Likeability is one of the most envied human traits. We all wish we were more like that co-worker everybody wants to join for lunch; that neighbor who draws a smiling circle of people when he arrives at the block party.
How do they do it? Surely, they were born with the gift for lighting people up with their very presence, right? Magnetism is in their DNA. That must be it!
Um, no. What we call likeability isn’t really an inborn personality trait. It’s the result of several specific social behaviors that can be mastered by anyone who truly wants to better connect with their fellow humans. People who have been likeable from a young age probably learned some of these behaviors at home from parents and/or siblings. If you missed that boat, you can still develop and apply many of the traits of your more likeable peers.
This is worth pursuing, and not only for the psychic rewards of better relationships. People who score high for the traits that characterize likeability earn $29,000 more per year than those who score low.
Here are some of those traits:
Have Their Best Interests At Heart. The best public relations strategy is to be what you claim to be. The same is true in personal interaction. If you really, truly care about others, that empathy will shine through and draw others to you.
Be Real. People crave authenticity. A likeable people knows himself and is comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t try to be anyone else, or change his nature to blend with the crowd. This realness fosters trust from others.
Give A Rat’s About What Others Are Saying. Be an active listener. When the other person is talking, pay attention instead of using that time to formulate your response.
Ask questions that show you are listening and processing their comments. Paraphrase your partner’s comments back to them to make sure you are getting the point.
Don’t Be High And Mighty. Judging people is off-putting. You don’t have to approve of their choices, ideas or behavior, but judging and labeling people for those things isn’t attractive. Keep an open mind and try to see the world from other people’s point of view. This is especially important in the workplace where receptivity to new ideas can make a huge difference in the organization’s fate. People like co-workers who are approachable, who they can trust not to laugh or bark at them for a “stupid idea.”
Hug It Out. Touch is an important part of human connection. So much so, that the right touch actually releases the same hormone that floods our bodies when we’re falling in love. Learn when and how to appropriately touch people as you interact – a handshake, hug, or touch on the shoulder — and you’ll increase their receptiveness to you.
Muzzle Your Inner Ron Burgundy. When you chase attention, whether in the break room or boardroom, you give off more than a whiff of desperation. Even if you are a pretty big deal around here, play it cool. Give others their time in the spotlight, deflect kudos and credit to your team. Being appreciative and humble are two traits closely associated with likeability.
Don’t Be Like Trump. Consistency is key to being liked. People don’t trust someone whose positions, opinions and moods are all over the map. Once you take a well-thought-out position, stick to it. Don’t let your mood affect how you treat people. Think about it: Is there anything worse than a boss whose moods set the tone for the workday? Answer: no.
Flash Those Pearly Whites! A smile is warm and engaging so try to avoid the RBF. Plus, because people tend to mirror others’ actions, your smile will make that new acquaintance or long-time co-worker smile, too. That’s a great place to start any interaction.
Don’t Be A Grind. Likable co-workers are those who work efficiently. They don’t waste time on gossip or idle chatter. But they do engage in substantive, enjoyable conversations with their colleagues. And, because they actually care about other people, they remember what was said in those chats days or weeks later.
Say My Name, Say My Name. Our names are like catnip to our ears. We love to hear people say our names because it shows a level of engagement and caring about us. Greet people by name and use it repeatedly during the conversation and you’ll hold them rapt. Conversely, the minute you greet a co-worker or acquaintance with “Hey, sport,” “Hi, buddy” or “What’s up, chief,” you’ve lost them forever.
Watch What Your Body Says. Body language communicates nearly as much as our words. Likeable folks have open and engaging body language. They don’t cross their arms. They lean forward as their conversation partner speaks.
Make A Good First Impression. Many people decide whether they like you within seconds of your first meeting. Scary but true. So, bring you’re a game to those networking events. Give ‘em that smile, a firm shake, and a positive greeting – all delivered with upright posture and squared shoulders.