Psychology Hacks 101: Make Life That Much Easier

We are living in the age of hacks and DIY projects. While learning how to clean our homes with stuff we have under the sink or finding out how to turn an old bus into a home are cool ideas and worth knowing, there are hacks that we can do by simply changing the way we think and act.

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Having a basic knowledge of the ins and outs of our brains, and all the stuff that triggers our emotions and human instincts, can be useful in our everyday lives. These are some real psychology hacks that really work.

In a Verbal Fight? Stay Silent

It’s natural to get uncomfortable with silence and feel the need to fill it with nervous rambling. But silence can be your friend. If you’re in a verbal altercation and someone is being rude, if you don’t know how to gain the upper hand, the best bet is to just say nothing.

A man and a woman are having an argument.
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The person you’re arguing with will likely become more nervous by your silence, possibly yell even more, and make him or herself look worse in the process. In the end, you come off as the mature and composed one, and the person will most likely feel bad once they have calmed down.

Who Likes Who in a Group?

If you’re in a group in which everyone knows each other, try to pay attention to who everyone looks at when you’re all laughing. The person who’s telling a funny story or a joke tends to be the one people automatically make eye contact with, and thus the one they feel the closest to.

A group of friends are having fun together.
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There is also the case where the opposite is true. If everyone’s laughing and no one is making eye contact with you, you might be the least popular one in the group.

Eyes Tell the Truth

If you ask someone a question but don’t like or understand their answer, try looking into their eyes. Pause instead of asking more questions. This will instantly make them feel pressured, and they should then be compelled to explain whatever they just said.

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We are highly sensitive to subtle social cues, and prolonged eye contact in a situation like this subconsciously communicates to the person you’re talking to that you’re not happy with their answer, and you don’t even have to say it verbally.

Hard Decision? Give Yourself Fewer Options

We tend to think that we make better choices in life when we have as many options as possible, but research has proven that the opposite is true. Too many options actually overwhelm and paralyze us, which can make us miserable.

A crossroads in the path.
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If you’re trying to decide about anything – big or small – give yourself fewer options and a limited time to decide which to choose. This method will help you stay proactive instead of getting stuck in perpetual indecisiveness.

Acing Your First Date

First dates are rough (at least for most people). We always hear the most common piece of advice: “just be yourself.” Now, not only is that advice vague, but it’s also easier said than done. The good news is that you can take more practical steps to increase the chances of your date liking you and wanting to go on a second outing.

A man gives a woman a flower while on a date.
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There’s a psychological phenomenon called “misattribution of arousal” that means people mislabel what gets them excited. So, if you choose to do an exciting activity for a date, like an escape room, for example, the excitement of the activity should rub off on your date’s impression of you.

Make a Rude Person Self-Conscious

If you find yourself in a situation where someone is yelling at you and you want them to stop right away, you can just cut them off with “Hey, I think you have something stuck in your teeth,” or something along those lines. It’ll make them stop immediately and feel awkward instead of angry at you.

A woman clasps her hands over her chest.
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It should also get them to excuse themselves to go find a mirror. It’s a little trick that you should probably use as a last resort, as it’s always better to handle a situation like this with a more mature and calm style of communication.

Need a Favor? Say ‘I Need Your Help’

People like to feel needed, and we also hate to feel guilty. You can use this human tendency to your advantage by being conscious of how you phrase a question when asking for a favor. Instead of just asking, “Can you do this?” start with, “I need your help.”

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This will make the request more personal, and using the word “help” reduces the likelihood of the person saying no. With a more personal approach, they’ll feel more needed, and denying giving someone help will be more guilt-inducing.

How to Look Confident at a Party

Here’s a tip for all you introvert out there: If you find yourself mingling at a party and feel awkward, chances are that you look uncomfortable and insecure, too. This will only decrease the chances of people wanting to approach you.

A bartender hands over a cocktail.
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One way to look more friendly, cool, and confident is to be mindful of how you hold your drink. Don’t hold your glass up by your chest. Instead, try to hold it down by your hip. Try it out; it works like a charm!

Not Sure If They Like You? Ask For a Pen

We’ve all known someone who we just know isn’t a fan of us, for whatever reason. If you want to see if someone likes you, or if you’re working with a colleague and you want it to be more pleasant, just ask them to borrow something small and insignificant. You know, like a pen.

