How to be charming
Life isn't fair. Some people just seem blessed with the ability to effortlessly charm anyone they meet. You know the kind of person, the one who can strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and end up with a new friend or business lead. How do they do it?
Well, it might seem like a magical power, but in fact there are a number of factors at work. So, can you learn to develop superhuman charm? The answer is: to a large extent, yes you can.
But first, the bad news. Scientists have found that people initially judge each other based purely on physical appearance. With just a fleeting glimpse of a face, people make snap judgements about each other's likeability, trustworthiness and confidence, according to Alexander Todorov, professor of psychology at Princeton University.
How to counteract this? There's one incredibly simple tool: your smile. Todorov told the BBC that people perceive a smiling face as "more trustworthy, warmer and sociable". It sounds like common sense, doesn't it? Smile and others will smile with you.
What other tricks might we have up our sleeves? Former FBI agent Jack Schafer has been trained in how to influence people. He told BBC Capital: "Our brains are always surveying the environment for friend or foe signals." Three things we can do to signal that we are not a threat are to: raise our eyebrows quickly, tilt our heads slightly, and, once again, to smile.
So we've looked at body language, but of course what you say is hugely important too, unless you want to just stand there grinning foolishly. Here Schafer recommends that "the golden rule of friendship is if you make people feel good about themselves, they're going to like you." In other words, you need to show interest in them, instead of talking about yourself and all your wonderful achievements. And while you're chatting, remember this: another way of showing interest is to mirror their physical position.
Another way to form a connection? Find common ground. Suzanne de Janasz, a professor of management with Seattle University, says that charming people are particularly adept at seeking out shared interests or experiences to help them build rapport. Simple things like asking where someone's from really can open up a discussion and allow you to find areas in common. And if all else fails, you can fall back on that most British of topics: the weather. Glorious day, isn't it?
建立友谊的另一种方式？找到共同点。西雅图大学管理学教授Suzanne de Janasz表示，有魅力的人特别善于寻找共同的兴趣或经历，以帮助他们建立融洽的关系。一些简单的事情，比如问某人来自哪里真的可以打开话匣子，让彼此找到共同点。如果以上方法都不灵，可以试试最英国式的话题：天气。天气真好，不是吗？
strike up a conversation
to a large extent
have something up your sleeve
fall back on