Life isn’t fair. Some people just seem blessed with the ability to effortlessly charm anyone they meet. You know the kind of person, the one who can strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and end up with a new friend or business lead. How do they do it?
Well, it might seem like a magical power, but in fact there are a number of factors at work. So, can you learn to develop superhuman charm? The answer is: to a large extent, yes you can.
But first, the bad news. Scientists have found that people initially judge each other based purely on physical appearance. With just a fleeting glimpse of a face, people make snap judgements about each other’s likeability, trustworthiness and confidence, according to Alexander Todorov, professor of psychology at Princeton University.
How to counteract this? There’s one incredibly simple tool: your smile. Todorov told the BBC that people perceive a smiling face as “more trustworthy, warmer and sociable”. It sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Smile and others will smile with you.
What other tricks might we have up our sleeves? Former FBI agent Jack Schafer has been trained in how to influence people. He told BBC Capital: “Our brains are always surveying the environment for friend or foe signals.” Three things we can do to signal that we are not a threat are to: raise our eyebrows quickly, tilt our heads slightly, and, once again, to smile.
So we’ve looked at body language, but of course what you say is hugely important too, unless you want to just stand there grinning foolishly. Here Schafer recommends that “the golden rule of friendship is if you make people feel good about themselves, they’re going to like you.” In other words, you need to show interest in them, instead of talking about yourself and all your wonderful achievements. And while you’re chatting, remember this: another way of showing interest is to mirror their physical position.
Another way to form a connection? Find common ground. Suzanne de Janasz, a professor of management with Seattle University, says that charming people are particularly adept at seeking out shared interests or experiences to help them build rapport. Simple things like asking where someone’s from really can open up a discussion and allow you to find areas in common. And if all else fails, you can fall back on that most British of topics: the weather. Glorious day, isn’t it?
strike up a conversation（与人）攀谈
complete stranger 彻头彻尾的陌生人
to a large extent 在很大程度上
snap judgement 快速、草率的判断
have something up your sleeve “留一手”，暗藏某物以备不时之需
golden rule 黄金法则，重要的原则
common ground 共同点
fall back on 借助于
珍藏版 | 小岳岳的经典现场