When I was a reporter covering business trends and profiles of executives throughout Europe the stories usually fascinated me, yet I was often more struck by the off-hand advice of my interpreter, a young French woman. Amélie has become a lifelong friend, by the way.
Becoming Besotted by You
With great equanimity Amélie once suggested that I, “think of it as a fish biting the bait and getting the hook caught in his mouth,” when she was giving me her mother’s advice on romance. “Once a man is hooked on you he sees everything you do as adorable. He’s only seeking reinforcing evidence his besotted view of you.” And, yes she did actually use the word “besotted”, which also amazed me as no American had ever used that word in conversation with me, up to that point.
Now, it seems that her advice is backed up by research and that the phenomenon affects both sexes.
If you act as if someone is attractive to you, you actually become more “susceptible to their charms, and increase the likelihood of falling in love,” according to researcher Richard Wiseman.
This is akin to the research that shows you can smile your way into a better mood, also dubbed the “As If” principle.
That may be why people in arranged marriages are more likely to fall deeper in love over time while the opposite happens in other marriages, suggests Wiseman. Those in marriages arranged for them are primed by the notion that they families had their best interests at heart and thus their spouse is the right person for them to love.
Want to become more lovable?
It occurs to me that this effect could be very helpful in most any relationship or interaction. Act as if you truly like someone and it is more likely that you truly will.
Whenever you feel bathed in the feeling that someone really enjoys your company, don’t you instinctively like them and respond positively to what they do and say? It appears to be a near universal reaction.
That back-and-forth positivity — as people like Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Nick Kristof are famously aware – can create a spiral up into a strong bond of admiration.
To nudge myself into using the acting “As If” cue, I look for the part of someone I can most admire or like, when first meeting or re-meeting them.
This is most difficult, of course, when you have a prior history of friction to overcome. Such potentially tense times are also when the approach can be most valuable. It may turn around a souring relationship or at least mitigate the friction.
Now here’s a three-part opportunity, perhaps disguised as a challenge, that I am publically giving myself, and you.
Try this act “As If” you really like three people in your life– the next individual you encounter in person, someone you care deeply about and someone who often irritates you.
While you are on this path of connecting better with others, consider taking some urther steps. If you are eager to turn the page to a new chapter of your life adventure with others, consider taking one or more these concrete steps soon, before you are distracted by your usual habits:
1. Read …
• Richard Wiseman’s new book Rip It Up: The radically new approach to changing your life: The Simple Idea That Changes Everything.
• Split-Second Persuasion by Kevin Dutton to discover sounds and other cues that cause us to shift our mood or change our mind almost instantly.
It includes over 300 research-based tips to become more connected with others in ways that deepen mutual support.