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Lessons From Highly Likable People I Wish I Had Learned Earlier

We’re Social Animals, Playing A Social Game

Robots will replace humans soon.

They will take away most of the jobs from us.

How will you survive?

While robots can do IQ tasks better than humans, we still need humans for tasks that require EQ.

If you want to survive over the next few decades, raising your emotional intelligence is critical.

You can’t survive alone. You must work with or for other people to thrive in the world. And guess what? People work with people they like.

Likability is a skill which is so complex that some people call it the X-factor.

It is so powerful that many companies reject people if they don’t like them even if they were overly qualified for the job. Instead, they choose someone who is more likable with just enough technical skills.

That’s because learning technical skills is easy while learning to become likable is a tough job.

The good news is that it’s possible to become more likable. Here’s everything I’ve learned about likability.

1. Be Proud To Be Yourself

Never be ashamed of who you are. Never.

Likability starts with liking yourself.

Be your weird, imperfect self. Set your values and stay true to yourself. Be proud of your individuality.

People often hide themselves because they are afraid of rejection. But they forget that they don’t need acceptance from everyone.

All you need to find are the right people who embrace who you are. And when you aren’t afraid to show yourself, it’s easier to find such people.

2. Take Initiative

Get over your nature, personality, shyness, ignorance, ego or whatever and initiate.

When you initiate, you show you’re bulletproof of rejection, which shows your confidence.

When you want to practice your social skills, act before you can think.

Say something within 5 seconds. Even if the conversation becomes a big failure, practice your courage and your spirit of initiative.

Become an initiator and approach people. You never know where your future friends are hiding.

3. Smile

Many people spend an entire day without smiling.

While I’m not asking you to put a fake smile all the time, you must find reasons to smile every day.

You will only find reasons when you look for them. And meeting a person is a good one. A smile gives a good impression, and it is likely to pass to the other person.

4. Get Genuinely Interested

People love to talk about themselves.

It’s common advice to show interest in people’s life, passions, goals, and everything else they have to say.

But nobody tells you how to become genuinely interested in the other person.

There are three secrets to it:

  • Treat people like celebrities.
  • Find what you can learn from them. Everyone has knowledge, experiences, and perspectives you don’t have.
  • Find how you can help them.

5. Make Small Assumptions

When you meet people for the first time, you know nothing about them. So, it ends up being an awkward introduction or a small talk on a random topic.

You can do better than that. Notice the words or actions of the other person and make assumptions about other people’s interests. Then, give clues when it’s your turn to talk. If the other person gives a response, you got it right.

If however, the person shows no response, try the next technique on the list.

6. Ask Questions

No, I’m not talking about questions like — “How are you doing?”, “How’s your day going?” or “The weather is too cold (or hot), isn’t it?”

Instead, ask strange questions. They give other people an opportunity to open up.

Strange questions can be funny, weird, creative, specific or different in any other way. Just make sure you ask open-ended questions (don’t ask yes or no questions).

7. Find Common Ground

Every time you open your mouth, it’s an opportunity for you to find common interests or values. Without a common ground, it’s hard to relate or build a strong relationship with the other person.

When you answer, give hints on what you value, what you like, what assumptions you have made, where you want the conversation to go, or open new possibilities by asking questions.

If you don’t find a common ground, go back to the 4th point and get interested in them.

8. Don’t Talk About…

Money, religion, politics, sexual orientation, sex life, or any stereotype at first meet.

9. Ask For Advice

People love giving advice.

Ask for people’s advice on something you’re struggling with or an opinion on a subject (but avoid controversial topics). And if you truly like someone’s advice, take it, use it and let them know how it went for you. Don’t forget to thank them.

When they speak, figure out their beliefs, values and the way they think. They may even share their stories or give clues about their interests. This gives them a chance to open up which brings me to the next point.

10. Open Up

If you open up too much in the beginning, you may push people away. And if you don’t open up at all, you won’t build a strong connection with the other person.

Some people don’t mind opening up while others like to trust before they open up.

If the other person is too shy to open up, take the lead and give some intimate details about you or share a story. Before opening up any further, let the other person talk. Give them space to share themselves.

When you both become vulnerable, the foundation of a new relationship is laid.

11. Make Them Feel Comfortable

People won’t open up in front of you unless they feel comfortable.

To make them feel comfortable, get comfortable yourself and give them reasons to trust you.

First, relax and get in an open body language. Then, provide trust by providing value and aligning your words with actions.

