Psychological tricks to make you more likeable

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Tuesday 30 August 2016 10:00
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Picture: Yuri Arcurs/iStock

If you're something of a sociopath and you need tips for tricking people into liking you, you've come to the right place.

Being "likeable" isn't a genetic trait, its something that can be done through changing your behaviour. In addition to just being polite, there are several techniques that psychologists say will make you seem more affable and trustworthy.

Whether you consider this self improvement, or being fake, is your perspective. Avoiding the tips that are just variations on 'negging', here's the indy100 list of techniques for making yourself more likeable.

1. Upturned eyebrows and turn the corners of your lips up

Having a trustworthy face has been proven to make people seem more likeable. In a 2014 study, researchers at Glasgow University found the expressions and face shapes that will make a person appear more trustworthy and endear them to strangers. Alexander Todorov of the University of Princeton, spoke about human's use of faces to judge character.

Humans seem to be wired to look to faces to understand the person's intentions.

In a 2008 study Todorov asked participants to rate certain expressions for trustworthiness. They found that faces with upturned eyebrows and upturned lip corners were the expressions best liked by participants.

That said, if you're a treacherous villain, known for your disloyalty, then altering the position of your eyebrows probably won't work.

2. Watch your posture

Humans make an instant judgement about body language. It's a primitive instinct, for assessing if a situation is threatening. Good posture is about appearing relaxed and more open. When sitting, sit with a straight back and relaxed shoulders.

Shifting your weight or twisting your spine will make you seem tense, and make the person you're with think you're uncomfortable, and that it's to do with them. A straight spinal cord when standing will also give you more confidence when speaking. Similarly, other stances such as folded arms imply hostility and lack of interest. Keeping your arms by your side will prevent this.

3. Don't fake a smile

Smiling regularly in conversation with a person is reassuring and good way to be more likeable, but only if the smile is natural. A forced grin is more off putting than the absence of a smile, and is easily recognised.

According to Psychology Today, a real smile involves two face muscles, the zygomatic major (mouth) and orbicularis oculi (eyes). By contrast a fake smile will only use the mouth, because a smile can't be faked behind the eyes. Similarly a fake smile is asymmetrical (usually on the right side of the face), lasts just a little bit too long, and people can see them being assembled like parts of an artifice.

4. Use emojis and emoticons

Obviously this is about context, and using them in work emails could be viewed as inappropriate, but when you can use an emoji or an emoticon you should do. A text based culture has dominated the world since the printing press, and the prevalence of emails and instant messaging has created a whole new aspect of relationships with other people.

Evolution hasn't caught up, and humans still rely on subtle cues in conversation. This can be facial responses, grunts of confirmation, and also the ability to clear up any potential confusion immediately. Speaking to the Irish Times, Art Markmann of the University of Texas explained the use of emojis and emoticons.

All of these bring more of the characteristics of face-to-face communication into email...The evolution we are likely to see will be the tool [messaging] adapting to the structure of our brains and not the other way around.

An emoji or emoticon, although seeming childish or inappropriate, are good ways to give a written message tone and sentiment.

5. Tilt your head

According to Jack Schafer, a former FBI agent specialising in the psychology of deception, told Psychology Today that a slight tilt of the head to one side or the other will make you seem relaxed, and communicate that you don't consider someone to be a threat.

This is because by tilting your head, you're exposing your carotid artery. This is the artery that means blood is able to reach the brain, and by making it vulnerable you are implicitly communicating the fact you trust this person not to murder you.

So really there's no need for away-day trust exercises, if you remember to tilt your head often and your office remains murder free.

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