Please read the other posts in this series first.
Forcing Attraction and Building Trust
This method is based on a study by Dr. Arthur Aron in which he claims that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. It's a bit more than that, though - it focuses on fostering sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure. This method is useful for both romatic and plutonic relationships but the main example will be a romantic one. The goal here is to create that "long lost soulmate/known each other forever" feeling.
The study has multiple sets of questions to go through that act a bit like â€œboiling a frog in waterâ€ - the questions start out simple/unintrusive enough but slowly escalate to being more intimate/personal. You can find the full set of questions on page 12 of that PDF but keep in mind you shouldn't limit yourself to the just the ones used in the study.
You can add your own questions designed to foster sharing such as:
Pick 3 of your favorite movie characters and describe the personality trait from each that you best identify with. Don't just ask the questions either - present them in varying formats and try to be reactive for SE.
So, what type of movies/books etc do you like? One of my all time fav's is V. W story and X char are great because Y belief really speaks to me for Z reasons.
This is a great example because it gives a "follow up" formula they will likely emulate when responding without you having to actually ask the question directly (i.e. they will likely follow suit with your format of "I like X char with Y trait for Z reason").
I'll cover this in more detail with another post but a basic introduction to mirroring/mimicry seems to be in order before we get to the meat of the post. The general idea is that you can gain favor and build rapport with someone by mimicking their body language, expressions, and speech etc. From the link:
"The social psychological studies providing evidence for the social side of imitation have mostly focused on human mimicry. In this field, mimicry is defined as unconscious or automatic imitation of gestures, behaviours, facial expressions, speech and movements."
One simple way to use this is a "test" to see if someone has taken interest in you - think along the lines of checking your watch, getting out your phone, crossing your legs, playing with your hair, or folding your hands to see if they unconsciously "mimic" you (either partially or totally). From the link:
"First, non-conscious mimicry is increased when people are more focused on the individuals around them... When we like a person, or his/her ethnicity, or group membership or social status, we will imitate that person to a greater extent compared to when we do not positively evaluate those characteristics... In many commercial books on influence and making friends, imitation is offered as one of the means to create a good impression and have a positive relation or rapport with others. There is now experimental evidence that this indeed occurs. Positive social consequences have been observed for mimicry of body movements and speech variables."
Another way to use this is to reframe or refocus a group/conversation with "primer" words. From the link:
"Even though, in general, some people are enduringly more dependent than independent, self-construal can be temporarily modified. For example, priming participants by presenting them or having them read words like â€˜Iâ€™, â€˜meâ€™ or â€˜mineâ€™ versus â€˜weâ€™, â€˜usâ€™ or â€˜ourâ€™ temporarily shifts their self-construals on the social-personal dimension."
Data mined Example:
Here I am planning out a "chance meetup" with some tailored responses and an idea of where I want the conversation to go. I had sorta "known" the girl but hadn't seen her in a while (nonsexual relationship prior). I also mined info on her from public Facebook but please keep in mind I shortened this down from a 30-40 minute conversation. You may need to go a bit slow and gauge their reactions before escalating too quickly etc.
Relevant data from FB:
She had just got back from vacation to a place I had been not too long ago. Seems she wants to move there (I do as well for the sake of this chance meetup).
She values "ethic/hard work but hard play" mentality and is dual licensed. Has a few recent posts indicating work might be rough at the moment
I know a few places she frequents from check-ins
She has an outdoorsy (camping/bonfire etc) and alt/rock type personality (tattoos, piercings etc)
How've you been? (common question, typically first)
"Not bad - working, saving to move one day, and having as much fun as possible in-between. Same shit different day, bigger pile smaller shovel mostly though [laugh/grin]. How about you?"
Convo continues from there with some more data mined topics/opinions
"Ugh you don't even know, work sucks.. esp since i just got back from vacation -Oh nice I was out there a bit ago, loved X,Y, and Z... - OMG me too" etc
Convo shortly moved to "profession" and the what/why type thing - we're still in very basic F.O.R.D. land. Here I added a few set question answers into a response series.
s1 ,q2: do you want to be famous?
s1, q4: whats your perfect day?
s1, q8 (inadvertently): 3 things in common. This conversation is tailored to match fairly well and encourage agreement.
s2, q14 - a dream of yours (moving). checking out a few states (mention one in common, explain what I liked, ask what she liked).
s2, q20: whats your idea of friendship?
Give information/show trust but not a crazy amount at first (otherwise it might come off as a red flag). An example in response to "I'm not really interested in pursuing higher positions.. happy where I am/will be responsibility and money wise" from her
Yeah it seems we agree - don't want fame/fortune etc just be good at job and have a solid work/life balance. Maybe get a [W] (shared interest item) or [V] (mildly related item - not perfect) but will probably always have [X] interest item (not shared) from [Y] great memories, have a few good friends with [Z] lifestyle example (outdoorsy so campfires, kayaking, hiking, cliff jumping etc but again don't match too well or come across creepy).
This was over a catch-up conversation of maybe 30-40 minutes with her reciprocating and "boiling the water" so to speak. Again don't be too perfect/quick or it gets creepy - most people expect some small compromises or "tension/contrast" at minimum (people will sometimes fight over things being "too perfect" - think hairy arm technique). Dr. Aron even mentions in the study that the most important part is the disclosure and while having similar responses certainly won't hurt it doesn't seem to matter nearly as much. Be the master of both worlds like Dan Harmon said though, right? Right.
After a while the bond/affection should be there and this is where picking more intrusive questions may help depending on how well you already know the other person and how open they are being. You can plan this over a series of 3 or 4 dates (or even a few months/years for a friendship/business etc) as well to really draw out the process for otherwise defensive people.
The study recommends 2-5 minutes of intimate eye contact to solidify things but it doesn't have to be â€œforcedâ€ or even necessarily all at once; it's also standard/common good advice to look people in the eye when talking to them. You can try waiting to create a â€œromantic momentâ€ out of it, jokingly tell the person you can make them fall in love with you in 2 minutes (helps if you can pull off a nice smirk/grin and interest is clearly there) or jokingly challenging them to a staring contest etc. You could also simply bring the study up as a "fun way to get to know one another" and try going that route. If any attraction is actually there it should be smooth sailing.
You can use a similar process for friends/coworkers/business partners etc to gain trust or get closer - just remove the romantic parts (likely the intense, romantic eye staring) and focus on aligning more with their business, hobbies, and/or interests.
Shorter Ex: getting close to a mentor in your field
"What made you decide to get into the field?" and then partially mirror/ride their ideological coat-tails into a similar story for you so it seems like you're both on the same page/coming from the same place.
I did this once early in my career by figuring out one of my managers used to moderate a popular "illegal download" forum for warez and video games from WAY back in the day. I casually mentioned it in conversation by reminiscing about the "good old days" and dropping the forum name in as "one of my most visited locations with a great community" to get closer to him. He lifted his eyebrows a bit and then eventually confessed to being one of the top admins as the conversation over lunch progressed. I would eventually be up for a lateral promotion despite only being with the company for a few months (they required 1 year of service prior to promotions without manager approval).