Your true potential is enhanced by the sum of all the people who like you, and thus would go out of their way to assist you in a time of need. Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix guide for becoming extremely likeable. Likeability is tied deeply into some of your most stubborn, long-standing habits and behaviors. As with conquering any major personal change, it takes time and practice.
Here’s what you should practice:
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster. Your life will never be the same again.
– Og Mandino
- Be Attentive to Others and Never Stop Listening – Self-centered people are usually unlikable. When you’re involved in a conversation, it’s important to focus more on the other person and less on yourself. If you genuinely concern yourself with others and listen to them closely, you’ll make scores of friends with little effort. Remember, everybody loves a good listener.
- Compliment People Who Deserve It – Go out of your way to personally acknowledge and complement the people who have gone out of their way to shine. Everybody likes to hear that their efforts are appreciated.
- Make Yourself Available and Approachable – If people cannot get a hold of you, or have trouble approaching you, they will forget about you. Your general availability and accessibility to others is extremely important to them. Always maintain a positive, tolerant attitude and keep an open line of communication to those around you.
- Speak Clearly so People Can Understand You – Most people have a very low tolerance for dealing with people they can’t understand. Mystery does not fuel strong relationships and likeability.
- Never Try to Be Someone You’re Not – All people have the subconscious ability to detect bullshit. Even academy award winning actors slip up every now and then. Fake people are not likeable. Ask yourself this: If you don’t like who you really are, why the heck should I like you?
- Address People by Their Name – People love the sight and sound of their own name, so make sure you learn to remember names. Use them respectfully in both oral and written communication.
- Mirror the Person You’re Conversing With – You can mirror someone by imitating their body language, gestures, movements and facial expressions during a one on one conversation. The other person will unconsciously pickup on the familiarity of your mirrored actions, which will provide them with an added sense of comfort as they speak with you. The more comfortable you make them feel, the more they will enjoy being around you.
- Always Ask to Help… and Help When Asked – Everyone appreciates the gift of free assistance and those who supply it. Highly likeable people always spare time for others, regardless of how busy their own schedules are. Remember, helping people get what they want is the #1 key to getting what you want.
- Never Get Caught Lying – Everybody stretches the truth at times, but everyone hates a liar. Ironic, isn’t it? Regardless, understand that your credibility and likeability will get crushed if you are caught telling a lie.
- Say “Please” and “Thank You” – These 2 simple phrases make demands sound like requests and inject a friendly tone into serious conversations. It can mean the difference between sounding rude and sounding genuinely grateful.
- Use Positive Language (Body and Verbal) – You can use positive language skills to exhibit yourself as a helpful, constructive person rather than a destructive, disinterested one. Positive body language involves the act of maintaining eye contact while speaking, using hand gestures to accentuate important points, leaning in closer while someone else is speaking, smiling, and mirroring the person you’re involved in a conversation with. Positive verbal language concentrates on what can be done, suggests helpful choices and alternatives, and sounds accommodating and encouraging rather than one-dimensionally bureaucratic.
- Smile – Everyone likes the sight of a genuine smile. Think about how you feel when a complete stranger looks into your eyes and smiles. Suddenly she doesn’t seem like a stranger anymore, does she? Instead she seems warm and friendly, someone you wouldn’t mind being around for a little while longer.
- Keep Unqualified Opinions to Yourself – If you don’t have all the facts, or you’re uneducated on the topic of discussion, it’s in your best interest to spend your time listening. Unqualified opinions just make a person sound foolishly arrogant.
- Provide Tangible Value – Don’t just follow in the footsteps of everyone else. Figure out which pieces of the puzzle are missing and put them in place. When you add tangible value, you increase your own value in the eyes of others.
- Respect Elders, Respect Minors, Respect Everyone – There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that deserve to be respected. Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you would have with your baby brother. People will notice your kindness.
- Make Frequent Eye Contact… but Don’t Stare – There’s little doubt that eye contact is one of the most captivating forms of personal communication. When executed properly, eye contact injects closeness into human interaction, which leads to likeability. The key is to make frequent eye contact without gawking. If you fail to make eye contact you will be seen as insincere and untrustworthy. Likewise, an overbearing stare can make you appear arrogant and egotistical.
- Don’t Over-Promise… Instead, Over-Deliver – Some people habitually make promises they are just barely able to fulfill. They promise perfection and deliver mediocrity. Sure, they do deliver something. But it’s not inline with the original expectations, so all it does is drive negative press. If you want people to like you, forget about making promises and simply over-deliver on everything you do.
- Stand Up for Your Beliefs Without Promoting Them – Yes, it is possible to stand up for your beliefs without foisting them down someone else’s throat. Discuss your personal beliefs when someone asks about them, but don’t spawn offensive attacks of propaganda on unsuspecting victims. Stand firm by your values and always keep an open mind to new information.
