Mind tricks won’t make you a Jedi, but using the brain’s natural quirks to your advantage can have a positive impact on everyone you encounter.
As soon as you become aware of these 10 tricks, they start popping up wherever you look. With minimal effort on your part, their unconscious influence on behavior can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life.
1. When a group of people laughs, each member of the group can’t help but make eye contact with the person they feel closest to.
This trick can make you an astute observer of relationships of all types. It can tell you which members of your team are bonding and learning to trust one another, just as easily as it can tell you if you might have a shot at landing a date with a certain someone. Of course, you’ll learn a lot about how you feel about other people just by paying attention to whom you make eye contact with.
2. When someone does a favor for you, it actually makes them like you more.
When you convince someone to do you a favor, they unconsciously justify why they are willing to do so. Typical justifications include things such as “he’s my friend,” “I like him,” and “he seems like the kind of person who would return the favor.” These justifications serve you perfectly. Not only did you just get help with something, but the other party also likes you more than they did before.
3. Silence gets answers.
When you ask someone a question and they’re slow to respond, don’t feel pressure to move the conversation forward. Remaining silent plays to your advantage. Moments of silence make people feel as though they should speak, especially when the ball is in their court. This is a great tool to use in negotiations and other difficult conversations. Just make certain you resist the urge to move the conversation forward until you get your answer.
4. Open hands and palms create trust.
There’s an employee policy at LEGOLAND that says whenever someone asks where something is, the employee “presents” (open-palm gesture) their directions instead of “pointing” them. This is because the open-palmed gesture conveys trust, making people more likely to agree with what you’re saying and to find you friendly and likeable. Pointing, on the flip side, is generally seen as aggressive and rude.
5. Nodding your head during a conversation or when asking a question makes the other person more likely to agree with what you’re saying.
The next time you need to win someone over to your way of thinking, try nodding your head as you speak. People unconsciously mirror the body language of those around them in order to better understand what other people are feeling. When you nod your head as you speak, you convey that what you’re saying is true and desirable, and people are more inclined to agree with you.
6. People remember unfinished things better.
The natural tendency to remember unfinished things is called the Zeigarnik effect. Ever notice how some television commercials get cut off early? The company paying for the commercial cuts it off so that it sticks in your head longer than other commercials. The best way to forget unfinished things (commercials or songs) is to finish them in your head. If a song gets stuck in your head, try singing the last lines to yourself. You’ll be amazed how quickly it goes away.
7. Chew gum to relax and focus.
Chewing gum actually lowers your cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress. But chewing gum doesn’t just reduce stress, it also makes you more alert and improves your performance in memory-oriented tasks. It does so by increasing the blood flow to your brain and alerting your senses. When you experience a stressful situation while chewing gum, your body is less likely to go into the primal fight-or-flight mode (which results in poor decisions and inability to focus). You probably don’t want to use this one while you’re talking, but it’s a great way to destress in preparation for a big presentation or challenging conversation.
8. People’s feet reveal their interest.
When talking to someone, pay attention to their feet. If their feet are aimed at you, they’re interested and listening to what you’re saying, but if their feet point away from you, they’re most likely disinterested and mentally checked out.
9. When you meet someone new, work their name into the conversation in order to remember it.
The goal here is to repeat their name three times in the first five minutes. It works extremely well, but the trick is to do it naturally. When you rattle off their name unnecessarily, it sounds foolish and awkward. Try to use phrases like “Hello ____,” “Nice to meet you _____,” and “Where are you from _____.”
10. Showing excitement makes other people like you
This one goes back to the idea that we mirror the behavior of those around us. If you show excitement when you see someone, they naturally mirror that excitement back at you. It’s an easy way to make a strong first impression and to get people to like you.
Bringing it all together
Give these tricks a try, and you’re bound to notice a difference in how people respond to you.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn.