Most people think of topics like likeability and charisma as a form of manipulation. As if trying to be more likable means that you want to manipulate and (negatively) influence those around you.
The reality is that being more likable means you’re able to better connect with those around you, even if it doesn’t lead to a superficial goal like more income or status.
It’s qualities like sincerity, transparency, and capability of understanding that make someone genuinely likable, not their looks, status, or intelligence.
The good news is that research proves even adults can learn how to be compassionate, empathetic, and as a result, more likable. And if taken seriously, our level of compassion can shape our personal and professional relationships.
That’s partly because our ability to understand other’s feelings helps us better deal with their difficulties, be more helpful, and consequently, more likable.
The difficulty, however, is that quite often, it’s our subtle, unconscious behavior that makes us less likable and empathetic.
Unconsciously repeating the following habits might be the silent killers of your likability. It pays off to be more careful and, whenever possible, avoid them so you can build genuine relationships.
Talking more than doing
The famous businessman Henry Ford once stated that you can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.
Yet that’s exactly what most people try. They talk about things but never do them.
They promise their partner to be more understanding and caring but fail to make time for a date night.
They talk about one business idea after the other but never launch a solid product or service.
They talk about losing weight but end up ordering a giant pizza with extra cheese and diet coke.
Talking is easy; doing is hard. But the problem is that constantly listening to someone who’s talking about the next big thing without ever lifting a finger is exhausting too.
Sharing your ideas and ambitions to receive feedback and encouragement is great, but don’t overdo it.
Sometimes, it’s better to keep your enthusiasm to yourself and share the things you actually do.
Putting your opinion over someone’s expertise
Sometimes, likeability is about shutting up and listening instead of sharing your own two cents on any given topic.
Most people are afraid of saying I don’t know because they think it’s a weakness.
The reality is that you can’t know everything. And admitting that you’re not the best at everything is a sign of intelligence because it allows you to save your resources.
You can’t be an expert on any topic. And you don’t need to have an opinion on everything.
The recent pandemic was a great example of how people often try to put their opinions over facts and data.
I constantly heard people saying things like I believe the government is making wrong decisions or I don’t think the vaccine is safe.
The truth is that sometimes, your opinion doesn’t matter and it’s better to save your time, energy, and effort for things you can actually influence.
Certain discussions require opinions. Others require competence, expertise, facts, and data.
You can’t be great at everything, so don’t try to pretend it. Allow experts to shine on stage if it’s their turn and focus on the things you’re actually good at.
Randomly highlighting your achievements
Most people enjoy listening to a true success story, but we all hate bragging.
Yet many people don’t understand the difference between being proud of yourself and being annoying.
And the reality is that most people don’t care much about you; they care about themselves.
So in most of your conversations, you’ll be better off if you ask your conversation partner about their wins and struggles instead of showcasing all your medals.
Sure, a conversation should always be two-sided and of course, you can share your experiences, including your success stories.
Yet, the most pleasant conversations happen when our conversation partner is relatable instead of out of touch.
If you want to be more relatable, ask more questions, be humble about your achievements, and let people feel that you genuinely care about them.
Don’t turn every conversation into a presentation about yourself but focus on the two-sided relationship and the value you can provide for your conversation partner.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
— Dale Carnegie
We like people we can trust. Being punctual is one of the simplest yet most underrated ways to build that trust.
If someone can’t even make it on time to a meeting, how can I trust that they’ll manage to keep other, more essential promises?
Our time is one of our most precious resources and being late indicates that you don’t value the time of your fellows.
Unexpected situations can happen to all of us, but whenever you have the choice, you’ll be better off when you’re 15 minutes early instead of 5 minutes late.
Only skimming the surface
Most of us are tired of small talk and superficial conversations around the weather or the pandemic. We want depth.
We want deep, genuine, and exciting conversations that feel enriching.
And we want trustworthy relationships — in our business and private lives.
Skimming the surface and talking about the same old things won’t make you interesting but rather boring.
What you should do instead is asking engaging questions, building eye contact, and showing your conversation partner that you’re genuinely interested in them.
As Heidi Grant Halvorson shares in her book No One Understands You And What To Do About It:
“People need to feel that they have been heard, even when you can’t give them what they are asking for or can’t be of particular help.”
Paying attention, e.g., through eye contact, is the most effective way to build that trust and a deeper relationship.
Trying to be more likable is not about faking your personality but about minimizing the silent killers so you can better connect with those around you and build genuinely valuable relationships.
Our entire lives are based on humane connections, so it pays off to be a better, more caring conversation partner, parent, colleague, or friend.