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They’re going to give you the pen because it’s rude not to, but in the process, it will trick their brain into thinking that you’re not so bad after all. This will then further be improved when you return the pen (don’t forget that part).

Get Someone to Stop Talking

If you find yourself talking to someone who just doesn’t stop and let you get a word in try dropping something (but only something that won’t break, like car keys). Doing this will break their train of thought and they’ll at least pause for a second, which will be long enough for you to take control of the conversation.

A man is listening intensely to another.
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This way, you can achieve your goal without trying to talk over the person until they stop. Even worse, you don’t want to tell them that it’s your turn to talk.

Get Better Grades with Classical Music

Scientific studies have proven that studying while listening to classical music (or any music without lyrics) improves academic results. Our memories seem to work better when connected with an experience or mood, and melodies can offer that.

A woman is listening to music while she studies.
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But when it comes to music with lyrics, it can be very distracting for your brain, and you’ll inevitably pay attention to the words. If you already know the song, you’ll likely start singing along in your head (or out loud).

Get Your Way by Flinching

Whether you’re negotiating the cost of a home, the salary of a new job, or the price of a car you want to buy, flinch when you hear the first offer. Why? Because it’ll immediately signal to the person’s subconscious that you’re appalled by their offer. Hopefully, it will make them adjust the price or salary.

A man shakes a woman’s hand.
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Of course, not everyone will do so, but it’s possible with this trick. But if you say, “that’s a terrible offer!” that likely won’t work, either. That comes off as overt criticism, which is likely to create a defensive response.

Use Colors to Your Advantage

The colors purple and blue, for example, have a calming effect, so they’re good choices for a bedroom. Warmer colors like orange, yellow and red, are more aggressive and tend to communicate stronger feelings. They’re not the best choices for a bedroom.

A woman in a blue dress is looking at he view.
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Now, if you choose to wear a yellow dress or shirt on a date, it can make you seem warm and more passionate. The warm colors also trigger hunger, so it’s a good idea to include these colors in the design if you’re opening a restaurant.

Whispering Begets Whispers

Here’s a funny and innocent way to get someone to whisper to you. No matter what the situation or topic is, if you lean in and whisper to someone, they’ll mimic your behavior and automatically whisper back to you.

A woman whispers into a man’s ear.
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This can be funny if you whisper something totally random to them, like “Are you into Mexican food or Italian?” as if it’s a secret to ask such a question. Just don’t do this kind of thing with everyone, like your boss.

Write When You’re Anxious

Life gets stressful at times, as you know. Problems can cause us a lot of anxiety, whether they’re real or in our heads. This only negatively influences us in our everyday lives. You might have heard it before but writing down your thoughts and feelings truly helps.

A woman is writing in a journal.
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It doesn’t have to be a long journal entry. Just jotting down a few sentences about what’s currently on your mind will help your brain let go of what’s bothering you for a while. It’s like a temporary release that’ll let you focus on other things.

Change Your Posture, Boost Your Confidence

This one is simple: good posture can dramatically improve your life, in both personal and professional settings. You need to consciously remind yourself to straighten your back and hold your head higher. With this, you exude more confidence. It’s as simple as that.

A woman sits on the floor.
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It’s called power language, as it affects the impression people will have of you, be it from bosses or romantic partners. The better your posture, the better your confidence, and the better your chances of professional and personal success.

Memorize Eye Colors

Here’s something to do when you meet someone new: remember their eye color. Whenever you’re introduced to someone, take note of their eyes while shaking their hand. Really, it’s not because you care about remembering the color.

Two eyes are pressed close together.
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The point of it is to achieve the right amount of eye contact – better than the glance people usually give. But it’s less than what you give when engaged in deep conversation. This length of eye contact will give the impression that you’re more friendly and confident.

Don’t Say ‘I’m Sorry’ When Working in Customer Service

Working in customer service involves dealing with a good share of angry and frustrated people – the kind who complain about any product and take it out on you, the worker. Many automatically apologize to the customer even if it’s not their fault, and this isn’t the best approach.

Women are working as customer service representatives
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Instead of saying sorry right away, say, “I understand this is frustrating; thank you so much for your patience.” This changes the focus from the problem and compliments the customer instead, something that should calm them down.

Intimidate Someone by Staring at Their Forehead

Not that it’s a good thing to try to intimidate someone, but if you want to, one way is to stare at their forehead. It can make people very uncomfortable, as they’ll start to worry, they have some dirt or something on their face.

