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10 Tips on How to Be More Likeable

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

Do you fancy being more likeable? If so, read on! Here are 10 easy to follow tips on how to be liked more.

1. Cleanliness

This should be obvious, but if you smell bad, people are not going to like being near you. If your clothes and body are dirty, you are going to put people off before they get a chance to know how awesome you are. Bathe regularly, clean your teeth regularly and if you go out, be sure to put on clean clothes.

As you are probably not aware how you smell to others, it never hurts to ask family or a close friend about your odour. If they advise more use of mouthwash or underarm deodorant, take the advice.

2. Appearance

Unfortunately, it seems we humans tend to judge people the moment we lay eyes upon them. If you want to be liked at a social event  where you will be meeting new people, you will want to look good. That does not necessarily mean wearing expensive designer clothes and jewellery. Remember, we want to be liked, we don't want to be envied! But it does mean looking good, wearing appropriate clothes for the occasion and smiling.

If you make a positive first impression the moment you walk in the door, it will be a lot easier to be liked by the people you meet at the event. Indeed, if you make a great initial impression, people will want to be liked by you.

3. Smile

Do not ever underestimate the power of a smile. Smile when you walk in a room, and people will be fare more likely to like you. Smile when you walk up to someone. Smile when you are introduced to someone. Smile when you meet up with a friend. People will warm to you immediately and generally, they will smile back at you.

Going off on a tangent here, the other day I met up with my sweetheart in a nearby city. As we approached each other, a young woman between us gave me such a warm smile, it surprised me. I didn't recognise her, nevertheless, I smiled back. It wasn't until after I kissed Inge and we went off together that I realised what had happened. When I saw Inge, I naturally smiled. The woman in front of me saw my smile and, because her back was to Inge, she must have assumed I was smiling at her and so returned my smile. Maybe she thought I was some obscure uncle or friend of the family. Maybe she thought I was just friendly. I don't know. I only hope she didn't feel embarrassed when she realised my smile was not meant for her. Because I was truly touched by her smile.

When you go to the shop, smile at the salesclerks. When you are introduced to someone, smile. If you bump someone as you pass her in the street or at a social event, turn to her, smile and apologise − even if it is not your fault. Almost inevitably, the person you bumped will smile back at you and apologise.

If you see someone who interests you at a social event (whether as someone you just want to know or someone you find attractive), look her in the eyes and smile. If she smiles back, especially if there is warmth in the smile, you can feel comfortable introducing yourself and chatting for a few minutes. But don't make any assumptions beyond that! If she responds to your smile with widened eyes and then runs away, she probably does not want to know you. Don't worry, find someone else to smile to.

When you answer the telephone, be sure to smile no matter how you feel. A smile immediately makes you sound more positive and more friendly.

In fact, smiling is a fantastic habit to get into. If you do not smile a lot already, force yourself to do so regularly. Those initial smiles may look forced, but once smiling becomes a habit, they will look real because they will be real.

3. Compliment and Receive Compliments Graciously

For the most part, people like to be complimented, especially if those compliments reinforce their own perceptions about themselves. So, compliment freely but honestly.

The best way to do this is to listen to someone talking about herself and compliment appropriately. If she tells a story in which her actions prevented a disaster, compliment her quick thinking. If she talks about her children, compliment her skills as a mother. If she mentions she works as a senior research scientist, compliment her intelligence.

If she protests that she is talking too much about herself, tell her she is interesting.

If someone does something for you, be sure not only to thank her for the effort, but to compliment the action. If a friend cooks you dinner, compliment her cooking. If she gives you flowers, compliment the flowers.

If someone compliments you, be gracious in accepting the compliment. Don't reject it, unless it truly is incorrect. If someone tells you that you are Manchester United's best goalie in history, and you do not play professional football, you should certainly correct this person.

Otherwise, an appreciative smile and thanks are the best way to receive a compliment. "That's very kind of you," can be a nice addition.

The Exception

While most people love compliments, a few people genuinely dislike them. This is typically because they have self-esteem issues. If you compliment someone and she bristles at it or seems upset, leave it be. More compliments will only make her feel worse and like you less.

Of course, it can be difficult to distinguish between polite modesty and actual dislike of compliments. But look for indications of discomfort. Polite modesty is usually accompanied by a smile or even a slightly uncomfortable laugh. If someone actively dislikes your compliments, she is less likely to smile and may even seem nervous.

4. Ask Advice

People love to be asked advice, it makes them feel good about themselves − their expertise is being acknowledged when you ask for advice − and it makes them think more highly of you. That's right. When you ask someone for advice, she won't think you are stupid. She'll think you are intelligent and competent enough to recognise her expertise (link leads to PDF). And, she will like you all the more for it.

5. Compliment, Don't Criticise, People Behind Their Backs

If you are in habit of criticising people behind their backs, you damage your likeability in two ways. To illustrate, imagine you are talking to Beth and you criticise Abigail. Beth might tell Abigail what you said. That will not make her happy and, indeed, she may return the favour by criticising you to Beth. The result is being less liked by two people.

