Let’s face it—we all want to be liked. Everyone from the attention seekers to the rebels has a fundamental need to be heard, accepted and appreciated. I’m the first to admit that a simple retweet from a colleague or random new Twitter follower can make me feel validated (for a moment, anyway).
So, when I read about the six science-based conversation techniques to make people like you on Business Insider, I was more than intrigued.
According to six experts, including a professor, a neuroscientist and a Nobel Prize winner, it’s not about what you do but about what you say. So last night, I put these gurus’ theories to the test.
Encourage people to talk about themselves
Since the majority of people in my life excel at this task, I turned to Twitter for this one. I DM’d an acquaintance and asked how everything was going in her life. I received three consecutive DM’s in less than five minutes. She ended it by saying: “Always love hearing from you!” Ding, ding, ding! I’d say that was a win.
To give feedback, ask questions
My friend with family problems came in handy for this test. After complaining about the constant criticism from her sister, I came back at her with a number of questions: “Why do you think she’s always ready for a fight?” “Do you really want to smother her face with a pillow?” I’m not sure if my friend liked me even more after this conversation, but her sister is still alive and I’m sure she’s happy about that.
Ask for advice
Simple. I texted a friend and asked for her step-by-step instructions on how to achieve the smokey eye look. The text started off in all caps: “OF COURSE!” Her makeup lesson went on for a good 10 minutes, and her parting words were, “Come to me anytime.” I felt like Sally Field at the 1985 Oscar’s: “You like me, right now, you like me!”
The two-question technique
This tip involves asking a person about a specific area in their life (i.e., “How’s the job hunt going?”) and then hitting them with, “So how happy are you these days?” (PS: This tactic comes from the Nobel Prize winner and he says this is a surefire way to make someone feel either elated or awful within seconds.)
Once again, I headed back to the computer and emailed a colleague. I had heard through the media grapevine that his workload has increased. Knowing this, I asked him how business was going and that I hoped he was happy. (Side note: I can’t bring myself to ask people if they are happy because I find it to be a ridiculous question.) What did I have waiting for me in my inbox this morning? The most positive email I have received from him this year.
Repeat the last three words
I wasn’t looking forward to imitating a parrot, but I quickly realized that all I had to do was say the last three words slowly. Try it. Doesn’t it sound like you’re giving someone your undivided attention? Well, my disgruntled-with-work friend thought so. After she recounted the conversation between her and her coworker, I super-slowly repeated the last three words (which were the words of her annoying workmate). My friend responded by saying, “Right?” in a tone seven octaves higher. Hey, I consider this a success because she didn’t ask me if I wanted a cracker.
...but positively at this point, I feel like the lonely kid on the schoolyard who is giving away her snacks just to find someone to sit next to at lunchtime. So for the final test, I turned to my one of my closest friends, who was exhausted from life. I did my duty and told her a piece of good gossip. “So-and-so just booked a vacation to Disney.” Her reaction: “Please! She needs a therapist, not Mickey Mouse!”
Overall, I agree with the expert on this gossip trick—saying something nice about someone else will make you seem even nicer. However, when your best friend feels like bitching, just giving her an entry to do so will earn you mega points.
Amy Capetta is a contributing writer for iVillage. Follow her on Twitter.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.