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How to Make People Like You In 5 Seconds Or Less... (No Gimmicks. No Tricks. Just 3 Quick Tips).
Last Updated April 20th, 2017

There’s one thing I do that makes people like me.

I never realized I did it.

I just did it.

I don’t want people to think I do this to be manipulative.


I just noticed that I often did it in social situations and it works like a charm. Especially if you’re meeting someone new.

I’m Derek Halpern, and I’m the founder of Social Triggers. A top destination for entrepreneurs who want to get ahead in business and life.

When I was in college, I wasn’t the best at talking to people.

Who am I kidding?

I was straight up bad at it.

I didn’t have confidence in myself, and I never knew how to interact with people. I’d kind of always be the quiet “wallflower” who observed… but never said anything.

Some people thought I was stand-offish… probably because I was standing off… to the side… Other people just didn’t find me interesting enough to hang out with.

This isn’t some pity party though.

If you fast forward to today, you’ll find that I know how to enter any room, talk to anyone, and most important: ensure everyone is having a great time. Don’t take my word for it though.

Here’s what Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness said when he saw me do it:

“Derek is a friend of mine, and I’ve witnessed him take over a room in New York City within five minutes simply through his actions, mannerisms, and voice; it was hilarious and inspiring.”

Or, as another example… I got this text message from a friend:

Make People Laugh

Or how about this message from a friend just the other day:

How do I do it?

Over the last 15 years, I practiced. A lot.

I’d practice in weird ways, too.

Here are a few examples…

Example #1: How I Introduce Myself To Almost Anyone

I went to the local mall and I had a simple rule for myself: talk to every single person I saw. Even if I just said “hello.” And let me tell you, it felt weird. Especially for me. I was introverted and I didn’t like talking to strangers. But I did it.

At first I started off with a meek hello, and I remember people would look at me weird. Then over time I kind of made it a game. I’d try loud hellos. I’d try low hellos. I’d try smiling then saying hello. I’d try saying “what’s up.” I literally tried everything.

Eventually I figured out that the best way to say “Hello” to someone you don’t know, for me, was a combination of, “Hey? What’s up…”

I purposely would intonate the Hey so it sounded like a question, and lead with “What’s up.” People would always get a little confused – as opposed to defensive – and say, “Wait. Do I know you?” Or they’d just say “Hello” back.

At that point, I’d always say, “No, you don’t know me.”

Then I would comment on something that was nearby like:

“I saw you looking at…”

Or I would make a comment about myself, like:

“I’m new here, and I’m looking to meet people…”

Over time I got real good at this. Now I can walk up to anyone and talk to them as if we’ve been friends forever.

Example #2: How I Conquered Social Awkwardness (The trick? NUMB THE PAIN!)

As I began practicing things like Hello, the first thing I noticed was this: the more I did it, the less awkward it got. Setting a rule like “say hello” to everyone acted like a numbing agent. The more I did it, the less weird it felt.

So I thought, “I NEED MORE RULES!”


I needed to keep talking to new people, and I needed to take every chance I got to do it.

So, the next thing I did was this…

I decided to talk to EVERYONE who was essentially paid to talk to me.

I’ll explain.

When you buy a coffee at the coffee shop, the people who work there are paid to talk to you. They aren’t your therapist, of course. But you do have an opportunity to talk to them.

Let me give you an example. Most interactions between customer and coffee shop barista go something like this:

Customer: “Hey, I’d like a large coffee.”
Worker: “Anything else?”
Customer: “No. Thank you.”

And they probably get this one million times a day.


So, I’d just change it up.

Me: “Hey! I’ll have a large coffee. And I like your shirt.”
Worker: “Oh thanks! Anything else?”
Me: “No, that’s it.”


Place your order, and add a quick compliment into the mix. It’s easy. And if you do it enough, you’ll start to feel more comfortable saying even crazier things.

Here’s an example:

Me: “Hey, I’ll have a large coffee.”
Worker: “Oh, thanks, anything else?”
Me: “Wait a second. ITS DISCOUNT TUESDAYS?”

And I’d say it real loud as if i was joking.

They’d laugh. I’d pay, and then tip.

Or another example…

Me: “Hey, I’ll have a large coffee.”
Worker: “Thanks. That will be $5.50.”
Me: “FIVE FIFTY? FOR COFFEE? THIS IS NYC! I thought it would be at least 6.50.”

