- Michael Thompson
There’s no shortage of advice out there for how to be more likable. Type the question into search and you can get lost in the pages upon pages of studies, lists, and essays full of tips on what to say and how to act. But according to behavioral researcher investigator Vanessa Van Edwards, the author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, the key to being a person that others gravitate toward is simply this: You must like more people. Her advice? Every time you leave your house, set a reminder for yourself to try to like as many people as possible.
It might sound a little cheesy, but it’s an empowering thought. We think of relationships as being out of our control, to a certain extent. Either you click with someone or you don’t. But often, we don’t realize how much we get in our own way. We get hung up on the little things. We don’t realize we can try, or that we should.
If you put in a little effort, though, it’s not that hard to like people more — and to open yourself up to the possibility of connection, friendship, and love.
Steer the conversation toward their strengths
When meeting new people, a lot of us get preoccupied with what we’re going to say that we overlook the most effective way to keep the conversation going: Guiding it in a way that brings out the other person’s strong points rather than worrying about trumpeting our own.
Be curious. Instead of the standard, “What do you do?” type of icebreaker, ask questions like, “If you weren’t at this networking event tonight, what would you be doing?” Questions like these allow the interests and passions of the person you’re speaking with take center stage.
Reflect on your relationships
Self-awareness comes from journaling or thinking about our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in order to detect patterns in our behavior.
The same applies to building our social awareness. At the end of the day or the end of an interaction, take a moment to debrief yourself. How did your conversations go? What did you learn? What qualities did you admire in the people you met? Did you listen more than you spoke? Did you interrupt anyone? Did you lose your cool? Did you do your best to approach people with an open mind?
Simply let people know that you like them
In the book Influence, Robert Cialdini dissected the success of Joe Girard, the record-breaking car salesman turned motivational speaker. He noted that Girard embraced one simple aspect of human behavior: If you show someone how much you like them, nine times out of 10, the favor will be returned.
Every month Girard sat down and wrote out handwritten letters to each of his clients. He asked about their children by name. He made it clear he cared about them.
Let people know what their friendship means to you. Follow up on items that are important to them. Connect them with like-minded people. Few things create lasting relationships better than consistent acts of kindness.
You don’t have to love everybody, and not everybody has to love you. But if you want to create an impactful career and lead a meaningful life, some people are going to have to like you. This becomes much easier if you first look for reasons to like them.