Today’s Solutions: January 30, 2023

It’s human nature to want to be liked. We desire connection and relationships, and we appreciate the affirmation and ego boost that comes from knowing that other people enjoy our company.

So, it’s no surprise that many are often preoccupied with whether or not people find them likable. If you can relate to this worry, then here’s some good news: there are certain phrases that people with strong emotional intelligence use when they get the chance because it allows them to be perceived as more likable and charismatic.

Fortunately, the opportunities to use these phrases pop up rather often. It all comes down to seizing the moment to assist people in thinking through challenges and offering truly helpful advice. Let’s dive right into three of these phrases and the reasons why they work.

“What do you think you should do?”

If you stop reading now and simply start asking this question when people ask you for guidance, your charisma will develop and your advice will improve.

While we can’t generalize every single advice-seeking case, there are two commonalities in a significant number of them:

  • First, the person seeking guidance likely has significantly more knowledge and expertise with the topic at hand. You are merely the inquisitive outsider whose perspective they are hoping will help.
  • Second, guiding someone through a difficult situation is a lot like trying to walk through a minefield. In some cases, you may be uncertain whether the other person wants to hear your suggestion. You may even get the feeling that they hope you will counsel them to do something that you don’t agree with.

In any case, asking, “What do you think you should do?” almost always places the emphasis on the other person, establishing your role as a sounding board rather than an ultimately accountable problem solver.

The question works because people with high emotional intelligence understand that if you end up assisting the other person in coming up with a novel idea to explore, they’ll remember the experience of interacting with you more than the precise result.

This leads to increased likability.

“What other facts would help you to make a decision?”

People are prone to making decisions for emotional reasons. For instance, you may know someone who’s pushed their way through graduate school mainly because they didn’t want to disappoint their parents, or you might be friends with a person who couldn’t end a bad relationship because they didn’t want to cause hurt feelings.

Posing the question “what other facts would you need to make a decision?” encourages people to separate facts from emotion in a non-accusatory manner.

This inquiry focuses on their experience—rather than yours, at least at first—and has a strong chance of guiding them to a decision they’re confident about. Later on, they’ll probably recall how helpful your inquiries were in getting there.

“How do you think you would feel if you decided to do x?”

This question directly acknowledges our common human condition: intellectual, emotional people who are influenced by a variety of factors and have complex needs.

“How do you think you’ll feel?” is a nicer, more intimate way of asking, “What do you expect to happen?”

If you can assist someone in charting a course to positive emotions, they will likely remember you favorably. People with strong emotional intelligence recognize that the added punch of this question is that it shows that you do truly care about their feelings.

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