A long time ago, we asked our regular contributors through e-mail, What are some psychological life hacks you can do to give you an advantage in situations?. We got many interesting responses. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way and most of the respondents have requested to stay anonymous, so no names will be published.

1-5 Psychological Hacks

Group Laughing

1. When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to in that group.

2. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait. If you stay silent and keep eye contact they will usually continue talking.

3. If you get yourself to be really happy and excited to see other people, they will react the same to you. It doesn’t always happen the first time, but it will definitely happen next time.

4. The moment your alarm wakes you up, immediately react by sitting up, pump your fists and shout “YEAH!”

5. I currently work for the Federal government and used to work in a high profile office, which reported directly to parliament. After years surrounded by important people, Media coverage and generally feeling way over my head, here are a few things I learned along the way;

· Fake it till you make it; confidence is more important than knowledge.

· Don’t be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask.

· Don’t be afraid to ask questions; it makes you look interested, and you will learn something. Anything can be learned if you put the effort in. Everything anyone knows, they learned along the way. Everyone, even the president. Ask open-ended questions to move conversations along. Learn the difference between open and closed questions.

· Along the same line, learn to argue for and against a variety of topics. If you can do this, you can take any position on any matter. Being able to argue a point is the basis of persuasion and learning.

· When you are having a conversation, use open body posture. Learn the difference between open and closed body language. When you feel uncomfortable, mirror the other person’s body language.

· Learn how to paraphrase and summarize, to ensure understanding and avoid miscommunications. Along the same line, if you are going to use a telephone, record yourself talking. Are you difficult to understand? Do you talk fast? Etc. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person.

· Knowledge is power. Don’t just learn how to do your job, learn why it has to be done a certain way. Improve on it if you can. Demonstrate your knowledge to your bosses, it will get you noticed.

· Go to your managers with solutions, instead of problems. Make their job easier, learn how they work, and then ride their coattails up the ladder.

· Your attitude is everything. Learn how to deal with stress without changing your behavior. Doing a high-stress job is one thing, doing it while making it seem seamless is another. This is also why knowledge is important – the more you know, the more confident you become, and the better you look.

· Learn Etiquette. It might seem stupid, but it is the basis of common business courtesy, and it DOES make a difference.


6-10 Psychological Hacks

Chew Gum

6. Chew gum when you’re approaching a situation that would make you nervous like public speaking or bungee jumping. Apparently, if we are ‘eating’ something our brains trip and it reasons ‘I would not be eating if I were a danger. So I’m not in danger.’ Has helped calm me a few times.

7. I learned this on here a few years ago. For anyone in customer service (or works for many different situations, but CS is a big one) put a mirror behind you at the counter. This way angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves in the mirror behind you and the chances of them behaving irrationally lowers significantly. No one wants to see themselves act like a dickhead.

8. Pay attention to people’s feet. If you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they don’t want you to join in the conversation. Similarly, if you are in a conversation with a coworker who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end.

9. Foot-in-the-door phenomenon. People are more likely to agree to do a task for you if you ask them to do something simpler first.

10. When you first meet people try to notice their eye color while also smiling at them. It might be because you look for a second or two longer, but all I can tell you is that people really respond to it.


11-15 Psychological Hacks

Calm Angry

11. When people are angry at me; if I stay calm it’ll get them even angrier, and be ashamed about it after.

12. For interviews, I recommend altering your psychological state beforehand. Tell yourself “I’ve known these people all my life. We’re old friends catching up. I can’t wait to see them.” Visualize the experience, shaking hands, making eye contact, having a conversation. What things can you not to wait to tell them? Hold an open pose…stand with your legs apart, hands on your hips, and shoulders back while doing this and SMILE. This may sound cliche but you are in charge of your own psychological state and the power of suggestion is strong.

13. False attribution of arousal. When you take somebody out on a first date, take them somewhere exciting that will get their heart beating. e.g. roller coaster or horror film. This gets their adrenaline up. It makes them think they enjoy spending time with you rather than the activity.

14. People will remember not what you said but how you made them feel. Also, most people like talking about themselves so ask lots of questions about them.

15. Always be honest so when you have to lie, people will believe you.

16-20 Psychological Hacks

Big Smile

16. If you make the biggest smile you can, you will automatically feel happier

17. If you’re in a group meeting and you suspect that someone in there might come after you about something, sit right next to them. They were hoping that the group would provide some sort of herd defense, but if you’re right next to them it can’t be anything other than personal. This tends to make them back off, or at least substantially temper what they say. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

18. Refer to people you’ve just met by their name. People loving being referred to by their name, and it will establish a sense of trust and friendship right away. Say your friend introduced you to Peter. After 5 minutes he decides to leave. Don’t just say, “bye”, but instead say “Bye Peter!”

19. The key to confidence is walking into a room, and assuming everyone already likes you.

20. A Navy lifer I worked with taught me the “See one, do one, teach one” method. The last step is the most vital step for your comprehension. If you are taught a new task at work, most people learn to do the task and then perform the task. If you find another employee to teach what you just learned, you will comprehend the concept better, and retain the info for much longer. Whenever I train a new associate at work, I ask them to go show another coworker how to do the task they just learned.

21-25 Psychological Hacks

Women in Red

21. Wearing red. For women, the color red makes them exponentially more attractive. Research has shown that men will go to great lengths to do things for a woman in red that they would not do otherwise like give her money or even carry her across the street.

22. While debating, don’t give your stance first. Give your argument. In some self-interest research that I did myself in my undergrad, I found that your persuasiveness is fragile and dependent on your social identity. For example, if you came out and say “I’m an atheist and this is what I believe,” you are already seen as less persuasive and more biased because people already know why you are arguing what you’re arguing; you have something to gain by convincing people You’re an atheist. What you should do is not say you’re an atheist at all. Say “this is what I believe…” Because people don’t have an assumption already in their mind, they will be more likely to view you as less biased. Bonus points if you’re on the opposite side.

23. Always give your kid a choice that makes them think they are in control. For instance, when I want him to put his shoes on I will say, “do you want to put your star wars shoes on or your shark shoes on?”

24. You know how a joke ceases to be funny when you have to repeat it? Well use that to your benefit; if that asshole in the group is making jokes at your expense, act like you can’t hear him and ask him to repeat it like 3 times. By the time he says it a 3rd or 4th time, no ones laughing.

25. If you are angry at the person in front of you driving like a grandmother, pretend it is your grandmother, it will significantly reduce your road rage.

(This article was originall published on August 2, 2015)

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Last Update: June 7, 2017

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