In eastern massage techniques there are some sensitive points on body (and even some particular veins) that the massage therapist takes them or massages them and in this way the therapist would be able to put someone into sleep easily.

In my mother language there is an idiom which is used when you want to say:

I know someone's sensitive points and I can use them if they disagree to do something and change their opinions (meaning that I will talk to them into doing that specific thing or somehow I can persuade them to do something.)

I've heard three different sentences than it seems they can be used in this sense, but first I have no idea if they are natural and second I don't no they work here or there is a better choice here.

My Scenario [a conversation between a brother and a sister]:

  • Dan, I'm sure mom won't buy that for us.
  • Don't worry Diana! .......

a) I have mother’s number when it comes to that.

b) I know what makes mom tick.

c) I know mother’s soft spot.

  • A possible analogy is "pressure point", though that is typically the opposite context. A "pressure point" is a point on the body that causes severe pain when pressure is applied to it. And would typically be used to indicate an aggressive coercion rather than taking advantage of someone's affection for you.
    – mstorkson
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 16:14
  • A common usage in this area (more "technological than "biological") is I know how to push/press her buttons. But there must be dozens of relevant usages - it's just a matter of opinion (and exact context) which might be preferred. Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Each of the three sentences you mention are idiomatic, and all relate to understanding a person's character. However I would argue that there are shades of difference between them when it comes to using them in the scenario you describe.

I have mother’s number when it comes to that.

To have someone's number is to understand a person's character, capabilities, or situation, and is generally used in the context of knowing them well enough not to be tricked by them, rather than the other way around. E.g. 'I’ve got your number – don’t think you can fool me.'

I know what makes mom tick.

To know what makes someone tick is to know what motivates or excites someone, or what makes someone behave in a certain way. It relates more to understanding that person's deep-seated passion for something, than to being able to talk them into doing what you want, though the expression could be bent into that form. E.g. 'I enjoy art, but photography really makes me tick.'

I know mother’s soft spot.

To know someone's soft spot is to know their weakness or vulnerability, particularly when it comes to getting them to do what you want.

Of the three, this expression is probably the most suitable for what you are trying to say. Another alternative would be

I have mom wrapped around my little finger.

meaning to have the ability to easily persuade mom to do what you want her to do

  • 2
    Also "I know her weakness" or "I know her weak point". "How can I get Sherry to look up that data for me?" "Well, she has a weakness for chocolate ..."
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 19:18

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