I study great conversationalists for a living. The best conversationalists are all very likable. The reason many people struggle to acquire/maintain friendships, progress through careers, or find romance is often the result of one thing: their personalities are flawed.
The seven most likable personality traits are listed below. As you read each one, honestly assess whether you fall closer to the likable trait or the opposite side of the spectrum.
Admit your mistakes and don’t brag. Give others credit. Embracing your flaws is disarming. People will warm up to you quickly and more easily identify with you. Don’t be arrogant.
Example: “He’s an amazing artist. I still struggle drawing triangles!”
Be Caring And Unselfish
Care about others and what they are saying, doing, and feeling. Ask follow-up questions, and reference something they said in the past. Share and relate to their feelings. Don’t be cold or self-centered.
Example: “You mentioned last month you were thinking of _____, did you end up doing that?”
Not many people enjoy hanging out with Debbie Downer or Eeyore. You increase your odds of being likeable by generally remaining optimistic and looking for the good in life. You will see more good in things simply by trying to see more good. Avoid complaining too much. Don’t be too cynical, negative, or bitter.
Example: “At least we were able to _____.”
Give your words and expressions some life! You don’t have to be a cheerleader, but if someone tells you some good news, be excited for them. Put some feeling and energy in your voice. Remember, if you aren’t adding energy, you may be unintentionally subtracting from it. Don’t be an Energy Vampire.
Example: “I love your kitchen… it reminds me of _____.”
Be Goal Oriented And Passionate
Have direction in life and be able to share your goals. Working towards goals will increase your inner confidence. People are drawn to success and passion. Develop hobbies and passions. Talk about them. Don’t be overly lazy and uninspiring.
Example: “This weekend, I’m volunteering for _____ / running a _____ / trying to build a _____.”
Lighten up! Humor and playfulness are critical to exceptional conversation, but also the hardest to achieve. For now, don’t be too serious all the time.
Example: “Even if I miss the game, I avoid everyone until I can watch it. I’m actually good at avoiding everyone. If there was a career for professional avoiders, I’d be a very wealthy man by now!”
Adapt to changing environments. Don’t turn cranky when something doesn’t go your way. Being flexible means being easy-going and going with the flow of conversation instead of stopping it. Play along with silly jokes. Don’t be rigid or defensive with friends.
Example: “It’s closed? That’s okay, I bet we can find some cool ____ over at _____ too!”
Did you discover any traits you need to work on? Are there multiple areas for growth? If you aren’t sure, it helps to ask a friend or confidant. Honestly assessing your strengths and weaknesses now is crucial to improving in the future. When I work with my clients, I always start with non-verbal skills and the seven likable traits. Personality traits are easiest to assess, tweak, and evaluate. Spend some time over the next week thinking about these traits as you interact with others. Systematically work on improving one of the seven traits. Notice what happens. Notice how the other person reacts.
If you want to become more likable, you need to emulate the best. Compared to losing weight or getting rich, improving your personality is easy. You just need to try.
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