Now as you might imagine…

Sometimes something I’d say would land perfectly. And I’d put it in the mental bank to do it again. Sometimes it would fall flat and I’d either change up the way I delivered the comment… or never use it again.

It was like a “natural” experiment. But the most important thing? The more I did it, the more I got used to doing it.

And the more I got used to doing it, better at it I became.

Example #3: You Can Literally Say ANYTHING (if delivered right)

While working at becoming better at talking to people, I began to notice that you could literally say anything to anyone… if delivered right.

And I mean anything.

Remember the text message I showed you earlier?

This one:

Make People Laugh

One of the things I told him to do was this: you can literally say anything to anyone… as long as you’re not mean spirited or offensive… and you can start a conversation.

Here’s a real life example…

I had just walked into a restaurant, and the only seating available was at the bar. And it’s first come, first served.

The problem?

There are no seats.

So I spot two women sitting next to one another. They’re both enjoying a drink. I walk up to them both, and say this:

Me: “Hey, Can I please have your seat because I’ve been standing up for about 17 seconds right now… and I don’t want to stand anymore.”

Her: “Sure…”

And she gets up.

I sit in the seat, and lean over to the other friend.

Me: “Wow. Some friend. SHE JUST DITCHED YOU!”

Everyone laughed.

I tried to give her her seat back, but she wouldn’t take it. And we all ended up joking and having a good time. All because I went up to someone and asked them to give me their seat as the first comment.

Why did this work so well?

Some people may think it’s because I said “because.” Robert Cialdini wrote about the power of because in his book Influence. And sure, that’s part of it.

But I actually employed a specific technique that I learned through years of practice.

I call it Sincere Compliment Then Ridiculous Insult Technique

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you walk into a busy coffee shop. It’s slammed. You noticed someone working behind the counter, and you want to leave a positive impression.

Me: “Whoa! Place is slammed, and you’re doing well. But uh can you please grow a third hand and hurry up?”

Now of course you can’t continue on a conversation like this. They’re WORKING. But these “little” interactions can help you set a solid foundation with someone to start a future conversation.

Maybe you’ll bump into them on their way out of work. Or into work. But this sort of exchange is often memorable. So the next time you two talk it will be easier to start the conversation.

Let me share a different example.

Let’s say you’re sitting at a bar. You see someone next to you and you want to strike up a conversation. You notice they’re wearing a statement piece, maybe like an oversized watch. And you notice it on their left hand.

At this point, if you’re also wearing a watch, I’d move the watch to your right hand. And this is what I’d say…

Me: “Hey. Love your watch. But is there something wrong with you?”

Her: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, look at mine. It’s on my right hand. I always thought people who wear watches on their left hand are weird.”

Now I know these may seem cheesy.

And they are.

But go back to the seat example…

What did I do? I was brazen enough to ask for her seat. And then I immediately levied a ridiculous insult… “She just ditched you!”

Opening a conversation with a stranger is tough.

Everyone has their guard up. And that’s why this technique works so well. It almost guarantees a little laugh. And even if it’s only a small laugh, the genuine laugh makes people like you enough to at least continue talking with you.

And that’s the key.

You aren’t going to win hearts and minds for life with this technique. But you can open a conversation with a stranger and make them like you enough to at least keep talking to you for a little bit. And let me tell you, that’s HALF THE BATTLE.

How does this change in a more traditional business networking event?

It doesn’t change one bit.

Here’s an example:

Him: “I’ve been working on my new product for the last 3 months, so I had to stop going to conferences.”

Me: “Wow. Nice job on the product, but you mean to tell me that you can’t just clone yourself and work on your product AND go to conferences?”

It’s simple.

It guarantees a small laugh.

And it’s a simple way to make someone like you in 5 seconds or less.

But I must reiterate…

This isn’t how win people over for life. This is just a simple conversational technique that can help you stand out.

Now how do you come up with a “Ridiculous Insult?”

Well, that’s the tough part, but it has to be something that’s light-hearted and won’t offend anyone.

Look at the coffee shop example. They’re busy. Telling them to hurry up is rude and obnoxious. Telling them to grow a third hand – RIDICULOUS – and hurry up is just silly.

Or, let’s look at another example.

Me: “Hey, I like your hair. I used to have hair like that. But random people kept pulling it. Do you have that problem?”

Her: “No…”

Me: “Oh, my hair must have looked nicer.”


A sincere compliment. A ridiculous insult.

Or another example.

Me: “Damn dude. You’re getting strong.”

Him: “Thanks man.”

