Everyone wants to be liked.
On Quora, there’s a lengthy thread dedicated to sharing tips and tricks to win people over.
While reviewing the answers, we noticed a common theme: Focus less on yourself and more on your conversation partner.
Users recommend that you “create the space for others to feel heard and seen”; that you listen actively without trying to come up with the perfect response; and that you look to be impressed by others rather than trying to be impressive to them.
This advice, while not necessarily widely followed, is hardly new. In fact, Dale Carnegie wrote about similar strategies in his 1936 bestseller “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
One of Carnegie’s secrets to making people like you is simply to listen and encourage other people to talk about themselves. Carnegie recalls speaking to a botanist at a party and being so curious about the man’s profession that he had him talking about his work all night.
Before he left, the botanist told Carnegie that he was “most stimulating” and a “most interesting conversationalist” — even though Carnegie hadn’t said more than a few words. Simply being allowed to talk about himself made the botanist feel fondly toward Carnegie.
Other tips in the book include talking in terms of the other person’s interests and making the other person feel important.
Carnegie gives another example, of a bread salesman who was frustrated because he couldn’t win the business of one particular hotel manager. Finally, the salesman found out about a society of hotel executives that the manager belonged to and started talking to him about that experience. Soon after, the manager reached out and made the salesman a deal.
More recently, scientists discovered that talking about yourself is inherently pleasurable; it stimulates the same reward centres in the brain that are lit up by sex, cocaine, and good food. So it makes sense that people would feel fondly toward someone who let them engage in such an enjoyable experience.
Writing on Psychology Today, psychologist Hendrie Weisinger suggests that we feel deeply connected to someone who “respects us enough to listen to our ideas.”
Weisinger recommends responding to what people say instead of initiating a new topic, and showing that you understand by “paraphrasing or summarizing what you think the person is communicating.”
Ultimately, these strategies should help remove some of the pressure during interactions with new people. Instead of thinking about what you should say and do to make a positive impression, you can focus instead on how the other person is feeling at the moment.
If they’re in the spotlight and you’re a receptive audience, chances are good they will be happy with how the interaction is going.
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