How come some people are instantly likable in any social setting?
What’s the magic trick?
And what if I told you it’s actually not as hard as it seems? All you have to do is pay attention to little details and get familiar with 10 psychological tricks.
Don’t believe me?
Let the science speak for itself…
1) Spontaneous trait transference
Our first trick sounds very fancy, but it’s actually super simple in practice.
Spontaneous trait transference happens when you describe a specific trait in someone, and that someone will automatically associate the trait with your own personality.
If you tell Jade that she’s incredibly kind, Jade will be more likely to think that you are kind, too.
This is why one of the best things you can do in any social setting is to offer compliments here and there. Each compliment will not only make the receiver feel better about themselves but will also reflect positively on you.
Pretty cool, right?
2) Emotional contagion
Did you know that emotions could be contagious?
Yep, it’s true. Humans are social creatures, after all, and if the person next to you gets super excited about something, that excitement may transfer onto you, boosting your mood.
Just like seeing someone yawn makes you want to yawn, too (I’ve just yawned thinking about it), emotions ebb and flow between people like a silent undercurrent to every conversation.
It probably comes as no surprise that emotional contagion is key to effective marketing. But even if you’re not looking to sell anything, you can use it to your advantage – if you present yourself as a happy and relaxed person, you’re increasing your chances of appearing likable because you might make others feel good, too.
And at the end of the day, the main thing people remember about you is not your job title or your car, but rather how you make them feel.
3) The pratfall effect
We tend to think that if we want others to like us, we need to put on the best possible performance.
But sometimes, the opposite is the case. When a person who’s usually seen as highly competent – a CEO, a politician, or a celebrity – makes a small blunder, it actually increases their likability and attractiveness. This is referred to as the Pratfall Effect.
And why does it happen?
Because we often put these kinds of people on a pedestal and almost don’t perceive them as fully human, and so witnessing a small mistake brings them down to our level and makes them more relatable.
Remember that this usually only works if you hold a superior position in the first place, though.
If a celebrity spills a glass of water, we like them more. If Kate from next door knocks over a vase, we’ll probably just think she’s a bit too clumsy and should be more careful.
4) The reciprocity of liking effect
No, really. What can I say? People just love being liked. And if they believe that you like them or even if they expect you to like them before an interaction occurs, their chances of liking you back increase.
If you give others the benefit of the doubt and strive to like them from the get-go, you’re automatically boosting your own likability as a side effect.
5) Active listening
Do you know why people love to blabber on and on about themselves?
Because it’s intrinsically rewarding for our brains. According to research, we spend up to 40% of conversations just talking about our own experiences because it activates the dopamine system in the brain.
And what better way to make someone feel good than to actively listen to what they have to say?
The next time you’re having a conversation, try:
- Nodding enthusiastically and chiming in with “Yeah”, “My thoughts exactly”, and “Wow”
- Occasionally maintaining eye contact and showing true engagement
- Asking follow-up questions
Oh, and speaking of questions…
6) Asking questions
Since people love to talk about themselves, it’s probably not that surprising that we also love being asked questions.
And the more questions you ask, the more likable you appear – especially if they’re follow-up questions as those show genuine interest in the topic at hand.
In fact, speed daters who ask more follow-up questions boost their chances of getting a second date with the same person.
So, the next time you go on a date, you know what to do. Ask, ask, ask.
(But don’t make it feel like an interview. Talk about yourself, too.)
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a trick that relates to body language.
Nonverbal communication makes up a huge percentage of human interactions although we may not even realize it, and it often influences how we perceive others on a subconscious level.
From our previous tricks, you’ve probably already surmised that people like themselves – they love to talk about their own experiences, get asked questions, receive compliments, and know that others think of them highly.
And mirroring works on the same principle, except it takes it a notch higher. If your body language subtly mimics someone else’s, that person is more likely to engage with you and form a positive opinion about you.
If they cross their arms, cross your arms, too. If they’re leaning forward, lean forward as well.
Of course, it’s essential that you’re not too obvious.
8) Humor production and receptivity
We all love funny people. We love them so much, in fact, that there are plenty of studies out there that demonstrate the impact of humor on attractiveness.
While it’s not entirely clear why we’re attracted to a good sense of humor, the results show that while women are more attracted to humor production (people making jokes), men find humor receptivity more appealing (people laughing at their jokes).
Depending on who you’re looking to impress, try to make others laugh or show just how funny the person you’re talking to is.
9) Stereotype content model
Stereotype Content Model (SCM) is a model in social psychology which proposes that all social interactions are based on two traits: warmth and competence.
While warmth signals friendliness and trustworthiness, competence shows that you’re assertive and capable. If you display both warmth and competence, people are more likely to approach you, take your advice to heart, and view you through a positive lens.
Add a small blunder to top it all off, and you’ll be the talk of the town!
10) The mere exposure effect
Our final psychological trick to increase likability is to build a routine.
Sounds weird, I know. But hear me out.
According to the mere exposure effect, we might warm up to people and things more if we’re repeatedly exposed to them, enhancing a sense of familiarity.
If you always go to the gym at the same time, you’ll often see the same kinds of people, which may eventually lead to a conversation and friendship.
If you attend a hobby club or walk your dog in the same park every weekend, people will notice your presence over time, instinctively liking you more because you’re familiar to them.
Therefore, my final tip is to try to build a consistent routine that allows you to frequent the same places at the same time every week.
You never know who’ll warm up to you. Somewhere down the line, you might even get a few close and trusted friends – all thanks to the fact that you showed up.
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