We've all had conversations that were painfully forced and awkward. After they’re over, you beat yourself up over how the other person probably doesn’t like you.
But why should you care about being likeable? It’s a valid question. In reality, this isn’t just a vanity metric or something to make you feel good. Likeable people make more money, live longer, have more opportunities, and have more success in their love lives. Everything has to do with human relationships at a certain point, so it’s really worth investing some effort in improving your likeability.
You’ve probably met someone who impressed you with their charisma. It’s easy to think that likeability is an innate thing - something you’re born with. What you don’t see though, is that person is actually trying hard to make you enjoy your interaction with them.
There are specific steps you can take to be more likeable when you’re interacting with someone new. The crazy thing about these techniques is that even if the other person knows you are doing them intentionally, they will still end up liking you more. It’s simple human biology, people want to feel important and like they have been heard.
In this post, we'll go over tips to make anyone like you more. It'll include word for word templates and high level approaches you can take to be the most popular person in the room.
First impressions matter and the first few seconds are critical. Start the conversation with a positive vibe by hitting the other person with a quick and casual compliment. Don’t worry - they won’t see you as a suck up if you can keep the praise small and specific. This should be an authentic compliment though. Don’t lie. Everyone has some positive attributes so make an effort to identify one.
Focus on the following as potential areas to compliment:
Every person wants to be recognized for the thing that they spend the majority of their time doing - work.
How To Say It: "I'm a really big fan of your work so this is an honor"
People don’t usually hear compliments about their energy so this one will stand out in their minds
How To Say It: “You’re doing awesome stuff all the time. It's such an infectious spirit”
Harder to get right since there is a thin line between nice and weird. Definitely don’t be sexual or point out something the other person may not want attention drawn to. Generally anything they are wearing prominently and proudly is fair game.
How To Say It: "Congratulations on the mustache"
Here’s the key to executing the compliment successfully: don’t dwell on it. It is important to transition off the compliment fairly quickly. You’ve made the other person feel impressive - now they should want to live up to that positive image you have created for them!
Think about the interactions that you enjoy the most. Usually it is when you’re talking about something that you are interested in or passionate about. In order to be more likeable, try to find a subject that the other person has some passion for. Ideally you are also interested in that thing - at least enough to be able to talk about it.
Use whatever you may know about the person’s background or skills to try to identify something that makes them open up. Bring up strange and quirky topics that may be something the other person has knowledge on. The best case is this starts an entire new segment of engaged conversation. The worst case is that you are memorable and it gives you an opportunity to explain your weirdness. Being boring and forgettable is way worse than being odd as long as people feel good around you.
Your first guess might not be right so keep trying to “ping” different topics by lightly mentioning them. When you’ve found something that resonates, the other person will dive in eagerly. From there, it’s just a matter of letting them drive the conversation to the part of that topic that is most interesting to them.
So far, this advice has been pretty basic. Nothing earth shattering. Compliment people and find what they’re interested in - so what? Let’s get a level deeper.
Next, you’ll want to ask “why" questions that drive people to talk about what they really VALUE. Here’s the playbook:
➤ Instead of just: "Where are you from?" try → "Why do you live there?".
➤ Instead of just: “What do you do for work?” which is kind of boring, ask → “why did you decide to do that?” which is very interesting and open ended.
This can be done in two phases. The “what” phase is the basic introductory question. The “why” goes into their thought process and values as a follow up.
Even if the person doesn't love their own answer, they'll get to explain what is important to them. Now we’re getting somewhere juicy. People are much more likely to want to talk about what they value.
Try to ask questions that are fun to answer. If you feel like someone doesn't have anything interesting to talk about, get them past the block by asking them something that removes the constraint of having to be realistic. Suspending reality temporarily for that person will make them enjoy the time they spent talking to you more because you indulge their fantasies.
Everyone thinks they should be richer, more powerful, and more popular - let them feel that way for a few minutes and I guarantee they’ll like you more.
A couple of great fantasy-enabling questions might go like this:
- If you had a magic wand and the incredible ability to do whatever you want in this situation, what would you do?
- If you had 100 million dollars, what would you do instead?
- Let's say you're the king of the world & we said "what are we gonna do?"
One great decision tree of questions could be:
- What are you doing currently?
- Do you enjoy it?
- If yes: ask "why" and elicit their values
- If no: ask "if you had $100M what would you do instead?”
You want to set the other person up to feel like a rock star. This is pretty easy once you’ve found a topic that they are passionate about.
If you laugh easily, you will be more fun to talk to. It makes the other person feel good for being funny even when they aren't trying to be. Find humor in the absurd and watch the other person light up. Don't fake laugh though! Instead just allow yourself to laugh every time you find something funny. Look for opportunities to enjoy what the other person is saying. Laughing is a habit - it is easier the more you do it. Maybe watch something funny right before the conversation to get yourself in a laughing mood.
Use mirroring. This means subtly copying people words, actions, and mannerisms. People like those who are like them. Repeat the last couple of words that someone says to you or a selected phrase they've used that stands out. People love hearing their own words. You want the other person to feel heard and important. Mirror to build rapport before taking control of the conversation if you have a desired outcome. It’s important to not copy everything about them though, have your own style. Stay true to yourself and have confidence in who you are.
One final quick tip is to stay loose and be relaxed. Lean back in your chair even when you're in a position where you want to win someone else over. By doing so, you’re subconsciously signalling that they need to work for your attention. It flips the dynamic of the conversation and will cause them to double down on trying to win you over. When they do so, it’ll reinforce in their mind that they like you - because why else would they try so hard?
In summary, use the 5 approaches below in your next conversation and see how they work for you!
- Get their guard down with an early compliment
- Ping for topics of mutual interest
- Get the other person excited about the conversation
- Create a connection by actively listening
- Have a comfortable and relaxed style