Hi, I’m Bobbie, and I am a sociopath. I’ve compiled a list of the things that secretly make people happy, but they probably won’t tell you about. Or maybe they are truly unaware of them. If you know these tools of the trade, you can covertly make people happy and make them like you to suit your needs. Ready? Here is The Benevolent Sociopath’s Guide to Compassion:
1. Smile slowly.
You know those people who are smiling all the time? They’re weak, right? Their approval doesn’t mean much to you because they seem to approve of everything. Well, here’s the solution. This is how you transform your smile from a limp gesture into a magic spell. Smile slowly. I mean it. Maybe it’s right when you see the person amidst a crowd, or maybe it’s after they’ve said a particularly interesting thing during a conversation. At that point, lock onto their eyes and allow a smile to grow onto your face in slow motion. This takes practice to not look stupid and weird, but if you master it, it gives people the impression that you have seen something in them. You have detected a secret quality in what they’ve said or in their presence that pleases you, and this makes people feel ultra validated. You genius.
2. Lie and tell them that they’re good at things they’re bad at.
People like to play the roles they believe they’ve been assigned. This is why jerks are jerks in a group of friends that already believe them to be jerks. They might otherwise be nice people, but if they believe everyone else already perceives them as mean, they are more likely to behave that way. The reverse is also true. If you make a person believe that they are perceived as a nice person, or a funny person, they will subconsciously begin adopting that role. So when your friend is particularly bad at something—say, cleaning—don’t tell them that they are messy. Tell them that lately you’ve noticed little improvements in their cleanliness. Tell them you’re very impressed. If you want someone to be less of an asshole, tell them that lately you’ve really valued how kind they’ve been to you. This will make them cherish that part of themselves you have just identified, encouraging them to strengthen that quality.
3. Remember them to their face.
Everyone is eternally obsessed with their own life story. But as we go about our lives with our heads buried in the pages of our personal narrative, all we’re really hoping is that our actions will affect someone else’s story. That we will be remembered. That we are not alone. It is amazing to hear that someone other than you has taken an interest in your story and has committed to being a part of your narrative. So for instance, recount to a friend a specific memory you have of them. Make it a good memory, a time when they did something good and it made an impression on you. Imagine how good to feels to discover that you aren’t the only one that remembers your stupid little life!
4. Brag about them in front of other people.
Nothing is more validating than witnesses. When in a group of friends, tell the entire group about something awesome the person did. Maybe it was a funny joke or a salient point they made at dinner, but act like it moved you. Don’t look them in the eye. Don’t let them know this is even about them. But it is.
5. Listen and ask questions.
Listening well is a rare trait. Asking questions is almost extinct. Think about it. Most people simply aren’t curious about other people’s minds. But if they are, they usually abide by the social contract: You talk about you, and then I’ll respond by talking about me. This social contract is often the reason why usually curious people still don’t ask questions when they are done talking about themselves, because they simply expect you talk about yourself. That’s normal. If you want to be a superhero, listen to what they are saying and take the conversation into your own hands. Ask questions that make them feel like you are really absorbing every detail and have a vested interest in learning about them and their life. In many cases, showing interest is the easiest and most effective form of love.
6. Use eye contact to your advantage.
The rules of eye contact are tricky. Apparently they are a little different for men and women. In general, the rule is this: When another person is talking, look them in the eye while you listen. Then, when it is your turn to talk, check in with their eyes once in a while, but feel free to look away while you do your monologue. Men prefer less eye contact, especially from other men. Women seem to be less put off by eye contact, unless of course you are a “creepy” male, which in reality is just an ugly male. Be honest with yourself when trying to figure out if you are one of those, and adjust your eye contact accordingly. Adhering to these rules of eye contact is one of the most important aspects of conveying interest.
7. Repeat what they say as if it’s somehow just changed you.
This one is too easy. After they end their statement, quietly repeat the words to yourself. Slowly nod your head while you say it. This gives the other party a huge internal boner. They know they just struck gold. But they didn’t. You’re just winning.
8. Make them love the parts of themselves that they hated before they met you.
Most people have something genuinely ugly about them. Maybe they have crooked teeth, their eyes are too close together, or their nose is weird. This insecurity haunts them their whole life. When people compliment them on their body, that weird trait is never the subject of the compliment. Friends’ll tell them that their eyes are so pretty, but no one ever mentions their fat thighs. This actually increases their insecurity. You can fix this by identifying something ugly in a person and saying something like, “Oh I love eyes like yours.” Don’t say too much. You don’t want to say, “I love eyes that are too close together!” Make whatever it is you’re lying about liking an ineffable quality. Maybe it hints that a beloved friend you had when you were young had eyes like that, and whenever you see this person’s eyes, they make you feel happy. Now, whenever that person goes through life, they will believe that more people enjoy their ugly eyes than they previously took for granted.
9. Laugh liberally.
I don’t laugh at other people’s jokes very often. It’s something I’m working on. I think I don’t do it because I am subconsciously trying to be the funniest one, and this is a bad technique. The reason for this is that though I am slowly chipping away at my opponent’s self-esteem by withholding laughter, I am also coming off as a mean loser. If you laugh a lot at other people’s jokes, you increase their self-esteem, but this also serves your purpose well, because it encourages them to laugh more at your jokes. If you are a funny person, this works extra well, because your appreciation of their humor means more. Laughing is an easy gift to give people, even when they’re idiots. The secret is still in the delivery. You don’t want your easy laughter to come across as a limp gesture like the weak coward who smiles all the time.
10. Make them think their feelings are original.
You know something that people say all the time that is supposed to make people feel better but actually decreases your emotional authority? It’s “I know how you feel.” When a person is sharing their feelings with you, they are usually trying to show off an emotion they are having that appears to them to be entirely unique. When you tell them that you have felt that way as well, it makes that person feel like: a) their experience of life is no different from anyone else’s; or b) you haven’t been listening well enough to understand the nuances of their emotions that make their experience different from the bullshit experiences you have had. If you admit that their emotions are unique, you indulge them in their obsession with their life. If you can strike the balance right, you can do this while also conveying that you are trying to imagine their feeling, and you can go from there to relate to them. Now you are both sympathetic and enabling, and this is good for you.