20 Psychological Life Hacks That Can Help You Make the Most of Social Interactions
Recently, I stumbled upon this thread on askreddit. A person was asking for some useful psychological life hacks that can give you an advantage in social situations. As a life-long learner, I love discovering new hacks, so I wanted to see what others suggest.
Some of them are quite obvious, especially for people who have been investing in improving their social life, but I must admit that for some of them I was unaware of.
I was inspired by the whole topic and put together a list with the ones I liked the most. I also added some of my own, inspired by my personal experience and social adventures. Check them out:
1. Assume comfort in any interaction
Our brain is an incredibly complicated instrument and our relationship with it is a love-hate one. We think we have control over it but, in reality, our brain is the one that dictates our actions.
In most of our social interactions, we find it difficult to feel comfortable amongst strangers because our brain requires time to adapt to novelty and exposure.
This, however, is a crucial hindrance when trying to be social and meet new people.
This is why assuming comfort is so powerful. Attempting to feel that you already know the person you are about to meet, puts you in a position of advantage. It increases the chances of people showing interest in you and consequently even liking you.
2. Pay attention to people’s feet when you are approaching them
Interrupting people when they are in the middle of an important conversation, is not a smart thing to do. It communicates that you might lack social intelligence and it can also lead to uncomfortable situations.
When you approach a group of people whilst in a conversation, pay attention to their bodies. If they turn only their torsos and not their feet, it means they are in the middle of an important conversation and they don’t want you to interrupt them.
If they turn both torso and feet, it means you are welcome. This is extremely important because the right timing in such situations may favor your attempt to meet them. Especially if the conversation was boring for both sides.
3. Whenever you have an argument with someone, stand next to them and not in front of them
We’ve all been in situations where, out of nowhere, the conversation escalated into an argument.
I personally feel that arguing is a waste of creative energy and should be avoided at all costs. You might have the best argument in the world, but usually, people get irritated when they feel they are being told they are wrong.
So, whenever you feel that the argument you have with another person is creating tension, move next to them. You won’t appear as much of a threat, and they will eventually calm down.
4. Whenever you need a favor, open with “I need your help”
The complexity of our social fabric demands that we need to cooperate in order to prosper.
However, social dynamics reveal that nobody really likes people who try to manipulate situations. Humans are sensitive creatures and respond to requests positively only when these requests are presented in the right way. So, whenever you need a favor, start your sentence with “I need your help.”
In most cases, people will accept and help you. This occurs because we don’t really enjoy the guilt we feel for not helping someone out.
5. If you want people to feel good, give them validation. Rephrase what they just told you
We love validation. Most of our actions are the outcome of our need for validation. So, what is the best way to get people to like you is to offer the right amount of validation throughout an interaction.
A simple example is when you are in a conversation with another person and they say something really important to them. After they finish, rephrase what they have just said in your own words.
This will make them think that you are a good listener and that you are really interested in them. Such a behavior encapsulates the essence of a validation.
6. If you want to get a positive response from someone, nod while you talk
Getting a positive response from someone is usually something that we seek. Whether it is making a sale or persuading someone to agree with us, we always want to close the deal.
Nodding while you try to deliver your message is a powerful way to get the person to agree with you. People usually respond well to mimicking, so they will most probably nod back while you talk. This will communicate to their brains that they agree with you.
7. Want to see if someone is paying attention to what you are saying? Fold your arms
Usually, when we are in the middle of a conversation, and particularly if we are talking about something very important to us, we become lost in our speech and rarely pay attention to whether or not the other person is following.
Instead of wasting time talking to a person who is distracted and might not even be interested in what you are saying, do this: fold your arms while you talk and see if the other person follows suit.
If the other person is observing you and pays attention, they will most likely mimic your action.
8. Having trouble remembering names? Repeat the other person’s name during the conversation
I am really not good at remembering names. I usually don’t even listen to the other person when they say their name as we are introduced to each other. So, I usually ask a friend to introduce himself to the person so that I can hear the name again. But then I forget it again. Awkward.
Remembering names is very important, as we feel important when someone mentions us. So, the moment you first meet someone, repeat their name. Example:
“Hi, my name is Alex”
“Nice to meet you, Alex. So, Alex, how do you know John?”
Continue to repeat their name throughout the conversation.
9. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait. They will keep talking
This is a very common situation when you don’t know the other person very well, or your question wasn’t clear enough.
If they finish their response without providing a full answer, just wait. Stay silent and retain eye contact.
This will put a bit of pressure on them, but it communicates that you are interested and this enhances rapport.
10. People usually focus on the emotion and not on the subject
This is very useful in public speaking, but also in building rapport. Whenever you introduce yourself to new people, most probably, they have already heard what you are about to say.
That’s not a problem. Even if you want to talk about the dullest topic in the world, make sure to be enthusiastic and to try and evoke emotions.
From my experience, the 3 emotions that you want to evoke are:
If you want to be memorable, focus on these three emotions.
11. Confidence is way more important than knowledge
Two young candidates walk into a recruitment office to apply for the same job. The first one has a PhD, two Masters’ and a Bachelor’s degree. The second has just a Bachelor’s. The first candidate is kind of shy, doesn’t talk much, his body language is really bad. The second has an amazing posture, looks the interviewers directly in the eyes, shows a lot of interest in the job and his answers transmit confidence.
Who do you think got the job?
12. Fake it till you make it
No one becomes an expert on anything overnight. However, the learning process for everything you do is accelerated by urging your brain to think what you want it to think. In simple words: You are what you believe you are.
- You are confident if you believe you are confident
- You are attractive if you believe you are attractive
- You are extrovert if you believe you are extrovert
13. If you want to be persuasive, try and reduce the use of the words “I think” and “I believe”
I don’t really see the need to elaborate on this one. Clearly, these words do not convey confidence and the receiver will, most probably, not take you seriously.
14. A clean and organized environment affects your mood and productivity
How many times have you woken up without any motivation at all? How many times have you started working on something without being able to get focused and inspired?
Next time this happens, take a look around you. Is your environment clutter-free and well-organized? If not, take some minutes to clean it up and put everything into place. You will feel revitalized and productivity will spark in no time.
Why do think most of the big companies pay so much attention to creating the best working environment for their employees? They know what makes them happy and how it affects their productivity.
15. Want to find out which people are close to each other within a group?
Pay attention to the people who are looking at each other when everyone in the group laughs at a joke. People will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to within the group.
16. When you call a person you want to meet, show excitement
Always have this in mind. Excitement is contagious.
People love excitement. It is like an escape from a reality that is usually dull and predictable. Never forget that.
17. Want to build rapport and gain respect? Match body language
This is quite a common topic among body language experts and works well if you want to gain respect from an important person.
You are in a social situation where a person has higher social value compared to others within the group. He or she is the center of attention, and they enjoy it. How do you match their value? By befriending them.
If you want to receive their respect and attention, the best thing to do when you approach them is to match their body language. If they have open body language and they talk with excitement and joy, don’t be shy and self-conscious.
Approach them with the same amount of excitement, and show openness and interest.
18. When someone insults you, either ignore them or mock them. Never lose temper. Always control the frame
Haters and trolls are everywhere. The more you feed their need for attention, the stronger they become. Never lose your temper and never argue with them. Arguing is a waste of creative energy.
19. Stand up straight, have warm hands and always keep eye contact
- Keep a straight posture and walk like an influential figure. This sub-communicates confidence and others will respect you more.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets. If you don’t know what to do with them, it is better to fold your arms rather than to keep your hands inside your pockets.
- Keep your hands warm. If you hand is warm when you engage in a handshake, you immediately become a more approachable person and appear easier to get along with. Secret Tip — wash your hands with warm water often to keep them warm.
- Never lose eye contact. Losing eye contact is like losing your self-esteem.
20. The Benjamin Franklin effect
The Ben Franklin effect is a psychological finding:
A person who has done someone a favor is more likely to do that person another favor than they would be if they had received a favor from that person. Similarly, one who harms another is more willing to harm them again than the victim is to retaliate.
An extraordinary finding.
This is also very helpful in business. When you convince a person to buy your product they are more likely to invest in future purchases too.
21. (bonus) If you work in a bar or in customer service of any kind…
This is great, especially if you work in a bar and you need to face grumpy customers. Do this:
Put a mirror behind you at the counter. When an angry customer approaches you, they will have their reflection in the mirror and will most probably calm down.