12 Ways to Impress Your Friends (According to Psychology)

Impressing other people is not as difficult as it may seem. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to be super smart or talented to win the affection of others. Research shows that being liked by others is related to emotional intelligence.[1][2][3]

In this article, we’ll teach you what emotionally mature behaviors look like and how you can practice these as healthy ways to impress your friends. Don’t cancel your “Magic Tricks For Dummies” order just yet, though! If it comes from the right place, learning some badass skills can be a fun way to wow your friends, too.

Sections

  1. Healthy ways to earn respect from your friends
  2. Fun ways to impress your friends
  3. Is wanting to impress others normal?
  4. Common questions

How to impress your friends

The key to impressing others lies in how you treat them. In the words of famous American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”[4]

Here are 8 tips for how to earn respect and admiration from your friends:

1. Be empathetic

Being empathetic means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand how they are feeling.[3] When you practice empathy with your friends, your value will go up in their eyes. They will be impressed at how easy it is to open up to you, and your friendship will grow stronger.

Let’s say your friend told you: “My roommate left her dirty dishes in the sink again. I can’t stand it anymore.”To show empathy, you’d need to do three things: identify your friend’s feelings, validate them, and ask for clarity. Here’s what that might look like:

“That is so frustrating. Coming home to dirty dishes after a long day of work can be a serious mood-buster. It sounds like she’s done this before too, right?”

2. Keep your word

When your words and actions line up, it shows that you have integrity—that you can be trusted to do as you say. If you live with integrity, others will notice, and they will admire you for it. They will start to trust you more.[5]

To live with integrity, you should keep the promises you make to yourself and to others. If you told your friends you were going to climb Mount Everest, they’d probably think you were a bit crazy. If you followed through, though, your credibility would go up. Similarly, if you told a friend you’d attend their football match and you showed up, you’d score points for reliability. Keeping your word over time will build your reputation as a trustworthy friend.

3. Strive to be better

Prioritizing your own personal growth and development could inspire others to do the same. Research shows that motivation can be contagious.[6][7] If your friends see you making positive changes in your life, they may be influenced to jump on the bandwagon with you.

Think about one area of your life you can improve in and set a goal around this. Perhaps you want to improve your physical fitness. Your goal could be to start swimming three times a week. If you share this goal with your friends and you follow through with it, they will admire your commitment. And who knows—they may just follow suit.

4. Laugh at yourself

Being humorous contributes to likability and can strengthen social bonds.[8][9] However, this depends on what humor style is used.[10]

Self-enhancing humor involves making fun of yourself in a good-natured way, whereas self-defeating humor involves putting yourself down.[11] Research shows that people who use the former are viewed by others in a more positive light, whereas those who use the latter can push people away.[12] So, when you’re laughing at yourself, make sure you’re promoting self-acceptance.

Here’s an example of self-enhancing versus self-defeating humor:

1. Self-enhancing humor:

  • I may have slept through the exam, but at least I got a good night’s rest.

2. Self-defeating humor:

  • Well, if anyone was going to sleep through the exam, it would be me. If there’s one thing I can do right, it’s sleep.

5. Practice random acts of kindness

If you want to inspire your friends, being kind is one way you can make a real impact. Research shows that when you’re kind to one person, they’re not the only ones who benefit.[13][14] That’s because people who receive kindness are more likely to spread kindness.[13]

So, if you want to impress your friends (and make the world a better place!), here are some ideas for random acts of kindness you can perform:

  • Give a sincere compliment, e.g., “I really admire your work ethic.”
  • Offer to make dinner for a friend you know has been overwhelmed lately.
  • Write a letter of encouragement for a friend who has been going through a difficult time.
  • Send flowers to a friend “just because.”
  • Surprise an office friend with coffee.

6. Be humble

People who are humble see themselves as equal to others, whereas people who are arrogant and prideful carry an air of superiority. While arrogance and pride create distance between people, humility strengthens social bonds.[15] People who are humble tend to be more generous, more helpful, and more grateful—qualities that impress many people.[16][17]

Here are some ways that you can practice being humble and earn your friends’ respect:

  • Admit when you’re wrong and be quick to apologize to your friend.
  • Listen more than you speak.
  • Express gratitude for others and give credit where it is due.
  • Recognize areas you need to improve in.
  • Be considerate toward others.

7. Communicate assertively

People who want to impress others can easily fall into the trap of becoming people-pleasers. People-pleasers go out of their way to meet the needs of others, often at the expense of meeting their own needs.[18] While it’s admirable to put others first sometimes, people will respect you more for being honest and sticking up for yourself.

