Did you see that video that did the rounds a while ago showing how to get a crying baby to sleep in just a few seconds using only a tissue?
Sometimes don't you just wish there were similar tricks for your most annoying co-workers?
No matter how fulfilling the work or awesome the job, office life will always involve people, and where there are people, there are frustrations, feuds, and occasional craziness. And while you sadly can't get your endlessly chattering cubicle mate to pass out with a few passes of a tissue, or opt for a Vulcan mind meld with your boss rather than penning that tedious memo, there just may be a few too-good-to-be-true psychological tricks that can make working life just a little more pleasant.
That's according to a thoroughly entertaining thread on Reddit where members of the community offer their best psychological hacks to gain advantage in life. While the wisdom of the Reddit crowd is not thoroughly scientifically validated (some of the advice offered is based on widely reported research but the source of other hacks is more murky), most of the ideas suggested are simple and painless to experiment with, so why not give them a try?
1. Banish rudeness with a mirror
According to legend, vampires can't stand mirrors, and according to Reddit, neither can rude and unreasonable customers.
"For anyone in customer service... put a mirror behind you at the counter. This way angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves in the mirror behind you and the chances of them behaving irrationally lowers significantly. No one wants to see themselves act like a d***head," claims the thread. If you serve the public, perhaps it's worth seeing if this trick truly repels bad customer behavior the way garlic repels the undead.
2. Keep your enemies close.
If you know a co-worker has it in for you and you're in for a rough meeting, your first instinct might be to hide away on the far end of the room. Wrong move, says Reddit's crowd wisdom. Instead, "if you're in a group meeting and you suspect that someone in there might come after you about something, sit right next to them. They were hoping that the group would provide some sort of herd defense, but if you're right next to them it can't be anything other than personal. This tends to make them back off, or at least substantially temper what they say."
3. Note eye color to boost charisma.
It's well documented that holding eye contact for a bit longer than usual can make you come across as more likable and charismatic, so it's easy to see how this trick for better introductions might work: "When you first meet people try to notice their eye colour while also smiling at them. It might be because you look for a second or two longer, but all I can tell you is that people really respond to it."
4. Beat anxiety with gum.
"Chew gum when you're approaching a situation that would make you nervous like public speaking or bungee jumping. I can't remember where I heard it but apparently if we are 'eating' something in our brains trip and it reasons 'I would not be eating if I were danger. So I'm not in danger'. Has helped calm me a few times," suggests one poster to the thread. I have no idea if the science behind this is real, but I do know I always whip out some gum to combat travel stress and it seems to help. Maybe it will work for you too.
5. Turn stress into courage with just your thoughts.
Here's another idea from Reddit that is based on actual research: "The physical effects of stress (increased breathing rate, heart rate, etc.) mirror identically the physical effects of courage. So when you're feeling stress from any situation immediately reframe it: your body is getting ready to do courage, it's not feeling stress."
This might sound far-fetched but there's actually a much viewed TED talk from Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal suggesting the same thing. "When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body's response to stress," she insists.
Give these psychological hacks a try and let us know how it goes in the comments.