – slowly and fast, with a hard accent and without, but your mind just can’t seem to work properly!

If that is the case, there’s one more trick up my sleeve – reverse psychology!

What is Reverse Psychology and How It Works

To put it simply, reverse psychology is a phenomenon when humans achieve their desired result by not working against the will of others or their own inhibitions, fears and phobias but quite the oppositegoing with them ❗

The reverse psychology phenomenon in society can be observed more often when dealing with other people than in the field of self-improvement.

The easiest example I can think of is when you want little children to do something but they just wouldn’t listen. All you have to do is tell them to do the opposite, tell them to do exactly what you don’t want them to do. In their spiteful mood they will do the opposite thing again, which is what you actually want them to do!

Let’s say, you’re trying to make your kid to eat spinach and he’s refusing to do it and no amount of begging and cajoling is working.

The only thing that might work is to wait a couple minutes and then tell your child in a strict and commanding tone – “OK, this is it. You’ll never ever get to eat spinach in your whole life. I forbid it! From this moment and on you are not allowed to touch spinach!”

It mightn’t work and your child might just walk away having achieved what he wanted. If he likes acting up and disobeying what he’s told, however, he might go out of his way and eat some spinach just for the sake of doing what he’s forbidden.

In the adult world, reverse psychology is more subtle and masked by pretence and scheming.

We all can remember some action film where the main character is being trained very hard for a competition or in order to take revenge and his trainer is constantly criticizing him and pointing out his weaknesses.

Whether it’s a boxing championship or payback for a murdered friend, our hero emerges victorious in the end and it’s all thanks to the constant nagging which made him angry and drove him through the gruesome training drills, and it’s actually what his trainer wanted all along.

The trainer – usually an old man – was only pretending to criticize him because he knew that anger would be a much bigger driving force than contentment and happiness.

It is typical reverse psychology, and you can use it effectively when dealing with your own English fluency problems!

Reverse Psychology and Spoken English

As you may have already guessed, it works by actually forcing yourself to make mistakes, say nonsensical things and speak as fast as you can in English IF it’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid ❗

You’re basically trying to trick yourself into speaking English properly by GOING WITH your inhibitions and hoping that your subconscious will behave like a spoiled child.

You’re saying to your mind – “OK, this is it! I don’t want to speak English fluently anymore! From now on I’m happy to make every mistake imaginable, I’m OK with stuttering and even mispronouncing words and not being able to say what I actually want to say doesn’t bother me at all. I want to make all such mistakes, yes, and that’s exactly how I’m going to speak!”

Ideally what should happen is the following.

You’re sending a signal to your subconscious that you just don’t care any more and that you’re not resisting. Obviously, with no action there’s no counteraction and your own mind should stop playing those nasty tricks on you.

Your stress levels should drop dramatically, and the inhibitions that are partially creation of your own imagination should collapse like a house of cards.

You should feel the inner tension subside and in a weird twisted way your English speech should flow more fluent and suddenly you shouldn’t have much difficulties thinking of the right words to say when saying something in English.

Is it really as simple as I just portrayed?

Well, not really, especially if you apply this reverse psychology trick while you’re having a conversation with someone.

You can do it much easier when you’re on your own, and the only inhibition you may need to overcome is awkwardness about speaking with yourself.

If you’re with someone, there’s still a great deal of fear you have to deal with, so let’s look at it before we wrap up today’s topic of reverse psychology!

Fear Is Strong Only If You Resist It!

I would suggest the reverse psychology strategy in dealing with your English fluency issues before you actually have to speak with someone because it’s going to make it easier for you.

You’ll still probably find it quite tricky to pull it off when you’re practicing with yourself, because it’s not so easy to find that sweet spot when you just CAN’T make a mistake when speaking in English.

But once you’ve got the hang of it, it might even become your second nature, and then there’s nothing to prevent you from using the same fearless, jump-into-cold-water strategy when communicating with real people.

There’s only one factor to overcome – FEAR.

Fear of making mistakes, fear of being humiliated in public, fear of sounding stupid.

Strangely enough, on most occasions it’s this FEAR that causes your fluency issues in the first place, so basically what I’m saying here is:

  • you have to overcome fear in order to deal with English fluency issues;
  • in order to deal with English fluency issues you can resort to reverse psychology;
  • to apply the reverse psychology strategy you have to overcome fear…

Is it some sort of a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle?

Well… Yes, it is!

No matter how you look at it, fear keeps playing the lead role in your English fluency drama, and the only way to deal with it is…

… by using reverse psychology!

I hope I’m not driving you mad, and I also hope you’ll make sense of today’s blog post.

