The Like Switch is a social skills book that teaches readers how to be liked and how to gain people’s trust as quickly as possible.
- Use body language signs to be liked (warm smile, head tilt, eyebrow flash)
- Compliment and save people’s faces (use their own info to build a compliment; ask for clarification rather than highlighting mistakes; give options)
- Use empathic statements to connect and dispel anger (ie.: “I can see you’re busy” / “you’re upset because.. “)
About The Author: Jack Schafer is a psychologist and former FBI special agent.
He is not one of those people who write only out of personal experience or only out of academic research: he’s got a Ph.D. as well, so he leverages both knowledge and experience.
The Friend’s Formula
Jack Schafer starts by telling us the golden formula to friendship, which is:
- Friendship = proximity + frequency + duration + intensity
He also tells us a story of how it’s been used in history by secret agents who pretended to “bump into” their victim until they could eventually become friends.
Albeit the stories are interesting, I find them not so useful to most people in normal life.
Planning “random meets” to be liked is similar to the seductions in Robert Greene’s “The Art of Seduction“.
Interesting, but impractical.
Most likely you won’t have the time to plant yourself in someone’s vicinity and “randomly bump into them” every day, day after day.
Some people have difficulty making friends because they wear the “urban scowl” on their faces.
This is especially true for people from big cities and/or rough neighborhoods.
Focus On The Enemies When Presenting
Jack Schafer tells us that we usually tend to look at, and address, people we already know.
While he was giving a presentation he noticed there were many who were not bought into his message because they weren’t nodding or leaning in.
He resisted the temptation of addressing and looking at his pals who were already on board and focused instead on winning over the less friendly faces in the audience.
People will leave a parking spot earlier if nobody’s waiting.
But if there is someone else waiting, they must linger on purpose, just to show they are not giving in.
Staring is a little bit like invading someone’s space.
And holding eye contact for too long is considered threatening, but you can use this technique to intensify eye contact :
- gaze for a second
- then start turning your head giving the impression you’re breaking eye contact
- but keep locking eyes instead for one more second.
You should then end the stare with a smile. And if a smile is returned, that’s an indicator of interest.
And if the receiver looks away (best down) and then looks at you again, you can safely approach.
How to Approach Groups
At a gathering, look at people who are talking to each other with their feet pointed at the outside.
If their feet are eschewed they are instead willing to accept someone new.
It’s the same for bigger groups: if the people’s feet point at the center of the group it’s a closed group.
If they are open in a wider circle with their feet pointing to an open space they want to accept new people.
If that’s the case, then enter the group confidently: confident people are more liked.
Nod as other people are speaking, and then feel free to weigh in and say something during a pause: nobody likes interrupters.
And a little trick to look like old friends: when you see a person as part of a group you joined, later on, you can resume the conversation from where you left off and it’ll feel like you know each other for a long time.
Empathic statements show that you appreciate the situation of the people you are dealing with.
A good start for such an empathizer is usually “so you..”.
Here’s an example delivered to a waiter at a busy restaurant:
You: you’re super busy today, I don’t know how you handle it
Or to your rebel teenager: “you look like something is bothering you” and if they aren’t forthcoming add “you don’t wanna talk about it right now, when you feel the time is right, lemme know and we can talk”.
Schafer also recommends not saying “I know how you feel” because it’s likely to raise their walls.
It’s indeed likely the other person will feel you’re forcing a connection and/or push back by saying “no you don’t because you’re not me”.
I want to add here that it can actually be great to say “I know how you feel“ as long you first dig deeper to make sure you do know how they feel. Then add “(I think) I know how you feel”, and then tell your personal story of when you felt exactly the same. If you can do that, you have an extremely powerful connection there.
Building and testing for rapport
Jack Schafer shares a few indicators to test for rapport.
