In any social group, friends typically have their respective roles: the funny one, the weird one, the popular one, the awkward one, etc. It's a difference in personality, unique qualities, and behaviors that make us who we are, how we conduct ourselves in social settings, and who we connect with. But as human beings, it's natural to want what we don't have, whether it be tangible, a relationship, or a personal trait that makes someone else shine.
What is it that makes a person likable? Why do some people take centerstage in certain environments where others don't? Is there a secret to being "popular?" How can we all, generally, be better versions of ourselves to make better our personal lives and also our professional lives?
I chatted with Dr. Ashley Arn, psychologist and relationships expert, and April Masini, relationship expert and popular media resource, via email to learn more about how any personality can be improved simply by the desire to do so. Look no further than the nine pieces of advice below for where to begin if you're in search of being a better, more likable individual.
1. Recognize The Difference Between Who You Are & Who You Want To Be
"The first step towards change is to recognize what you want to change. This requires self knowledge. Next, you have to decide what you want the outcome to be, and then what the steps are that are the bridge between who you are or how you behave and who you want to be and how you want to behave," according to Masini.
We know ourselves better than anyone else. If we take note of the qualities we wish to change or what we'd like to see more of in self-improvement, we can more efficiently work towards adding or lessening those qualities to be who we want to be. Desire is step one; evaluation is step two; introspection and action follow.
2. Take Action To Make A Change
Where we identify areas of ourselves that could use improvement, Dr. Arn suggests not ignoring them, adding, "Don’t make excuses. Be committed to taking action. Most people don’t embrace chance and take action."
If we truly hope to see change in our interpersonal connections, we have to commit. "Typically, the cycle is this: identify something you are unhappy with; beat yourself up about it; feel terrible, make excuses why you can’t have what you want; move on for some period of time, distract yourself, forget about the problem; problem resurfaces," Dr. Arn says.
Don't let your problems fall to the wayside; be proactive.
3. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
People in search of self-improvement tend to focus too much on what they don't have and what they want, according to Dr. Arn, who says, "Focus on the best parts of [yourself]. Identify what [you] have to offer. Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on embracing the differences."
No one person in the world is exactly like another; every person has something unique to offer. Where comparing yourself to others will lead you down a dark path, there is room to recognize how to positively implement change in addition to everything you already have, not what you're lacking.
"Self-esteem is the key to being at peace with oneself — whether you’re introverted, extroverted, short, tall or round! When people overcome their sense of being less than what they want, it’s because over time they realize their value given who and what they are and who or what they’ve become," Masini confirms.
4. Accept Your Personality Type & Know Yourself
"Each personality type has strengths and weaknesses. Introverts are great listeners, kind, self-sacrificing, analytical. Extroverts are communicative, fun, engaging, relationship-driven," Dr. Arn tells me via email.
Your personality makes you who you are, and as individuals, we should each own that. Don't seek to become something or someone you're not, but rather, improve upon the great qualities you have to offer in relationships. Accept you for everything you are, rather than allowing self-criticism and deprecation to become commonplace.
5. Empathize With Others
According to Masini, "People who are personable and engaging have a lot empathy. They’re not just interested in themselves or how they see the world. They want to now how you see it, as well. They love to give opinions, but they also want to hear yours, and they’ll check in on you to see how you’re doing, not just wait for you to show up and tell them."
Likable individuals are not self-centered or selfish, two qualities often seen as faults. If you personally identify as a potentially egotistical individual, start there. Aim to take a more invested interest in the relationships you have as a way of nurturing and showing care for the people who make life fulfilling.
6. Make An Effort To Add Positivity & Depth To Your Interactions
"Likable people don’t take themselves too seriously. The ability to 'take a pie in the face' is a huge factor of likable people. They don’t have thin skins, and they understand the world is a big place, and their own reference point on life isn’t the be-all end-all," Masini tells Bustle via email.
Take a load off. Try to breathe deeper, exhaling the negative stress, worry, or whatever burden you bear. There will always be another day, and tough times will pass. Remember this to keep life light and enter a room as a positive energy, drawing people into your aura and leaving a good impression each time.
What makes a person likable stems from "positive attitude, curiosity, high energy, [and] active listening," Dr. Arn adds. Any combination of these qualities would be a solid starting point for someone looking to become more personable in a social setting.
7. Find Confidence Within
Although introverts are not naturally communicative, as Dr. Arn tells me, "Engaging with others requires some extrovert personality factors," according to Masini.
Putting yourself out there is paramount to drawing in new relationships and connecting with people from different walks of life. Whether you're introverted or extroverted, finding your inner confidence in any environment is crucial to being a better, personable individual.
"Not being self-conscious or fearful of reaching out is important to being able to engage with others," Masini says.
8. Be Ready & Willing To Open Up At Any Moment
In describing an individual who is approachable and owns a room, Dr. Arn says the keys are "willingness, commitment to connecting, practice, [and] a systematic way of connecting that helps you to feel comfortable in social settings."
Trial and error will happen often on the road to self-improvement, as changing our innate qualities requires time and patience. As you work towards becoming a better version of yourself, Masini says, "Recognize opportunities to engage and take steps to reach out. Practice doing this and recognize when [you're] successful and why, as well as when [you're] unsuccessful and why."
9. Promote Your Assets
"The problem introverts may have is not getting their message out there. No matter how intelligent and wonderful someone is, if they stay home and don’t reach out, nobody else will know their assets. And with extroverts, sometimes people are off put by their demeanors and focus on their style instead of their substance," according to Masini.
Whoever you are, whatever your personality, wherever you come from, wave your flag high. Don't shy away from who you are and what you have to offer the world for fear that one person may not be receptive or respond well. What makes you you is everything you already are. Any attempt at self-improvement is merely an addition to a great individual.
If you're here, you're ready to take a proactive role in your life; to control where you're headed and who's along for the ride. That's a lot more than anyone else can say.