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.
FAR FROM IT.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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.”
And she gets up.
I sit in the seat, and lean over to the other friend.
Me: “Wow. Some friend. SHE JUST DITCHED YOU!”
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 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?”
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.
It’s going to be a fun one ;-).