The former head of the FBI’s behavioural analysis program, Robin Dreeke has studied human interpersonal relations for about three decades.
He has some expert advice on how to put strangers at ease, and how to use your body language like a pro, among other things.
Most people want to talk about themselves, as it provides their mind with a pleasurable sensation. Let them do so.
Contradicting others does not build good relations, because as soon as people hear contradicting information that is proving them wrong, their logical instincts get shut down and they slide into a fight-or-flight response.
While it does feel good to one-up someone with a clever story as a reply to theirs or to correct someone, just don’t do it. Suspend your ego and ignore the desire to be always correct, or to be emotionally hijacked by a situation in which we are not in agreement with someone else's thoughts and actions.
Stop thinking about what you are going to say next when someone else stops talking.
Simply be curious and hear out what the other person is saying, even if you are listening but not shutting up mentally, you are not really listening, but are thinking about what you want to say. Ignore that instinct and just explore what the other person is talking about.
Asking people to talk and simply listening to them makes you a better conversationalist and extremely likeable.
The basics of active listening are:
Everyone has struggles, obstacles and challenges in life. Asking about what kind of challenges the other person is going through is an ideal path to a great conversation. The challenges they may have could be at work, or at home.
Seeking advice is one of the best ways to influence peers, superiors and team members. It is a soft, persuasive approach that is effective, provided you are sincere.
If you tell someone you are leaving in a minute, they are relaxed and open to listening to you, but if you are at a bar and offer a drink to someone, their shields go up. Tell them when you are leaving, upfront.
If the approach is preceded by inquiring politely if they have a minute, the compliance rate among strangers is higher. People need to feel safe, in control and not trapped in talking to some weird person they don’t know.
Just like our words need to be positive, vibrant and free of ego, your body language has to match, and a smile is the best way to portray it quickly. A gentle smile with a palms-up gesture suggests openness and comfort. Smile slowly, not in a hurry, and don't grin.
Smiling also makes us happier and provides the brain with the same amount of pleasure as 2000 bars of chocolate.
If we encounter manipulative people using psychology to gain an unfair advantage, be upfront and honest without being hostile. Seek further clarity in their motives and goals and the underlying reasons.
We need to focus on trust, not the various tricks in the book, to earn respect. Trust is the single most character trait that any person will look up to.
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