12. Tell Stories

Humans connect through stories. Learning how to tell good stories is a must.

A story is a combination of conflict and resolution.

Here’s how to tell everyday stories:

  • Start the story with mystery or drama.
  • Keep the curiosity loop open. If you disclose one thing, open another loop. Build and release tension.
  • Show (don’t tell) the emotions, expressions, and senses. Act the role of different characters in the story. Give them the details through your words, tone, and body language. But don’t bore your listeners with the details that don’t amplify the setting.
  • To keep the listeners engaged, use engaging questions or phrases (not to get answers but to keep their attention locked on you). For example, “you won’t believe what happened next” or “you know what he said?”.
  • End the story with humor, a message or a lesson.

There’s much more to it and I know it’s easier said than done. You won’t become a master storyteller in a few days. It takes a ton of time and practice to even get average at it.

Storytelling is hard, but it’s a crucial skill to learn and practice if you want to connect deeply.

13. Be Funny

Laughter is an instant cure for negative emotions. It produces oxytocin which makes us connect and trust each other.

Developing a sense of humor is a skill. You can develop it by being around funny people, consuming funny content, looking for humor in everyday life and learning to deliver jokes.

If you have this skill, you have power. But make sure you don’t insult people with your humor. You don’t know what people may be sensitive about.

When in doubt, don’t make a joke about the other person. Instead, make jokes about yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

14. Stop Judging

So often, we judge people (including ourselves) and focus on the negative.

What you focus on, grows. Every person has positive traits and negative traits. There are already enough people pointing what’s wrong.

Find out what you like about them and focus on that. Be the one who shows the bright side of people.

If you show people what’s good about them, they will develop it even further.

15. Actually Listen

There’s more to listening than hearing.

When you hear, you understand the words and make a meaning out of it.

But when you listen to people, you let get lost in the moment. You don’t check your phone. You don’t think about what to say next. You don’t fear silence.

When you don’t understand something, ask for clarification, give non-verbal responses and reflect on what they say.

Be in the moment and give your full attention to the other person. It will give you time not only to hear the words, but you will notice their tone, body language, and feelings.

16. Relax

Get lost in the conversation so much that you lose the sense of time. When you’re in a rush or you constantly check the clock, you disrespect the other person.

Take conversations as an opportunity to relax.

17. Follow Up

Okay, I’ll admit. I’m terrible at following up. Due to my nature, I like to spend a lot of time in solitude without feeling the need to get in touch with others.

I like people. It’s just that I forget to follow up since I never took it seriously.

Now, I realize how important it is to follow up to cultivate and maintain friendships. Building a relationship takes effort from both sides. As a friend, it’s your duty to follow up every once in a while.

When you follow up, it shows you value the other person in your life. So, I’ve made a rule to follow up with at least one friend every week.

18. Be A Giver (Not A Taker)

Give more than you take. Don’t think “What can I get?”. Think “How can I help?”

When you give, have zero expectations of getting anything in return. Think of it as a donation. When you give to a charity, do you expect to get anything in return?

Donate your time, money, effort, energy and attention to others. Make sacrifices. Get over yourself and do something for others.

19. Care For People

One of the simplest ways to put people off is by being indifferent.

  • Show that you’re listening.
  • Provide emotional support.
  • Remember the important details.
  • Take their name.
  • Celebrate their success.
  • Make them feel important and special.
  • Understand their needs and desires (and respect it).

Genuine care shows. You can’t fake it.

20. Give Compliments

If you like something about someone, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell them.

Don’t get fixated on the imperfections of the person. Look for the good in people and you’ll find it.

21. Have Integrity

Integrity is a sign of self-respect. When you respect yourself, other people do the same.

Align your words and actions with your values and principles. People love being around those who walk the talk and keep commitments.

22. Stay Humble

Many people become arrogant as they achieve more in life. They disrespect people and stop learning.

No matter how much rich or famous you get, never feel superior to anyone. Success is admirable, but it doesn’t give you a ticket to raise your ego.

23. Stay Confident

As much as it is important to stay humble after success, it is equally important to stay confident before success.

The combination of modesty and self-confidence attracts the right people like a magnet.

To be confident, maintain a good posture, expand your knowledge and do things you can be proud of. Your posture affects your mind on a subconscious level.

Build self-efficacy which is the art of believing in oneself. It’s not about never making mistakes, it’s about trusting your ability to figure things out and get what you want.