- Make a Firm Handshake – There is a considerable correlation between the characteristics of a firm handshake (strength, duration, eye contact, etc.) and a positive first impression.
- Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face – Putting your hands on your face during a conversation tells the other person that you’re either bored, negatively judging them, or trying to hide something.
- Dress Clean – “Clothes and manners do not make the man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.” Henry Ward said that, and he knew exactly what he was talking about. People will always judge a book by its cover. While a stylish dress code is not absolutely necessary, it can drastically alter another person’s perception of you.
Also, check out these best selling books on likeability:
- How To Win Friends and Influence People
- How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Photo by: Proserpina
An interesting read and certainly will help me becoming a PEOPLE’s Person. Because whether anyone likes it or not one has to live in this society and one can never progress by isolating his self. Ill certainly try to inculcate these suggestions in my routine life.
Imran, well stated… if you want to succeed within a particular society, you have to get along with the people who inhabit it. Thanks for the comment. 😉
Maria - Never the Same River Twice says
“Standup for Your Beliefs Without Promoting Them.”
I completely agree and would add, “Give an honest opinion if asked, but not before being asked.” In other words, be honest and have integrity in your conversations, but don’t go spouting off your viewpoints to people you don’t know!
Flora M Brown, Ph.D. says
This is a powerful list. Not only will following these ideas make us more likeable, but also make our own lives happy.
You’re right; timing is everything when it comes to inserting your 2 cents into a conversation. Thanks for the additional insight.
I agree. Personal happiness does tend to follow the development of new relationships.
A spoonful of common sense can do you a world of good. A very truthful post.
I think the list could be compacted into two main things: “Like yourself.” and “Respect everybody.”
Karl Staib - Your Work Happiness Matters says
I’m always surprised by someone that shakes with a limp hand. It sends shivers up my spine. I don’t need them to give me a death grip, but just a good hand shake with eye contact. That’s not asking too much.
Great post. A lot on this list reminds me of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People. It is amazing how many of these are things we would teach are children to do, like saying please and thank you, yet we seldom do them ourselves.
I’ve never heard anything about item 20 before, but I constantly rub my chin when I get uncomfortable in a conversation. I never suspected that it could have a negative impact.
Smiling is the silver bullet, but being just plain nice and helpful is my bread and butter. I really believe that things like mirroring and addressing people by name, in the long term, come in second to simply being respectful and doing something extra to help another person. I think you nailed a great balance here!
Yeah, being yourself and showing univeral respect to everyone around you sets the foundation for being likeable.
A solid handshake is one of the prime keys to making a good first impression.
Scratching your chin is a common a body language sign for decision-making and thought evaluation. So if you look into someone elses eyes as you do it, they might think you’re judging them.
I couldn’t agree more. Respecting others is vital. If you fail to respect people, all of the other likeability tips on this list will fail as well.
Naomi Dunford says
Ooh, I love the list. Especially number one. My grandfather — also in marketing and advertising — told me when I was little, “You want clients? Shut your mouth.”
He probably should’ve said it a few more times to make sure it sunk in because I could probably pay a little more attention to his advice. 🙂
Treat list. And your typeface is yummalicious.
Curtis Cunningham says
Great post, nice list.
René Garcia, Jr. says
A pretty good list, though I feel like a few items need to be clarified, like #5 and #7 since they can easily come into conflict. When I meet new people that I might potentially build a relationship with, I usually fall into doing #7, but if presented with someone that I probably won’t deal with on a constant basis, I’ll stick with #5.
#19 is on the money. Just don’t be vice-like with your handshake.
This is a a great list, but very complex. I am not totally sure that everyone can accept these changes in their subconscious.
This list can surely help to avoid certain social conflicts in the office, etc. but it will be a slow learning process.
I agree with all the above. One thing missing though is a situation I heard of recently and would help to a great degree. A top management person called in a junior to his cabin for the first time and chided him on his performance and threatened to sack him if he doesn’t improve. Later when I spoke to the junior, he said he would have been so much more happier if he had simply given him a couple of encouraging words and explained how it would benefit the company and more importantly himself.
I guess the moral here is: Approach all critiques in a positive manner and encouraging words. You pass the message firmly across and the person appreciates you for helping them improve.
Loved the article. I write the employee newsletter at a government agency and would like to publish it in the employee newsletter. Would you please give me permission to do that?
Kare Anderson says
With that in mind, what parts of a face most influence first impressions? – Kare Anderson
I really had no idea that body language had such a great impact. I’m constantly pushing my bangs out of the way and I’m wondering if that could be considered touching my face? 🙂 I’m not too sure about that and I’m hoping it doesn’t give off any negative feelings…
#20 is quite hard for me to stop doing. It’s not because I am bored when talking to people, but a habit that I need to fix.
