Telling Someone Not to Do Something: Why It Makes Them Want to Do It

Human behavior can be a complex phenomenon, especially when it comes to our reactions to being told what to do or what not to do. Many people can attest to the fact that when they're told not to do something, it only serves to increase their desire to do it. Some psychologists have studied this phenomenon and have come up with a plausible explanation for why we feel this way. According to their research, when we're told no, we experience a sense of loss of control and freedom in our lives, which can trigger something called "reactance." Reactance is a psychological response that motivates us to fight back against anyone or anything that threatens our sense of freedom, resulting in an increased desire to do what we've been told not to. This process is known to have significant implications in various areas of life, including parenting, education, and marketing, among others. Understanding reactance can provide valuable insights into how humans behave, and it can help guide our decision-making processes in various aspects of life.

What Does It Mean When Someone Says Not to Do Something but They Do It?

When someone says not to do something but they do it themselves, it creates a sense of confusion and frustration amongst others. It can leave people feeling confused and frustrated as to why the same rule doesn’t apply to everyone equally. Such behaviour is often referred to as double standards, which is a trait that pops up in different areas of life, be it personal or professional. The issue with double standards is that it can lead to resentment, distrust, and a toxic work environment.

There are different reasons why people exhibit double standards, and often it can be attributed to a lack of self-awareness. People tend to be more forgiving and lenient towards themselves and those they share a close relationship with. In such cases, they may not recognize their own errors and believe that their behaviour is justified, while others aren’t allowed to do the same. It can also be a sign of poor leadership, as it sends mixed messages to team members and creates an unequal work environment.

When a boss tells an employee not to do something, such as eating at their desk, while doing it themselves, it can be frustrating and unfair for the employee. They may feel that there’s no point in following the rules if they aren’t being enforced equally. Such behaviour can weaken the relationship between the boss and the employees, leading to demotivation and decreased work productivity. Therefore, it’s essential for bosses to lead by example and follow rules and regulations to create mutual respect and trust amongst team members.

If a person believes in a certain set of morals, then it’s their responsibility to uphold them. To do otherwise creates ethical dilemmas that can affect their reputation and personal integrity. Additionally, it sets a bad example for others, especially those who may look up to them. Leaders and managers must recognise that their actions always speak louder than their words.

People saying one thing and doing another can lead to confusion and resentment in both personal and professional relationships. Such behaviour can bring about mistrust, especially if it’s coming from a person in a position of authority. Leaders must ensure that they lead by example and uphold the same standards they expect of their team members. As a society, we must encourage honesty, transparency, and accountability so that we can all work towards creating a more equitable and just world.

In situations where someone is consistently engaging in behavior that’s bothersome or inappropriate, it can be helpful to have a range of strategies for addressing the issue. While direct confrontation can sometimes be effective, there are also many ways to approach the conversation with tact and respect. Below are several alternative phrases and tools that can be used to respectfully encourage someone to stop doing something that’s negatively impacting those around them.

How Do You Respectfully Tell Someone to Stop Doing Something?

When it comes to telling someone to stop doing something, it’s important to approach the situation with respect and sensitivity. Depending on the context and the nature of the behavior, there are various ways to communicate your message effectively.

One approach is to use direct language that clearly communicates your request. Phrases like “please stop,” “thats not okay,” or “I need you to refrain from doing that” can be effective in getting your message across. Using a firm tone can also help convey the seriousness of the situation.

Another approach is to ask questions that prompt the person to reflect on their behavior. Questions like “why are you doing that?” or “can you explain why thats necessary?” can be used to engage the person in a dialogue and make them aware of the impact their actions are having on others.

If the behavior in question is causing harm or distress, it’s important to prioritize safety and take swift action. In these cases, it may be necessary to involve third parties, such as supervisors, authorities, or support resources.

It’s also important to consider the cultural and social context in which the behavior is occurring. In some situations, it may be more appropriate to use indirect or implicit language, such as using humor or sarcasm to make your point. However, it’s important to recognize that this approach may not always be effective or appropriate, and can sometimes make the situation worse.

