I got a chance to interview Udemy.com Instructor and Lead Human Behavioral Investigator Vanessa Van Edwards. Her mission in life is to help you become the most memorable person in the room. She refers to herself as a recovering boring person who was uninterestingly bland. So she turned to science to overcome her dilemma.By using current research out of academic institutions and research organizations around the world, she’s able to share the latest people science in an actionable, applicable and un-boring way.

1. Connect with people emotionally

According to Vanessa’s research, she’s discovered that if you want to intrigue and influence people you have to get their dopamine pumping. Dopamine is that pleasure/reward area in our brain that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. She says you need to be relentless about stimulating that part of the brain, if you want to influence someone. A great way to do that is by having excellent conversation starters handy. Two that she always uses is, “What was the best part of your day and what was the worst part of your day?” or “What personal passion project are you currently working on right now?”

2. Be emotionally curious

When you make others feel important, your influence goes a long way. All of us want to be liked, loved and accepted. When you fulfill that need for others, you are perceived by them as being influential. Dale Carnegie once said, “To be interesting, you have to be interested.” So be genuinely interested in other people. A great way to become interested in people is to ask them open-ended questions. Get them talking about themselves and that will help increase your rapport with them.


3. Use Confident Body Language

Researchers at Harvard Business School, according to Vanessa’s Udemy.com class conducted a study wanting to know if a person’s body language could affect other people’s opinions of them. It turns out that it can. Low power body language is normally contracted, with the shoulders rolled with one’s head down or bowed. High power or confident body language is expansive. The head is held high, the arms are loose, shoulders are back and the chest is out. When you manifest power body language you are seen as more influential. Confident body language not only affects the way others see you, but it also affects the way you see yourself.

4. Tell a Story

Our brains are hard-wired for stories. When we hear stories, our brains feel like we are right there with the other person. It’s like you are experiencing the story along with them. Do you see the potential of how influential this could make you? When you tell a story, the brain of the other person is in sync with you. If you can stimulate the other person’s brain with a story, you can in effect get them on your side. Vanessa suggests creating a story toolbox. This toolbox should consist of relevant and thought-provoking stories you can tell at any time when you’re with people. Then after you tell the story, follow it up with some interesting questions. She suggests, “What was your most challenging moment and how did you overcome it?” or “When did a person, situation or moment turn out differently than you expected?

5. Be Vulnerable

Being open about your emotions actually increases your likeability and influence. People perceive you as being real when you admit to weaknesses or flaws. They are better able to relate to you. Vanessa suggests sharing a vulnerable story from your story toolbox. By doing this you not only tell a great story but you are being vulnerable as well, so it doubly increases your influence.

6. May I ask a favor?

According to Vanessa’s Udemy.com class, whenever you ask someone for a favor, you are perceived more positively. It turns out that asking for help is one of the best things you can do to be seen as an influential person. It is known as the Franklin Effect. So freely ask for help in the form of advice, other people’s opinion and their guidance.

7. Become Charismatic

Who is the most charismatic person you know? Why did you pick that person? Most likely you chose that individual because of the way that person makes you feel. According to scientific research, most people don’t remember what a person looks like or what they may have said. They remember how the other person made them feel. Charismatic people make others feel good. Vanessa gives three non-verbal ways to up your charisma quotient. When talking to someone, she says you should tilt your head, your torso should be aligned with theirs and lastly, your toes should point toward them. As Dale Carnegie said, when you show you are interested in other people, you become more interesting.

Featured photo credit: Thomas8047 via flickr.com

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