The human creature, by its very nature, is social. We need contact with other people. Sometimes we even crave it. So when someone cancels plans with us repeatedly, we begin to wonder, “What’s up? Why are they canceling? Don’t they like me?”
If the relationship is important to you, then you must take steps to fix whatever is wrong. But what if it is that the person just doesn’t seem to “like” you? Why is it even important? Because we prefer to spend time with people we like. We choose them as friends, as partners. Whenever possible, we prefer to work for and with people we like. It would seem logical to improve our likability to make this happen more often for us.
How do you make yourself more likable? Here are a couple of steps that you might want to consciously practice when you are with people. If you don’t automatically do them, it will take some practice to get in the habit of using these tools, but once you get the hang of it, it will begin to come more naturally to you.
1. Praise often. People like to be noticed, praised, complimented, and recognized. This sets up a situation where you both feel like you’re on the same side. Practice consideration even with perfect strangers in line at the coffee shop or at the grocery store. You will be surprised at how many smiles you get when you choose to notice good things about others.
2. Remember your manners. Your grandmother was right when she nagged you about manners. It used to be that manners were so important that kids were actually sent to places called a “finishing” school or and “etiquette” school. The purpose behind such schools is that the students were taught manners. They learned how to be polite. Notice I said “learned” and what can be learned by on can be learned by others. You can learn manners. By saying, “Please,” and “Thank you,” you set yourself apart from other people who don’t believe it is necessary to use manners, particularly with strangers.
3. Smile. Smiling is so engaging an activity that babies use it to ensure their very survival. If babies use it to good use, so can you. Someone’s smile is usually the first thing I notice about someone, and when it is an authentic smile directed at me, I immediately feel a connection with the person.
4. Be authentic. People want to know that you are truthful. They want to believe you. It is very hard to like someone who is not authentic, who lies to us regularly. When we can’t trust someone, we usually don’t like them. When people trust you, they relax around you. That immediately makes then like you more.
5. Practice empathy. As Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” To really try to understand another person, be compassionate about them and their circumstances makes you very likable. When someone goes to some effort to appreciate my circumstances, I’m much more interested in getting to know them better as well.
Being likable isn’t about being manipulative, although plenty of people use these techniques to manipulate. But if your desire is to persuade people to give you a chance, these skills will serve you well.