Psychology is endlessly fascinating, and we’re particularly interested to learn any way we can use it to “hack” our way to success, happiness, self-actualization, all-around world domination—you name it. (We blame Tim Ferriss for turning us onto life hacks, in general.) One question on Quora in this realm particularly piqued our interest: To paraphrase it, what are some top psychology tricks everyone can follow daily to make our lives easier and help us get ahead? Read on for our favorite takeaways from the forum.
Quora user Shouvik Chatterjee suggests we open up folded arms when in discussion or negotiation. “You walk into an interview. The interviewer is sitting with his hands folded. Hand over him your CV printout,” he recommends. “He will be more open to new ideas when his hands are extended than when they remain folded. This applies to any discussion. With our hands folded, we are less receptive to new ideas.”
If you need help memorizing something, rely on your senses. Krishna Vedavyas, a student of psychology, brings up the idea of senses dependent recall: “Try chewing gum while studying for an exam, and then while writing the exam, chew the same flavor of gum. You will recall the answers easier than before.”
Need help carrying something cumbersome? Quora user Raman Sab suggests “just keep talking to them while handing them the bag. Most people will automatically take the bag without thinking.” No need to ask.
If you’re new to a group, say attending a cocktail party as a date, and trying to get the lay of the land, Quora user Krithika Sankar suggests reading the room, so to speak. “Pay attention to who is looking at each other when everyone in the group laughs at a joke,” he says. “People instinctively look at and agree with the person they feel closest to within the group.”
It might seem counterintuitive to ask for more than you actually need, but psychology says it actually works. Quora user Ayuk Armslem advises, “When making a request, always request two or more things—what you actually need and something else.” Consider, for instance, a Rolex watch and a vintage T-shirt. Ask for both, and your friend or acquaintance is likely to decline giving you the pricey watch, but then likely to share the less valuable item (the vintage T-shirt, which you actually want), thinking they got a bargain by giving it instead.
An anonymous user suggests, “Always tell people that you think that they are good/smart/strong people, even if you don’t believe that to be true. Most people will surprise you because your faith in them helps them be better.”
If you can land a coffee meeting with someone—or better yet, multiple—rather than just a phone call, you’ll be much better off. “According to mere exposure effect,” says Chris Chan, “people tend to like you more just because you show up in front of them often. So if you like a girl and want her to like you back, just keep showing up.”
“Whenever you are heading into a meeting with an aggressive person or anticipate the discussion will become heated at some point, consciously sit next to such a person,” Quora user Jennifer Sung advises. “Proximity is known to make people conscious, lessening the level of aggression they exercise.”
If you want to be popular among your colleagues, Quora user Gaurav Kokardekar advises, make a habit of calling people by their first names. “A person instantly feels special when you call him or her by their first name.”
If you start thinking about something that gives you mental anxiety or stress of any kind, Quora user Rahul Sinha advises you write your thoughts down in a journal and close it. “That’s it,” he says. “Now you will find you can focus on your work more easily. It really works because you shared your thoughts with someone, and when it is shared, then you feel the reduced burden of those thoughts on your mind.”
Have a big task ahead of you tomorrow? Quora user Sudheer Nalla advises you do the hard tasks in the morning. “Willpower is limited,” he says. “It’s high in the morning and depletes by the end of the day.”
Shop a few of the top-recommended psychology books on Amazon below.
What other tips and tricks would you add to this list? Tell us below.