We all care about being liked by others, and it’s something that can give you a serious professional edge. If you understand how the human mind works, you can use that to your advantage and make a positive impression on those you meet. Here are some tips that will make you instantly likeable to everyone you meet:
1. Remember names - and use them
According to Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, people love hearing the sound of their own name. This means that you should commit someone’s name to memory immediately upon meeting them, and use it periodically throughout the conversation (especially when saying hello and good-bye). Take extra care to learn unconventional or foreign-sounding names without feeling the need to comment on them, and make sure not to misspell names in email correspondence. Try repeating the person’s name to yourself in your head a few times once they first tell you - this combined with repeating the person’s name back to them (“It’s nice to meet you, Susan”) will help you remember.
2. Show them how well-liked you are
If someone sees that others like you, chances are they’ll start to feel the same way. This psychological phenomenon is known as "social influence," and it’s one you can use in your favour. Try complimenting or doing nice things for friends and colleagues within plain view of the person you’re trying to win over.
3. Create common interests
People naturally like others who have something in common with them, so find something that can connect you with the other person. Make sure to pick something that you actually have sufficient knowledge to talk about, whether it’s a hobby, music, or a favourite book. Conversely, you can garner favour by sharing a common enemy, such as a sports team or tv show character. The ancient saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
4. Compliment and praise them
Another tip from Dale Carnegie: people crave authentic appreciation. However we can tell the difference between sincere praise and empty flattery, so be sure to avoid the latter. Acknowledge when an individual does something right, and give positive feedback whenever possible.
5. Ask for a small favour
If you’re trying to win someone over, one surefire way is to ask for a favour. Now, this one may seem counterintuitive, because we tend to think that people only do favours for those they already like. As it turns out, it’s actually the other way around - we come to like people partially because we do nice things for them. This is known as "the Benjamin Franklin effect,” as Franklin outlined this tip for winning over enemies in his autobiography. Asking someone for a favour flatters them and shows that you’re putting trust in them - even if you’re asking for something small.
6. Make them feel like an expert
People like to feel intelligent and capable, so when you ask someone for advice, you’re boosting their ego - and making yourself a source of confidence in their life. Ask for help with something simple (even if you already know how to do it), or ask for their opinion on a topic you know they are interested in.
7. Avoid arguments
Engaging in an argument is a sure way to erase any goodwill you might have created with someone. If you’re trying to make someone like you, avoid arguments at all costs. If you can’t bring yourself to agree with them, try saying something like “Interesting, I never thought about it like that before.” That way, you flatter them by making them think their perspective is interesting and end the discussion peacefully.
8. Nod your head during conversation
In order to convey that what you’re saying is true or desirable, try nodding your head while you speak. People will unconsciously mirror your body language, and will become more likely to agree with you as a result.
9. Maintain eye contact - but not too much eye contact
Staring into someone’s eyes for an entire conversation can come across as creepy or aggressive. Conversely, if you never look someone in the eye, you’ll seem shy, disinterested, or dishonest. Aim to make eye contact about 60% of the time to show that you are engaged, friendly, and trustworthy.
10. Pay attention to your body language
In the hospitality industry, it is often frowned upon to point when a customer or guest asks for directions. Instead, it is considered more polite to “present” directions with an open-palmed gesture. Open hands and palms convey trust and friendliness. You can also show that you’re listening to someone by positioning your body to face someone and avoiding things like slouching or crossing your arms, which can make you appear disinterested.
11. Pay attention to their body language, too
While you don’t want to mimic their every gesture, subtly mirroring other people’s mannerisms and energy levels will make you more likable. By paying attention to a conversation partner’s body language, you can also tell whether they’ve become disinterested and avoid being long-winded.
12. Repeat their words back to them
Show that you’re paying attention to the other person by bringing up topics the person mentioned earlier. If your colleague mentioned that they would be attending an upcoming conference last time you saw them, ask them how it went. Within a particular conversation, provide verbal confirmation that you’re listening by repeating back the important points they make. This will make them feel heard and show that you value what they have to say.
Many of these tips require minimal effort but make a big difference in how people perceive you. Give them a try, and you might find yourself suddenly becoming more likeable!