Subtle Psychological Tricks

・10 min read

Note: These are some “tricks” I’ve read about and thought it be interesting to share.

For focusing

Chewing gum helps your brain focus.

Blood flow is increased to the brain resulting in an improved ability to focus. Chewing gum while taking a test can help you concentrate better.

Look from right to left when scanning a room to slow down search and find what you’re looking for.

You’re most likely to miss things when scanning from left to right because your eyes are use to always looking in that direction. Looking from right to left slows down your head and eye movements resulting in a more detailed search.

Use water bottle to take sips from when giving speech to take breaks.

There’s nothing strange about taking a small water break and gives you time to catch your breath.

Tell yourself you’re going to do something for just 5 minutes to do something you don’t want to do.

The hardest part is starting a task. Once you start a task, you’ll end up doing it for more time than 5 minutes.

For being more likable

Look people in the eye when communicating to make them like you more.

Looking at the person in their eyes makes them feel acknowledged and important which means they’ll like you more. Try remembering the color of their eyes to not feel awkward making eye contract. Look at a single eye at a time and alternate to make it feel more natural.

Ask a person a question even if you already know the answer to, to approve the other persons attitude towards you.

People like feeling useful so when they answer a question they feel good about being needed and knowledgeable. It makes other person feels less intimated and more comfortable around you.

Offering someone a small gift can change their thoughts about you.

Giving a gift shows that you’re interested in the other person and strengthens the bond. The recipient sees gifts as you taking care of them and you’ll be in the back of their mind perceived as a good person.

Admit you did something wrong even for little things to make you seem more trustworthy.

People trust people who are responsible. Admitting mistakes for little things makes you appear a lot more trustworthy.

Say the person’s name to make them like you more.

It’s human nature to want to feel acknowledged. Just don’t over do it or it’ll be creepy.

Mirror behavior and become a chameleon to be more likable.

This is known as mimicry. By copying speech patterns, movements, and mannerisms, you blend in into the environment which makes yourself more likable.

Always have warm hands when shaking people’s hands to be more welcoming.

Warm hands give the feeling of a warm friendly invitation and atmosphere, while cold hands give the feeling of unwelcomeness.

For making people do things for you

Say “start with this” instead of “do this” to make a person do a task.

If you need a person to do a number of tasks, don’t start by commanding them what to do but instead break it down into simple tasks to make them start with. Afterwards say “continue with this” to continue with other tasks.

Make a pause in conversation and continue eye contact to get the other person to talk.

This is useful when trying to get information from the other person. For example, when you ask a question but received a very short answer, simply keep making eye contact in silence and eventually the person will resume talking to avoid awkward silence because it makes them uncomfortable.

Someone talking on the phone will give you what they’re holding without noticing.

The vice versa also works. You can get someone to help you do something for example like moving boxes if you hand them the box while talking. Handing them the object while talking to them keeps them distract it and they’ll be helping you out without realizing it.

Give a person a small request to establish a connection with the person and they’ll be more likely to do bigger favors.

Also known as the Ben Franklin effect, people reason that they hep others because they like them, even if they do not.

Start nodding a little while asking a question to subconsciously make the other person say yes.

For example, waiters use this technique all the time to convince that you get the shrimp-and-pasta plate. The listener tends to agree with the speaker when the speaker is subtlety nodding.

Act disappointed when given an offer and the other person will feel guilty.

People dislike the feeling of guilt, so they’ll offer something better to not be disappointing again.

People fear loss, create a sense of urgency to make people act.

If you want to sell products quicker, having a notice with “only 2 left!” or a sign that reads “limited time only!” makes people act on the purchase right at the moment because they fear losing out.

Give people two choices to make them do something that you want.

For example, if you ask a kid if they want “2 stalks of broccoli” or “5 stalks of broccoli”, they’ll choose an answer and feel like they’re in control because they made the decision when ultimately you still got them to do what you want which was to eat broccoli.

Ask for something huge before asking for what you really want.

The person will feel guilty for not getting your first request, and will be more willing to fulfill your second request.

