This Wednesday: Seven tips for making someone like you.

This Wednesday: Seven tips for making someone like you.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Seven tips for making someone like you.

Well, no. You can’t actually MAKE someone like you. But you can behave in ways that will make it slightly more likely.

We all want to feel that other people like us, that they seek our company, that they enjoy being with us. Having close relationships is one of the most meaningful elements to happiness. Also, social contact brings a big boost in mood—for extroverts and introverts alike (surprising though this may seem).

To form a friendship, you must like someone. But you must also be likeable.

How can you boost the chances that someone will like you? Here are seven strategies to keep in mind:

1. Smile. No, this doesn’t come as shock, but studies do show that the amount of time you smile during a conversation has a direct impact on how friendly you’re perceived to be.

2. Be easily impressed, entertained, and interested. Most people get more pleasure from wowing you with their humor and insight than from being wowed by your humor and insight.

3. Have a friendly, open, engaged demeanor. Lean toward people, nod, say “Uh-huh,” turn your body to face the other person’s body. Don’t turn your body away, cross your arms, answer in monosyllables, or scan the room (or look at your Blackberry! I have seen this happen!) as the other person talks.

4. Remember trait transfer. In “trait transfer,” whatever you say about other people influences how people see you. If you describe a co-worker as brilliant and charismatic, your acquaintance will tend to associate you with those qualities. Conversely, if you describe a co-worker as arrogant and obnoxious, those traits will stick to you. So watch what you say.

5. Laugh at yourself. Showing vulnerability and a sense of humor make you more likable and approachable. However, don’t push this too self-deprecation too far – keep it light. You’ll make others uncomfortable if you run yourself down too much.

6. Radiate energy and good humor. Because of the phenomenon of “emotional contagion,” people catch the emotions of other people, and they prefer to catch an upbeat, energetic mood. Even if you pride yourself on your cynicism, biting humor, or general edginess, these qualities can be conveyed with warmth.

7. Show your liking for another person. We’re much more apt to like someone if we think that person likes us. Look for ways to signal that you enjoy a person’s company.

It’s particularly worth your effort to be your friendliest when you meet someone for the first time. Studies show that within ten minutes of meeting a new person, we decide how close a relationship we’ll have with that new acquaintance, and that in evaluating people, we weigh early information much more heavily than information acquired later.

One of the joys of the internet is that it makes it so much easier to stay in contact with people who otherwise might have drifted out of sight. Through email and her great blog, The Flame Tree, I keep tabs on an old friend who is now living an adventurous life on the other side of the world.

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Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • I think what’s missing from this list is genuineness. People can tell when you’re being fake, and they shy away from that on a subconscious level. I’d be happier with a few people who know & like the “real me” than with a bunch of people for whom I have to fake it.

  • I absolutely agree, insincerity isn’t good, but assuming that you sincerely would like someone to like you (this is the point of the post, so if you DON’T CARE if someone likes you, skip the whole thing!), I think it’s possible to be perfectly sincere and also emphasize certain behaviors that will help you convey your desire to be friendly.
    The funny thing about “faking it” is that often, by faking it, it comes true. Acting friendly and energetic, even if you’re feeling down, will boost your mood. I know this sounds unlikely, but it is UNCANNILY effective.
    Some people want to be friends, but because of the way they act — unsmiling, trying to be impressive so boast too much, shy so keep checking their blackberry out of nervousness — they turn people off. By thinking about how to act more friendly, people will act more friendly to you, which in turn makes it easier to act friendly.
    It’s lovely to hang out with the few old friends who have seen you at your worst. But to make friends, it helps to think about how to seem friendly.
    You’re right, this only works if it comes from a genuine spirit of desiring to connect with other people. If you’re trying to manipulate people, or trick them into thnking you’re a friendly person when in fact you’re vain and selfish, it probably won’t work.

  • Jessica

    Another tip I’ve heard is: ask for a tiny favor. People like being asked for a bit of easily-given help. It makes them feel important and valued by you.

  • Another thing is to look at them when they’re talking. (Surprising how many people look elsewhere, and how discouraging that feels when you’re the one talking.) I read about an experiment wbere people were asked to keep track of how many times the person talking blinked in a conversation. The “blinkers” were found to regard the people watching them with greater fondness, even though the watchers weren’t *actually* engrossed in the conversation, but just counting the blinks! Shows you can give a good impression even if you tend to be distractible, just by keeping your focus on their face. It always makes me feel good to think someone’s paying attention — at least they care enough to fake it! 🙂

  • Thanks for the tips! I’ve got a date this Friday so I’ll definitely put these to use 🙂

  • I need to watch the trait transfer one the most. For some reason, I have a co-worker who bugs the heck out of me and I’m strongly resisting the urge to kvetch about her to my colleagues. I wish I knew how to be more tolerant towards this person.