Me: “Now only if I liked you as a person…”

A sincere compliment. A ridiculous insult.

The key here really is this…

You say something that would USUALLY be insulting, but you make it so ridiculous that it’s not. It’s just funny.


When you want to make a friend.. land a date… meet some new… you need to make people like you enough to continue talking to you.

Then, what you say next is up to you.

This technique is enough to get people to like you in 5 seconds… but it won’t be enough to make them like you for 15 minutes.

So, let’s recap…

The truth about making people like you is this:

It’s not a skill you’re born with. It’s something you learn over time. Even the people who are best at dealing with people don’t come out of the womb being good at it. They just likely practiced more as a child than you did.

And with practice, you CAN get better at it.

I’ve wanted to talk about this sort of stuff for YEARS.

But I have resisted.

I partly thought I wouldn’t be good at teaching it online. I thought I had to do it in person. But then I started testing some of my “teaching” here and there…

…and people have been getting some great results.

One friend would regularly harass me too. He’d send me messages like this:

And he’d ask for a course on social skills, like clockwork, every few weeks.

However, that’s about to change.

As you can see.


For now, here’s what I want you to do…

Take one of these examples from this article today… AND TRY IT OUT!

Then let me know what happens.

Or, more specifically…

Just say “Hello” to 5 people today and let me know how it goes. Even if it’s something who’s paid to talk to you. Do me a favor though…

When you do it, leave a comment, I’d love to hear two things: “How I thought it would feel.” And “How it actually felt.”


If you’d like to learn more about how to become better at dealing with people, I’d really appreciate if you can fill out this quick survey.

Here’s The Survey Link

It’s going to be a fun one ;-).

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23 comments Leave a comment

this was very helpful for me as I am also in the same situation of social akwardness and become anxious when someone talks to me.

Appreciate your content and waiting for your next helpful content.


This is so funny. It’s what people used to do all the time (in smaller towns): say hello to people while walking down the street. Chat to shop assistants, make friends with the person sitting next to you on the train or bus.

Now when I horrify my family and chat to the people in their swishy city lift (elevator), I can point them to this blog!


Hi Derek,
Love the article.I’m very shy especially when talking in public places.Will try some tips here.

Paulo Ribeiro

Hi Derek,

your post is a life experience to us all, explaining how to start the networking thing as it should be without shortcuts.

outstanding post.

Kind regards,


Your article made me think a lot. I think a lot of us care far too much about what people think about us. I’m scared about talking to a stranger in the street because they might think I am a nutter.
The thing is, when you get down to it, we’re all either complete nutters or very boring. Depends on how you look at it.
I do think, there are cultural differences. You might be able to say to your barista at your coffee shop “Hey, I love your shirt” in the US. But here, in the UK, they’re likely to think you’re weird.
I got the shock of my life when this random person outside a supermarket in the US looked me straight in the eye and said “You have an awesome day!” I forgave him since he was an American and I was in America and I even loved the experience (once I got over the initial shock), but that would be freaky in the UK.
So, I think we need to season your advice depending on culture and our personality. We probably all need to get out of our comfy chairs though. And that’s what I intend to do after reading this article.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking at a big social media conference in the US. I really wanted to chat with the people in the audience before I went on, but I found myself going all shy. It was ridiculous. All those people had chosen to come to MY talk, but I couldn’t even go up and start a conversation. That needs to change!

Thanks again!


These are great. And amusing… I will have to try them!

Eddy Baller

Very similar to what I show clients. Pretty universal.


Um, maybe in New York you have to practice talking to strangers, but in the South we’re raised that way:) Try and get us to stop talking…..
I get to cheat by using my name tag; being in the pet world, it’s almost a hypnotic pull to women, who are 80% of my business.
This article flew by so fast, another of your skills, Derek, your dissemination of information. Loved the “ha, your friend ditched you”.


Great insights. Not everyone can pull it off but clearly, you can.

It occurs to me this is the exact technique Don Rickels used in his comedy. If you are too young to remember Rickles it would be worth your time to learn more about him. He was a master of the build-up then put-down for a laugh method.

Here is a video of him doing a roast of Ronald Regan where he uses this exact technique.


Great post, Derek.




