How to Make Friends Part 1
I recently discovered a very simple tactic for communicating interest in a way that quickly draws people closer to you and greatly aids in efforts to make friends, find new romantic partners and establish stronger work bonds. And it revolves around two magic words.
In his book “The Like Switch”, Special Agent for the FBI’s National Security Division’s Behavioral Analysis Program, Dr. Jack Schafer gives the simplest formula to create rapid rapport I have ever come across. And it is:
In conversation, begin every response with the words “So you…”
For example, if someone was talking to you and said that they had recently had a fight with their girlfriend because she thinks they never do the dishes, most of us would likely respond with something like:
“I know what you mean! My girlfriend nags me about that all the time” and then launch into a story of our own.
In our mind, we have identified with the person. We told them we understood! In reality, we have just assumed we understood them. We took no time to clarify what they meant. We connected their story to the closest memory our brain could pull up and then redirected the focus of the conversation back onto ourselves.
When they hear us say “I know what you mean!” they, instinctively on some level, think “No. You don’t.”
By starting a sentence with “So you…”, your first communicated intent is to understand the person. By focusing on their intent, rather than directing the conversation back to yourself you demonstrate true investment in their point of view. A response that achieves this might sound like this:
“So you are feeling like she doesn’t recognize the other things you are doing around the house?”
At that point, the person will either agree that is what they meant or will correct you to make themselves more understood. Either way, they will not be forced to leave the emotional tenor of their own story to try and match whatever personal tale you are telling.
This gives the person a space in which to explore their own thoughts and emotions. As long as you remain nonjudgemental and legitimately engaged, they will come out of the conversation actually feeling heard.
I have been practicing using this in my speech and it is fascinating to watch how it works. I have been amazed at how strong the urge to talk about myself really is. By becoming conscious of this one aspect of conversation your efforts to make friends will become much more effective.