How to make strangers like you in business and life?

business psychology, Influencer marketing, Dale Carnegie, Jack Schafer, Martin Karlins

We can not argue with Coco Chanel, who said that no one will have a second chance to make a first impression. In life there are lot of situations, when we need to make people like us. The manager at the new job, the new client, the owner of the apartment you intend to rent, the waiter in an unfamiliar restaurant, the seller from whom you want to get a discount… How do you make any of them like you? Find out what trouble-free tricks the FBI agents use for these cases. Jack Schafer and Martin Karlins told about this in a book “The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over”.


Bring the spotlight

The old maxim from the days of Dale Carnegie – “People adore when you are interested in them” – is true. A good way to show interest, without looking intrusive, is the so-called empathetic statements. For example, “It looks like you’re having a bad day”. Among other things, empathic statements help overcoming awkward silence in a conversation. If you do not know what to say, repeat the last sentence of the companion and create a sympathetic statement on its basis.

In the book, an example is given of using empathic statements:

Ben: Hello, my name is Ben, and yours?

Vicki: Hello, and my name is Vicki.

Ben: I see you have a good night today. (an empathic saying)

Vicki: You’re right, today I had to shake myself.

Ben: So, you’ve been very busy lately? (an empathic saying)

Vicki: Yes, for the past three weeks, I’ve worked on the delivery of a project, sixty hours a week.”


Flattery and compliments (the intelligent way)

Most people can distinguish a sincere compliment from a fake one. What can you do if you do not know a person yet, but want to say something nice? There are two strategies:

Firstly, we must remember that all of us deceive ourselves. So we need to build a conversation in such a way that people can praise themselves. Returning to the example with the conversation between Ben and Vicki, Ben could theoretically say that such a large project requires talent and dedication. He does not attribute these qualities directly to Vicki, he makes a seemingly neutral statement.

Secondly, there is a “third-person compliment” strategy. The limitation of this strategy is the fact that you and the object must be members of the same organization or team. Starting there, everything is simple. We find the main chatterbox and we praise the object of our interest in front of that person. Compliment, expressed not in person, but to other people, is much more powerful, as its subjective reliability increases.


Primacy effect

Psychologists have long known the primacy effect: the quality that we notice in a person first affects the interpretation of all the information that we receive about the person in the future. For example, self-confidence taken for professionalism. We start from this initial assessment and recognize the superiority of such a person over oneself. Try to do so that initially your companion receives positive information about you, in light of which all your actions will be perceived and assessed.


Similarity law

Our desire to avoid cognitive dissonance (that is, the divergence between our picture of the world and reality) leads to the fact that we try to communicate only with people who in some ways resemble us. It’s not about appearance really, more like common experiences and values. If you want someone to like you, you must learn to look for these “intersection points” or create them. For example, if you are rooting for “Baltimore Ravens” and you have a business meeting with a fan of “Pittsburgh Steelers”, you will have something to discuss. If you are not a fan at all, resort to a strategy called “secondary experience”. You can say that your great-uncle is also a Steelers fan. So you not only create an imaginary sense of intimacy, but let the companion talk about himself.


The principle of reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity was first mentioned by the most famous social psychologist Robert Cialdini. It looks simple enough: render a service to a person so that he owes you. The word “please” should be avoided. Instead, you’d better say something like “I’m sure you would do the same for me”.


External economies

Why do you think so many strong acquaintances start in gym? We do not directly connect the production of endorphins with physical loads. Often we attribute it to the people around us. This positive side effect is called “external economies”. We tend to personalize the pleasure. That’s why the gym is a good place to meet people and forge business extracurricular acquaintances.



Pseudo-psychological literature promises to render the readers the power and influence. It often argues the principle of magical voluntarism: “Any person can bend reality and influence people into doing their bidding”. Masters of NLP, who claim they can force anyone to do anything, are brazenly lying, and first of all to themselves.

Modern applied psychology knows many proven ways to increase your chances of being liked and gain trust. To be fair, it should be noted that serious academic researchers do not deal with such topics. However, there is a whole cluster of experts who are interested in the issues of applied psychological. It includes behavioral analysts, police officers and special agents. Use top picks from their toolboxes to make good impression and forge strong business relationships.



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