Gillian Mandich is a Canadian happiness researcher who literally uses science to find out how to be your happiest self. She says an important part of being happy is being liked. While it’s obviously not healthy to define your self-worth by how other people view you (you do you!) she points out that part of functioning in a social society such as ours is being liked. We want to connect with people, and being a likable person is part of that. Aside from the gimmies–just generally being a nice human–Mandich has outlined what scientific research reveals as the qualities that make people more likable. She suggests working on these things and making small changes over time so you can be more likable, not just among friends, but also in the workplace and when meeting strangers.
Check your body language
It’s easy to forget that we are constantly giving non-verbal cues to people, even before we officially meet them. First impressions are huge. Studies say that we form our first opinion of a person within seven seconds of meeting them, then spend the rest of the interaction justifying our own assessment. One way to hopefully make a good first impression is by keeping a check on your body language.
There are the big ones like posture and not crossing your arms, but a lot of those non-verbal cues come from your face. People who make eye-contact while they’re having a conversation are considered more trustworthy and confident. People are also more likely to find you likable if you smile with your teeth. Keep those in mind when you’re meeting someone new.
Remember and use names
People say this all the time, but it’s really a good habit to get into. People respond better to you when you use their name, and it shows that you care enough to remember it. You’re saying that you acknowledge them as a unique individual and that what they say is important to you. It can also make the interaction feel more personal.
If you have trouble remembering names, there are any number of little tricks out there to make it easier. If all else fails, you could always ask them to put their number in your phone (that way you get the last name too and make the point that you’d like to talk to them again) or just come clean and say you forgot. Some people will appreciate the honesty, and at least you went to the trouble (and embarrassment) to ask for them to repeat their name.
When you touch someone, the brain releases oxytocin (colloquially referred to as the ‘love hormone’) which makes the person feel good. Studies have shown that touching on the arm or shoulder can make people tip waiters more or buy more at a store (though we don’t really recommend touching strangers without their permission). It’s also proven that touching someone when asking for a favour increases your chances that the person will agree.
Touching people can be a–dare we say–touchy subject (sorry), but it can also be a way of creating more of a bond with people you’re already close to. Just be aware of how people react when you do it. If they seem uncomfortable, stop and don’t do it again.
Seriously, put the phone away
Obviously you’re not going to be completely smitten with someone who can’t seem to put their phone down and look you in the eye. Putting your phone away when you’re having a conversation indicates to the other person that you are entirely engaged with them. If you want to make a connection with that person, be present with them in the moment.
Often when we have conversations, we’re barely listening to the other person when they’re talking. We’re constantly anticipating what they’re going to say and immediately considering how it applies to and effects us personally. It takes conscious effort sometimes to really focus on what someone is saying, so you can respond thoughtfully. People who are fully present in a conversation are more likable that those who are obvious about just being in it for the information. Show engagement in what the other person is saying and ask questions that pertain to what they are telling you. A real conversation takes effort on both parts. Put in that extra effort and people will (probably) love you for it.