Most of us want to be liked by others.

The trouble that the vast masses of humanity have with this is that they run smack into their own selfishness. Because of their own self-fixation, they end up repelling the very people they want to like them. Sometimes that selfishness comes out in down right rudeness. But more often it is more a case that they bore people to death.

Did you know you can even be a very exciting speaker and still bore people to death? People who are successful in their relationships know it.

Successful people who relate well with others have learned a simple truth. And that is this: People are more interested in themselves than any other subject.

If you want to have more success in your relationships here are six simple things you can do.

1. Be genuinely interested in other people – We had some company in town this weekend. And I was first on call at work which meant that we had to be creative on how I would be able to spend time with our guests. Saturday night I had to work, but I was able to break free a little earlier than expected. So I went downtown and waited for my group on a bench near some restaurants where we were planning to eat.

Before long a young couple sat down next to me while they waited to get into one of the nearby restaurants. I got the distinct feeling they were on a date. They were in love. Sometimes you can just tell.

But the guy was failing miserably at this first point here.

It was obvious that he liked his date. He was trying so very hard to impress her. In fact he was trying so hard that the entire time they were on the bench next to me he told story after story about his “amazing” exploits on the baseball field.

Now I like baseball well enough, but even I got bored of his talking fairly quickly. I can only imagine what his date was thinking. (Yawn.)

So often we are like that guy on the bench. We desperately want to impress someone. And we fell that to do that we have be able to share with them how much we know. We try to dazzle them with our brilliance, so to speak.

We get it backwards.

You want to impress someone? Be genuinely interested in them and their interests. Find out what makes them tick. Do the things they want to do. Affirm their opinions and choices.

Do you have trouble agreeing with others? Well try baby steps. Start with not completely shutting them down whenever they express themselves and their opinions. It is possible to be liked by people who have vastly different values than yours.

The best example I think of where someone got along especially well with folks with differing values is Jesus. Here’s a holy man, a guy who founded one of the largest religions of all time, and who did he spend most of his time with? Prostitutes, thieves, partiers – the rough crowd. The religious people of his day were scandalized by his associations. They called him a “friend of sinners.”

Those people were strongly attracted to Jesus and liked him even though he didn’t share their values. Why? Because Jesus was genuinely interested in them and their well being. He went through life with a passionate interest in others.

If you want people to like you then do the same thing.

2. Smile – It is amazing to me how effective a tool a simple smile can be to unlocking doors and getting people to like me.

I am one of those unfortunate folks who has a naturally “intense” face. Smiling isn’t something that comes naturally for me for whatever reason. My wife will tell me that I look angry much of the time. Fortunately for me she knows that I’m not mad. I’m just not thinking about smiling.

Even though smiling doesn’t come naturally for me I’ve found it well worth the effort.

I was in a bank about a week ago. It was not my usual bank, but for the transaction I needed to make it was the one I had to go to. Friday must have been payday because it was a bit crazy there that afternoon. As I waited in line I noticed how tense and stressed everyone in the room seemed to be.

When my turn came and I stepped up to the teller, I made it a point to smile. I guess it was a tremendous contrast to the other folks that she’d dealt with that afternoon. When my business was done and she handed my paperwork back to me she said, “I waived the fee. Have a nice day.”

That was totally unexpected. But apparently a smile will go a long way toward making people like you.

3. Remember people’s names – It is said that the sweetest sound to a person’s ears is their own name. You can get a long way down the road of making people like you if you make it a practice to use their name in the conversation.

I admit, of all these points, this is likely the one that is the most challenging for me at this point. But with work, by focusing on it, I am steadily improving.

If it is a hard thing for you, start where it is easy just to build the habit.

When you are in a situation where the person you are talking to is wearing a name tag, make it a point to use their name. Even if it is just the check out clerk at the grocery store.

In fact anytime you are in a position to make a purchase from someone and the sales person is wearing a name tag, use their name. Start doing it just to build the habit. You might be amazed by the results.

I used Juanita’s name in our conversation a the bank last week in addition to smiling. (It actually amazes me that I remember her name now. But I guess that’s proof we remember folks who do unexpected nice things for us, isn’t it?) My intention wasn’t to get anything special from that interaction other than my completed transaction. But by applying these techniques I got a whole lot more when she waived the bank fees.

4. Ask questions – and then shut up – You want to become a good conversationalist? Ask questions.

In sales situations they say that the person asking the questions is the one controlling the conversation. But the hard part is being genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. You have to shut up and genuinely listen to what they are saying. You can’t be thinking about what you are going to say next. So many times sales people totally miss that point. Like so many of us they don’t even let their prospect finish what they are saying before they are on to something else. It is proof that they weren’t even listening to what the other person was saying in the first place.

The beauty of it is, if you do this successfully, you will never have to worry about running out of things to talk about. Because if you are genuinely listening to what the other person is saying you will naturally see other questions you can ask them to keep the conversation rolling.

If you want a good cheat to get you started asking questions, here is an acronym I use: F.O.R.M.

F. Family – Where are they from? Do they have kids? Are they married? Etc.
O. Occupation – What do they do for a living? Then ask questions about that type of work.
R. Recreation – What do they do for fun? What are their interests?
M. Motivation – Why are they in town? What hobbies do they have? Why do they have those interests?

5. Talk about subjects that are interesting to others – Remember that couple on the park bench? the woman was doing a great job letting the fella talk about his interests. But I get the feeling the guy was failing miserably.

If you want other people to like you, let them do all the talking. Remember, people are more interested in themselves than any other subject. They want to talk about their stuff, not your stuff.

It may even feel painful at first. You may think, “Oh, I have a great story that ties in with that point.”

But if you want to make people like you, don’t tell your story. Ask them a question that leads to another story of their own. Be interested in what they are interested in and they will think highly of you.

This principle even works when you are interviewing for a job. That’s a situation when you have to impress someone else, right?

Well some of my most successful interviews were the ones where I talked the least. I just kept asking questions of the interviewer, about the company, the position, even about the interviewer personally.

It amuses me how backwards I’ve had things most of my life. I thought I had to share how much I knew and how skilled I was to impress people. But the truth is they are far more impressed by how interested I am in what is important to them.

6. Give sincere compliments – This one is also incredibly easy. Just pick something you can appreciate about the person you are talking with and let them know it.

Do they have nice hair? Eyes? Clothes? Jewelry? Car? A cool techno-gadget?

Make it a point to tell them. Ask them questions. Get them talking about it.

Who knows? The person you are talking to may be starving for a compliment. It could open all kinds of doors for you.

And it is so very simple.

If you are a reader, you might recognize some of these ideas from Dale Carnegie’s classic How To Win Friends and Influence People
. It is a classic work that you can read to learn successful skills for relating to other people. I highly recommend reading it to anyone who is wants to be more successful.



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