How to be likable

When it comes to deciding who to hire or who to trust, the choice often comes down to likability. We want to hang out with, professionally and socially, people that appeal to us. It’s human nature. Most, up to 85% according to some sources, of your success in both areas comes from your ability to connect with others and gain trust and respect. Often, hiring decisions are made within seconds. Whether you are job-hunting, fundraising or leading an organization, making a likable impression is critical.

Here are some suggestions to help boost your likability:

Respect personal space

Be mindful of personal space and respect the boundaries of others. If in doubt, think about mirroring the other person’s body language – if they lean in, lean in, if they stand back, stand back. Concepts of appropriate personal space vary by culture; watch how your person behaves around others as well to gain further insight into what will likely be a comfortable interpersonal distance for them.

Be honest and genuine

Likeable people never try to be something they aren’t. If you don’t know something, admit it. If you don’t agree with a statement someone else has made, don’t grin and bear it. Instead, honestly admit that you don’t see it the same way as the other person. Don’t put them down. Simply try to see where they’re coming from, and strive to understand their point of view.

When you are judgmental, people can sense it. Even if you smile and hide your negative feelings, the people around you can sense that you have just formed a poor opinion of them. Rather than seeing others as good or bad, try to understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, choices, and mistakes. Likeable people make this their philosophy and, as long as no one is getting hurt, they never pass judgment on the value or morality of another person.

Respect others

Conversations aren’t competitions. Likeable people never story-top or one-up in a conversation. Instead, they view conversations as an opportunity to connect and create deep relationships with others. If you want to be more likeable, enter every conversation with the goal to make the other person feel liked and respected. This will change the tone of the interactions you have, and make everyone involved more likely to enjoy it.

Meet expectations

In business, people tend to expect others to live up to the images they have created from the person’s reputation, phone calls, emails or texts. They expect consistency with that general image — and without it, they may feel disappointment and confusion. When first meeting someone, it’s generally best not to surprise them with a new side of your personality. Work into it.

Be aware of how you come across

The general energy you give off is one of the first unconscious things people respond to. If you’re frazzled, project calm. If you’re distracted and unenthusiastic, project positivity. You’ll not only make a better impression, but you can positively influence your own mood. People are drawn to warmth, enthusiasm and confidence more than anger, arrogance and impatience.

Likeable people don’t come from a place of insecurity. They go into every interaction thinking, “I bet this other person and I will get along great, I should really get to know them better.” Start from a positive place and others will notice. If you’re not there yet, faking your confidence will help put your insecurities at ease.

Carry a positive outlook with you

Negativity is everywhere. We see negativity in the news, on our homepages, and it appears on the Facebook and Twitter feeds of our friends. Be a positive voice in a world where everyone sounds a little like Eeyore. Being positive will make you a pleasure to talk to and more people will want to talk to you.

Be curious, open-minded and interested

If you can get the other person talking and keep them talking, odds are they’ll be drawn to you. Be interested and open-minded; ask questions that spark their imagination and ignite conversation. Ask questions that get them to talk about themselves. People feel that those who care about them are, generally, smarter and more perceptive than those that don’t.

Small talk doesn’t develop long lasting friendships and small talk won’t make you likeable. Likeable people avoid small talk by transforming it into deep conversation. They do this by being genuinely interested in others, asking honest questions to help further their understanding, and relating to what they’re told, briefly, before gathering more from the person they’re talking to. Don’t settle for small talk–do everything in your power to move the conversation forward to more personal subjects.

Dress for success

Find a personal style that represents who you are and conveys the message you want to send about yourself. Look at your dress and appearance as packaging a product. Consider engaging a personal stylist (or your best-dressed friend) to help put some pieces together that define your brand.

Be helpful

When you’re in a conversation with someone and they complain that they don’t know what to get their mom for Christmas, do you lament how awful that must be before going into a story of your own? Or do you recognize that they have a problem they may need help solving? People everywhere have problems they wouldn’t mind help solving. But as people, we tend to be self-involved and not notice. If you take notice and help people solve their problems, you’ll create friends for life.

Start liking them!

Everyone has moments when they act rudely and everyone can be annoying from time to time but, deep down, most people are really nice. They care about others and, unless they’re having a bad day, they’re easy to get along with. Likeable people know this and so they like other people. They want to get to know other people, and they enter every interaction expecting a positive experience. Develop the attitude of liking people and people will like you back.

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