Small experiments that made big changes
Some social experiments I've done over the years that resulted in much bigger ripple effects than anticipated
1. Bribing Federal Officials with Cookies
Bribing people with money is too obvious. Chocolate chip cookies are not. I have gotten many things in life by giving the gift of chocolate cookies. And not the cheap ones, but chocolate chunk. I won't tell you which branches of government have fallen victim to my antics, but there have been quite a few.
2. The "I love you" trick
Tell people you love them in unexpected interactions. In the drive-thru getting morning coffee, finish your order with "love you" and see how people react very differently and warmly to you. This also works after meetings with investors, board members, and even after meetings with people you've hired for a big project. If you say "I love you" people naturally want to tell you they love you back.
3. Waving at strangers
I live in a country where being white you are often discriminated against. I wave to people everywhere. People will ask if we know each other, and I say "No, but we do now I'm Karen" and when they see me again in other places they have a good opinion of me already.
4. "I love your country"
No matter where you are when you are traveling, tell the locals that you love their country during any quick interactions. It may be a sense of pride in their country, but they warm up to hearing this.
5. Ask your waiter/server/hostess/service industry person their name
Some people will cry because they've never been asked their names before. But you will get the warmest interactions wherever you go if you are consistently doing this. It is especially important if you frequent the place.
6. If you are grocery shopping on a holiday
If you are grocery shopping on a holiday, buy a gift for the person ringing you up. Tell them that you bought this for them, because you appreciate that they are there. They will remember this.
7. If you see someone yelling at a government worker
Step in, and tell the person doing the yelling that their actions are not appropriate and when they inevitably tell you that its none of your business, assert that the person they are yelling at is your friend.
When it is your turn to be helped, you will be HELPED. People will jump through hoops to get you what you need.
8. Set calendar reminders to check up on friends
Here's a great way to make sure you don't lose the connection. Set the calendar reminder, look at their facebook or Instagram, and say "hey I saw [...] on your facebook, that's awesome. How is that going for you?"
Or a simple "Hey I just was reminded of you, how are you doing? What have you been up to?"
If there is a 4-second delay in a meeting, I announce that a lull has been reached and that we have 60 seconds to wrap up and end the meeting so as not to fill time for no reason. This ensures that meetings are quick and efficient.
I created a Chrome extension called LULL DETECTOR that does this automatically, asking participants if a lull was detected and if so, the meeting self-destructs in 60 seconds.
10. If you want to shake up a social hierarchy, or climb a corporate ladder, cuss at your boss
Getting your boss to cuss at you after you have cussed at them will miraculously will elevate you socially in their mind. I first started this experiment when I was 13. I've been "leveling" teachers, cops, principals, bosses etc. etc. etc. ever since.
Tip, skip the “fuck you” and go for the more subtle “oh that shit was just crazy” and if they mirror the language at all, you’re socially “leveling”
11. Zip up your bag before the alarm goes off
Make zipping noise with a backpack as a "cue" to get other students in your class to start packing up their bags, which results in the instructor dismissing the class early. I used this a lot in college and the one professor who was impervious to this is still my friend to this day.
12. BIG smile at cops as they approach your car
For about 20 years of my life, I scowled or appeared annoyed whenever I got pulled over and I never had good interactions with cops. They hated me and I hated them and there were plenty of situations to prove it.
Then it clicked that I could actually set the tone of the interaction, so I would shoot them a big smile and hand gesture that says “you got me” and I haven’t had a sour experience with a cop since changing that up.
And when after the ticket is issued, I tell them what a great job they did and I say I am known to call the police chief with praise, just to even out the people who call with complaints.
I’ve never talked my way out of a ticket (except for once because he pulled over the wrong person) because that goes against my principles, but the ripple effect of good interaction vs bad on the rest of my day is priceless.
Here in Cyprus when I get pulled over, I do the same thing with a “I love the cops in this country” twist.