How to make people like you: 6 science-based conversation hacks
So you want to know how to make people like you? It's easier than you think.
Here are six research-backed tips:
1. Encourage people to talk about themselves
It gives their brain as much pleasure as food or money:
Talking about ourselves — whether in a personal conversation or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter — triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money, researchers reported Monday…
"Self-disclosure is extra rewarding," said Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir, who conducted the experiments with Harvard colleague Jason Mitchell. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "People were even willing to forgo money in order to talk about themselves," Ms. Tamir said. [The Wall Street Journal]
2. To give feedback, ask questions
If you use questions to guide people toward the errors in their thinking process and allow them to come up with the solution themselves, they're less likely to feel threatened and more likely to follow through.
It's not you searching for problems; it's him searching for gaps in his thinking process. You want people to look for assumptions or decisions that don't make sense upon further reflection…The more you can help people find their own insights, the easier it will be to help others be effective, even when someone has lost the plot on an important project. Bringing other people to insight means letting go of "constructive performance feedback," and replacing it with "facilitating positive change." [Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long]
Here's more on feedback.
3. Ask for advice
Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, persuasion expert Robert Cialdini and many others have all recommended asking for advice as a powerful way to influence others and warm them to you.
Wharton professor Adam Grant breaks down the science behind it:
New research shows that advice seeking is a surprisingly effective strategy for exercising influence when we lack authority. In one experiment, researcher Katie Liljenquist had people negotiate the possible sale of commercial property. When the sellers focused on their goal of getting the highest possible price, only eight percent reached a successful agreement. When the sellers asked the buyers for advice on how to meet their goals, 42 percent reached a successful agreement. Asking for advice encouraged greater cooperation and information sharing, turning a potentially contentious negotiation into a win-win deal. Studies demonstrate that across the manufacturing, financial services, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries, seeking advice is among the most effective ways to influence peers, superiors, and subordinates. [Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success]
4. The two-question technique
Ask them about something positive in their life. Only after they reply should you ask them how they're feeling about life in general.
Sounds silly, but this method is based on research by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman.
A positive answer on the first question will lead to them feeling more positive about their life in general when you ask the second question:
The same pattern is found if a question about the students' relations with their parents or about their finances immediately precedes the question about general happiness. In both cases, satisfaction in the particular domain dominates happiness reports. Any emotionally significant question that alters a person's mood will have the same effect. [Thinking, Fast and Slow]
More on this powerful technique here.
5. Repeat the last three words
Active listening has incredible power, and hostage negotiators use it to build rapport. What's the quick and dirty way to do active listening without training? Social skills expert and author Leil Lowndes recommends simple repetition: "…simply repeat — or parrot — the last two or three words your companion said, in a sympathetic, questioning tone. That throws the conversational ball right back in your partner's court."
It shows you're listening and interested, and it lets them get back to telling their story. You've got to be slightly savvy about this one, but it's surprisingly effective.
Yes, it is.
Research shows repetition is effective in negotiations as well.
6. Gossip — but positively
Research shows what you say about others colors how people see you. Compliment other people, and you're likely to be seen positively. Complain, and you're likely to be associated with those negative traits you hate:
When you gossip about another person, listeners unconsciously associate you with the characteristics you are describing, ultimately leading to those characteristics' being "transferred" to you. So, say positive and pleasant things about friends and colleagues, and you are seen as a nice person. In contrast, constantly complain about their failings, and people will unconsciously apply the negative traits and incompetence to you. [59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute]
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