10 Useful Things To Know When Dealing With Other People

by Stephen Mills on September 8, 2010

I thought you might find these interesting.  Some of the are common sense but others are rather surprising.  Obviously they are intended as general rules and not categorical rules that apply in every possible situation.

  1. People believe your modesty.  If you want people to think you are incompetent, then be modest.
  2. Flattery works even when it is obvious.  Even flattery that is obviously self-serving and over the top works.  It makes people feel better about themselves and like you more.
  3. Criticizing others makes you seem more intelligent and competent.  People People who criticize others are perceived as more intelligent and competent than people who don’t criticize.  The downside is that people will like you less.  Clifford Nass says you can be “clever and contemptible” or “kind and clueless” depending upon whether you criticize or praise.
  4. Miserable people prefer other miserable people.  If you try to cheer someone up by being all happy and positive, it will backfire.  Miserable people respond negatively to happy people.  You need to empathize with their misery and seem a little miserable yourself and slowly move them towards happiness.
  5. Birds of a feather flock together.  People like being around people who are similar to them and the more similar the better.  Despite our protestations to the contrary, this is a consistent finding.
  6. You can’t hide your true feelings.  Micro-expressions that are instantly and automatically displayed can be subconsciously detected by others.  By the time you consciously feign a false emotion it’s too late; your vibe has been picked up by the other person.
  7. Displaying inconsistent emotional responses creates distrust and dislike.   Saying one thing and giving off body language that says something else is worse than just being honest.  People will like someone who is genuine better than someone they detect as fake, even if the faker is agreeing with or supporting them.  Since it’s hard to hide your true feelings, you might as well be gentle and honest.
  8. Stereotypes are powerful.  People will claim they are not influenced by stereotypes but it’s a shortcut that is wired into your brain.  Both men and women are more impressed by a male explaining physics and a female explaining relationships.  Due to such perceptions, people will often be more effective in stereotyped roles.
  9. Labels are persuasive.  Finding some way to label yourself as an expert or specialist will give you a significant boost in credibility, even if the label is a crock.  I think I’ll go by Dr. Stephen from now on.
  10. Emotions are contagious.  I think everyone knows this, but they don’t act on it.  It’s been found that your mood can be impacted by people three degrees of separation from you; your friend’s friend’s, friend.  One of the best ways to increase your happiness is simply to surround yourself with happy people.

These and many more are detailed in a book by Clifford Nass called The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy September 9, 2010 at 12:30 am

Most of these are very true. I know that alot of people would argue with you but, I agree. People are pretty much the same, weather they want to believe it or not.

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Positively Present September 9, 2010 at 6:20 am

Great post! Just tweeted it!

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Darren September 11, 2010 at 8:01 am

Wow, this book is endorsed by some of the most prominent scientists in the field of psychology. Thanks for sharing this quick summary.

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Jonny September 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

One of the best headlines I read today.
Jonny´s last blog post ..Why Believe In Others 4 Minutes That Will Revolutionise Your Thinking

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Nea | Self Improvement Saga September 13, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Hi there Dr. Stephen. LOL. I love that part about giving yourself a label, but I haven’t thought of one for myself yet. I’m leaning toward Madame of Greatness Nea. A bit extreme….I know.

On a serious note, I really enjoyed the post and each of the 10 were indeed very useful.
Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog post ..33 Life Lessons I Learned in 33 Years

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