Six Ways to Make People Like You

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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  1. You’re so right. It’s really hard not to like someone who genuinely likes you. I especially like the first one — be genuinely interested in others. Once I moved myself out of the center of the universe. I found the world was a much friendlier place. 🙂

  2. well,a few times i make friends,especially guys, but then later,they are not interested in me as much as i,and i like making friends,am friendly,i smile a lot,but i guess popular people like to be with popular people.

  3. Cynthia, I think it is possible for you to become more popular if that is your goal. It may not be easy at first, but if you make it a point to apply the principles you will likely find that people genuinely like to see you headed their way.

    The hard part is that you may not feel that they like you when you are making all the effort to let them do the talking. It is unlikely that they will invest the effort it takes to show interest in you in return.

    I also highly recommend getting a copy of the Dale Carnegie book. He explains these ideas in much grater detail. You might find them easier to apply in your life after reading his book.

  4. Smiling a lot helps too!
    I heard that a smile is the fastest shortcut to happiness.

  5. douglass Smith says:

    what if there are two people that both want to be liked? Where would the conversation go… Wouldn’t that mean that there is always a (intrested only in themselves/not well liked) person? Also wouldn’t that be lieng if you just agreed with everything? I find that when some one is honest and gives their input on something it is really helpful for me just to have that opinion. I appreciate this as something of a guideline, but I also feel you need other traits to be well liked. Just be natural.

  6. Jack Blake says:

    This is a very helpful report. I use several of these techniques anyway but, the one about asking questions then shutting up is a very good point. Thank you ever so much!

  7. My problem is i make friends easy and do all of the above but friends don’t seem to stick around and they drift away quickly. I feel like people like me at 1st and then they have no interest in staying friends with me or make an effort to want to spend time with me. I can’t figure this out.

  8. Awesome article, I should keep these things in mind, may help a lot in the future 😀

  9. This was fantastic. It really inspired me 🙂 I’m one of those shy people who never smiles at strangers and I never know what to say and when I do talk, I stumble on my words. Thank you so much for the post and great tips!

  10. Alice Lee Munroe says:

    I find this article genuinely silly. I am supposed to be a walking, smiling, insanely passive, sounding board for other people because I am so insecure that I need to be liked by people I find boring and selfish. That is not friendship or even being liked. You may as well wear a cork board and a cubicle divider coloured suit so you blend right in to the fabric of the office. Better yet, take those F.O.R.M. questions and tack them to your face. You’ll save oxygen for the rest of us who are trying to connect at a less superficial level. Why is displaying the behaviours of a desperate, kowtowing 13 year old attractive?

    • Heya Alice! I think you kind of missed the whole point of the article. I assume you came here looking because you want to be liked by others. My guess is your current approach isn’t working for you or you wouldn’t have bothered with the post (and then leaving a comment.)

      I’m just saying people will like us more when we take a genuine interest in them and put our own selfishness aside.

      If you don’t want to change, no problem. Just know that you will continue to get the results that you have been getting all along.

      However, if you don’t like your current results then you might consider changing your approach. I’m just saying.

    • your comments are smarter then all of these,

    • I like your comment

  11. It all comes down to personality. Some are more likeable while others are miserable. Smiling, taking interest in others, helping others always helps you to be popular. A good sense of humour helps a lot too.

  12. Voice of Reason says:

    Chris, I think what you say here is very useful. However, I would say that some of tis is good if you are dealing primarily with North Americans or Western Europeans. In some cultures, questions re: family or job would be considered intrusive and nosy.

    • Heya Voice! You make a good point. I can’t speak for the specifics of other cultures. But I suspect that the general principles here still apply. People universally appreciate being shown kindness, especially when it is unmerited and without strings attached.

      And by the way, I deleted your other comment above. It was completely over the top rude and therefore removed. We do not tolerate personal attacks here. They violate the first principle of our Comment Policy. Generally speaking contents like this are deleted (as your was) or treated as spam.

  13. Interesting. Though I think the author missed one factor that negates every suggestion here.

    The TARGET AUDIENCE! This article was so broad that it can’t be applied to any situation except the most basic social interaction in the most kind and welcoming place possible! If you tried to utilize these suggestions at a bar, club, or other absure social venue you would be the guy/gal EVERYONE would run from and laugh about later. In fact, the unvielding mockery of YOU would be what would draw people together!

    Fake, Fake, and more fake! You would have a better chance at walking up to a group of people and saying “A CHICKEN SAYS WHAT?”


    At least then they would be laughing at SOMETHING YOU DID, as opposed to WHO YOU ARE.

    • Well Michael your comment makes me wonder if you even read the article? It doesn’t matter where you are or what social setting you are in, if you show genuine interest in other people they will be much more inclined to like you than if you mock them.

      Same with each of the other suggestions. Smiling, listening to what others have to say, talking about subjects that are interesting to them vs dragging them through topics that you find exciting but bore them to tears, remembering their names – not one of these suggestions implies any kind of fakery on your part. And they can help in any kind of social setting.

      Why? Because people are involved in each of the social situations that you mentioned.

      Of course folks who would rather be cynical and mock others are welcome to. But odds are they will be relatively lonely folks because people aren’t drawn to cynicism or being mocked. 😉

      • Well, that’s an interesting critque, Chris! Though I personally feel that heat lamp interrogation techniques tend to make most individuals, like myself, Chris, less apt to “open up.” Instead of being appreciative for your fondness and dedication to exploring every facet of their physce, they will most likely end up asking themselves “Why is this person I’ve never met asking me all these questions?”

        After all, Chris, people tend to “open up” much more so when there is absolutely no pressure involved. In fact, Chris, when people feel most comfortable, they will provide you information without being prompted to do so.

        Though, it’s your blog, Chris. Therefore, you’re entitled to provide what ever information you deem appropriate regardless of how impractial or misleading it really is.

        • Michael, you seem to have completely missed point #1. When we are genuinely interested in others there is no “pressure” involved.

          You seem to think I go around interrogating everyone who crosses my path, but you’ve got it all wrong. I am naturally an introvert and have learned how to relate to other people by simply being nice to them, by being interested in them, and by appreciating them for who they are as people.

          I’ve found people respond much better to that approach than were I to heap on the condescension. However, if you prefer the latter route, more power to you. I wish you all the best.

  14. lynn nguyen says:

    I am vietnamese and me think is depend individuals situation,all you talking is about western about chinese?
    they all difference,most of them are just want to be the winner no one like to be looser as i said.i am the very friendly girl and like to comunicate with them a lot with my genuinely,they will avoid you if they dont know you or judge you.i am not trying to talk bad about them here,i just want to open my opinion to all of you.and sometime i dont really know how to talk to them or make them understand me more.they keep saying im very fierce and proud but that never happen in my mind
    i am kind of person who will not smile with no reason or thing happen,i dont know why they just dislike for the advise on top is very helpful thought:)i will practice with it.anyway thanks writing it.

  15. All of these suggestions are on point. I’ve read the book twice now and every time I am reminded on how I should be conducting myself in social situations. I couldn’t agree more that people’s favorite subject is themselves but at some point you need to interject with your own stories and information, making the conversation actually a conversation. One sided conversations are terrible when your doing all the speaking but its just as bad when the other person feels your trying to pry into their life without getting anything in return.

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