How to Make Anyone Immediately Like You

July 12, 2017

People instinctively people, when first meeting them, in the either "us" or "them" crowd. The key to getting in the "us" crowd? Finding a common bond.

Meeting new people can be stressful. Why?

It’s because many of us aren’t confident it will go well, as there’s a fear the new person won’t like us. So we have a tendency to retreat into ourselves.

And yet making a good impression isn’t as hard as you think. Having good body language helps, but there’s actually a very simple formula you can use again and again to make virtually anyone like you very quickly.

It’s all about finding a common bond

In her LinkedIn Learning course Persuading Others, Instructor Dorie Clark said researchers discovered that people very rapidly group someone new into either the “us” or “them” group. People like a person they group into the “us” category and are weary of a person they group in the “them” category.

This is an evolutionary process that happens subconsciously. The good news is there’s a simple formula for getting into the “us” category.

“The answer is to find something you have in common with them, which gives you a topic you can talk about and enables them to see what connects with the two of you,” Clark said. “It doesn't even have to be profound similarity, it could be something as simple as what neighborhood you live in or that you're both dog owners or that you root for the same sports team.”

By quickly having a connection with someone, you fall into the “us” category. And that virtually assures you’ll be seen as favorable to that person.

The key to making this happen – research

How do you do this in practice? Many times, you can research the person before talking with them.

Say you are going in for a job interview. Try to find some common connection you share with the hiring manager – maybe a friend you both know or if you went to the same school or if you both worked for the same company, whatever. And bring this up when you first meet them, as it’ll immediately place you in the “us” category.

Same goes for a sales call or even a networking event. If there’s a networking event and there’s someone you’d really like to meet that's going, find something you have in common with them. That’ll make for the perfect icebreaker when you run into them.

Sometimes though, research isn’t possible, as you might meet someone spontaneously. In this situation, ask them open-ended questions about their interests or background. You’ll likely find a common interest quickly that way.

What if you don’t have anything in common?

Let’s say you do research or you meet someone new and you can’t seem to find anything you have in common with them. Does this ruin any chances of them liking you?

Not at all. Instead, use open-ended questions to hear about their passions. “Almost as good as having something in common is having a genuine interest in the other person,” Clark said.

This is where it helps to have some “cultural literacy”, so you can carry a conversation with a wide group of people with a wide group of interests, Clark said. Cultural literacy comes from reading the news regularly, and just means you have cursory knowledge of most subjects.

For example, maybe the person is a big fan of theater. You might have little interest in theater, but if you read the news you could ask a provocative question – perhaps about the wild success of Hamilton.

Bottom line, meeting someone new doesn't have to be scary. By following the simple playbook outlined above, you'll consistently make a good first impression.

Okay, great, you made a good first impression. Curious what to do next? To find out, watch the rest of Dorie Clark’s course, Persuading Others.   

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