What if I told you that there was a way to make other people consistently see you as a smart, charismatic, and likeable person? That this technique could work at work, with friends, and with romantic partners? Ok now what if I said that even if they realize you are doing it, it still works?
I'm not selling you snake oil BS and or teaching you hypnosis. What I'm suggesting is simply using people’s biological need to feel heard/understood/important in order to make them feel good. If someone feels good when they’re with you, they will like and trust you. It’s pretty simple.
So what is this tactic exactly? Drumroll please...
Active Listening. That's it. Be the best listener and people will like you best.
In this post, I’m going to arm you with exact steps you need to take in order to become a better, more active listener and become more likeable in the process.
Here we go.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the first step in active listening is to pay attention to what the other person is saying. We’re not talking about some behavioural hack here - you want to actually take an interest in what the person is telling you. Approach every conversation with the goal of learning from the other person.
In order to do this, here’s a checklist:
- Give whoever is speaking your undivided attention
- Acknowledge their message
- Recognize that your non-verbal actions also speak loudly
- Look at the other person directly
- Try to not think about anything else other than what the other person is telling you
- Don't start to prepare your response! We are all guilty of this but you unconsciously check out of what the other person is saying. They will notice.
- Listen to the speaker's body language
So much of being perceived as a charismatic person comes from things other than what you say. Use your body language as a lever to show that you care and are engaged.
- Nod occasionally
- Gently repeat a few crucial words that the speaker has said
- Smile naturally. Don’t fake it but let yourself be entertained by the small details
- Make sure that your posture is interested
- Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments
- Open and guide the conversation
A very easy hack to getting other people to see you as a great conversationalist is to get them talking about things that they are passionate about. The funny thing about this is that your perceived conversational skills will be inversely proportional to how much you speak. You want to open and guide the conversation with a topic that gets the other person to open up and makes them feel like an expert. Use broad, open-ended specific questions that focus the conversation, like "How did you decide that?" or "How would this work?". Avoid close-ended questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
Any time someone is speaking to you, your responsibility is to understand what is being said. This will mean that you need to reflect on what you’re hearing and to ask questions. So how do you reflect? When the other person stops saying what they’re saying, try to paraphrase what they’ve said in simpler words. Try something along these lines:
"So what I'm hearing you saying is..."
Ask questions on anything that isn’t clear to you or is even a little intriguing. Every once in a while, try to summarize the higher level point of the conversation so far
Avoid interrupting the speaker. It will make them frustrated and prematurely kill their train of thought. Ideally, you want to allow the speaker to completely finish their point before asking questions. Try not to come up with counter arguments before you hear the entire thing.
Active listening is an exploration of the speaker’s psyche. Respect and understanding is the goal here. You are looking to gain as much information and perspective as possible.
When the speaker has finished their point and you’ve fully understood their message, it’s time for a considerate response. You want to be open and honest in your response. Assert your opinions respectfully.
That just about sums it up for how to be an active listener. If you follow the steps we’ve walked through here, people will find it to be a joy to speak with you. If people enjoy themselves while they speak with you, they will like you. Even if they know that you are doing this intentionally, they will still like you. It’s just a natural human instinct. When people like you, doors start to open up.
Go practice the techniques you’ve learned here in the next conversation you have. Notice what differences you perceive from the way the other person interacts and how you feel after. Over weeks, months, years these interactions will compound up into people widely seeing you as an extremely likeable person!