A woman stares blankly.
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This trick works regardless of the height difference you might have with the person you’re talking to. But use this trick carefully. It’s intimidating, but it could also provoke them and escalate the situation.

Shake Hands with Warm Hands

People subconsciously associate cold hands with suspicious behavior. That said, if you’re in an important meeting and want to make a good impression, make sure that your hands are warm before shaking them with other people. And they should be dry!

Two men shake hands.
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Clammy or cold hands make a person seem both nervous and untrustworthy, which isn’t what you want to communicate in your work or personal life. So, rub those palms together before shaking them, folks.

In a Hurry? Stare Straight Ahead

We tend to walk quickly when we’re in a hurry, right? We’ll even mumble “excuse me” and weave left and right to get going faster. But this isn’t the best way to get people out of your way. There’s something else you can do.

A woman walks down the street.
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You should hold your head high and stare straight ahead as if no one is in your line of sight. You’ll see right away that people will make sure to move out of your way.

How to Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors

It’s unclear why this works, but it does. If you’re going to play the classic game of rock, paper, scissors with someone, and you want to win, ask them a random question immediately before you start playing.

Kids are playing Rock Paper Scissors.
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For some reason, it throws them off and they forget to focus on the game. Not only that – they’re more likely to choose scissors (we have no idea why). With this insider knowledge, you can strategically pick rock to win.

Get Someone to Carry Something for You

If you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone and you hand them an object as they’re talking, they will without question just take it from you without noticing. The opposite is true, too. Hold out your hand and they’ll hand you whatever they’re holding.

A man is carrying his partner on his back.
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A split second after they either take or give you the object, they’ll realize what they just did, and be dumbfounded and maybe even embarrassed. It can be a way to get a good laugh for both of you.

Mirror Body Language to Gain Trust

This is a trick to be subtle with as it can easily turn into a charade, and someone might call you out on it or think you’re weird. Aside from that, subtle body mirroring subconsciously makes the other person feel that you’re someone who can be trusted.

Two women are mirroring each others body language.
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This trick is particularly useful if you work in sales or a profession where you need to gain trust to close deals. For those who don’t work in those fields, it’s something to think about as the customer.

Check People’s Feet When Talking to Them

When in a conversation with someone, look at the person’s feet. If they’re facing you, they should be engaged in the conversation. On the other hand, if the feet are turned away from you to the side, they’re likely miles away in their mind.

An intimate conversation between a man and a woman.
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Either that, or they want to get out of there. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like you or the conversation. But it does mean that they don’t have the time or want to talk at that moment.

Don’t Look at the People Who You Don’t Want to Be Seen By

Let’s say you went out to buy some milk and you’re in your ugly sweatpants or have no makeup on. And then you notice some cute guy in the store. First, don’t panic. Just don’t look at them — not even a glance.

A woman hides behind her hat.
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If you ignore them, they most likely won’t notice you. We notice if someone is looking in our direction, which is why we usually look back. So, by not looking at someone, you’re avoiding drawing their attention to your presence.

Getting Someone to Agree with You

While explaining an idea or opinion to someone, try nodding your head. It will increase the likelihood of them agreeing and going along with you and the point you’re trying to make. This is because we associate nodding with facts.

A woman explains something to a man.
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Don’t overdo it, though, and aggressively nod your head as you talk. It must be more subtle, and only around the point of each statement, like a verbal underlining of your main selling points. Again, this can be good for sales-related jobs.

Control Your Emotions; Don’t Escalate Situations

Whenever things get heated in an argument, we make it worse when we let our emotions rule our behavior. To de-escalate conflicts and solve them properly, we need to improve our ability to regulate our emotions.

Eggs in a carton have facial expressions drawn on.
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This is easier said than done, of course, but try being more aware of your automatic behaviors, like if you lash out or get defensive. Try taking a deep breath and listening to the person. Don’t take what they say personally and think carefully before saying the next thing.

Want To Know Who Likes You? Use Pavlovian Conditioning

Ivan Pavlov was a physiologist known for discovering what he called classical, or Pavlovian, conditioning. It means learning through association. Pavlov rang a bell and gave a dog a treat, which made the dog associate the bell with treats.

A photo of a pen.
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This doesn’t have to be done with dogs – you can use this conditioning to see if someone likes you. Try smiling or complimenting them every time they either say or do something specific. If they like you, they will start saying or doing that one thing more often.