Secondly, Beth my assume that if you crticise Abigail and others in your conversation with her, you will probably criticise her when you talk to others. That will lead to reduced trust and reduced liking.

On the other hand, if you compliment people behind their backs, it leads to similar actions with a more positive twist. If you compliment friend Abigail to Beth and Beth repeats the compliment to Abigail, she will  be delighted and almost certainly compliment you to Beth.

Likewise, if Beth knows you tend to say nice things about others, she will most likely assume you say nice things about her behind her back too − unless she has self esteem issues.

However, you have to be careful about two things. If you spend a lot of time with Beth, complimenting others, be sure to compliment Beth regularly as well. Otherwise, she may begin to feel inferior to all of your other friends.

Secondly, let us assume that Abigail and Beth are both very intelligent women. But, Abigail is a genius. If you praise Abigail's intelligence too much to Beth, she may feel defensive because she believes she is also intelligent and that you do not recognise it. This is particularly true if Abigail and Beth do not know each other.

So, the trick here is to compliment others behind their backs regularly, but do not go too far and don't forget also to compliment the people you are speaking to.

6. Introduce People Positively

Cartoon: woman is too likableWhen you introduce two of your friends to each other, be sure to be very positive about both of them and try to identify a commonality between them. For example, let us imagine that Maria is a hired assassin and Brad is an accountant. Don't just say, "Brad, this is Maria, she's a freelance assassin. Maria, Brad is an accountant. I'll leave you two to get to know each other." That will only lead to awkwardness for which you may be blamed, especially if Maria shoots Brad to get out of an uncomfortable situation (you never know with assassins).

Instead, say something like, "Brad, this is Maria she's considered the best professional assassin in the country. Maria, Brad is a fantastic accountant who helped me get my finances in order. He might be able to offer some suggestions about off-shore bank accounts which you were asking me about the other day."

In the second example, you have made both people feel good about themselves and interested in the other. You have also given them something about which to start a conversation. They will appreciate this about you and probably compliment you to each other − which is good for your likeability.

7. Don't Boast

Avoid boasting. At best it will make people envy you. At worst, they will think you are a bore. As much as possible, encourage people to talk about themselves if you want them to like you. People love to talk about themselves.

However, if they like you, they will want to know more about you. So, go on. Talk about yourself. Tell stories about your past that hint at your awesomeness, rather than blatantly insist you are awesome. If you meet someone at a party, don't say, "I am considered the best brain surgeon in the country," Just say that you are a brain surgeon. If she is interested and asks questions about what you do, tell stories and answer her questions. When she works out your reputation, she will admire you both for that and your modesty.

Closer friends already know in which ways you are awesome and which ways you are less than awesome. Reminding them continually of your awesomeness, will only bore them.

The Professional Exception

It is worth noting that if you are applying for a job, promoting yourself or attempting to sell your services, it is okay to boast, indeed it is even advisable. In  these situations, you are not trying to be liked or to make new friends. You are trying to impress people enough that they invest in you as an employee, a contractor or a supplier. That usually benefits from a bit of boasting.

8. Ask Small Favours

Ben Franklin noticed that if he asked a colleague to do him a favour, the colleague was more likely to like him than if he did not ask. This known as the Ben Franklin Effect and it works.

If you want someone in particular to like you, ask her to do you a small favour. Don't ask too much or too often, you will rapidly go from being liked to being a nuisance. But asking the occasional small favour is a great way to turn someone indifferent to you into someone who likes you.

9. Be an Optimist

As a rule of thumb, optimists are more likeable than pessimists. Most pessimists might expect the worst, but they'd like it if things were not so bad.

Optimists are by definition positive people who expect the best for themselves and others. As an optimist, you make others feel good about themselves and their potential. You give them hope that tomorrow will be a great day that leads to more great days. You make them feel good about their ideas and their potential. That makes you more likeable.

 Great! But, what do you do if you are naturally a pessimist? Fake it in public and work at reorienting yourself in private. If a friend is starting a new job, don't tell her about your other friend who used to work at the company and hated it. Assure her that it will  be great. If she tells you she's starting a business, don't remind her that most start-ups go bankrupt in the first five years. Don't tell her she's not got the right skills. Tell her that you expect the best. When a friend tells you her business went bankrupt, don't tell her you knew it would never work. Sympathise. Offer to help and remind her that she has learned a lot and that is going to help her succeed at whatever she does next.

10. Really Be There

Last, but not least, when you are talking to someone, be there. Listen. Ask questions. Compliment and do the things I've written about. If you are at a party talking to someone, do not cast your eyes about looking for someone more interesting to talk to. Focus on your conversation partner − at least for a few minutes. Then you can always excuse yourself and move on to meet others. But when you are speaking to one person, be there. Listen. Look.

Importantly: keep your telephone in your pocket or handbag where it belongs. If you are in conversation and interrupt it to take a phone call, you are essentially telling the person that whoever has called you is more important than your conversation partner. That does not make you more likeable. That's just rude. Letting your conversation partner know she is more important than your telephone, however, is likeable.

There you have it. Ten things you can do to make you more likeable. And, I believe it's working already. I'm starting to like you more and more! What are you doing tomorrow? ;-)

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