Deep down, most of us desire to be liked. Perhaps in high school, you’d watch the popular kids and wonder what they had that you didn’t. Even if you were the cool kid, we’ve all – at some point – felt that yearning to be liked and accepted by others.
As we grow older and more comfortable in our own skin, we typically become more skilled socially – but making friends can be even harder as an adult than it was in high school, without the organised fun and cliques to guide the way. What can you do to render the friend-making process easier? To encourage that interviewer to warm to you, or to grab the attention of your crush?
It all comes down to a few deceptively simple tricks and mannerisms. Extensive sociological and psychological studies have been made into how we relate to each other and why some people just seem more likeable than others. It seems some people are just more naturally relatable, while others take some work to get there – but appearing attractive socially is something we can all pull off. All those studies have helped define just a few things ‘likeable’ people typically do, and have illuminated why we find these things reassuring, attractive and positive. These are a few simple tips that, studies suggest, can make you more likeable almost instantly.
7. Repeat After Them – Or At Least Paraphrase What They’ve Said.
People like to know you’re interested in what they’re saying: One way to prove you’ve been listening is to paraphrase what your interlocutor just said. You can form it as a question. For instance, if the person you’re chatting with is complaining about how their boss treats them badly, you might respond back with some derivative of, “So he makes you feel inferior?” It’s called reflective listening, and it’s a technique that psychiatrists often use in order to get people to open up. It shows interest, it shows that you’re listening, and most of all, it shows that you care about them as a person – which instantly elevates your likeability.
Of course, don’t go overboard – you’ll seem like a parrot, or an interrogator.
6. Act Like a Mirror
Ever heard the saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”? Well, apparently it’s true. Mirroring, otherwise known as mimicry, often comes naturally to most people, but it’s something to be aware of when socializing. The people who are the best at this social trick are known to have the ability to blend in with a variety of different groups, fitting in wherever they happen to be.
So what does it mean to mirror another person? Watch the other person’s body language and try to stand in similar positions. Make it seem as if they’re looking into a mirror. Are their arms loose at their sides? Keep your arms loose at your side as you face them. Do they stand turned out to the left a bit, one foot forward? Aim for the opposite angle of that, just like their mirror image. Again, you can take this too far and drift into creepy territory if you’re not careful, so don’t mimic every little movement they do. You simply want to modify your body language to match theirs to put them more at ease, and to make yourself more approachable.
5. Say Their Name, Say Their Name
Okay, admit it. You’ve been in a situation where someone introduced themselves and you were too caught up in thinking about what you were going to say that you missed their name. This isn’t entirely uncommon, and it doesn’t mean you’re a jerk. It might mean that you’re nervous or are perhaps a little socially anxious. But it’s a habit you should try to break as soon as possible.
People want to feel validated. They want to feel like they’re memorable. And one way you can validate your interlocutor is not just by remembering their name, but by using it periodically throughout your conversation. Doing so has been proven to leave the person feeling more positive about the interaction, and they’re more likely to think fondly back on what was said – and about you.
And yes, you’ll get bonus points if you remember the name beyond that first meeting too. You’d be surprised how many people forget the names of people they meet in social settings. It’s easy to do after a brief encounter, so it makes someone feel special that you remembered them. And when they feel special because of something you’ve done, you’ve just made a powerful impression on them. One they’re not likely to forget.
4. Ask For a Favor
This one might surprise you, but bear with us for a moment. When you meet someone, and you’re not sure if they like you or not, you may want to ask them for a favor. Nothing big, just something small that’s easy to do: This practice is called cognitive dissonance.
Regardless of what someone thinks of you, if you ask them for a favor and they complete the task, their brain will convince themselves that you’re a decent person in order to justify the action. This is sometimes called the Benjamin Franklin effect, because it’s said he used this exact trick to get people to like him. The legend goes that there was someone who simply refused to talk to him, which upset Franklin – so he asked to borrow a rare book. As the other man was a gentlemen, he politely obliged. This later turned into a lifelong friendship between the two.
Almost sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Just keep it to a minimum or else you’ll look needy. But otherwise, it certainly is worth a shot!
Wait, you mean I can get people to like me by simply nodding my head? Why does such a simple gesture hold so much power? Easy.
By nodding, you’re telling the other person that not only are you listening to them – you’re agreeing. And if you’re listening and agreeing, that must mean they’re doing something right. Getting people to like you is rarely about you – it’s about how you make the other person feel about themselves. If you make them feel good about themselves, either by validating their ideas or asking them more about themselves, you’re more likely to get a favorable response from that person than if you merely talked about your cat for hours on end. People like to feel like they’re interesting and important, and while nodding your head might seem like a simple gesture you can do even if you’re not listening – because you totally can – it really is powerful. Just be careful to not do it so much that you look like a bobblehead doll.
2. Laugh at Their Jokes (And at Yourself Too)
People love funny people, but people also love people who find them funny. Again, this comes down to validating the person you’re with, and making them feel good about themselves. There really is nothing worse than saying something funny and having nobody laugh – so be the person who validates another by laughing at their jokes. Make them think they’re funny even if they give away the punchline before the joke begins.
But even more than just laughing at their jokes, possessing the ability to laugh at yourself is vital to making friends. No one wants to be friends with the person who takes themselves too seriously. If you’re constantly boasting or talking down to others, you likely won’t be invited to many social gatherings. Do something stupid in front of a crowd of people? Laugh it off. Make it a joke. There’s no escaping it anyway, and life is more fun when you’re able to laugh at your failings instead of freaking out over every little mishap. Go easy on yourself and others, and it really is a win-win for everyone involved.
Smile and people will like you! It’s something you’ve probably heard countless times already, and if you’re not the happy-go-lucky type, the advice might make you balk. But then again, if you’re the type who hates being happy, you probably don’t really care if people like you…
Smiling goes along with nodding. It makes you appear interested and engaged in the conversation. You look happy to be there, which makes the other person feel more at ease talking to you. Try grimacing every time your co-worker says“hello” and see how long it takes before she stops talking to you altogether – spoiler alert: not very long. Smile and reciprocate the greeting, and the conversation might actually go somewhere. Keep smiling as they talk to you about their cat or their vacation to Spain, and you just might have a friend for life.