What would you do if you had complete and total control over what people think of you? While mind control might not be a possibility (yet), learning more about what words, actions, and gestures people perceive positively can help sway your favorability – from new acquaintances to coworkers and even your boss. Ready to win everyone over? Here are a few mind tricks to try at work.
1. Put people at ease
Think about the people in your life that you feel completely relaxed around. These people likely have taken an interest in getting to know you and have made it clear that they enjoy your company.
Certified mental health consultant Adina Mahalli suggests using that same model to win people over. “One of the best ways to get people to like you is to make them feel at ease and comfortable around you,” she says.
“Being warm and receptive, combined with being aware and respecting people’s boundaries is really the key here. Asking people light and not very personal questions such as ‘How was your weekend?’ or ‘What’s the best coffee here?’ is a great place to start a conversation, especially around the office.
2. Remember little things
Showing people you’re interested in what they have to say will help increase your favorability. But actually remembering what they said takes it a step further.
“People feel important when you are able to remember the things that they care about and generally trust that you care about them personally if you can recount details about their lives,” says Sarah Brown, host of Gnosis.
For example, if your coworker told you his weekend plans involve taking the kids to soccer practice, ask him how the game went next time you see him. It shows you paid attention during your last conversation, and care about the outcome.
3. Use active listening to your advantage
How many times have you spent the “listening” portion of a conversation thinking about what you’ll say next? If you’ve been on the other side of that kind of chat, you’re likely left thinking the person you spoke to didn’t really hear you – which probably made you like them just a little bit less.
“Building active listening skills involves taking the time to hear what a person is saying before responding,” explains clinical psychologist Clinton Moore. By doing this you can really engage with a person and they will feel validated. “Meaning, they’ll want to talk to you again, because they like how you made them feel during your last conversation.
“Practice asking open-ended questions such as those starting with “what” or “how” to show the other person that you want to know more about them,” says Moore. “After all, we all generally like the chance to talk about ourselves”
4. Give strategic compliments
There are cheap compliments (love that blouse!), and there are the ones that get people to like you.
Those ones can be harder to craft and feel slightly awkward to give (especially the first time you say them out loud).
But according to psychotherapist Christine Smith, delivering a compliment that really speaks to a person’s character makes them want to be that person for you.
“When we compliment someone on their qualities it not only opens things up for more of a conversation but it also provides some positive reinforcement – so next time they are in a similar situation with you they already know a quality you value in them and are much more likely to continually treat you that way,” she explains. Is this person a good listener?
Have they done something thoughtful? Did they provide you with good feedback? Tell them that.
5. Find common ground
Whether you’re talking to a direct report, a coworker, your boss or the VP of your company, getting people to engage in conversation about the things they like will make them like talking to you.
As Mahalli explains, it’s possible to find common ground with anyone, because there are emotional aspects of all subjects that we can all relate to. “Let’s say you are speaking to a brain surgeon,” she says.
“You don’t know the first thing about brain surgery, but you can tell this person loves their job. If you ask them what they love about being a brain surgeon, they might say that it helps them feel like they really make an impact in someone’s life or that they enjoy a challenge. You might not be a brain surgeon, but you can definitely relate to those sentiments. Lean into that, and express how you can relate to that.”
6. Be humble
If your goal is to get people to like you, you may think hiding your flaws is your best plan of action.
In reality, psychologist Jennifer Thomas says the opposite approach will win you more favorability at work.
“Humility is a likable trait because it shows openness and often comes along with warmth,” she says. “Think about people who are the opposite of humble: they are often self-protective and distant. People who show humility are often willing to roll up their sleeves and help team members. They don’t have all the answers and they don’t expect others to have every answer, either. They accept you as you are and they hope that you will do the same.”