Request Something by Using the Word ‘Because’

Whenever you ask someone for a favor, try including the word “because” when you make your request. This seemingly simple word has a strong psychological effect on the brain.

A woman and a man are sitting in a meeting.
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The brain is wired to want to make sense of all things and hearing the word “because” makes us think that there is an objective reason behind the request. Thus, the person is more likely to do it. This usually works even if there’s no good reason and you just want to get someone to do things for you.

Rephrase What Someone Said to Make Them Feel Validated

People always want to be heard and feel validated. If you can meet that need, they will like and respect you more. One way to make someone feel validated is by rephrasing what they say back to them. It will prove to them that you were listening and took in what they said.

A man and a woman are talking to one another.
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We tend to like people who pay enough attention to remember what we say. People with good social skills do this a lot, and those with great social skills tend to have more meaningful relationships.

Win People Over with Open-Mindedness

It’s easy to say, “be open-minded,” but most people aren’t so accepting of different opinions – not as much as we’d like to think. But you know what? Faking it works, too. When you’re discussing something with someone, and you think their viewpoint is way off…

A group of friends talk on the lake.
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You can pretend to be accepting and open-minded about their stance instead of being defensive or openly showing how stupid they are (in your eyes). If you just appear to consider their opinion as valid, they’re more likely to be more open to your perspective and might start agreeing with you.

Show Interest by Looking at Their Lips

You probably shouldn’t just stare at someone’s lips since that will make them uncomfortable. But a few glances here and there and letting them really see that you’re doing it is a way to signal your interest when on a date.

A woman is smiling in a photo.
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This is a great way to gauge someone’s interest on a first date because touching his or her arm or hand might be a little too forward on a first date. If they start glancing back at your lips, chances are that the feeling is mutual.

Use Proximity to Make a Person Uncomfortable

If you’re going into a meeting with someone with a temper, with whom discussions tend to get heated, try sitting directly next to them. Sure, it feels counterintuitive, because you probably want to run and hide. But sitting close to this person can work to your advantage.

A man and woman stand close together.
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Proximity can be intimidating to most people, even to the people who seem the most confident. It will make this person in the meeting less likely to raise his or her voice or take out their temper on you.

Getting Over Old Embarrassments

Whenever you feel embarrassed over something – like falling in front of your high school crush or having the whole class laugh at a word you mispronounced – here’s a lifesaving hack you should think about for next time.

A woman covers her face in embarrassment.
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Instead of reliving what happened years ago over and over again, try to remember something embarrassing someone else did. You probably can’t! That just goes to show you that most people won’t remember your past blunders since everyone is obsessing over their own.

Remember Names to Be More Popular

People need to feel loved, and although we can’t love everyone, there are ways to make those around us feel seen. So, make a habit of memorizing people’s names when you start a new job or get introduced to a new group of people.

A woman greets others by saying hello.
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Beyond that, frequently use their names in conversation. Saying to your coworker, “Hey David, want to go get lunch?” will make them feel special, and then you’ll feel more special to them in return.

Making a Lie More Believable

If you must lie about something, a way to make it more believable is to add a small detail about yourself, preferably something embarrassing. People won’t think you would lie about something that’s embarrassing about yourself, so it makes the lie more convincing.

A woman crosses her fingers behind her back.
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The opposite is true as well. If you’re exaggerating about something awesome that you did, it’s likely to be met with suspicion as to how true it actually is.

Play Stupid to Not Get Teased

I think we can all agree that no joke is funny if you have to keep repeating it and explain why it’s funny. You can use this concept to your advantage if a person is making a joke about you and you’re not enjoying it.

Two women gossip while sitting on the swings.
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So, what do you do? You need to keep saying, “What? I don’t get it,” to make them repeat their joke and what they’ve been saying over and over again. If there had been any laughter up to that point, it will surely die down, and the one telling the joke will be the one who looks silly, not you.

Nervous? Chew Gum

Our brains are wired to think we’re safe when eating, and of course, that food is comforting. That said, chewing gum will trick your brain to make you calm down a little. It’s the perfect trick to calm those nerves when you’re about to do something nerve-racking, like take an exam, interview for a job, or go on a date.

A man is about to chew on a piece of gum.
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It should go without saying that chewing all the gum in the world won’t save you from failing. Oh, and don’t forget to spit that gum out when you’re in the actual interview or on the actual date!