By communicating your message clearly and respectfully, you can help prevent misunderstandings, conflict, and harm, and promote a more positive and respectful environment for all.

Reactance is a common phenomenon that occurs when someone feels that their freedom to make choices or decisions is being threatened or restricted. The natural reaction to this is a desire to resist or push back against any attempt to control or persuade them. In the case of being told what to do, individuals often feel as though their autonomy is being compromised, which can lead to a sense of defensiveness and stubbornness. But why does this happen? In the following sections, we’ll explore the underlying psychology behind reactance and how it impacts our behavior.

Why Does Telling Someone to Do Something Make Them Not Want to Do It?

The feeling of freedom and control is something that humans deeply value. When someone tells us to do something, it threatens our sense of autonomy and independence. This feeling can lead to a reaction known as reactance, where we push back against the request, even if it’s something we’d normally be willing to do. The more someone tries to control our behavior, the more likely reactance will occur.

On a neurological level, reactance occurs because the brain processes requests as a threat to our freedom. When someone tells us what to do, the amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for processing threats, becomes activated. This activation triggers a fight or flight response, which can cause us to push back against the request.

Reactance can also be influenced by the way the request is phrased. If someone comes across as pushy or bossy, it’s more likely to trigger reactance. On the other hand, if the request is framed as a suggestion or a choice, it’s less likely to trigger reactance. People are more likely to comply with a request when they feel like they’ve a choice in the matter.

Another factor that can influence reactance is the importance of the request. If the request is seen as trivial or unimportant, people are less likely to experience reactance. However, if the request is seen as important or if it threatens something we value, were more likely to push back against it. When we feel like our values or beliefs are being threatened, reactance can be even stronger.

However, there’s a specific term for the act of telling someone not to do something, only to have them do it anyway. This behavior is known as “beta” or “reverse psychology.” It relies on the power of suggestion and the idea that humans are inherently rebellious creatures who dislike being told what to do. While it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes telling someone not to do something can be the most effective way to get them to do it. But when this tactic is used by someone who’s also guilty of the same behavior, it can come across as hypocritical and insincere.

What Is It Called When You Tell Someone Not to Do Something So They Do It?

This behavior is often referred to as the “forbidden fruit” effect or the “reactance theory”. Essentially, when someone is told they can’t have or do something, it makes them want it more. It’s a psychological response that comes from the desire to maintain control over our own lives. When we feel like someone is trying to take that control away from us, we rebel in order to assert our independence.

The forbidden fruit effect can be seen in many different areas of life, from advertising to parenting. Advertisers often use language that implies scarcity or exclusivity in order to make their products more desirable. For example, saying that something is “limited edition” or “one-of-a-kind” can make people feel like they need to have it before it’s gone. Similarly, parents who forbid their children from doing something may find that their children are even more determined to do that thing simply because they”ve been told not to.

Of course, not everyone responds to forbidden fruit in the same way. Some people are more resistant to others” attempts to control them, while others are more sensitive to it. Additionally, different cultures have different attitudes towards authority and rules. In some cultures, defying authority is seen as a positive trait, while in others it’s seen as disrespectful or even dangerous.

While it can be frustrating when someone you’re trying to instruct refuses to follow your advice, it’s important to remember that this is a natural response. By understanding the psychology behind this behavior, we can try to find ways to communicate more effectively and avoid unintentionally triggering the forbidden fruit effect.


In conclusion, the human mind operates in a way that often contradicts our conscious desires and motivations. When someone tells us not to do something, the urge to do it becomes even stronger because we feel our autonomy is being threatened. This phenomenon, known as Reactance, can have both positive and negative consequences depending on the situation. Recognizing and understanding these psychological processes can help us make better decisions and avoid unnecessary conflicts in both personal and professional settings. It’s important to strike a balance between respecting others' wishes and preserving our own sense of agency and control over our lives.