Here’s an example of how to practice assertive communication to establish clear boundaries with a friend using three steps:[19]

  1. State the problem: “You’re not respecting my boundaries.”
  2. Explain why it’s a problem: “I told you that I couldn’t go out this month because I’m trying to save money, yet you keep nagging me.”
  3. State how it can be fixed: “I need you to stop asking me out until next month.”

8. Put your phone away

In today’s technology-driven world, people seem to be glued to their phones everywhere they go. In fact, a recent US survey found that 74% of American adults feel anxious leaving their phones at home.[20] Against this backdrop, simply being present in conversations with your friends is one sure-fire way to impress them. So, the next time you’re meeting up with a friend, remember to put your phone out of sight and give them your undivided and well-deserved attention.

Fun ways to impress your friends

If you’re looking to impress your friends and have a little fun while doing it, there are a few different things you can try. In this chapter, you’ll find out how to wow your friends through learning simple tricks and skills and by showing off your talents.

Here are 4 fun ways to amaze your friends:

1. Do simple card tricks

Knowing some simple card tricks is an easy talent to learn and will put you well on your way to impressing your friends.

The following basic card trick will help you guess your friend’s card correctly every time!

  1. Take a deck of cards and separate the red cards from the black cards.
  2. Spread the red cards back-side up and get your friend to pick one out and examine it.
  3. Then, discreetly switch out the red stack of cards for the black cards.
  4. Get your friend to put their card back among the black stack and let them shuffle it.
  5. When your friend hands the cards back to you, check them for the only red card—that should be the card your friend chose!

2. Focus on your talents

If there’s something that you’re good at, such as dancing or playing a musical instrument, you can use your talents as another fun way to impress your friends. If you don’t have a special talent, it’s never too late to learn a new skill. Just make sure it’s something you’re interested in and that you’re not learning it solely to impress your friends.

Here are tutorials for two funky dance moves you can learn on Youtube to entertain your friends:

  1. The backpack dance/the floss
  2. The shuffle

If you’re looking for some more badass skills to learn, why not learn how to open a bottle with a lighter or how to split an apple into two with your bare hands?

3. Master a signature party trick

You can make the next party you have with your friends that much more fun by mastering an unusual trick.

Here are two tricks you can do with fruits and vegetables:

1. Peel an orange in one go!

Start at the top of the orange. Put your thumb close against the peel. Start peeling the orange in a circular motion, keeping your peel wide. Here’s a tutorial.

2. Make a recorder (from a carrot!)

If you know how to use a drill and you have some carrots at home, you can turn one of them into a musical masterpiece! This one is much more complicated, but it will certainly bring the wow factor. Watch the tutorial here.

4. Learn a magic trick

Magic tricks are just as impressive for adults as they are for children. The pencil-water trick described below is easy to learn, and it will leave your friends in awe of your impressive talent. All you will need is a ziplock bag, a pencil, and some water:

1. Fill three-quarters of a ziplock bag with water and seal it.

2. With one hand, hold the bag up.

3. Push a pencil from one side of the bag to the other.

Your friends will be amazed to see no water escaping the bag! If you’re wondering how this trick works, there is a scientific explanation. Ziplock bags are made out of polymer. When a pencil is pushed through the polymer molecules, they form a seal around it that stops the water from spilling out.

Is wanting to impress others normal?

It’s human nature to want to be liked and accepted by others,[21] so wanting to earn the approval of others is quite normal from this perspective. The need to impress others may become unhealthy when it is done excessively and when it is driven by low self-esteem.[21]

People with low self-esteem might engage in unhealthy behaviors when trying to impress their friends—behaviors that can actually backfire and have the opposite effect.[22][23]

Boasting about achievements, trying too hard to be funny, and being “too nice” are some unhealthy ways of trying to impress others. Being over-accommodating can make you come across as spineless and can cause people to lose respect for you. Showing off has the opposite effect: it can make you come across as arrogant, and people do not like big-headedness.

It’s normal to want to impress others, but when your self-worth depends on others’ accepting or rejecting you, that’s where problems can begin.

Common questions

How can I impress my friend in school?

Be warm and friendly to everyone, including those who are often left out or ridiculed. Your friends will be inspired by your kindness. It wouldn’t hurt to take care of your personal hygiene, too. Go to school smelling good and looking presentable, and others will want to stick around you.

How can I impress my girlfriend?

Plan a thoughtful date around something that your girlfriend enjoys. If your girlfriend is a nature-lover, you could plan a hike and surprise her with a romantic picnic.

Take her on a great date. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive—something thoughtful will do.

Show references +

Kirsty Britz has a Master’s degree in Psychology from the University of New York in Prague, Training in Person-Centered Counselling, and a Career Coaching Certification. Read more.

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