We crave human affection.
As the 3rd tier in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we are psychologically wired to desire a sense of love and belongingness through friends and intimate relationships. While we don’t need 100+ friends to be happy, it certainly doesn’t hurt to become “likable” to a wider range of people.
While we often tend to think that becoming more likable requires some type of big sacrifice or compromise of beliefs, that’s actually far from true. In reality, making a few small, conscious lifestyle and mentality shifts can drastically improve our ability to establish healthy relationships. Here are 5 ways I’ve found to make this an easier process:
- Start actually caring about other people
If you are serious about becoming more likable, then the very first thing you need to do is eliminate all the excuses you have for not being real with yourself. Once you can be intellectually honest, ask yourself this question: “Do I actually care about the people with which I regularly interact?”
If your answer is “no” here, then you can go ahead and stop the experiment. You WILL NOT become more likable to people who you do not care about without being a fake version of yourself.
If you answered “yes” to this question, then the follow-up question should be, “Do I show these people that I care?” This is important because it is a vital baseline for any positive relationship; the idea that both parties CARE about each other. Actively show people you care by checking in on them, showing interest in their lives, and not only talking about yourself. This is step #1 and is really difficult to skip if we want to become more likable.
- Listen to understand, then speak
I’ve mentioned this principle from Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Covey discusses the human tendency to listen with the intention to speak rather than the desire to understand our peers. He says in this chapter, “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
We filter everything we hear through our own paradigms as we interpret information, and it is very easy to listen with the intent to give our opinion. However, there is serious power in developing the habit of truly seeking to understand another person before trying to respond.
How many times have we immediately disagreed with someone or disregarded what they said, only to later find out that they were right or there was a miscommunication? How many times would that have been avoided had we simply taken the time to fully understand the situation? It’s easier said than done, and something I have been practicing every day.
- Practice an open mindset
It is great to be a person of principle. It is an excellent characteristic to have some backbone, some moxie, some basis behind the things you believe. In some cases, it is even appropriate to be radical about your convictions, whether that be a particular cause, organization, etc.
It is a great pleasure to be able to formulate your own opinions, and it is okay to have strong ones! However, what is not okay is to be so steadfast in your opinions that you become blind and/or ignorant to facts. No one likes the one person who can’t just go with the flow of a conversation, who cannot tolerate hearing opinions which disagree with theirs, etc.
Open your mind to seek truth and facts, then formulate your opinion. If these facts disagree with your opinion, that’s when we get to learn something new!
The key: Being too set in our own ways stunts our growth, and inhibits our ability to become more likeable
- Take life a little less seriously
Starting a new job. Proposing to your significant other. Raising a child. Paying your taxes.
There are some things that we should DEFINITELY take seriously! Life brings along a series of challenges which we must face head on, and we should be willing to do just that! That being said, we do not want to fall into the trap of taking EVERYTHING too seriously.
That gets tiring- many times for yourself, but USUALLY for the people around you. If every good thing that happens to you is the greatest thing in the world, or if every bad thing is the end of the world, that quickly becomes annoying to those around you (as someone who is notorious for over-exaggerating to tell a better story, trust me: I had to learn this one myself).
Be passionate. Be outspoken. Stand for something!! But, don’t stand for everything. Everything isn’t THAT important, and taking life a little less seriously will enhance yours and those of your peers.
- Be sincere in your verbal and nonverbal language
Ladies and gentlemen, if this blog isn’t speaking to you, then it’s at least tearing into me! Because I genuinely struggle with this one, and yet it is imperative to our reputation in business, as well as among friends and family.
As I mentioned, I have been practicing Covey’s “Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood” habit recently, and have seen some good results. This, along with “taking life less seriously” is a formula I have really enjoyed. However, we have to be careful that we don’t overdo this to the point where we just passively agree with what everyone says, regardless of if we actually agree.
If we lack sincerity in our words and actions, then we will lead others to think of us as insincere and undependable. No one wants to confide in a person in whom they cannot trust, which as you can imagine leads to relationships being shallow and lacking substance. This is not a label we want to carry, and we can fight it by choosing to be honest in our verbal and nonverbal language.
Have you experienced any of these points to be true in your own life? What OTHER ways would you add that can make a person become more likable? Let me know! #5MinuteMission