People will talk themselves to avoid silence and end up spilling information.

Some people really dislike awkward silence so they’ll keep talking to fill the space. If you want to more about a certain topic you’re discussing, remaining quiet and letting the person talk will make them go deeper into the topic revealing more information and thoughts.

Make eye contact with people when walking in a path to make a path for you.

People look at your eyes to see which direction you are walking towards and will move out of the way when seeing straight through them.

Say “I need your help” and people feel will feel guilty for not helping you.

It’s a simple way of getting people to help you out because people tend to avoid guilt.

For convincing people

Start with agreement to find common ground and then disagree to better convince person.

Starting an argument or debate with “I agree with you on X but …” is more effective negotiating or making your argument more convincing because finding common ground is important to conflict resolution since you agree and understanding where the other person is coming from.

Argue secondary argument to make first argument seem valid.

(instead of should we build a school? say how much will the school cost?)

To be taken more seriously, say that an elder like your father taught it to you because people take advice of elders and parents more seriously.

Elders have more experiences therefore seem more credible when it comes to advice.

Say something embarrassing about yourself to make stories more believable.

A story or lie is more believable when it includes an embarrassing moment that occurred. For example, instead of lying about not being a bob’s house by saying “I was not at bob’s house this weekend”, what you should say is “I haven’t been at bob’s house in so long because of that incident I flooded the toilet, so I hanged out with Charlie instead”. The former comes of as more believable because you are being quite specific by providing embarrassing details.

For dealing with confrontation

Borrow something small like a pen from someone who’s not a fan of you to change their minds about you.

The other person will slowly start warming up to you and conclude that you’re not a bad person after all the more you’re willing to talk to them even if it’s something as small as borrowing a pen.

Sit next to the person you think will be unfriendly towards you to make them feel guilty.

If the person that doesn’t like you sits across the table from you, they are more likely to shout and yell from across and behave in a more aggressive manner. But if you sit right next to them, it’ll be awkward to have their body facing the same direction as you while having to turn their head to act aggressive. Being right next to the person makes them feel guilty and awkward thinking about talking badly about you when you’re right next to them.

Ask a random question right before a task that requires thinking to throw them off-guard.

It will distract their focus and they’ll be off-guard which means they’ll panic to complete the task and go with the most common response. For example, right before playing rock-paper-scissors, ask a random question and there’s a good chance that they’ll always pick scissors the first time.

Look at people at their forehead to make them feel scrutinized.

Staring at someones forehead or hairline as they speak will make them feel very uncomfortable and not making eye contact shows that you don’t really find interesting what they’re saying and it will make them think that they have something on their face or hair by not focusing on their eyes.

Eating calms people down, you’re less likely to be confronted in an aggressive manner if eating.

For example, if you’re sitting down eating a sandwich, a person with bad intentions is more reluctant to approach you or verbally attack you because the act of eating has a calming effect to both you and your antagonist.

Make people see how they look to make them be less rude towards you.

Having a mirror behind you will make the person feel uncomfortable about how they look when they’re angry and will automatically be nicer. It helps adding a mirror behind the counter if you’re working in customer service.

Be kind to an impolite person to make them feel guilty.

Kindness is contagious and reduces emotional distance between people. Acting kind is telling the other person that they didn’t incapacitate you and are undefeatable. People like people who are kind to them so your enemy might turn into a friend.

Other tricks

See who’s looking at who when they laugh because it’s the person they’re dominated by.

In group settings when people are laughing, a person will look at the person they’re closest or want to feel close to. This person is typically someone with a higher social status than them.

When you approach a group of people, notice if they turn their feet towards you when you join the group to see if you’re welcome.

If they turn their bodies or heads but keep their feet pointed away from you, then you are not welcome or have interrupted at a wrong time.

People are great at remembering what happened during the beginning or end.

For example, try arranging an interview in the morning or towards the end of the work day, but not in middle. People tend to forget what happens in between and recall better things in the beginning or end. There’s a good chance you’ll remember this last trick.


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