Some people are just natural-born “people-magnets,” right? Sure, there could be some truth to that because there is a genetic component to our personalities. But a lot of our social behaviors are learned. And the good news is you can always learn new and better behaviors – it’s never too late! Here are 10 things highly personable people do differently:

1. They listen. And I mean REALLY listen.

I teach communication classes for a living. And one of the things I constantly stress is hearing and listening are not the same thing. Hearing is the physiological process of sound waves hitting your ear drum. But listening is actually an active process (we call it “active listening”). It takes work. You have to pay attention, focus, rephrase, ask questions, and remember information – just for starters. However, being a good listener is about much more than remembering what someone said. Listening is a relationship tool, and highly personable people know this. It gives the other person a message about whether you care or not.

2. They use verbal feedback.

Highly personable people give verbal cues to express they are listening. They say things like “Wow!” or “that’s really interesting” or “amazing!” Expressions of positive words show other people they are definitely being paid attention to. It makes other people feel important.

3. They show empathy.

Many people confuse empathy with sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for another person, whereas empathy is “putting yourself in another person’s shoes” and really trying to identify with his/her experience. When someone doesn’t show empathy for others, it doesn’t make them feel good. Highly empathetic people show genuine concern for everyone.

4. They ask questions and encourage others to elaborate.

I’m sure we’ve all come home from work or school and had someone ask us how our day was. And if we reply, “Oh it was fine.” And the other person says, “Cool” and then goes on doing whatever he or she was doing, it doesn’t make us think he or she cared enough to ask more. When people ask us questions and want to hear more about us, we like it.

5. Their body language says they care.

Even if people use verbal feedback and ask questions, if they don’t show they really care, then people won’t believe them. Nonverbal communication accounts for about 90% of the meaning of a message. So keep it positive – have direct eye contact, tilt your head (this is a sign of empathy), and minimize distractions (such as your phone).

6. They remember things about you.

My dad was a very successful dentist. And do you know why? I’m not sure it had anything to do with his skill in dentistry (although I’m sure it was good). He was successful because people liked him. He always took the time to talk to his patients on a personal level. He asked things like, “How is little Ricky doing in school?” or, “How was your vacation to Hawaii?” In other words, he remembered the details of his patients’ lives. And because he did that, they liked him and kept coming back.

7. They use your name when speaking to you.

Directly acknowledging people makes them feel like real human beings. Anyone who has ever been a server or a bartender in a restaurant knows this. There is a big difference between someone saying “Miss! Can I have another drink?” and “Excuse me, Karen? May I please have a refill on my drink? Thank you!” Using people’s names makes them think they are special in your eyes.

8. They use touch to convey interest.

Touch can convey many things, but interest and connectedness are two of the big ones. Granted, not everyone is comfortable with touch. But a small and brief touch on the arm or shoulder says “I’m with you.” Highly personable people use this technique, and it usually works.

9. They smile, laugh and talk about positive things.

No one likes to be around a “Debbie Downer.” When someone is always complaining or simply exudes negative energy, most people try to avoid him or her. Personable people find humor in life. They are happy – or at least they give off the impression the are happy. They talk about the good stuff going on in their lives, not the negativity. They keep it happy.

10. They make everyone feel good.

Because highly personable people keep it happy, everyone feels good around them! Unlike the “Debbie Downers,” they exude positive energy and literally draw people to them like a magnet. That kind of energy is like a drug to many people – the more they feel it, the more they want to be around it.

If you see a theme here – you’re right. Highly personable people make others feel good! They make others feel important! They keep it positive and happy! It’s actually pretty simple. So if you know someone who might need to brush up on their people skills, try sharing some of these suggestions with them.

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