While we should never try to change ourselves for the approval of others, sometimes it's nice (and necessary) to be liked, like at networking events, or your first week at a new job. It's why knowing a few habits of exceptionally likable people — that also don't make it look like you're trying too hard — can be extremely useful in life.
And I know — it all seems like the ultimate irony: We're supposed to be likable, but we're supposed to make it look like we're not trying to be likable, otherwise we stop being as likable. It's a delicate dance, and it's not usually something that any of us should stress over. I've always found that nothing makes a person more personable than just being nice and considerate. Seriously — have you ever met a considerate person that you didn't like? I did't think so.
But there are some times in life when we need to amp up our social game; times when we want to make the best impression possible, and even more so, we want it to look totally effortless. If you're currently about to be experiencing one of these key moments, here are 11 ways to be more likable without seeming like you're even trying.
OK, I don't mean copy their every move — that definitely won't help. But a study featured in the Social Psychology Bulletin found that we tend to like people who mimic, and that subtle mimicry indicates attraction. So if you want to put out good vibes towards a person you're talking with, adopt a similar standing or sitting posture for a subtle boost of likability.
2. Put Away Your Phone
This one is a personal tip. The rise of smart phones as often meant the end of undivided attention. So many of us have one ear on a conversation and the other on our Facebook feed or email. This means that when you do give someone your undivided attention it will be really noticeable and likely make them feel really good.
3. Ask Questions
In a piece for Forbes, Travis Bradbury, author of the book Emotional Intelligence, stressed the fact that likable people ask questions. It shows you're really listening and that you're truly interested in the other person.
4. Don't Hog The Conversation
Bradbury also noted the importance of not monopolizing the conversation (and note, you can ask questions and still be a conversation hog!). Practice the art of listening without thinking about what you're going to say next, and try not to ever use questions to lead the conversation back on to yourself, like asking how someone's weekend went only so you can cut them off after a few sentences to describe your own.
5. Don't Be Late
This is a another personal tip. Nothing drives me crazier than when someone is always late. Being on time tells a person that you respect them, because you respect their time.
6. They Smile
In his book The Science of Success featured in Time Magazine, Napoleon Hill stressed the importance of smiling. He noted smiling instantly let's people know that they can let their guard down, even if it's just a small subconscious cue.
7. Be The Positive One
Hill also noted that likable people are generally the people with positive outlooks in your life. A warm and optimistic outlook will rub off on the people around you, making them feel better when they're around you.
8. Don't Lose It
And finally, Hill noted that people who seem in control of their emotions put others at ease. And this definitely doesn't mean you have to pretend to by a hyper-rational Mr. Spock-type; it just means that being emotionally unpredictable can exhaust the people around us and make them want to keep their distance.
9. Be Open-Minded
This is something I've definitely learned with some maturity. It can be so easy to let our initial reactions show on our faces or in our tone of voice. For example, responding to a friend with, "You did what!?" after they tell you they made out with a coworker probably isn't going to make them feel all that comfortable opening up to you and telling you more. Try to keep an open-mind when talking to others and being super careful with how you frame advice.
10. Don't Try To Be The Funniest Person Ever
I got this tip from listening to personal consultant Aaron Marino, and while he generally caters his advice specifically to men, I find most of his tips applicable to all of us. On his YouTube channel, Marino specifically recommended always having a sense of humor, without trying to be the funniest person in the room. When we constantly interrupt others to make jokes, it definitely can seem like we're trying very hard, and also like we're more concerned with getting a laugh than actually listening.
Marino also stressed the power of a good compliment. He noted the best compliments always come in two parts; something more general, and then something more specific to show you really mean it. For example, "I like your shirt," sounds nice, but, "I like your shirt — it really makes your eyes pop," sounds even better.
At the end of the day, there's no magic potion or formula for being likable. Just try your best to be nice to others, and remember — part of not seeming like you're trying too hard comes with just relaxing and reminding ourselves that not everyone is always going to like us, and that's normal and OK.