1. Trick: Get someone to do a favor for you—also known as the Benjamin Franklin effect.
Legend has it that Benjamin Franklin once wanted to win over a man who didn’t like him. He asked the man to lend him a rare book and when the book was received he thanked him graciously. As a result, this the man who had never wanted to speak to him before, became good friends with Franklin. To quote Franklin: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
Scientists decided to test this theory and found that those who were asked by the researcher for a personal favor rated the researcher much more favorably than the other groups did. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the theory is pretty sound. If someone does a favor for you, they are likely to rationalize that you must have been worth doing the favor for, and decide that therefore they must like you.
2. Trick: Ask for way more than you want at first then scale it back later.
This trick is sometimes known as the door in the face approach. You start by throwing a really ridiculous request at someone—a request they will most likely reject. You then come back shortly thereafter and ask for something much less ridiculous—the thing you actually wanted in the first place. This trick may also sound counter-intuitive, but the idea behind it is that the person will feel bad for refusing your first request, even though it was unreasonable, so when you ask for something reasonable they will feel obliged to help out this time.
Scientists tested this principle and found that it worked extremely well as long as the same person asked for both the bigger and smaller favor, because the person feels obliged to help you the second time and not anyone else.
3. Trick: Use a person’s name, or their title depending on the situation.
Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, believed that using someone’s name was incredibly important. He said that a person’s name is the sweetest sound in any language for that person. A name is the core part of our identity, and so hearing it validates our existence, which makes us much more inclined to feel positively about the person who validated us.
But using a title, or form of address can also have strong effects, according to the as if principle. The idea is that if you act like a certain type of person, you will become that person, it’s a bit like a self fulfilling prophecy. To use this to influence others, you can refer to them as what you want them to be, so they will start thinking of themselves this way. This can be as simple as calling an acquaintance you want to be closer to “friend,” or “mate” whenever you see them, or referring to someone you want to work for as “boss.” But be warned: this can come off as very corny.
4. Trick: Mirror their behavior.
Mirroring is also known as mimicry, and is something that some people do naturally. People with this skill are considered to be chameleons; they try to blend into their environment by copying other people’s behaviors, mannerisms and even speech patterns. However, this skill can also be used consciously, and is a great way to make you more likable.
Researchers studied mimicry, and found that those who had been mimicked were much more likely to act favorably toward the person who had copied them. Even more interesting was their second find that those who had someone mimic their behavior were actually nicer and more agreeable to others in general—even those not involved in the situation. It is likely that the reason why this works is that mirroring someone’s behavior makes them feel validated. While this validation is likely to be most positively associated with the person who validated them, they will feel greater self-esteem and thus be more confident, happier and well disposed towards others.
5. Trick: Paraphrase people and repeat back to them what they just said.
One of the most positive ways to influence others is to show them that you really understand how they feel, that you have real empathy for them. One of the most effective ways to do this is by paraphrasing what they say and repeating it back to them, also known as reflective listening. Studies have shown that when therapists used reflective listening, people were likely to disclose more emotion and have a much better therapeutic relationship with the therapist.
This easily transfers over to talking to your friends. If you listen to what they say, and rephrase it as a question to confirm that you understood it, they are going to be more comfortable talking with you. They are also going to have a better friendship with you and be more likely to listen to what you have to say, because you showed that you care about them.