24. Keep Proper Hygiene

The way you present yourself to others says a lot about you. If you want to be taken seriously and not drive people away, clean yourself, your clothes, and dress properly.

25. Build Rapport

Mirroring is an ancient social skill that existed even before we learned to speak.

To easily connect with people, mirror people’s behavior, emotions, tone, tempo, volume, expressions, language, body language, tendency (towards using logic or emotions) and personality.

Many people believe personality is fixed which is not true. Yes, you’re inclined towards certain personality traits but you can always build the skills of other personalities if you wish.

Adapt to become an ambivert (a mix of introvert and extrovert) to make the best of both worlds. Don’t limit your potential by limiting your beliefs.

When mirroring, remember:

  • Don’t go against your values and principles.
  • Don’t lower your standards.
  • Don’t copy them completely.

Building rapport is not a way of pleasing others. It’s a tool to lower the barrier of connection between two people.

For so long, I avoided mirroring others because I thought I was not “being myself”. Making a few tweaks in the way you communicate is not a sign of “not being yourself”. It’s a sign of emotional intelligence.

26. Meet Up Like Lifelong Friends

When you meet strangers, act as if they are your lifelong friends. It doesn’t mean making them uncomfortable. It means you treat them with same enthusiasm and interest as if they were your close friends.

When you’ll meet them with high energy, they will most likely mirror the energy and you’ll connect with them easier and faster. Who knows, they may even become one of your best friends.

27. Be kind

Kindness is not the same as niceness.

Being nice means putting a smile on your face even when you’re getting crushed over.

Being kind means having empathy for others and yourself. When you’re kind, you don’t tolerate poor behavior from yourself and others.

Lead with kindness and set an example for everyone you meet.

28. Don’t Blame

Blaming is one of the worst things you can do in any relationship. No one wants to know it’s their fault even if it is true.

Blaming is a habit. When you keep blaming others, you stop taking responsibility for your life.

Don’t be the guy who points out fingers all the time. Instead, understand that mistakes are natural and tell people there’s nothing wrong with them.

29. Don’t Criticize — Give Constructive Feedback

Showing people their positive side is great but you must learn to give constructive feedback if you truly want to be a good friend.

Many people give brutal feedback even though their intentions are good. Giving feedback is not as easy as saying directly what you mean. That’s how immatures do it.

Giving feedback is like storytelling. You have to craft and structure your message in a way that you do the job of giving feedback without hurting people.

Start with the positive, give constructive feedback in the middle and end on a positive note.

30. Give Credit

Put others in the spotlight. Let them how much you appreciate their ideas and efforts.

31. Give Acknowledgement

Take no one for granted. Acknowledge every little thing people do for you.

32. Give Validation

Make others feel heard. Even when you disagree with someone, validate them first. Tell them you understand what they’re saying. Understanding is the first pillar of communication.

33. Don’t Complain

Complaining is a virus. Nobody wants to be around a complainer. Some people become expert at finding everything wrong with their life.

There’s nothing wrong with speaking with your friend about something that’s bothering you but don’t turn it into a habit. Instead, have a positive attitude towards life. Uplift others and spread optimism.

34. Don’t Force The Conversation

Learn to listen when people give you clues. Sometimes, people don’t want to talk about certain things. You got to respect that.

Don’t assume or judge someone if someone is trying to avoid a topic.

Talk about what others want to talk about.

35. Don’t Try Too Hard To Impress

The more you try to impress people, the more you’ll repel them.

People will hate you or love you for who you are if you show them your true self. That’s okay.

But if you try to please or impress others for the sake of being accepted, they will disregard you. And worst of all, you will feel disconnected from yourself.

Impress people by being frank about who you are, not by trying too hard.

36. Use And Read Body Language

Speaking is not the only way to communicate. Body language plays a huge role in displaying and reading emotions.

For effective, engaging and clear communication, use posture, body movement, hand gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and paralanguage (tone, pitch, pauses, emphasis, etc.).

Be smart about using eye contact. Overdoing it may make people uncomfortable. You can look on the side for a few seconds to break the eye contact occasionally. But make sure you keep the eye contact for most times during the conversation.

37. Touch

Touching people releases oxytocin and strengthens the bond between two people. Do it only when it’s appropriate, and it also depends on how close you are to the other person.

You could hug, shake hands, high five, give a pat on the back, etc. when you have the opportunity.

38. Don’t Be Cheap

Be frugal as you want for yourself but don’t be cheap with others. Spend money on the relationships you value.

