THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SOCIAL SITUATIONS
Social situations are among the most important in our lives. Yet, there is a huge chance that you are oblivious to the plethora of unwritten social rules that structure everybody’s behaviour. I know I was. After many years of successful and enjoyable social interaction, I fell into depression after the failure of my marriage and subsequently became a hermit. Once I was back on my feet again, I almost had to retrain myself on how to socially interact. I needed to rebuild my confidence and start afresh on how to enjoy socialising, especially considering a lot of it was was work-related. It was imperative to capitalise on relationship development. Failing to comply to these cultural imprints can cause irreversible damage. I found that merely following them blindly will not get you ahead. Hacking them, however, will give you the best possible results.
Here’s a list of things that helped me, folks. Hope some of them help you.
1) Assume comfort in any interaction.
We like to think we have control over our brain, however usually something unconscious dictates our actions.
In most of our social interactions, we find it difficult to feel comfortable among strangers because our brain tries to protect us from exposure and vulnerability.
This is why assuming comfort is so powerful. Commanding your brain 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 one of the most annoying things you can do. It shows that you have zero knowledge of social dynamics and a low level of emotional intelligence, which can lead to unpleasant social situations.
When you approach a group of people while in a conversation, pay attention to their bodies. If they turn only their torsos and not their feet, it can mean 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 usually means you are welcome. This is extremely important, because the right timing in such situations may put you in a position of advantage, 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.
You may have the best argument in the world, but nevertheless, people get irritated when they feel they are wrong.
So, whenever you feel that the argument you have with another person creates tension, move next to them. You won’t appear as much of a threat, and they will eventually calm down, unless they’re a dramatic dumbass.
4) Whenever you need a favor, open with “I need your help.”
When it comes to platonic relationships, nobody likes an asshole. In fact, whatever situation, no one ever likes an asshole. Whenever you need a favor, start your sentence with “I need your help.”
In most cases, people will accept your request and help you out. Because we don’t really like the guilt of not helping someone out and we do like to be the one who is capable of helping. When a request begins with, “Can I ask a favour?”, it straight up sets a negative expectation.
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.
A simple example, is when you are in a conversation with another person and they say something which they deem really important. After they finish, rephrase what they just said in your own words. That’s validation, for you.
This will make them think that you are a good listener and that you are really interested in them. It makes them feel the center of attention.
6) If you want to get a positive response from someone, nod while you talk.
This one is extremely powerful and also a bit manipulative especially if the person is suggestive. So use it with your own responsibility and in an ethical way.
Getting a positive response from someone is usually what we want. Whether it is making a sale, or promoting a viewpoint, we always want people to get on board.
Nodding while you try to deliver your message is a powerful way to get the person to agree with you. People usually like mimicking, so they will most probably nod back while you talk. This will subsequently communicate to their brains that they have to agree with you.
7) Want to see if someone is paying attention to what you are saying? Fold your arms.
When we are in the middle of a conversation and especially if we talk about something very important to us, we get lost in our talking and rarely pay attention to whether the other person is following or not.
So instead of wasting time talking to a person who is distracted and might not give a shit in what you are saying, fold your arms while talking and see if the other person follows your move.
If the other person is observing you and pays attention, they will most likely mimic you.
8) Always remember people’s names. Repeat the other person’s name during the conversation.
If you miss their name at the moment of introduction, you can ask a friend to introduce themselves to the person, so you can catch the name again. But don’t forget it again. (I hate it when that happens.)
Remembering names is important because we feel so good and important when someone mentions us. So the moment you meet someone repeat their name.
“Hi my name is Alex”
“Nice to meet you Alex. So, Alex, how do you know John?”
And 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 that well or your question wasn’t clear enough.
If they finish the answer without providing a full answer, just wait. Stay silent and keep eye contact. If the tension becomes unbearable, perhaps raise your eyebrows in an inoffensive way
It puts a bit of pressure on them but it communicates that you show interest. It also sub-communicates that you are a person that usually gets what you want.
10) People usually focus on emotions and not on subjects.
This is very useful in public speaking but also in building rapport with an acquaintance. Whenever you introduce yourself to new people, they most probably have already heard what you are about to say.
That’s not a problem. Even if you want to talk about the most boring topic in the world, make sure of one thing: Evoke the emotions.
From my experience the 3 emotions that you want to evoke are:
• Intrigue: Leave a little mystery so the other person has to invest energy to hear more. Don’t be purposely distant, but avoid verbal diarrhea.
There are many techniques to turn a boring conversation into an exciting and intriguing one.
Pause: A lot of the time when we want to keep someone’s attention, we tend to talk really fast, but this subcommunicates neediness and nervousness. A well-placed pause can create tension that makes your words have more gravitas.
Tone and Inflection: No one finds monotone exciting. Switch up your tone of voice from deep for declarative statements, to high inflection when you want to leave them guessing.
Paint pictures and compose symphonies in their mind with sensory details: When telling a story, take the person you’re talking to on an emotional journey by describing the colors, sounds, textures, tastes, smells, and how they made you feel. This will cause their mirror-neurons to fire off, making it easier for them to imagine actually being there with you.
So if you want to be memorable, focus on the emotion behind the words. People may forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made. them feel.
* read 8 Ways to be UBER Charismatic*
11) Confidence is more important than knowledge.