  • Gretchen,
    Great counsel.
    Sounds like one simple rule to me: Be fully present and thoroughly engaged.

  • Your blog was recently reccomended to me. What a find! You are now one of my new favorite favorites!

  • MJ

    Paying attention and making eye contact is so critical. I work with someone I basically like, but I’ve noticed more and more that in work meetings or smaller discussions he looks at the ceiling, the corners of the room or ceiling, and out of the door or across the meeting area to see if someone more interesting is coming down the hall – all the time. Frankly, I don’t feel like I like him very much any longer. If he can’t disengage his eyes from the ceiling for anyone, is he even listening? Awful habit. BTW he can make eyecontact for customers, but not colleagues. That only makes the colleagues feel worse.

  • Samantha

    Do you think that any or all of these are culturally specific? I lived and worked in Paris for years, and I can tell you that smiling was often viewed negatively. Smiling is seen as being saccharhine, simpering, chimp-like in one’s desire for positive reinforcement and eagerness to please.
    As an anglo saxon Canadian, I found the Parisians’ lack of smiling to be unsettling and unpleasant, even though I realized it was purely a cultural difference rather than a reflection on how they felt about me (I made several close French friends, few of whom smile at me even today).
    Anyway, I do appreciate your list – Gretchen – and your blog. Just wondering how geographically specific these specific items might be.

  • Honestly, sincerity is overrated. We tend to become more like our habitual actions, so doing them makes them more true internally, not just “faking.”

  • This is a great blog! It’s like I’m being zapped back to the time I first read Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends” (or something like that). I am sure a lot of people will love this site of yours. Keep it up!

  • Anna

    well I heard about your article and I wanted to ask you a question…
    I am about 15 and recently moved to a new school district where I went through a culture shock and things never seemed to work out well…perhaps I am still going through this awkward phase…but anyways there is this boy who encourages me, inspires me, he makes me feel at home in school, he is smart and friendly and tends to show care especially when I am speaking. When I am with him time goes fast and when he is gone all I can think about is the next time I will be able to spend more time with him. There is also a slight problem this boy does not worry about love and when I bring it up he tells me that he is too young to think about it, he is friendly to everyone including myself…(of course) , but I always wonder why I feel so un-amused when he talks to other people ( I really don’t want to feel that way) I always find reasons to get time alone with him. I feel so determined to winning his heart. I know for a matter a fact he accepts me for who I am, yet I keep trying to change myself and do things to make myself more attractive.
    One day I wore makeup and he told me it ruined my natural beauty and I stopped wearing makeup.
    Sometimes when he talks I just gaze into his eyes and all my brain is thinking about is that I love him. Sometimes since he is really smart…I ask with help in math problems I already know just so he can explain it.
    Sometimes I wish I could tell him…but I don’t want to ruin every thing with quick movements. I want to be patient and charm him step by step.
    Please help…
    Sorry for the long comment!

  • Diane F-H

    Hi Gretchen
    I found your blog while wandering around the net finding fascination in the subject of boredom through being bored and wondering what psychology has to say about it. I found a link to your Four Tips for Surmounting Boredom and Irritation, and have added your blog to my Favourites. It is one of the most fascinating sites I’ve ever come across. I wish you every success with your project, and can only wonder at the energy and research that must have gone into this!

  • Mariam

    Thanks it really worked!!! Post more tips

  • Jamie

    theres dis girl and i like her and she likes me but shes got a bf and ive got a gf
    if i use this wat will happen??
    write back

    • Bruce Lee’s Way of the Dragon

       Jamie, First of all man, Be cool, Be slick, Don’t be A jack-wagon, And just be yourself, Crack funny jokes, Not just random jokes, Ask her things like, What does she like to do, And pay close attention to her appearance, One’s looks can tell A lot about them, Well not for me at least, But you get the point.

    • Bruce Lee’s Way of the Dragon

       Some of that was not as helpful, But most of all, BE YOUR SELF, It helps more than you think, And also, If she has A bf, And you have A gf, I think you 2 need to work that out.

  • secret

    Please may I ask, how do you be the outstanding one in a group, how do you get people to focus on you, when they are talking, in a group of 4 people for example? How do you make them more comfortable talking to you than to the other people in the group?

  • Just Me…

    You know, I’ve tried almost all these things and it didn’t work for me. I guess I’m just pathetic. I’ve tried to make friends (lived here almost 16 years and have only 1 friend and she’s not all that reliable). I chalked it up to small town mentality, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s just me….