austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

He's not a mandolin

Many people, particularly introverts, haven't got the knack of being liked. They try hard enough, by not particularly disliking anyone, and yet still find that people don't show any signs of liking them, or disliking them, or being aware of their existence, resulting in many cases of shy, bookish people being mistaken for eighth-grade cafeteria tables. Fortunately, being liked doesn't require special magic, just the steady following of a couple simple rules. Let's review some.

1. Acknowledge people. Showing an awareness other people exist, remarkably, raises your likability by between 14 and 18 points. This doesn't have to be time-consuming. A quick halfhearted smile, a mistimed handwave, head-bobbing (can be a trusted friend's, if you keep one in your possession), or confused tongue-licking (you, of yours) followed by a sheepish grin count as making other people aware you're aware they think there's something off about you. Better to stick to small talk. Deliver up to six syllables in vague tones nobody can quite listen to, and everyone will think you're talking to them as a confidant, which is all they really want. You can even string it together into a tone poem: ``Heya/ How're you doing?/ Tuesdays, smells like paste, right?/ Chipmunk in the break room/ Sing for forgotten yolks/ Thyme and time make meals taste.'' Note that ``candy in the bird feeder'', having seven syllables, will draw incorrect attention.

2. Have conversations. Saying something the other person can agree with, but not irrevocably at odds with what they think is important. This is easily done by confirming that a thing exists, which is why weather and traffic are popular. You win likability as long as you show up and aren't too distracting. Here's an example of it done wrong, in a conversation between ``Rob'' and ``Bob'' (actually Roberta and Boberta):

Rob: We certainly are having fascist weather these days.
Bob: Yeah, and they're saying tomorrow is gonna be goldbug libertarian with intermittent sleet. Wait, is 'Boberta' even a name?

There's the problem: Bob was distracted by her transparently ridiculous name. If they'd stuck to less controversial names, such as ``Bo'' or ``Ob'', nothing would have stood out and both would go away liking the other between 8 and 11 more.

3. Offer to do favors. Sure it's better to actually do stuff other people didn't want to, but that's a lot of bother and besides, just offering makes you more likable. Trouble is people ask for help from people they already kind of like, so you have to break into the cycle somehow. This is done by offering. Calling back Rob and Bob here, for 12 points:

Rob: Do you need someone to watch your cat while you're away next week?
Bob: I don't have a cat.
Rob: I could pick one up for you. It's no trouble.
Bo: Wait, I'm going away next week?
Rob: Technically, it won't be compulsory, so there's nothing to fear.
Ob: What?
Rob: Ha. Ha, ha?
O: ...

4. Keep silence. Specifically, if you feel like leaping into a conversation using a sentence beginning, ``Actually'', or ``Technically'', or ``In fact'', don't say it and you will be over 58 points more likable. If you want to interject something which starts, ``In point of fact'', throw yourself to the ground, sit on your own head, and stuff both fists down your throat to keep from doing so. Everyone in the world will like you for doing that much, much more than we ever would for your correcting our mistaken conversations.

5. Smile. Not always. Have different, context-appropriate smiles. Stop smiling when it's not a smile occasion, like when Ob is talking about her flat tire, or while Ro's socks are sleeting. (20-34 points.)

6. Consume foods and/or drinks. Being publicly seen taking an appropriate food- or drink-identified object, placing it in one's mouth, chewing where applicable, and swallowing has been one of the little ways people show they are likable ever since the French Revolution, when the oppressed masses rose up and chopped the heads off the previously-immortal robotic overlords who, being mechanical, wanted food and drink only to take it away from the poor. Eating and drinking became ways to show one was not a crazed tyrannical heartless nightmare of iron and coal, and how about that but the fad caught on. Today people who don't share meals are not explicitly labelled robots or robot-symps, but they are subtly biased against. You don't need to talk while eating (it comes out something like ``muh flurfluff nurg'' anyway, unless you're eating something with hard consonants), but let the hew-mons see you do it. (Up to 62 points.)

These aren't all the rules; there are two more. But practice these consistently and you will be a more liked person or person-like object.

Trivia: Tea bags held about ten percent of the British market in 1970. By 1985 they had 68 percent of the market; by 2000 about 90 percent. Source: Tea: Addiction, Exploitation, and Empire, Roy Moxham.

Currently Reading: The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways, Earl Swift.

PS: Dilbert, Infinity, and 17, in which I have a dream about Scott Adams of Dilbert writing something mathematically loopy, and talk about what I was dreaming about. No actual Scott Adams content appears in this post.

Tags: humor

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