Hey those are great stories. I’m pretty good at talking to “people who are paid….” and also complete strangers because I have no skin in the game. I have two questions: How much better does this work for men than for women (don’t kid yourself EVERYTHING works better for men because women are “supposed” to just be decorative and not speak to strangers) It all falls apart for me when I interact with people in a situation where I have skin in the game. It’s not like I talk people’s ear off or do anything heinous that I can remember later with “oh boy I really put my foot in it when I said whatever;” it’s just that people never seem to stick. Any ideas?


Haha, cant agree more! I have the same conversation strategies since almost 30 years, it works perfect. However the “insulting” part can be done different, I usually make a little joke about my name “Korte” and insult myself, but the reaction is the same people still or even laugh….it’s easy because in Dutch my name Korte means short.


Hi Derek,

Whenever I use my debit card and the person paid to talk to me asks, “Do you need a receipt?”


Super fun, plus valuable lesson on connecting with people. Thank you, Derek. But my guess is that way too many people are liking you too quickly


Great article! As a fellow introvert, I have struggled with this quite a bit, but over the years it has gotten easier. The Sincere compliment and ridiculous insult technique is definitely one I will have to try. Thanks!


Hi Derek, I talked to people all the time and I agree with you on the compliments. As long as it’s sincere they do go a long way. I like your points about getting people to laugh and it can lighten up the mood and get them to talk more about themselves. A really good thing! Thanks for sharing this with us.
I’m not a fan of those live networking events but I’ve been doing them more and it’s getting easier.


Wow really great article! It’s so engaging and insightful. So I read it all the way to the very end.
It’s so long it hurts my eyes. So I am closing them now.


The other day I did something similar, before reading this article. I went back the tire shop after realizing they let me leave in an unsafe manner and the right and left tires were 10 psi different which caused it to pull to one side. I calmly told them what happened and they offered to fix it. At this point, I decided I was going to stand there and watch him. I struck up a conversation with the manager while pointing at one of the mechanics. When that mechanic came close I said “yeah I was talking about you. I told your manager you had me so pissed the other day I felt like AT&T and was ready to reach out and touch someone.” I said I was not one of those women who knew nothing about cars and then the cabbage patch. :-). A few minutes later, I asked him how often they smack their heads on the car when it’s up on the lift. He said it often and on the left side. I said “well I can smack you on the right side to even shi* out.” I laughed and so did he. When he was backing up my car, I said if you break it you bought it and he asked me out on a date. So I guess offering to hit him and or knowing about cars was a turn-on. Lol


I did this the other day before reading this article. So I go to the tire place because my car kept pulling after replacing two tires I knew that they tried to pull a fast one because the tires were said more than 10 psi different from left to right. Long story short is when they offered to fix it and I was standing there watching the mechanics I was talking to one of the managers and pointed to one of the mechanics. When that particular mechanic came close so I go yeah I’m talking about you I said to your manager, since we’re both from the east coast and he understands my humor, but you had me so pissed the other day I felt like being like ATT and reach out and touch someone. Auf jene Trading Cards Empirie


I, too, am an introvert and small talk makes me squirrelly. But I love “hit and run” conversations such as you describe. An observation, a brief interaction, a smile and go. A human connection without a commitment.


I couldn’t agree more, Derek. I’ve been doing this for years, and it people really just love it.
A couple of years ago, we were dining in an outdoor dining space at a restaurant south of San Francisco. We were seated around a fire pit, as it was a chilly and foggy evening.
A younger couple — whom we had never seen before — asked if they could join us. I said, “It’s about time you got here! We’ve been waiting for you!!”
That really broke tie ice. Everyone laughed, and we had such a pleasant conversation.
As we were getting up to leave, I said (mostly) to the attractive young woman whom I will never see again, “My appearance that you see is that of a 73-year-old man, but I’m actually only 37. This is just a disguise I put on when I go out in public, to keep attractive young women like yourself from hitting on me”.
She replied, “IT’S NOT WORKING!!”
Thanks for the article, Derek.


You would love the book The Game by Neil Strauss. It’s about pickup artists whose processes could be very manipulative, but regardless it’s a fascinating study in human behavior. Your ridiculous insult is similar to their “neg” and probably works for the same reason. Good stuff. Thanks!

Samuel Njoroge

Hi, Derek.
Thank you for this amazing post. I love the insights.


Love your article! So next time I see you at a conference I have your okay to open with a little insult, yes!? 🙂 just to break the ice, of course! Btw, I did see you speak at the leadpages conference in Oct and wanted to talk to you afterwards to congratulate you on great talk- but you’re too popular! You had a swarm of peeps around you! So obviously whatever you’re doing – has worked!! 🙂

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