It certainly goes without saying that awkward conversation is inevitable. There are times when you feel the urge to speak with someone, whether a stranger at the store, a stand-offish coworker, or a latent love interest, and yet your words wane as your knees weaken when they walk by. While the interest factor is definitely in check, one’s inherent fear of rejection is as stifling as rush hour traffic on the 405 freeway on a Friday afternoon. This can be remarkably accurate when it comes down to facilitating conversation with someone for the first time, prior to picking up on his or her conversational cues.
Until your interpersonal discourse falls into synch, things can seem uncomfortable and often times than not, this can be attributed to an evident lack of attention. Similar to the sequence of playing a game of pool, each person politely waits their turn to make an utterance or voice an opinion. Just like treading water in a shallow pool, the conversation rarely moves forward. And then, there are those who seem to have a magical way with words and body language. Amber is the color of their energy, acting as a natural magnetic force that attracts and appeals to all.
These people are positive and charismatic, while remaining genuine and humble. What are they on and where can we get some? The secret is simple. Consider this: When heading to an important job interview, do you pick out a professional outfit and brush your teeth, or do you take the all natural route? And what about preparing for a hot first date? Do you maintain your composure and go the whole 9 yards, or do you go a few feet and act naturally? Nearly everyday, we alter our behaviors and dress to impress others and increase likability.
Breaking the ice is rarely an easy task, often requiring an emotional icepick, some goggles to shield from potential awkwardness, and a pocket full of determination. With these 6 psychological hacks, you will find yourself beyond simply breaking the ice, but melting it away with your mastery of the art of communication. Everyone knows a person with charm who seems to have the Midas touch, or the ability to turn anything to gold. Success is often situated in the skillful mastery of social situations, and luckily there are a series of science based facts that can help you improve your emotional intelligence (EQ).
Give that instant gratification. As put by American writer Dale Carnegie, “three-fourths of the people you will meet are hungering for sympathy. Give it to them and they will love you.” When speaking with people about their place of work or schooling, simply and sincerely acknowledge their time and work with a mere, “that must be difficult.” Most people consider what they do to be challenging, and to have someone sympathize with and acknowledge your hard work is always a gratifying feeling.
Be your bubbliest self. Emotional Contagion, or the spreading of emotion is a great tool to take advantage of when trying to make others like you. Our feelings and moods often latch onto those we interact with, and can even be transferred unconsciously. Since behavior is often mirrored by those around us, showing excitement when seeing someone will result in them naturally reciprocating the same feelings. Remain genuine and be careful not to overdo it.
Don’t fear humiliation, embrace it. Studies have shown that those who are not afraid to make mistakes are more accepted by others on account that they give off an “I’m only human” finesse. By revealing an embarrassing story or a tiny slip up, you may appear relatable off the bat and thus, more vulnerable to those around you. Dubbed the “pratfall effect,” the ability to accept imperfections will lead people to like you more once you have established your competence.
Get them talking about themselves. Studies have shown that the same pleasure centers in the brain that are associated with food and money are activated when we speak about ourselves. A great way to get people to talk about themselves is by asking thoughtful questions that reveal your interest and curiosity without making the person feel uncomfortable or on the spot. To do this, try to be inquisitive and express your excitement and desire at wanting to know more details.
Establish commonalities and similar areas of interest. Emotional connectedness can quickly be established after bonding over a common ground. By making your conversation partner feel like you understand them, you are subconsciously developing a level of emotional intimacy while simultaneously fostering the feeling of having known someone for a long time.
Remember, repeat, and relish in using a person’s name. Try to repeat the person’s name at least twice during the conversation. According to Carnegie, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Because most people rarely pay attention to names, this will make you more memorable to the person you are speaking. For a subtle and noteworthy compliment, be sure to end their conversation with their name.