Whether it’s paying for food or buying them something, you got to invest in relationships.

39. Don’t Compare

Every person is different. Their values, philosophy, needs, and desires may be different.

If you’re better than someone in one way, I bet the other person is better in some other way.

Show respect and never tell a person you’re better or your philosophy is better than theirs.

40. Argue Smartly

Most people suck at arguments.

They speak what they want to speak and hear what they want to hear regardless of what others say.

To get better results out of arguments:

  • Ask yourself — Is this necessary? If no, stay silent.
  • Leave your ego at the door.
  • Become aware of common biases and logical fallacies.
  • Actually listen, understand and consider what other person is saying.
  • Ask for clarification when needed.
  • Pause and think.
  • Change your goal from winning the argument to finding out the truth.
  • Don’t damage the relationship for winning an argument.
  • Agree to disagree when needed. Don’t impose.

41. Trust

Trusting people is hard.

Still, you got to trust people because without trust, no relationship can take place. Be the initiator and trust others.

Trusting people isn’t a guarantee; it’s an assurance from your side. And if someone breaks your trust…

42. Forgive

Learn the lesson and move on. Forgive people for your own peace of mind.

Don’t give them too much space in your mind. Don’t be passive aggressive. Meditate if you have to.

But never stop trusting other people just because someone else broke your trust. Trusting is a gamble — you win or you lose — there is no in between.

43. Apologize

You are a human being and you will make mistakes. First, you must accept you’ve made a mistake.

Many people never accept their mistakes because their ego comes in the way. Once you accept, ask for forgiveness and if you can, fix the mistake or make it up to them in some other way.

Be careful with apologies. You don’t want to overdo it or be impatient about it.

Apologize for two reasons:

  • When you mean it
  • To save relationships you value

If you overdo it, you will lose the value of your forgiveness. And sometimes, the other person needs time to forgive so don’t rush the process. Keep doing little things for them and they may forgive you.

If they don’t forgive, wish them well, forgive yourself and move on. Life is too short for guilt.

44. Small Things Add Up

First impressions matter but it’s not the end if it’s not perfect.

When you develop a close relationship with someone, it’s the little things you do that define how they perceive you.

45. It Takes One Bad Impression To Ruin It All

Small things matter but people remember the bad more than the good. It’s harsh, but it’s true.

So don’t worry if you leave a bad impression once in a while because real friendships allow each other to make mistakes.

46. Express Gratitude

At the beginning of a relationship, it’s easy to give compliments and show appreciation.

As a relationship becomes more mature, it is your responsibility to see the light despite the darkness.

Shift your perspective and wear your gratitude lens. Say thank you. Appreciate small gestures. Tell them how they have impacted your life and what you like about them. Do something for them as a token of appreciation.

47. Give Advice Wisely

I know we all love giving advice to people when we have expertise or experience on a topic.

There’s nothing wrong with giving advice, but there’s a little precaution you need to take.

  • Ask yourself — do they want the advice?
  • If you think you could be wrong, say it.
  • Tell your story and share your lessons but never decide for them. Let them make up their own mind — don’t push.

48. Don’t Tell Them What To Do (Even If You’re The Boss)

No one likes being ordered. Instead of telling people what to do, make requests even when you’re paying them.

For example, instead of saying “Send me the email.”, say “Can you send me the email?”. To add an extra human touch, throw “please” and “thank you” before and after making requests.

49. Take Care Of Yourself

You can only send positive vibes if you’re filled with positive energy.

Take care of your mind and body and recharge yourself so you don’t act on impulses when interacting with people.

To protect your mood and feel good from inside, read: Supercharge Your Productivity, Motivation, Mood And Happiness Right Now By Hacking Your “Feel Good” Neurochemicals

50. Leave Them Better Than You Found Them

Bring out the best in people. Show them their bright side and help them grow.

Leave your impact where ever you go. Every time you meet a person, it’s an opportunity for you to give and improve them by 1%.

As you improve others, you improve yourself. As you improve yourself, you improve others by setting an example. It’s all an upward spiral.

Becoming likable is hard. It takes courage and practice. But once you’re past that, you will gain a big advantage. You will not just survive — you will thrive.

People will approach you. Opportunities will come to you. And people will wonder…

What is it about him (or her)?

Take Your Emotional Intelligence To The Next Level

Click here to get the ultimate guide to emotional intelligence for success and happiness.

Originally Published at DesignEpicLife.com

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