It’s difficult to make new friends when you’re an adult.
There are so many things to consider – from where you can spend time to meet new people to how you’ll spend time together. And what happens if you like someone but they’ve already got enough people in their lives to spend time with?
There are a number of psychological studies that reveal a few simple ways to get people to like you – tips that can come in handy when you’re trying to forge new friendships or do well on job interviews.
Here are a few of the most important.
Reveal, don’t hide
It’s tempting to want to keep personal information about yourself hidden when you meet new people.
Yet, according to a Harvard Business Review study, people will see you in a more positive light when you freely share information about yourself.
The researchers examined the different reactions that people got from revealing versus concealing information about themselves in two different scenarios: potential dates and potential employers.
The study participants were broken into two groups – half were prospects for dates and the other half had to decide whether to date the individuals or not. Then the prospects for dates were broken into two more groups. One group “revealed” something undesirable about themselves, such as having a terrible fantasy. The other half “concealed” anything bad about themselves.
The results were fascinating:
Revealingly, 79% of people wanted to go on a date with the people who revealed something undesirable about themselves.
The researchers replicated the experiment with potential employers, and found the same outcome.
Other psychological studies back up these findings. For example, a large review of multiple studies from the American Psychological Association found that people who engage in what they called “intimate disclosures” were more liked than those who disclosed less about themselves.
The findings are in. If you want people to like you, share something revealing about yourself.
Share something personal
In similar findings, psychologists reveal that sharing something personal about yourself will help you to build relationships.
Have you heard of the viral New York Times quiz that reveals the “questions that can make you fall in love with a stranger”? It’s based on a 1997 study by State University of New York psychologist Arthur Aron.
Aron successfully demonstrated that two people who were willing to share personal information with each other were more likely to fall in love – even if they were strangers.
To carry out his study, Aron separated two groups of people and paired people up within their groups. He had each pair chat to each other for about 45 minutes.
One pair were asked to engage in small talk, and the other group were given a list of questions that grew increasingly more intimate.
The pairs who were given the probing questions reported feeling closer and more intimate at the end of the 45 minutes. Six months later, one pair from the research study had even fallen in love.
Compliment someone – but in a constructive way
The words you use to describe people around you can have a big impact on how people see you.
In what’s known as “spontaneous trait transference”, psychologists have found that people subconsciously associate the words you use to describe others as synonymous with your own personality.
This applies whether the words you use are positive or negative, so try to withhold judgment and say nice things.
Although it’s generally good to say positive things, researchers have found that the most effective way to get people to like you is to start off by sharing some negative feedback and then quickly follow it with positive feedback.
University of Minnesota researchers demonstrated this in a 1965 experiment. They got 80 female students to work in pairs on a task, and engineered a situation where students would inadvertently “overhear” their partners talking about them (in actuality, the researchers told the students what to say).
The study engineered four scenarios: in the first, the comments were all positive; in the second, the comments were all negative; in the third, the comments shifted from positive to negative; and in the fourth, the comments shifted from negative to positive.
Overall, the students liked their partners best in the fourth group, when the comments started out as negative but ended up positive. They felt as though they’d managed to persuade their partners of their value.
Here’s the bottom line:
If you want people to like you, reveal something personal about yourself. And be complimentary, but in a constructive way.
Inspired by Business Insider.