30 Psychological Tricks That Will Make You the Smartest Person in the Room
What if you never had to suffer through another awkward situation again? Whether it's a blind date, delivering a speech in front of the class or running a business meeting, uncomfortable situations can be avoided with a little bit of human psychology know-how.
Even though you can’t read the minds of others, plenty of cues can tell you what people are thinking and feeling — if you know how to read them. Try these 30 psychological mind tricks that will make you the smartest person in the room. They are backed by scientific evidence and can save you a lot of stress and heartache.
How Much Eye Contact Is Too Much?
With too much eye contact, you seem intrusive. With too little eye contact, you seem elusive. First impressions are everything, and it’s important to get it right. You don't need to stare into the soul of every person you meet, but a quick little mind trick can help you achieve the perfect amount of eye contact. Rather than focusing on the eye contact, think about determining the eye color.
Stand Beside Your Enemies
An angry person interprets anything you do as an act of aggression. When you're standing right in front of someone, you are quite literally going head to head with them. They can see your every move and hear your every word, which makes it easier for them to put a negative connotation on your actions.
Use the Bookend Effect to Your Advantage
People are most likely to remember the first and last things you do. A negative first impression is hard to forget, but a very positive final impression is an opportunity to make up for it. Always end with a bang! In both your professional and your personal life, plan your final interactions with people to be memorable.
A Surefire Way to Make Everyone Like You
Of course, there are dangers to being too much of a people pleaser, but it’s generally a positive thing for people to like you. As long as you do it with sincerity, people love being complimented, and they love being heard. Find something nice, sincere and situation-appropriate to say to someone — and watch them come to life.
That's Excitement, Not Nerves
Did you know that negative anxiety and positive excitement cause all the same reactions within the body? For both emotions, cortisol is released into the bloodstream, the same areas of the brain become active and breathing and heart rates increase. This makes it very easy to mentally control anxiety by telling yourself that you're actually just excited.
People Are Sheeple
Regardless of age and education, people tend to follow each other, and everyone wants to fit in. If you’re having a conversation with someone, that person wants to fit in with you. When you need someone to calm down, speak at a slow, calm pace. Breathe loudly and steadily and whisper.
How to Get a “Yes” to Anything
People are more likely to agree to something if it seems like less work for them. For example, if you want your parents to pay for your wedding reception, don't ask for that outright. Instead, ask them to pay for the DJ. Once they agree to that, ask about paying for the catering. Finally, ask them to pay for the decorations.
Just Be Honest
When you’re asking someone for help, start the conversation by specifically saying you need help. That phrasing tugs at their inner sense of altruism — their need to help others. When you say you need help, people develop a sense of duty toward you.
Kill Them with Kindness
From a psychological standpoint, the person who came up with the phrase "kill them with kindness" may have been a little more sinister than you thought. When someone is mad, the most effective way to make them angrier is to absolutely refuse to reciprocate their anger. Stay calm — and don't scream. Just make reasonable, non-retaliatory statements without arguing.
Let Them See Themselves
If you work in a setting where you're likely to face angry customers (or fellow workers), position a mirror behind you so anyone who approaches you can also see themselves. Even the most belligerent people catch of glimpse of themselves and realize that going ballistic on someone doesn't look good and isn’t socially acceptable.
The Real Way to be a Handshaking Pro
Whether it makes sense or not, people — especially in the corporate world — put a lot of stock in handshakes. Across generations, opinions on what makes a good handshake differ. Depending on who's on the receiving end, a bone-crushing handshake could be viewed as perfect or offensive, but there's one thing that everyone agrees on: No one likes a freezing cold handshake.
It's Easier to Get Friends When You Already Have Them
How many ugly clothes have you bought simply because the styles were popular? That logic explains why not having friends may be keeping you from finding friends. People are attracted to things — and that includes people — that other people want. That means people are more likely to become friends with someone who already has a lot of friends. Others may not see your value until they see that other people value you.
Never Ask for Help in a Group Text
Have you heard the stories where dozens of people walked by and did nothing as someone died on the street? It’s called the bystander effect. For whatever reason, when other people around, people are less inclined to personally help because they believe someone else will surely step up. The bystander effect also proves true in less critical situations.
See It, Do It, Teach It
To children, teachers seem like the smartest people in the world — and the smartest among them use a psychological hack for learning every day. Many versions of this idea exist, but it’s often credited to a physicist named Richard Feynman. Any new skill can be cemented into your memory by seeing it done, doing it yourself and teaching someone else to do it.
Earworms, Be Gone!
To get rid of an earworm — thankfully, a song you can't get out of your head and not a real worm — give in to it and play the entire song. Really listen to the song and sing along with any lyrics you can remember. You probably mentally sing hundreds of songs each day, but earworms stick out because the mind keeps "singing" one portion of the song over and over.
Mastering the Art of Conversation
If you're not good at maintaining conversation, you probably think that more practice is what you need to improve, but that's not always the case. If you want other people to feel good about talking to you, you need to get them to do most of the talking. People love to talk about themselves. Ask questions that scratch just under the surface, and let them tell you all the details.
Don't Save Fun for the Weekend
The weekend only represents two out of every seven days. People who put too much emphasis on the weekend are more likely to feel depressed and disengaged about school, work and any other activities they engage in during the week. Track your feelings in a journal for a week.
Shoot for the Stars
Deep down, everyone wants to make other people happy. This trick is similar to the idea of asking for smaller things, but it works in reverse. Rather than asking someone to do what you actually want, ask them for something outrageous. They will undoubtedly say no to the over-the-top request, opening the door for a better answer to your true request.
There Is Good Gossip
Grownups should be mature, but you already know it doesn't always work out that way. In some cases, a workplace can have just as much gossip and backbiting as a high school cafeteria. If you find yourself in a sticky situation at work, use the rumor mill to your advantage. Go to the office blabbermouth and start talking about all the good things about your coworkers.
Teach People How to Treat You
Without thinking about it, people tend to imitate each other. If you're happy, the person next to you feels happy. If you're sad, the person next to you feels sad. When you’re always excited and enthusiastic, people around you strive to match your emotions, and they start to associate excitement and enthusiasm with you — always a good thing.
Imitation Is the Best Form of Flattery
If you want to impress someone, interact with them in the same way they interact with you. If a guy shakes your hand firmly, shake his hand firmly in return. If a woman diverts the conversation from sports to movies, go with the flow and talk about movies. People do these things because they feel it’s the right way to act in the situation.
In your business and social life, it's good to touch other people. We often hear so much about people who touch others inappropriately that we forget there are appropriate — and beneficial — ways to touch. Sometimes, in an effort to seem professional or cool, we avoid all contact and come off as distant and cold.
Hope for the Best
There are many situations in life where other people have the upper hand, but that shouldn’t cause you to lose confidence. No matter what the circumstances are, you and your antagonist are simply two humans interacting with each other. Neither of you is necessarily better or worse, and both of you guide the course of the interaction.
How to Build Confidence
If you don't think you’re good enough for something, there’s a reason for that. Maybe something happened to you, or maybe someone said something to you. Either way, at some point, something caused you to stop believing in yourself.
In a Crowd, Use Your Eyes As Signals
Is there anything more awkward than bumping into someone in a crowded hallway or on a busy sidewalk? When a lot of people are walking in the same small space, it’s impossible to tell where everyone is stepping next. By keeping your eyes focused on the direction you’re traveling, you signal your next move to everyone around you.
Get the Results You Want By Defining the Options
When you need someone to do something, present them with two options that would both satisfy your needs. If you want to break up with someone, ask if they want to end the relationship or if they prefer you do it. When trying to motivate a coworker, you could ask if they want to be on the team that presents the project or on the presentation design team.
Can You Repeat That?
Unfortunately, dealing with angry people is a part of life. When someone says something to you that really crosses the line, calmly ask them to repeat themselves. This gives you a few more seconds to collect yourself, and it gives the aggressor a second chance to think about their statement.
Own Up to Your Mistakes
When confronted with something you’ve done wrong, be honest and sincerely apologetic. If you can’t sincerely apologize for your actions, explain the reasons you don’t feel you can apologize — and make sure they are valid reasons.
Write Down Your Biggest Fears
When you’re feeling very anxious, writing down those feelings can help you feel better. To write your feelings, you must acknowledge them and understand them. Once you do that, it’s much easier to mentally let go of the anxiety.
Focus on the Feet
Let's face it: Some people are really good at faking. If you ever find yourself talking and talking and you can’t tell if the listener is actually into what you're saying, glance down at their feet. Subconsciously, people tend to point their feet in the direction they want to be. If their feet are pointing toward you, they are actually interested in continuing the conversation.