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15 Optimal Ways to Make People Like You (Backed by Science)

15 Optimal Ways to Make People Like You (Backed by Science)

From lovesick teenagers to salespeople – we have all questioned how we can better appeal to others. The truth is much grittier: you can’t make people like you. Thankfully, that realization isn’t the be all end all. Simply you have to make yourself likable. Working on the 15 traits below can help you win over more people and many can be applied in both personal and professional life. Below are 15 ways in which popular people improve their chances of being liked:

1. Understand the need for a good P.R.

Personal life: Ever notice how celebrities are able to spin a bad situation to their favor? This is not as difficult as you think. Never again say that you – including your talents or business – are not likable. This applies to others as well: avoid saying anything negative about yourself or others whenever possible. Remember the Golden Rule: if you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all.

Professional life: Apply this in business when discussing your competitors. Instead of focusing on what they might lack, highlight how you blow everyone out of the water through quality products or services and not just lip service.

2. Remain positive.

Personal life: Who doesn’t like the hopeful optimist? As negativity through mean words, glares and bad moods is not exactly inviting for people to reach out and get to know you, try to maintain a positive attitude whenever possible.

Professional life: When an inevitable business crisis arises, trust that you will be able to get out of it successfully. That includes preparation through getting insurance, establishing strong networks and a solid reputation so that your customers will trust you despite any disasters.

3. Be interested in others.

Personal life: To be likable, be interested in other people. When you meet new people, ask them pleasant questions about themselves, such as where they were born, questions about their family or pets, and their interests or hobbies. Actually listen. Repeat interesting statements; look them in the eyes (except in Japan where eye contact can be perceived as hostile) and keep asking questions about them. Let them ask questions about you.

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Professional life: Make sure to listen to your clients. Know what they like and how they think you can improve your business. Do this through regular surveys and asking them straight up whenever you’re able to meet with them – face-to-face, on the phone or elsewhere.

4. Make friends with the locals.

Personal life: This advice is rather a double entendre, as locals or villagers are often stigmatized as strange, but proverbial or not, whenever possible and gauging their interest, take advantage of who you are standing in a long queue with or sitting close by. Make people close in proximity know that you are aware of their existence.

Professional life: You can use this for business dealings too – reach out to those in your field whenever possible. Perhaps a new partnership could form.

5. Understand the meaning of “It takes a village …”

Personal life: Place tremendous importance on social, economic and overall security by making volunteer work a high priority. Community support makes you feel good, reminds you to appreciate your current success, and provides new networks to rely upon.

Professional life: Understand that networking is key. Regularly attend conferences in your business field to meet key players. Approach them, ask honest business questions and for their contact information. Follow up with a call and/or email. So long as you can mutually benefit from this relationship, don’t feel as if you’re a burden.

6. Be generous.

Personal life: Most of us love those who make the lives of others easier. Be that person.

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Professional life: When running a reputable and successful business, carve out days for you and your employees to give back through holding volunteer events and/or donating to charities.

7. Treat others with respect.

Personal life: Positive regard towards others is important – and that includes keeping an open mind and curiosity about another’s cultural background, interests and choices – even when they differ from your own.

Professional life: Remaining civil to your competitors makes you look secure and smart to existing and potential customers – and even your rivals!

8. Don’t support chaos.

Personal life: Remain peaceful whenever possible as violence is often the quickest way to get others to avoid you.

Professional life: When you consistently prove to not engage in low-blow acts towards those your competing against, your reputation for honesty will be admired by all. Contrary to reality TV – messiness is not cute.

9. Prioritize health.

Personal life: To feel at your best, look healthier and remain happy, exercise, get optimal sleep, worry less, drink lots of water and avoid food additives, such as the trans fats which are mostly found in cheap, fried food items for a healthy life expectancy. After all, how can you appeal to others if you’re not fully functioning?

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Professional life: Run a clean business through regularly refusing ideas and concepts that slow down your efficiency, quality and mission.

10. Understand the need to smile.

Personal life: Smiling helps you – studies show that smiling tricks your brain into becoming happier. Besides others enjoy it and you can often tell when others are smiling. Ask a friend to smile the next time they speak to you over the phone, and notice the difference.

Professional life: Plenty of sales jobs require their teams to smile while making calls.

11. Remain clean.

Personal life: When you look clean, neat, and have good hygiene, people are more likely to remain around you. Make sure your hair is combed and if straightened make sure there are no lumps. This is also the same when keeping a clean reputation.

Professional life: Run a clean business by staying as transparent as possible.

12. Have a sense of style.

Personal life: Having a great, distinct fashion sense that includes not looking too flashy avoids the appearance of looking like you are seeking attention. Don’t be too dull or people will not know that you exist.

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Professional life: Be unique so that your clientele seeks you out, but refrain from tackiness through constant customer feedback.

13. Perfect a great demeanor.

Personal life: Avoid looking nervous. Rather, remain calm and control your emotions whenever possible. If you act awkward and nervous people will pick that up and may feel uncomfortable.

Professional life: Whenever possible, remain transparent with business dealings so that customers can rely on you. This shows confidence, which helps to gain the trust of the public.

14. Appear friendly.

Personal life: Avoid having expressional stares as they can create bad vibes. If someone looks your way, give a warm smile – but not too warm as to avoid looking crazy!

Professional life: Build and maintain a relatable, easy-to-recall brand.

15. Avoid looking desperate.

Personal life: Studies suggest that 25% of people will never like you, 25% will remain indifferent, 25% will not like you, but you can encourage a new perspective on yourself, while the remaining 25% will like you as is. Avoid the first category as there is often little to change them and focus on the other three groups.

Professional life: Remain happy with your existing customers while focusing on potential clients that you can positively affect through established services and/or products and brand reputation, while understanding that you will not be able to reach everyone, despite your amazing work!

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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