Most of the time, we build friendships naturally, based on common interests, attitudes and personalities. But sometimes, befriending someone might require a little bit of effort on your part. Luckily, there are a lot of tricks and things you can do to score points with someone and make them instantly like you. Curious to know how to form better relationships? Then read on to find out!
Copy the person you’re with
Many people subconsciously mimic someone else’s behavior, especially when it’s someone they like. Well, if you want the other person to like you back, take control of your body and mirror their behavior on purpose. According to a 1999 study conducted by New York University, copying the body language, gestures, and facial expressions of the person you’re with, called “the chameleon effect”, makes the other person like you more.
In the study, 72 men and women were asked to complete a task together with a partner. The partners (who were on the researchers’ team) sometimes mirrored the participant’s actions, sometimes they didn’t. All interactions were videotaped and analyzed. At the end of the day, participants were asked how much they liked their partners. As expected, participants liked their partners most when the latter copied their behavior. Perhaps Oscar Wilde was onto something when he said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
Spend more time around the people you’re hoping to be friends with
This is called the mere-exposure effect and it refers to the fact that people tend to like things and other people merely because they are familiar with them. In a study carried out by psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh, four female participants pretended to be students during a university psychology class, each of them attending the class several times but not interacting with any of the other students. When male students were shown photos of the four women, the men expressed their attraction and felt a greater connection to the women they had seen more often in class. Case in point: familiarity increases liking not breeding contempt as the saying goes.
Compliment other people
It’s always nice when someone gives you an unexpected compliment, it makes you feel good about yourself. This is also what other people feel when you tell them something nice. Apart from making them feel good, you’re also making them want to be around you more. That’s because people usually associate what you say with your personality, in what psychologists call spontaneous trait transference.
According to one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, this association was made even when people knew the other person did not have any of those traits. According to Gretchen Rubin, author of the book “The Happiness Project,” “whatever you say about other people influences how people see you.” If you say nice things about other people, you will also be seen as a nice person. On the other hand, if you constantly badmouth other people, the negative things you say about them will make you look the same.
Casually touch them
Touching is one of the most effective forms of subliminal communication. Lightly touching someone’s arm or tapping their backs can create a subliminal sense of caring and connection and make the other person feel more relaxed in your presence.
In an experiment conducted in France, young men stood on street corners and tried to engage in conversations with women who walked by. The men who briefly touched the women’s arms as they talked to them were doubly more successful compared to the times they did nothing but talk. In another study carried out by University of Mississippi and Rhodes College, waitresses in a restaurant were asked to subtly touch customers on their arms or shoulders when returning their change. The conclusion was that waitresses who resorted to interpersonal touching received bigger tips than the ones who didn’t.
Try to display positive emotions
Just like yawning is contagious, emotions can also be contagious and influence other people’s emotional state. According to a research paper from Ohio University and the University of Hawaii, people have a subconscious response to the emotions displayed by other people around them. This is based on the same mirroring principle; just like people mirror facial expressions and behaviors, they also ‘mimic’ their feelings. Therefore, if you want others to feel happy and positive when they are around you, try to display positive emotions.
Speaking of positive emotions, smiling is one of the best examples of how to win people over. It’s practically impossible for someone to stay grumpy and upset when you’re genuinely smiling at them. In an experiment conducted by the University of Wyoming, around 100 undergraduate women were given photos of another woman in several poses: smiling in an open body position, smiling in a closed-body position, not smiling in an open body position, or not smiling in a closed body position. The answer was unanimous: the woman was most appreciated in the smiling photos, regardless of what her body position was.
More recent studies by Stanford University and the University of Duisburg-Essen, examined the use of avatars among students. Researchers found that students who interacted with each other through avatars enjoyed interacting more with those with smiling avatars.
More than that, if you want to make sure you get a second date, researchers say you should smile more. In most people’s books, it’s the most powerful way to be remembered and liked.
Tell them a secret
Another thing that makes you more likable is self-disclosure. Telling someone something about yourself (it doesn’t have to be the biggest secret of your life), will help you establish a better connection and build a foundation for a future relationship (not necessarily a romantic one).
In a social experiment conducted by the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the California Graduate School of Family Psychology, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Arizona State University, college students had to spend 45 minutes in the company of a partner and try to know each other a little better. They received a set of questions they could use, which became deeper and more personal towards the end, from “What is your favorite holiday? Why?” to “How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?”. Sure enough, pairs who asked and answered more personal questions felt more connected than students who were given small-talk-type questions.
Show that you can keep their secrets
Apart from self-disclosure, trustworthiness is also something that could gain you extra points. Two studies by researchers at the University of Florida, Arizona State University, and Singapore Management University revealed that people pay great attention and really appreciate traits such as trustworthiness and trustingness in a person, be it a friend, a lover, or even an employee.
According to Suzanne Degges-White of Northern Illinois University, “trustworthiness is comprised of several components, including honesty, dependability, and loyalty, and while each is important to successful relationships, honesty and dependability have been identified as the most vital in the realm of friendships.”
Display a sense of humor
As Charles Dickens once said, “there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” A person with a good sense of humor is also considered witty, smart and much more attractive than someone who’s always serious and introverted.
Studies led by Illinois State University and California State University at Los Angeles revealed that sense of humor is one of the most appreciated and desirable traits, regardless of whether people were thinking about a friend or romantic partner. Researchers from DePaul University and Illinois State University found that using humor on a first date can make your date appreciate you more and want to go out with you again.
Let people talk about themselves
If you want other people to like you and think highly of you, give them the opportunity to talk about themselves as well. Do not make the discussion only about yourself. Everyone loves talking about themselves, so asking a few questions here and there and listening patiently to what they have to say, should do the trick.
According to a Harvard study, talking about yourself may feel just as satisfying and rewarding as food, money, and sex. In one experiment, participants were asked to sit in an fMRI machine and say what they think about certain things or what others think. They were told their answers would be shared with a friend or family member or kept private. When participants knew others will hear their opinions, they felt more motivated and rewarded but these brain regions were also quite active when participants were simply talking about themselves.
Emphasize shared values
If you look back on your friends, you’ll realize that one of the reasons for being friends is because you are similar in some way or another and share the same values (or at least some of them). In a study conducted by Theodore Newcomb, participants had to live together in a house owned by the University of Michigan, where they were analyzed with regards to their opinions on controversial subjects such as sex and politics. The results showed that participants who shared the values and had similar reactions to the topics involved liked each other more.
Show some vulnerability
According to Jim Taylor of the University of San Francisco, one of the reasons people like each other – or quite the contrary – dislike one another, is emotional openness. “Emotional openness, of course, comes with risks that involve making yourself vulnerable and not knowing whether this emotional exposure will be accepted and reciprocated or rejected and deflected,” says Taylor. But it might be a risk worth taking, no matter if you’re looking for the ideal friend or a romantic partner.
Researchers at Illinois State University and California State University at Los Angeles also found that people click better with others who outwardly display emotional expressiveness and openness, and seem to be better companions.