Great tips, I will try and imbibe most of them, however I would like to add to point 7 ” mirror the person you are having conversation with”.
This needs to be done really gracefully, many people also dont like someone aping them, especially capricious people who are on the look out for the slightest of opportunity.
That said, I find your post very valuable.
The Likeability Guy says
This is a great list. There are so many things on your list that do make you likable, but most people never give them a thought. I particularly like #15, respect everyone. It does make a difference.
Aloha, Bob Sommers
I would add: “Lead by example” – do something that people would love, set the example and let them follow it.
Research proves that the “slow smile” is best for achieving likeability. Check out the story on Men’s Health magazine.
Disagree totally with the clothes. Once a guy turned up for a meeting in a tracksuit and the company owner chastised him for not turning up in working clothes. He had been hired to do a “work-out” session with staff members during their lunch hour – he was in his work clothes. Judging by clothes alone will close so many doors and unnecessarily so. I speak clearly, intelligently and articulately and usually wear casual clothes, and often tracksuits, if I was worried about how I was perceived, I’d never set foot outside my front door and I can build rapport with people in minutes.
thanks for sharing these tips, I will actively try to incorporate them and I’ll be sharing it with lots of my folks.
Share for share, take a listen to a couple of my dj [email protected]: http://www.nessdigi.podomatic.com
I’m a really shy person due to being bullied at school and i have very little to no confidence at all….even now and i’m 30 years old. Ifind it really hard to talk to new people and have found it really hard to make any new friends, this list has helped me in a big way to understand why this might be happening.
I’m guilty of most of the things in the list, especially the one’s regarding anxiety. i’m sure that with a little effort and practice and the help from this list i will be able to go out there and actually make a few new friends and possibly find a certain someone and start a relationship 😉
thanks again for a really informative and educational post. You may just have helped me turn my life around 🙂
This is a great list….for the U.S.. I think it is paramount, though, that we recognize that each of these points are but the surface layer of deep, cultural values.
For example, one would not want to make frequent eye contact in Japan, or too little in the Netherlands. There is a story of a Dutch man who was under suspicion of sexual predator because all the American women at the company complained. The man had worked diligently for the company for many years, so they brought in a consultant. The consultant observed that when the man thought he was simply being attentive and respectful by leaning in to listen and maintaining constant eye contact (which is the norm in his culture), the women thought he was “creepy.”
In a collectivist culture, perhaps India, speaking your beliefs might be construed as distracting- as putting your own needs before the good of the group. Although difficult for individualist cultures to understand, this does not mean that one isn’t allowed to have one’s own beliefs, but the whole way in which discourse around them is approached and appreciated is totally different.
#10 is another good example. In many cultures, saying “thank you” can actually be offensive because of the sense that what has been offered was the duty and pleasure of the giver to give, and there is much pride in giving to others. To thank them insinuates that perhaps you did not think they would have done it otherwise!
I guess what I would then add to the list, or make as a disclaimer perhaps, is that, above all one should be aware of one’s own cultural norms as well as the fact that there are many (even within the US- probably within your own office). To ask oneself, when wishing to gain respect: What might this person’s idea of respect be? Might I be misinterpreting what someone is doing/saying because I don’t understand why?
(sorry this was so long)
Dave Johnson says
Excellent list. Most of the things on the list we have all heard at one time or another but it is important to reinforce good behavior.
To Amanda-Very well stated. Often times it is easy to overlook the things you don’t know, you don’t know. It is also easy to forget the “American Way” is not necessarily the “Global Way”. Thank you for pointing these things out.
The Jonez says
Something I hadn’t learned until I was in my thirties is equally important as a good handshake is to look the person in the eyes while doing so! It shows that you are confident and trustworthy.
Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny says
At first, I thought, just to have one person in life behaving in these different ways with me is a gift.
As I read through the list, checking off which ones I do and which ones I need to do more of, I noticed that I don’t have to expect the entire list to come from one person. What a relief! The entire list doesn’t have to come from me – all at the same time – either.
Sometimes, I dress messy, for instance, but I’m still smiling 😀
I think I do a lot of these things. Some of them I need to improve though, like speaking clearly, would be somewhat a challenge, but possible.
wish I would have known this 30 years ago–this should be a highschool required learning—this would have stopped so much pain—and saved the lives of several suicides I know of–
Simi Khana says
Like-ability is the most critical factor in succeeding in job interviews. At this time, most of the candidates hold same level of technical skills and we can’t blame the interviewer if he chooses the candidate he likes. As in this article, one must really try and find out one’s like-ability, especially the body-language factor. I think one can use a good interview simulator, like Espoir to do this.
Very! Very!! Inspiring as so very true. In our daily hustle and bustle through life we tend to forget the things that are most important. Thanks for this very enlightening piece i will definitely cue them in my daily living..