Psychology professor Jack Schafer worked for many years as a special agent of the FBI, teaching others how to apply methods of influence and persuasion. He claims that there is one golden rule which, if followed, guarantees that someone will like you: ’Make a person like themselves.’
But how can you achieve this? Here are six expert pieces of advice from Jack which he claims work every single time.
1. Make a mistake
When Jack Schafer begins a semester with a new class of students, he will always make a mistake pronouncing a word, as if it was accidental (when in fact it was deliberate), and allows his students to correct him. ’I pretend that I’m embarrassed and thank them for correcting me,’ he says.
Jack uses this method in order to achieve three specific aims. Firstly, correcting the mistake of their teacher gives his students confidence. Secondly, this will help them to relax and in turn to talk more freely with him. Thirdly, it will allow them to feel that they can make mistakes as well.
This method can help you to make any person like you. Showing people that you are not infallible always reveals that you’re human and generates the beginnings of a bond.
2. Talk to people about themselves
Often, people are completed absorbed in themselves and have very little interest in others whom they meet. In order to get people to like us, we have to be interested in them.
American writer Dale Carnegie once said that ’You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you’, and he was right.
So was Robert K. Holz, an academic, when he said that: ’When people talk about themselves, it doesn’t matter whether they’re having a face-to-face conversation or it’s being done over a social network — in either case, the same centres of pleasure in the brain will be activated as would be caused by food or money.’
These two quotes underline just how important it is to talk to people about what’s going on in their lives, in order to in turn earn their friendship. Be interested in their families, biographies, children; their opinions in this or that issue. They’ll be grateful to you subconsciously.
3. Give a compliment from a third party
Sometimes, compliments spoken directly to a person sound too obtrusive. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with receiving them. It’s better to offer a compliment from a third party. If you want to forge a better relationship with your colleague in the accounts department, for example, you might say: ’our personnel manager told me that you’re the most conscientious person in the company.’
Using this method doesn’t always have to be in a work context, of course — it can be used anywhere, in personal relationships as well as professional ones.
4. Don’t forget to show sympathy
All of us likes to know that their views and thoughts are listened to attentively and that people feel for them. Of course, it’s not so easy as simply saying mechanically, ’oh, how terrible!’ whenver someone describes their misfortunes. But you can find a more natural way to express sympathy depending on the situation — as well as show that you are happy for them when they achieve success.
If someone says they’ve had a bad day, you might respond: ’Who hasn’t?’
If someone tells you’ve they finished a difficult project, you might say: ’Well done! That’s great! I’m glad things are going well for you.’
You have to convince the person you’re talking to that you share their feelings and understand what they’re going through. If you’re trying to give someone support, don’t just repeat what they say. People often take repetition to indicate that you don’t really care.
5. Asking a favour
Ben Franklin observed that if he asked a colleague for a favor, the colleague liked him more than if he did not ask him for a favor. This phenomenon became known as the Ben Franklin Effect. At first glance, this seems counterintuitive. If you ask a person for a favor, you would think you would like the person more because they did you a favor; however, this is not the case. When a person does someone a favor, they feel good about themselves. The Golden Rule states that if you make a person feel good about themselves, they will like you. Asking someone to do you a favor is not all about you. It is all about the person doing you the favor. Do not overuse this technique, because Ben Franklin also said, ’Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days’ (as do people who ask too many favors.)
Getting people to like you is easy if you follow the Golden Rule. But following it is the hard part, because we must put the interest of others above our own.
6. Allow people to flatter themselves
The line between a compliment and flattery is very thin, so it’s much better to try to get people to flatter themselves. This technique avoids the problem of seeming insincere when complimenting someone. When people compliment themselves, sincerity is not an issue, and people therefore rarely miss an opportunity to do so.
If someone says to you ’I had to work day and night to close this deal,’ you can respond with: ’You have to be really committed to your work to do that!’ You’re guaranteed to get an answer along the lines of ’Well yeah, I am seriously committed to what I do. I try my best, always.’
This sort of thing requires a lot of practice. But it will definitely work once you get the hang of it!
Bear in mind that none of this advice is an endorsement for acting deceptively. Instead, it can help you to forge better relationships with others, to the benefit of yourself and the rest of the world.