Have you ever entered a room, and felt a shockwave of fear course through your body? Maybe you didn’t know anyone there. Perhaps it was nearly quiet, and people were whispering. Or maybe you sensed others weren’t exactly overwhelmingly-warm types.
You have most likely experienced a socially unsettling situation, whether at a work meeting, a birthday party, or a function with your extended family. However, you don’t have endure these harsh environments any longer. You can actually enter a room and completely change its vibe from frightening to friendly. Psychologist Karla Ivankovich, PhD, explains how to do it — with just a few simple “mind control” tactics.
Trick #1: Smile Until You Mean It
Have you ever heard the old saying, “Smile, and everyone will wonder what you are up to?” According to Ivankovich, it’s true. “People work diligently to find the things that make them happy,” she says. “If they don’t know what makes them happy, they will look to what makes others happy.” Including you. A smile + laughter combination exudes “a confidence that makes others want to bask in your presence,” says Ivankovich. So, employ this tactic as you flit through a networking event, show up solo at a party, or even hit a fitness class. “This is especially contagious at the gym,” Ivankovich says. “If you have ever walked into a group class where everyone was excited, you know the energy of that class makes the workout a lot of fun.” Work harder, with a smile, and time flies that much faster.
Trick #2: Acknowledge People (Even If You Don’t Know Them)
According to Ivankovich, most people enter a room and immediately look for the one person they know the best, breezing past multiple others. Even if you’re making your way towards a friend first, you also want to acknowledge the people you pass. This is especially important at business events and parties, where you don’t know many folks and want to make a good impression. “Lock eyes, nod in silent acknowledgement,” Ivankovich says. This makes you seem both confident and friendly, so you can easily open the door to conversation later on — without any intimidating vibes standing in the way.
Trick #3: Introduce Yourself and Ask Questions
Ivankovich says it’s remarkable how people respond to men and women who take the lead. So, don’t be afraid to beeline for that intro. “The quickest way to give off a positive vibe is to introduce yourself to others,” she explains, noting that it’s important to smile, as well. “Ask them open-ended questions about how they are, so they can expand and get comfortable sharing their thoughts with you.” Ivankovich says that far too often, people phrase questions in a way that doesn’t allow for a strong flow to the conversation. “Yes or no” inquiries don’t allow for much thought. Asking rhetorical questions in a nervous rush will lead you toward talking too much and dominating the conversation. When someone feels acknowledged, and as though you’re truly interested in what they have to say, “they are more likely to engage and share in your positive energy,” Ivankovich says.
Trick #4: Go Silent Strategically
Ivankovich says that conversational silence is golden. Don’t be rude, of course, but do go mum in an effort to steer the person’s vibe toward openness. “We live in a society that is driven by the constant buzz of activity,” Ivankovich explains. “As such, silence is often seen as uncomfortable—but constant chatter never really gives people time to consider a full train of thought.” You need silence to think, as much as your conversational partner needs silence to share! “As the listener, silence allows you the ability to let someone mull over or process what they want to say,” Ivankovich says. “Giving someone room to explore the conversation eliminates the possibility that they will feel as if their thoughts didn’t count.” So, take a second and let someone speak fully, and then respond thoughtfully. When people feel as if they matter, their self-esteem and confidence increase in leaps and bounds.
Trick #5: Subtly Change the Conversation
Let’s say you walk into work, and the room is decidedly low. Or you show up to girls’ night, and there’s harsh vibes coming from one of your best friends. Turn the tides by acknowledging the negative energy as you encounter it, and then countering with a positive thought. “Misery loves company, so you need to act as an agent for change without forcing positive vibes down the throats of others,” Ivankovich says. “As soon as you run into someone who brings the conversation to the negative side, draw them back across to positivity by offering a better string of thoughts.” So, perhaps your friend had a terrible day at work. Try: “I’m sorry to hear that, but how are things going at work overall, after your promotion? That must be exciting!” Or maybe your co-worker got into a fender-bender on her ride to the office. You can say, “Oh, no…Thank goodness you are okay, though!”
There are tons of subtle-but-effective ways to change the energy around you. The most important thing, says Ivankovich, is to exude humble confidence and act approachable toward others — whether you know them or not. People tend to respond in kind, and will automatically err on the side of positivity. How’s that for easy-peasy mind control?
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.