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The Like Switch

An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting and Winning People Over

By Jack Schafer and Marvin Karlins
  • Read in 12 minutes
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  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Like Switch by Jack Schafer and Marvin Karlins

In The Like Switch, author Jack Schafer explores the realm of nonverbal social cues and other communication practices that draws people to one another. A former FBI agent and doctor of psychology, Schafer presents useful strategies to make new friends and influence people.

Key idea 1 of 7

If you want someone to like you, follow the formula. Frequency, proximity, duration, intensity.

If you want someone to like you, what should you do?

Advice from most people would probably be, “just be yourself!” Yet the author disagrees; there is more to being liked than just being genuine. There is a friendship “formula.”

The first steps are to frequently be in proximity with the person you want to like you.

People who share the same physical surroundings are more likely to be drawn to one another. So try to be around the person you want to win over as often as you are able.

Let’s look at a scenario. FBI agent Charles needed to befriend a foreign diplomat, codename Seagull, to convince Seagull to become a spy for the United States. Using the technique of proximity, he started following Seagull’s daily route to the grocery store, so that they both would share the same environment for a time each day.

In doing so, Charles worked to increase the number of times when Seagull would become aware of him, so he’d start to seem familiar.

Other steps in the formula are the duration and intensity of time spent with your target.

Duration is important. The more time you spend with someone, the more you’ll be able to influence them to like you.

After a couple of months, Charles used the power of duration by actually following Seagull into the grocery store, which added to the contact time between them.

He also enlisted intensity – meaning how well one is able to satisfy another person’s psychological and/or physical needs – by offering nonverbal “friend signals.” By nodding his head and catching Seagull’s eye on occasion, Seagull naturally became interested in whom Charles was and why he was always around.

By the time Charles introduced himself as a FBI agent, Seagull was already primed to become a friend. And because of this familiarity, Seagull agreed to be a spy.

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