A few years ago, a very successful man referred to me as a “lifter.” I had no idea what the hell he was talking about.
“There’s lifters and there’s leaners,” he explained. “Lifters lift people up with their words. Leaners just lean on people with their negativity.”
That shit made sense to me once he clarified it. I had long been known to compliment people to the point of seeming like a damn brown noser. The iconic Dale Carnegie book, How to Win Friends and Influence People talks a lot about the importance of excellent social interaction skills because it serves everyone involved in positive ways.
It occurred to me that I have always been great at making people feel good about themselves.
Here’s my 7 step strategy for making people feel good about themselves. Steal this shit and use it! It works wonders for me, but with practice, it will help you too.
1. Open With Positive Energy
When a person or people enters the room or vice versa, your energy will speak volumes about the type of person you are. Open with positive energy in the form of body language and/or words when dealing with them.
Here’s an example: “What’s up, guys? What are we doing tonight?”
Use an enthusiastic voice, but not awkward or condescending one. A grin, smile, hug, handshake is so disarming and it lets the guard down of the other person.
2. Give a Subtle Compliment
This is almost self explanatory. Whether people admit it or not, we all like compliments because they hit the ear just right.
Upon being in a person’s presence, pay attention to them. It’ll give you a great advantage when deciding what about them should be complimented.
The key is to be sincere and not just a pesky flatterer. Whenever my straight male friend visits me, I’ll typically make mention of how he’s “looking good” or “stylish.”
It sometimes gets a smile out of him, but remember, this takes a bit of nuance. You don’t want people to get the wrong idea.
If it’s a female, I might say something about how amazing their hair looks. Be sure to notice the details; nails, shoes, earrings, lashes, whatever goes against the standard compliments from guys.
It’s best not to compliment their ass or boobs. It’s unlikely to be flattering to them because they are used to this pathetic crap from guys. They often see these types of comments as BS and even disrespectful.
3. Show Interest by In Their Life by Asking Questions
This is best described as “meaningful small talk.” A little known secret: lots of people like talking about themselves. Try to make the conversation more about them, and make sure that you actually listen. You never know when a tidbit about them could be brought up later, which will further impress them because it proves that you actually paid attention.
Let’s say that you’re speaking with a bartender. A good way to open the conversation is, “Please tell me that you make the world’s greatest Washington Apple. It’s my favorite!” That will make them respond in a favorable fashion, even if they can’t make the drink.
The truth is, it’s a basic drink that practically any bartender can make. It also puts them in position to prove their “skills” by welcoming the “challenge” of mixing together a drink to your satisfaction.
4. Make Them Feel Smart or Important
Many times, a person will say something that is quite common to them, but might be profound to someone else. Use that situation as a chance to make them feel smart or important.
For example, I have a friend that has a lot of experience working in restaurant kitchens as a cook. He’s also well versed in that artform himself at home. Whenever he gives me information about different types of food utensils or cooking strategies, much of that is like Greek to me. I usually react with amazement and fascination.
I knew nothing about cast iron skillets and he is almost an expert on them. Every detail that he gave to me about using it and cleaning it felt like high intelligence. I kept telling him that he was smart and called him, “a genius.”
Even though he was speaking what was basic and common stuff to him, my awe and compliments definitely felt good to him, even if it was subconscious.
5. Express Subtle Gratitude For Their Time and Attention
Be sure to thank people for their time, and being in their presence. “I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to explain this to me” is a excellent way to articulate gratitude. The person will usually not expect this because it’s not a common thing for anyone to say.
That gives you the advantage over other people.
6. Get Their Opinion on Something
I like to involve people in ideas and thoughts that I have, and it’s genuinely meant to gain feedback from their perspective. In doing so, it makes people feel as though their opinion matters.
Again, this is not necessarily something that they think or even realize, but somewhere in their psyche, it registers as a good feeling. I asked a different friend of mine for her input on book titles that I was working on. I told her that I valued her opinion and that I looked forward to her response.
It is unquestionable that folks enjoy feeling useful, and this is an opportunity to help people feel as though they are a part of something meaningful.
7. Be Mildly Self-Deprecating While Affirming Them
“Compared to you, I have the IQ of a safety pin,” is one of my favorite lines to use when making fun of my lack of knowledge on something. This serves the dual purpose of lifting the other person up and by comparison, they look smarter and “better” qualified to explain something than we might be.
This is not intended to butter them up or discredit myself, it’s just a very simple and understated touch that feeds their ego a bit. It’s just another way to be disarming and it works wonders.
I strongly recommend practicing these techniques. They are tried and true as long as we come from a genuine place when we say what we say. After implementing some of this advice, it shouldn’t be surprising when more positive outcomes start to happen in our lives.
Let me know in the comments if there’s any questions.