Nowadays, there are so many books on psychology that we wouldn’t be able to read all of them, even if we wanted to. And an entire lifetime wouldn’t be enough to put all these pieces of advice into practice. And for all we know, half of them could turn out to be a waste of time.
We decided to simplify the task and find out what psychological tricks really work. The bonus feature at the end of the article will show you a not-so-useful but interesting trick that you’ll definitely want to try out.
- Try to use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. People generally feel on the offensive when you put something on them, especially when there’s an issue. For example, “You did this wrong, can you try it again a different way?” Putting the blame on them makes them feel like you’re accusing them. Consider saying, “I’m not sure if this is right, can we try this again a different way?” The latter doesn’t contain the assumed accusation and shows that you’re in it together, not just criticizing them and then leaving. I try to implement it even when it’s not a problem statement. Instead of saying, “Let me know if you need help with anything else,” I usually say, “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.”
- I always smile when I see and approach or get approached by anyone so they immediately think I’m happy to see them. It makes me a lot of friends and helps conversations start better too!
- If you encounter a grumpy, rude customer at work, clarify that you appreciate their patience and understanding. They think to themselves, “You’re right. I am super patient and understanding!” even though that might not have been the case.
- If someone is talking about a subject that I am already well informed about, to come off as more humble and let the other person have the enjoyment of expressing their knowledge, I will express what I know in the form of a question.
- If you’re talking to somebody, mimic their facial reactions in the conversation. Smile when they do, crease your brow when they do, etc. You have to work to make it seem natural and not like you’re purposefully imitating them, but if you pull it off, they’ll walk away thinking better of you.
- When asking a stranger for help, just cut right to the chase with your question/request, then exchange some pleasantries after. What people tend to usually say is: “Hi, how are you doing, I’m so-and-so. Hey, can I ask something…” It makes the introduction seem less genuine, like it was only to ease your way into something you want/need.
- Whenever someone is showing you around or demonstrating something to you, open your mouth ever so slightly. Doesn’t have to be much, barely a centimeter is enough. It makes you look intrigued and fascinated by whatever it is you’re being shown.
- There was a girl at work I had a crush on, so every time we talked I would give her some of her favorite candies. I did it for weeks until she would seek me out and make excuses to come to see me before leaving for the day.
- Listening to someone without giving advice or pushing for more information typically nets me more information than being pushy about it.
- Yawning is contagious. I use it to catch people who had been looking over at me.
- If a customer is angry, just let them talk until they finish. Don’t interrupt, but occasionally say things like “okay,” and “I understand” so they know you’re listening. Make mental notes, and once they’re finished, summarize what they said. Most angry customers just want an affirmation that you actually paid attention to the reasons they were upset, and once they get that off their chest, they’re way more willing to work with you to resolve whatever issue they’re having. If we have a follow-up call, I’ll usually ask again about the things they were upset about on the previous call, and they’re usually pleasantly surprised to know I actually remembered.
- If you ever are in a competition (like in sports or whatever else) that requires a lot of skill and your opponent is beating the h*** out of you, say, “Man! You’re playing great today! C’mon, tell me — how are you doing that?” Asking them something like, “How are you doing that?” forces them to actively think about what they’re doing and, in the process, it screws up their great performance.
- You really don’t have to add much to be part of a conversation. Just occasionally repeating part of the other person’s sentences as a question can be more than enough to continue their momentum. I learned it in a negotiation masterclass.
- Paris Hilton taught me that if someone asks you to do something and you don’t want to do it, do a bad job the first time and you won’t get asked to do it again. I’ve used that trick the past 10 years and it works every time.
- I ask someone to do me some small, trivial favor before asking them for a major favor.
- Ask people for things they want to do/don’t mind doing, as if they’re favors to you, as if you’ll owe them after this. People like feeling useful. People like feeling like they’ve helped people — not necessarily because they’re nice, but because the “ability to help” implies some sort of power.
- So this is more for parents or people in some position of authority. The best way to get someone to do what you think they should is to give them options. So they have a problem. List a bunch of solutions and the one you think is best. End it with: “I personally like this one and would do it, but it’s your choice.” 99% of the time, they’ll go with the one you wanted but are convinced they made the decision themselves.
- When you’re talking to someone but don’t want to keep talking, randomly look at the middle of their forehead, as if they have something there. That will unconsciously make him feel uncomfortable and it may end the conversation, or you can do it yourself and it will not seem rude. I use it all the time with people who I’m not necessarily excited about talking to.
- I’ve noticed that people will let me do kind things for them if they think I’m doing it for selfish reasons. “No, let me cook for you! I need to practice making this dish!”
- When you’re annoyed with someone, just agree. Doesn’t matter what they’re saying, just agree. They run out of steam quickly when you don’t fuel the fire.
- Sometimes staying silent in a negotiation works in your favor. Silence often feels uncomfortable so the other party will offer up something by filling the quiet space with words. I used it once to negotiate something with my boss. I stated my case. He hmmed and ummed for a bit to himself. I remained silent, and he relented. Had I filled that silence with more words, it could’ve given him time to think of a way to say no.
Bonus: a not-so-useful but interesting trick
- Looking people in the eye and handing them something. I almost got fired because I was talking to my boss and I just handed him a garbage bag I was holding and walked away. It took him a solid minute to realize what happened and I was already gone. The only reason I didn’t get fired is that he had no idea who handed it to him. He said if he found out they were done. This was a month ago and I just got a raise and the title, Employee of the Month.