Two young candidates walked into the interview office to apply for the same job. The first one had a Phd, two Masters and a Bachelor’s degree. The second one had just a Bachelor. The first one was kind of shy, didn’t talk much, his body language was turned inward. The second one had an upright posture, was looking the interviewers directly in the eyes, showed a lot of interest in the job and his answers where emitting confidence. You don’t have to be a moron to guess which one should have got the job. Unfortunately, with the amount of morons doing the actually hiring, one may never know which one actually would get the job.
12) Fake it until you make it.
No one became an expert on anything over night (except my former brother-in-law). However, the learning process in everything you do is accelerated by commanding 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
Google Neuroplasticity and brain rewiring.
13) Pose in a Power Stance.
More concrete as a mantra or belief. Go stand in the mirror, put your hands on your hips, thrust your pelvis forward, pull your shoulders up, back and down, open up your chest, tilt your head up, and force the biggest smile you can possibly manage to fit across your face. Even if you consciously know you’re just faking it and feel like a dick, your brain can’t tell the difference, and will release endorphins to match your body position.
14) If you want to be persuasive, try and reduce the use of the words “I think” and “I believe.”
I don’t really feel the need to elaborate on this one. Obviously these words do not evoke confidence and the other person will most probably not take you seriously. Change them to ‘I know’ and ‘I will’.
15) A clean and organised environment affects your mood, productivity, and others perception of who you are.
Take a look around you. If not clean and shit everywhere, clean it up and put everything into place. You will feel refreshed and reborn and productivity will spark immediately. But not only that, you will come across as caring and punctual, two highly esteemed traits.
Perhaps why some companies pay so much attention to creating the best working environment for their employees.
16) Want to find out which people are close to each other within a group and who is perceived as the leader?
Pay attention to who is looking at each other when everyone in the group laughs at a joke. People instinctively look at and agree with the person they feel closest to within the group.
17) Whenever you call a person you want to meet, show excitement!
Always have this in mind. Excitement is contagious. Why do you think the music video from Pharrell Williams – “Happy” got so many views and so many people were talking about it?
18) Want to build rapport and gain respect? Match body language.
Body language experts harp on about this all the time and it works well if you want to gain respect from a person that has high value.
You are in a social situation where a person has higher value among others within the group. They are the center of attention and they’re loving it. Befriend them.
If you want their respect and attention the best thing to do when you approach them, is to match their body language and speaking patterns. If they have open body language and they talk with excitement and joy, don’t go there with crossed arms and with an attitude of negating their words. I hate people who negate everything you say, just so they can fool themselves into thinking they’re actually quite secure within themselves.
Approach people with the same amount of excitement and show openness and interest.
19) When someone insults you, either ignore them or take the piss out of them intelligently. Never lose your temper. Always control the frame.
Haters are everywhere. The more you feed them with hate, the stronger they become. Never lose your cool.
19) Stand up straight, have warm hands and always keep eye contact.
• Keep a straight posture and walk like a born leader. This sub-communicates confidence and others will respect you automatically.
• 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 keep them inside your pockets.
• Keep your hands warm. If you have a warm hand when you shake somebody’s hand, you immediately become a more desirable person to get along with. Secret Tip – wash your hands with warm water often to keep them warm.
• You have heard this a thousand times. I’ll hit you with the 1001st. – never lose eye contact! Losing eye contact is like losing your confidence. One cool trick when first meeting someone is to focus on their eye color and smile at the same time. The eyes are the gateway to their soul, and taking the extra second to gaze shows you are confident and present. (Move your eyes away periodically, a constant stare will creep people out.)
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.
This is an unbelievable finding. In social situations, you can hack this by making someone do something small for you, then asking for your true favor. It’s such a small favor that they will say yes, and due to cognitive dissonance their brain will rationalize that they must like you enough to do you a favor in the first place. This is also called the foot-in-the-door effect.
21) Don’t be afraid to touch another person.
Touching someone on the shoulder or their knees creates an emotional and physical bond. Especially during moments of joy, laughter and excitement touching positively reinforces these traits.
22) Use the door-in-the-face hack.
The opposite of foot-in-the-door. Make an unreasonably large request that will most likely be turned down, and follow up with your true intended, more reasonable request. The other person will be more likely to agree to the second request.
23) Always frame a request as a choice.
No one likes to feel pressured into doing something they don’t want to do. By rephrasing a request in a subtle manner, you can make the person feel like they came to the decision on their own terms.
Homeless people who say things like, “it’s up to you if you want to donate or not” end up making more money than those who simply ask for money. The same is generally true for bands that offer the “pay what you want” structures for their music. They know you can easily download their music for free off the internet, so they encourage you to pay what you feel is right.
A slightly more aggressive technique is the assumptive close:
This is a classic sales technique that can be used in any social situation. Instead of asking for permission, “do you want to donate/go on a date/get something to eat” assume that the person already does. Of course, you can’t just force someone to do something, but a leading question can nudge them in the right direction: “Would you like to donate 5 dollars or 10 dollars?”
Instead of giving them the option of simply saying yes or no, they now have to actively deny your request and feel like an asshole.
24) If you work in a bar or in customer service of any kind…
Put a mirror behind you at the counter. When an angry customer approaches you, they will have to see themselves in the mirror and will most probably calm down.
25) Chew gum if you are nervous.
Evolutionarily speaking, our brains assume that if we are eating then we aren’t in any immediate danger, so the fight or flight response is weakened.