The idea is that you use them, and then test the reaction to gauge at what point you are in the relationship:
- Holding gaze
- Touching (the most non-intimate you can touch a woman is the small of her back and if no jerking reaction it’s progressing well)
- Preening (doing it by yourself is a negative indicator if done for prolonged periods of time)
- Hair flip: when done without gaze or with broken gaze is a strong negative signal of lack of rapport (the bitch flip)
- Leaning: leaning backward (disinterest) VS forward (interest)
- Pacing and leading
- Open VS closed posture: palms open, uncrossed legs and arms, high rate of movement, head nodding, and head tilt are all positive
- Torso orientation (if they’re looking at you but your torso and feet are pointing away they’re not fully engaged)
- Barriers: placing barriers or removing them (example: placing a bag on her lap is a bad sign)
- Blinks: higher blink rate says uneasiness
- Eye closing: shutting eyes for 1-2 secs sub-communicates they don’t wanna see you
Also notice that when someone starts aligning their body towards you the head turns first, then the shoulders, then the torso.
Signs of liars
If you ask someone a yes or no question and they start their reply with “well… “ they are probably lying.
If you ask “why should I believe you” and they don’t reply with “because it’s the truth / because I did” or a version thereof, they’re probably lying
Jack Schafer says the following are ways to signal you’re friendly:
- Eyebrow flash
It lasts a split second, and you should do it before meeting someone. Make sure it’s brief though, if it takes longer it’s weird, there’s a reason why it’s called a “flash”.
- Head tilt (on the side)
Jack Schafer says that the head tilt on the side is an indicator of friendliness. People who tilt their heads toward the speaker are perceived as more friendly, warm, and honest.
And he says you should use it more often when approaching women for the first time.
And if you are wondering if it’s not too friendly, The Like Switch points out that it’s mostly in business situations that you appear more powerful and don’t tilt your head. But when making friends, do tilt your head :).
Do smile when meeting someone first and learn to recognize and give a real smile. A real smile involves the muscles around the eyes. Without muscles around the eyes and without wrinkles, it’s probably a fake smile.
Recognize an introvert/extrovert
Pause the middle sentence and the extrovert will jump in while the introvert will wait.
But when the introvert has rapport, he will also jump in.
Introverts are also uncomfortable with rush decisions: they can’t be pressured into buying without making them uncomfortable.
Save people’s face
As a salesman don’t say your product is better: it implies bad judgment from the customer.
By the same token, don’t build “right or wrong situations”.
Ask for advice instead and make them feel part of the decision-making process, which will make them feel good.
So if you found a mistake in your boss’ work don’t go there all happy and giddy thinking you can show how good you are.
Go there and say: “I was reviewing your latest policy and noticed something. I’d like your advice on the matter”
Give the impression of choice
When you are in the position to have to ask for something you can more easily avoid an escalation by giving the impression of choice.
Schafer tells us an amazing example.
He was on a plane and, as an FBI agent, was asked to offload a passenger from a plane.
He goes to sit next to the passenger and speaks slowly to him so that nobody else can hear.
And he gives him the impression he actually has two choices when he says:
The end game is you’re getting off this plane.
Now you have two options: I’m going to arrest you, handcuff you, and forcibly take you off the plane.
Then you go to court, pay a lawyer, maybe even end up in prison.
Or you can keep your dignity, go out by yourself, file a complaint and get on the next plane.
Sir, I will allow you to make this decision. Take a few seconds to think about it.
What do you want?
Pure genius :).
Jack Schaefer says the following are good techniques to get people to reveal information:
- Statements to be corrected
Asking many questions to someone you just met can seem nosy and invasive: so just blurt statements instead and they’ll feel the need to correct you.
- Quid pro quo
Tell them where you work if you wanna know where they work.
- 3rd party perspective
Rather than asking direct questions, say something happened to someone else and what they think about it.
For example, you might ask your possible future girlfriend to gauge her fidelity habits:
You: “Vanessa cheated on Mark the other night, crazy story eh?”
Her: Oh that’s terrible. Maybe she was drunk. Bad things can happen if you’re drunk
You: (thinking) How should I go about telling her I don’t intend to settle down with her..
Compliments are a well-known technique to influence people.
Here’s how to use them:
At the beginning
Jack Schafer says that if it’s very early in the interaction it’s safer to let them set the stage for the compliment or you will sound insincere.
You: “then you’ve been really busy lately”
Her: “yeah I work 60h a week last month”
You: “it takes a lot of dedication and determination to commit a project of that magnitude”
Her: (thinking) “I sacrificed a lot to get that megaproject done and I did a good job if I may say so myself”
Now she’s complimenting herself AND proving herself: a genius!
