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Most people know what chemistry feels like, but have no idea how to define or purposefully create that. Let's explore the what and how in this article.
Let’s talk about what “chemistry” between people really is.
While a lot of people talk about having (or not having) chemistry with someone, few are able to properly define it beyond saying that "you know when it’s there and you know when it’s not".
But, while there's no guarantee that you can create chemistry with anyone and everyone, the term is much easier to generally define than most think.
In fact, it can be boiled down to this simple formula:
Rapport + Positive tension = Chemistry.
Rapport is generally described as having a sense of mutual trust and understanding with someone.
It’s the feeling of being comfortable with someone, feeling like we understand them to a certain extent, and that we have enough things in common that spending time with them is pleasant.
Generally speaking, we build rapport by spending time together and having conversations.
Finding things we have in common, talking about something we have compatible enough opinions about, and having experiences together are the most common – and often most effective – ways to build rapport.
Positive tension is whatever makes our heart beat a little faster and gives us a more elevated emotional experience than what casual, often superficial, conversations do.
And positive tension can come from a million different things.
It can be sharing a laugh, being pleasantly surprised, feeling caught off guard in a good way (by a welcomed compliment, for example), feeling a little excited, curious, attracted, or even a little shy or embarrassed as long as it’s for a positive reason.
And those are just a few examples.
The most common structure for conversation that would create “chemistry” is one where we spend a lot of time building rapport with a bit of positive tension dropped into the conversation here and there.
If you’re on a first date, that might take the form of getting to know each other through conversation, with the occasional bit of playfulness and humor, compliments, flirty words or actions, and similar, sprinkled in.
If you’re spending time with a platonic friend, it might be to share recent stories from our lives, while occasionally benevolently teasing, challenging, or constructively disagreeing with each other.
And one very simple way to create positive tension in conversations, whether they’re romantic, platonic, or even professional, is through playfulness.
Naturally, we have to make sure that the playfulness we use is appropriate for the situation.
Sexual playfulness, for example, might be appropriate with your partner but not necessarily with your boss.
Playfully teasing a friend who is in a good mood can be a lot of fun for both of you, but if your friend is in mourning or feeling angry it might not be the best time for it.
But as long as we avoid obvious mistakes like these, playfulness can be a fantastic tool not just for the reasons mentioned above, but for many more.
Because while playfulness can positively affect our conversations in numerous ways, some are more often described by researchers and studies than others.
So, let’s take a look at the five most commonly described ones.
Please keep in mind, though, that playfulness is just one of many ways to build positive tension. But if you’re looking for a way to create more chemistry with the people you talk to, it can be a great place to start.
And here’s the key to being playful: Figure out what would be fun for you to say or do in a conversation – then say or do that.
Playfulness isn't about knowing what to say or do to make the other person laugh – it’s about you having fun.
When you do, the people you’re with are more likely to have fun too, regardless of whether their humor is exactly the same as yours or not.
So go play and have fun, and watch your conversations improve!
Hi, I'm TJ Guttormsen.
Since 2009 I’ve coached clients ranging from Olympic gold medalists and billionaires, to people who simply want more out life.
I’ve done over 100 national media appearances, published books, and created online courses that have earned several “Highest Rated” titles from their 11 000+ members.
Today I coach clients from all over the world, and teach seminars for business and events from my home in Las Vegas.
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