How to Use Social Engineering – but Not Evil

If you want to make friends and influence people, well, there is a whole book on how to do that. But what’s the right way to use social engineering – to make everyone’s life better, and not just manipulate people into doing what you want them to do?

Social engineering has earned a bad reputation for pickups, pushy salespeople, and online scams, but there is an underrated method that can both help you connect and tell you when to stop trying: mirroring.

If you know anything about the science of getting people to like you, you are probably familiar with mirroring. This is when we begin to coordinate our gaze, gestures, body position and speech patterns with the people around us. Many of us are mirrored without even thinking about it (which is why you often see people, for example, begin to pick accents with the accents of those around them). However, there are also deliberate mirroring techniques, a common social engineering technique that people use to quickly establish relationships or build trust.

So good. You are standing next to someone and you want to create some kind of social outcome of this interaction, whether you are hoping to make a new friend, forge a professional relationship, or generate romantic interest.

You start to mirror. Perhaps you tilt your head to fit them, or shift your weight in the same direction. Maybe you are repeating one of their gestures. If you feel like a super social engineer, you are likely to use other common tactics, such as “using the person’s name in a conversation” or “asking for a little favor.”

And then you watch closely to see how the other person reacts.

If they like you (socially, professionally, or romantically), they will begin to reflect your body language and manner of speaking. Otherwise, they deliberately or unconsciously break the mirror.

You can wait for the other person to organically break the mirror (in many cases they simply turn away from your body), or you can insert a template or position into your conversation and see if it mirrors or breaks. For example, if you are face to face with someone and look to another part of the room – are they watching him or using it as an excuse to check their phone, sip on a cocktail, or patiently stare into the room. opposite direction?

So, if you say potato and they say potahto (how the song sounds), or if you start leaning up and they start leaning down, the best thing you can do from a social engineering standpoint is to stop it all.

Don’t try to re-reflect the broken mirror. Don’t use their names seventeen more times. Do not, under any circumstances, use a wrist, pat on the shoulder, or any other trick you may have read about.

Instead, stop communicating while they are still thinking well of you.

Because that’s your ultimate goal, right? So that most people in most cases treat him well. You can’t force everyone to be your best friends or business contacts, but you can use basic social engineering to make more people feel comfortable around you – by taking an interest in what they have to say, creating common ground with mirroring. or asking for favors and then gracefully ending the conversation if they don’t share your desire to communicate.

Remember that even the most distrustful of writers advise you to do social engineering first, and then wait until another person approaches you . As the term “social engineering” has now expanded to include things like phishing scams, I might also remind you that they operate on the same principle. (The fraudster initiates and waits for a response from the checkmark.)

Therefore, if you are going to use social engineering for good, pay attention to how the people you interact with react to day-to-day social engineering tactics. For example, building rapport about a common goal is a great way to bond with someone, but it can also be turned into a manipulation tool called “forced teaming.” How to stay on the correct side of the line? Don’t force it. Let people choose whether or not they want to be on your team, and you will start making connections with people who want to spend time with you without alienating people who don’t.

If you have any other suggestions on how to use social engineering for good, let us know! Full disclosure: I just used a small team to imply that we all share the same goal and want to discuss it together. I hope this works, but if it doesn’t, I won’t try to get you to answer.


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