Note the guy didn’t tell her she’s dedicated and determined, which is dangerous at the beginning also because she might not think of herself like that.
Set up this way instead the comment didn’t make any damage if she doesn’t think of herself as determined and committed, but if she does, it furthered the relationship.
Elevate with a compliment
You can tell someone they remind you of someone famous/important (example: telling the Republican politician his ideas and passion reminded him of Ronald Reagan).
Lip purse: act before they speak
If you are telling something to someone and you see them pursuing their lips it means they disagree.
And you should act BEFORE they have a chance to voice their concerns, ESPECIALLY if it’s in public.
If they speak, it becomes your idea against their idea.
But If you change their mind before they speak, you are still in time to avoid that dynamic.
Jack Schafer is giving a presentation and sees the boss pursing his lips.
boss, I bet you’re thinking this idea isn’t going to work, but lemme explain to you why it will
If someone is fuming, begin with an empathic statement to let them vent. Your goal is to get to the root cause of the issue.
Continue constructing empathic statements until the anger is dissipated, like so:
Boss:“I expected you to have the report by this morning, your behavior is unacceptable”
You:“I couldn’t complete the report because I didn’t receive the data from the sales team, they said they’d provide it within an hour”
Boss: “that’s no excuse, you should have gone there and get it, you knew how important it was, I have a meeting with the client this afternoon” (reject the explanation)
You: “you’re upset because the client is expecting the report this afternoon” (empathic statement)
Boss: “yeah, it makes me look bad”
You: “you’re disappointed because you expected me to have the report done this morning”
Boss: “exactly, that’s an understatement” (vented completed, now starts being more manageable)
You:“I will get the report now and get it to you before the meeting”
Boss; “ok, see what you can do”
Notice these statements sound patronizing to not angry people, but angry people are in fight or flight mode and won’t notice them as so.
Jack Schafer goes home and expects a warm hug and a kiss but the wife instead starts venting.
Wife: “it’s about time you got home, we’re going crazy because you haven’t been here to help with the kids”
A simple empathic statement would have been “so you’re angry” but he used a sophisticated one to address the root cause:
Jack: “you feel overwhelmed because I haven’t been home to help with the kids”
Wife: “I used to go every Wednesday night with my friend to take a break and talk to some adults for a change”
A simple empathic statement would have been “you miss going out with your friends”, but better:
Jack: “you value the time you spend with your friends because it gives you a chance to take a break from the kids”
MOVING TO PRESUMPTIVE STATEMENTS
Jack: “why don’t I take the kids to my mom and we go to a nice restaurant, you deserve it” (this is the presumptive statement)
Wife: “you’re not getting off that easy mister” (rejecting the presumptive statement)
BACK TO EMPATHIC TO BREAK ANGER CYCLE – she isn’t done venting
Jack: “so you think one night out is not enough to make up for the work you did while I was gone”? (empathic statement, re-entering breaking the anger cycle)
I would say the best takeaways for you are:
- Empathic statements – make these part of your normal repertoire: guaranteed liking
- Save People Face – this is HUGE. It’s a hallmark of weak egos to use others’ mistakes to raise their value. We call this smart approach “power protecting” on TPM
- Build and Test Rapport – start assessing where you stand and your interpersonal skills will skyrocket
Great book, but since it’s all about being liked, this note is mandatory:
- Don’t Become People Pleasing
The Like Switch is all about being a more likable person (similar to How to Win Friends).
And that’s a HUUUGE skill to have.
Just don’t make the mistake of going overboard with it and becoming a people pleaser.
People don’t respect too much people-pleasers, and they can easily come across as fake, too.
- The “I know you would do the same for me” game
When you do someone a favor and they thank you for it, the author recommends telling them that “you know they would do the same for you”.
I think that’s a bit gamey and it can be quite annoying.
We discussed this in the TPM’s community, see it here:
“The Like Switch” doesn’t have much research.
But it’s written by a guy who’s quite experienced with people, and I tend to trust experience as much as I trust good research.
Jack Schafer’s advice is great and I found quite a few pearls I didn’t know about.
Overall, absolutely recommended!