The Science Of Friendship
Either I am terrible at making friends or friends are terrible at making me. Okay, that didn’t make any sense, but you get my drift. From my personal experiences, as you grow older, it somehow gets a hell lot harder to make friends, or to start talking to people.
It’s not that I’ve become more socially inept; I think I’ve always been a pretty awkward person. But I guess as you grow older and gain more life experiences, people including you become more complex individuals.
With transitions arife every turning moment of your roaring twenties, you are bound to be thrown into new and uncomfortable situations. You can’t possible expect your university lecturer or employer to engage you in painful ice breakers.
So, I’ve taken the liberty to read the social science aspect on how to understand people based on body language and behaviour. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to read minds and make anyone your best friend.
1. How to tell people are being fake or patronising
a) Notice the way they smile.
Micro expressions last only a fraction of a second, so you’ll need a quick eye to see this! Smiles are fake if one corner of the lip rises before the other. The next time you tell a new friend about your high score on a math test, observe her reaction.
b) Notice if they speak in third person.
Due to the repercussions of a lie, liars tend to speak in third person narrative. The guilt subconsciously makes the liar want to distance himself from the lie.
Liar: “Oh no, don’t worry about it. Your hair looks fine.”
Legit: “Eh, I your bro so I tell you lah. Your new haircut damn rabak.”
2. How to tell if someone may be lying
a) Observe eye movements
To put this into practice, play the 2 truths and a lie game with your friend. Get her to tell you things, and you might actually be able to tell them apart every single time.
When a person’s eyes look to the left, they are trying to remember something that happened. When they look to the right, a different part of the brain reserved for creative thoughts is being accessed. They’re probably spinning a new story instead of retrieving a memory.
But before you jump to any conclusions, note their dominant hand. This pattern is reversed for lefties.
b) Look out for unnecessary negativity
Sometimes, liars would lace their sentence with negativity. It’s a self defence mechanism of channeling guilt and anger into those words.
Liar: “I’m sorry I didn’t see your Whatsapp message.”
Legit: “My stupid phone keeps having a damned connection problem. I buay tahan my telco already, it’s time to jump ship soon.”
3. How to tell if someone is comfortable around you
a) Observe individual’s proximity from you
Everyone has a personal space boundary. Intuitively, they’ll let you come nearer to them when they’re comfortable.
If you’re with a group of people and notice an individual who’s always near you, that’s a good sign. Being able to tolerate you within close proximity makes a very important foundation for friendship. You have established the first signs of acquaintanceship. YES!
b) Observe if individual has amplified reactions around you
This ain’t no secret, but if you feel that someone’s too easily tickled and ready to agree, it’s usually a sign that they’re fond of you. So, if you notice your crush laughing considerably more around you, we think it’s safe to ask him/her out.
4. How to tell if someone is uncomfortable around you
The stomach and crotch regions are known as vulnerable areas. When someone’s hands hover around those regions, you may be intimidating and it’s best you tone it down a little.
Remember how your classmates stood when getting obliterated by the discipline master in primary school?
5. How to tell if someone is anxious around you
a) Observe if individual fidgets during interaction
From my own personal awkward idiocy bible, this can go both ways. You get nervous when you talk to someone you really like, or when you’re uncomfortable with the person. In both cases, touching yourself is your body’s way of self-assuring in times of anxiety.
When conversing with a friend, if their hands or feet are fidgety, they’re probably either anxious or in awe of how cool you are. I know I would be in awe meeting myself.
b) Look out for socially awkward behavior
Do they put their bag on their laps? Do they scan their surroundings every now and then? Do they constantly have their phones with them in social settings? People who get dragged to Zouk and end up using your phone in a corner, I’m looking at you.
These actions indicates insecurity. Be understanding about it and approach said person more gently until he warms up to you!
Equipped with these skills, you should’ve built up more self and situational awareness in social settings. You are ready for the next stage.
6. How to evaluate confidence
Observe postures and stances
Look at how they sit. Do they take up a lot of space? Or do they maintain a compact posture and keep their movements and gestures small? Invite them for kopi and have a look at how they lepak.
An open, relaxed posture is a sign of confidence and high self esteem, while a closed and slouching stance usually indicates the exact opposite.
7. What swearing may also mean
Read between the lines of their swearing
Studies have shown that people who swear aloud are more honest and transparent, better known as #nofilter in today’s context. They don’t care if people will be offended, and make no excuses for who they are. As a result, they’re least likely to lie to prevent someone’s feelings from getting hurt.
Of course this does not apply to everyone. They could swear a lot purely because they’re uncouth, and that’s their natural response to everything. It’s easy to know the difference.
8. How to show you’re being attentive
Do: Maintain eye contact.
It shows that you’re comfortable around them, and that you’re paying attention too! Imagine yourself attending an important lecture conducted by your favorite professor. Obviously, you’d feel a lot less inclined to fall asleep! Eye contact is important as it makes them feel like you’re present, but be mindful of how that’s different from intense gazing. Don’t be a creeper about it. That’s weird, man!
9. How to create rapport
a) Physically mirror their actions
This shows that you communicate with the world in a similar way, much like studying overseas and hearing a familiar accent speaking Singlish on the streets. Instant friend.
When you’re conversing with a friend, she’s likely to point her arms and knees in your direction. Mirror her and keep an open stance so she knows that in that moment, you are on the same page.
Don’t mirror every damn thing they do, though. That’ll make you come across as over eager, and they’ll be very creeped out.
a) Show that you’re listening by echoing them
So you’re having a life-changing HTHT and they suddenly drop this crazy life-story on you. You want to show that you care, but what the heck do you say without interrupting?
A surefire positive response is to repeat subtlely paraphrase it what they say. Most of the time, they aren’t looking for an answer or solution. They just need you to be present.
Unlike those two above, don’t repeat what your friend says word for word. You are not a parrot. This is how it should work:
Friend: “I feel like he doesn’t care about me anymore. All he wants to do during his bookout is to stay home and sleep.”
You: “Are you saying that he doesn’t make time for you now that he’s enlisted?”
10. HOW TO TELL IF SOMEONE IS ROMANTICALLY INTERESTED
a) Observe hair signals
Are you a dude trying to jio your lady friend? If you notice that she plays with her hair quite a fair bit around you, you’ve struck 4D.
When a woman tosses her hair about, it releases pheromones from the scent of her hair, a sign that she is trying to attract you. If she tosses her hair away from her face and shoulders – she is showing the curvature of her neck and skin to get your attention.
b) Observe his posture
Men tend to straighten their posture and stand or sit with legs farther apart than usual, to appear larger and thus more impressive and fertile. At the risk of sounding crude, it’s the same primitive theory behind why frogs inflate themselves when they’re trying to find a mate.
The next time you see that ah beng with his legs splayed apart at the Kopitiam, it may be because there’s a chiobu around.
Fascinated? Here’s where you can learn more!
Psychology is one of the most interesting academic disciplines in MDIS. It’s an applied science that seeks to understand behaviour and searching for scientific evidences and establishing general principles. Yes, you can study human behaviour and make a living out of it.
The 10 points listed in this article may have given you some insights of how people interact with each other, but it does not even begin to cover the breadth of behavioural psychology!
TSL readers will get a special rebate of up to $1,500* when you sign up for MDIS School Of Psychology programmes by clicking the link above!
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