Before we get started, it’s important to note that none of these methods fall under what we would term the dark arts of influencing people. Anything that might be harmful to someone in any way, especially to their self esteem, is not included here. These are ways to win friends and influence people using psychology without being a jerk or making someone feel bad.
10 Get Favors
Trick: Get someone to do a favor for you—also known as the Benjamin Franklin effect.
Legend has it that Benjamin Franklin once wanted to win over a man who didn’t like him. He asked the man to lend him a rare book and when the book was received he thanked him graciously. As a result, this the man who had never wanted to speak to him before, became good friends with Franklin. To quote Franklin: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
Scientists decided to test this theory and found that those who were asked by the researcher for a personal favor rated the researcher much more favorably than the other groups did. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the theory is pretty sound. If someone does a favor for you, they are likely to rationalize that you must have been worth doing the favor for, and decide that therefore they must like you.
9 Aim High
Trick: Ask for way more than you want at first then scale it back later.
This trick is sometimes known as the door in the face approach. You start by throwing a really ridiculous request at someone—a request they will most likely reject. You then come back shortly thereafter and ask for something much less ridiculous—the thing you actually wanted in the first place. This trick may also sound counter-intuitive, but the idea behind it is that the person will feel bad for refusing your first request, even though it was unreasonable, so when you ask for something reasonable they will feel obliged to help out this time.
Scientists tested this principle and found that it worked extremely well as long as the same person asked for both the bigger and smaller favor, because the person feels obliged to help you the second time and not anyone else.
Trick: Use a person’s name, or their title depending on the situation.
Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, believed that using someone’s name was incredibly important. He said that a person’s name is the sweetest sound in any language for that person. A name is the core part of our identity, and so hearing it validates our existence, which makes us much more inclined to feel positively about the person who validated us.
But using a title, or form of address can also have strong effects, according to the as if principle. The idea is that if you act like a certain type of person, you will become that person, it’s a bit like a self fulfilling prophecy. To use this to influence others, you can refer to them as what you want them to be, so they will start thinking of themselves this way. This can be as simple as calling an acquaintance you want to be closer to “friend,” or “mate” whenever you see them, or referring to someone you want to work for as “boss.” But be warned: this can come off as very corny.
Trick: Flattery will actually get you everywhere.
This one may seem obvious at first, but there are some important caveats to it. For starters it’s important to note that if the flattery is not seen as sincere, it’s going to do more harm than good. But researchers have studied the motivations behind peoples reaction’s to flattery, and found some very important things.
To put it simply, they found that people tend to look for cognitive balance, trying to always keep their thoughts and feelings organized in a similar way. So if you flatter someone who has high self esteem, and it is seen as sincere, they will like you more, as you are validating how they feel about themselves. However, if you flatter someone who has low self esteem, there is a chance it could backfire and cause them to like you less, because it interferes with how they perceive themselves. That, of course, does not mean you should demean a person of low self-esteem!