You're having a conversation with your co-worker, employee, boss, customer, or maybe even your spouse. There's something you want the other person to do, or agree to, or remember. It turns out there are a few simple psychological maneuvers that will increase the odds of your getting what you want.
That insight comes from Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and president of Talent Smart. In an article on CNBC.com that's a couple of years old but has surged in popularity recently, Bradberry shares 10 harmless manipulations you can use to better understand the person or people you're speaking with or influence them toward your point of view. [Disclosure: I'm also a CNBC.com contributor.]
You can find the full list here. These are my favorites:
1. If you want someone to like you ...
Ask the person for a favor. You may think that people will like you if you do them a favor. They may--or they may resent you because they feel beholden. But here's what happens when someone does you a favor, according to Bradberry: They unconsciously tell themselves that they must like you or you must be their friend to explain to themselves why they just went out of their way to help you. Plus, by asking for a favor, you've expressed vulnerability and trust, which will also tend to make people like you.
Try to ask for something that you're fairly sure they'll agree to do--if they turn you down that could wind up harming your relationship. And for heaven's sake, if someone offers to do you a favor, don't turn them down. And whatever happens, make sure to say thank you.
2. If you want someone to tell you more ...
The other person has told you something, but you think he or she may be holding something back. Or you've asked a question and you aren't getting a quick or complete answer. Here's a surprisingly effective tactic: Don't say anything at all for a few moments.
I've used this approach hundreds of times unintentionally when interviewing people as part of my research. I'll ask a question, they'll provide a short answer, and I'll pause for a few moments, either because I haven't finished writing down what they're saying or I'm searching my notes for the next thing I want to ask about. Surprisingly often, that few seconds' silence is too uncomfortable for the other person, and he or she winds up telling me something more. Sometimes, it's the precise thing the other person was trying not to say.
3. If you want someone to agree with you ...
Nod. "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," Bradberry writes. Not only that, but most people tend to unconsciously mirror the person they're having a conversation with, which means that if you're nodding, they're more likely to nod as well.
Incidentally, you can use this mirroring business in other ways as well. For example, if you express enthusiasm and excitement about something, the person you're talking with will tend to do the same.
Also, make sure you yourself are subtly mirroring the other person, which will make that person like and trust you. In my favorite photograph of my mother and stepfather, who were deeply in love with each other for more than 30 years, they are sitting and holding hands, and they are an exact mirror image of each other. His right leg is crossed over his left ankle while her left leg is crossed over her right ankle, and each is resting one hand near the top of the thigh. They didn't plan this, it just naturally happened because of how connected they were, even though my mother had had Alzheimer's for several years at the time.
4. If you want someone to remember something ...
Cut yourself off before the end of it. Bradberry writes that some advertisers deliberately cut off their commercials before they end because that makes them more memorable, just as hearing just part of a song will make it stick in your head better than if you listen to the whole thing.
So make an important point, make a second important point, seem like you're about to make a third one, but then interrupt yourself to go retrieve a forgotten item or some such. (Make sure that whatever you do isn't rude.) That niggling feeling that there's a missing third point will keep your first two points in the listener's mind much better than completing all three would have. (See what I me--?)