So let’s recap:

  • to deal with a problem when you stutter, say stupid things, make grammar mistakes and can’t choose proper words when speaking in English you can use reverse psychology – force yourself to do all those things and go with the flow!
  • to use this reverse psychology strategy successfully in public, you need to deal with fear of sounding stupid, being humiliated etc;
  • to deal with all these fears, you need to use reverse psychology once more – force yourself to be afraid; just DO IT! Start speaking with that English speaking client in your company you’ve always been very nervous around, and tell yourself – “Now I’m so afraid of speaking with him, common, let’s feel the fear, yes, I REALLY want to be feeling afraid!”
  • when there’s no resistance, your fear of speaking with that person and sounding stupid when you’ll be making all sorts of mistakes becomes smaller and eventually vanishes. Now you can use the reverse psychology on your English fluency issue and force yourself to speak like you’ve learnt the English language only yesterday…

… and you may very well discover that the issue is gone along with all your fears! 😉

Try it, and share your experiences in the comments below!

I’d love to hear from you and also don’t hesitate to ask me any related questions – I’ll be glad to help!


P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!


English Harmony System

P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System
  • You’re welcome Jovanny, and it’s nice that you’ve found the best strategy for your own fluency management.

    But guess what?

    It might change. Well, I hope it doesn’t change for you, but speaking from my personal experience, the strategies I have to employ to keep my fluency in check are constantly changing.

    Sometimes I have to make myself speak slower to get the fluency back.

    Sometimes it’s all about the pronunciation – I start feeling that everything I say gets kind of blurred together and then it’s a clear sign of me overdoing my pronunciation in which case I employ the following strategy:

    And there are times when nothing else seems to work and then I just try to forget about everything when speaking and clear my mind:

    Basically what I’m trying to say is – there’s a number of fluency management strategies for specific situations, but I really hope your newly found strategy of speaking as fast as you can works for you long-term.


    Robby 😉

  • Jovanny Polezh

    Hi there, Robby!

    Thank you for this article!
    All this sounds quite ambiguous, beyond the shadow of a doubt.
    But it is psychology!!!
    be burnt in hell, psychology! 😀
    So to share my own experience, I’d like to speak of the following situation of mine:
    I do find myself a better speak (much more fluent) when I force myself speak faster. It makes my mind working at higher speed. And that’s the case!
    When I speak slowly, my mind, sort of, have time to think about proper pronunciation, about all the options of speaking and so on and so forth!
    That’s the darn case!!
    Speaking faster makes me being more focused on a subject and develop the thought instead of thinking about grammar-related stuff, you know what I mean.
    And I tell you what! … I’m really happy with that discovery. ^_^
    It, sort of, can actually help me to improve myself further!
    And it does not only with English! I can apply this strategy (reverse-psychology thing) onto other aspects of my life!

    It is my personal key, as I see it. I will definitely practise this one and master it.

    Thank you, Robby, for pointing it out!

  • Just remember one thing – practice is the key! Never stop practicing your spoken English!

  • Amit Kansal

    Nice Artical, I am going to follow these technique. I have also seen your video regarding “Getting Stuck on some words like Creat, Product etc…” I am also facing this problem. I hope by following your techniques I can make my fluency better.

  • Pingback: Don’t Overdo Your English Pronunciation!()

  • It does work.

    It’s all psychological. Trying to make a “deliberate mistake” isn’t easy because mistakes by their nature aren’t deliberate. If you try to do it, your subliminal reaction is to work against it, and it frees up your mind and allows you to speak fluently.

  • Hmmm… Kind of odd way to go about things. Sounds like it will work, but does it really work?

  • Answer to question #1 – Yes, if you’re a foreign English speaker who doesn’t experience fluency issues, you would be practising bad speaking habits. This strategy might work for you though, IF you find yourself making plenty of mistakes due to high levels of stress and anxiety; dealing with the issue head-on might just do the trick.

    Answer to question #2 – Yes, just make sure you use dictionary where English words are explained using other English words; it’s crucial to eliminate your native language from the equation!



  • Arquenevis

    “As you may have already guessed, it works by actually forcing yourself to make mistakes, say nonsensical things and speak as fast as you can in English IF it’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid.”

    Question: Hi. I don’t understand. Doesnt that mean I am practicing bad speaking habits?

    Question 2: Not related,  but does getting a dictionary looking for a word that is used a lot, then using it in a sentence help?

  • Thanks Yash, and definitely try it out next time you experience information overload and you can’t get your speech straight!

  • Yash

    A very good article and very informative..i will apply this method