So, you’re in a new social environment. It might be your first day at a new school, new job, or maybe you’re trying to make friends. It’s daunting getting to know others, and perhaps you’ve faced rejection and felt like an outcast.
It’s even human nature to bond with others, and is important for both our mental and physical health. So how can you make a good impression? Here are 6 convincing ways to make people like you more.
1. Embrace the Pratfall Effect.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be absolutely perfect to be liked by others. Have you heard of the Pratfall Effect? The Pratfall Effect suggests not only that those who make mistakes are more likely to be seen as likeable, but also that those who are believed to be flawless and perfect can become seen as dislikeable. A study conducted by Elliot Aronson, a social psychologist, found that people who slipped up, such as by spilling coffee on themselves, were perceived as more relatable and thus more likeable than people who did not. Showing your vulnerability can help you connect better with others, making you seem more human and easy to like.
2. Up from your screens.
We all know someone who never puts their phone away when you’re talking to them. Are they always stuck on their device and seem to care more about that than you? Chances are, you feel like you’re not being listened to, and might like that person a lot less.
According to psychologist Dr. Guy Winch, making glances at your phone during a conversation can signal to the other person that you’re distracted or disinterested, which might make you less likeable. When you’re getting to know someone, try putting your phone away or putting it face down to make yourself seem more present. It can go a long way.
3. Follow up with others.
This is Christine. Christine is talking to her friend, Ellie, who tells her that she’s really nervous for an upcoming exam. Christine validates her nervousness and assures her that things will go alright. After the exam, Christine asks Ellie how it went– and Ellie says, “It went great! Thanks for asking.” Don’t you think that Ellie might like Christine a little more for remembering?
If someone shares something personal on their mind to you– whether it be an upcoming exam, an important job interview, or the health of a relative– it probably means that they’re excited or worried about it. Regardless, it can be nice to follow up with them after a few days, asking how things went or if they have any updates. Doing this can show that you remember things about them, have a genuine interest and care, and that you’re listening. These are all things that can help you be more likeable.
4. Crack a smile.
Do you ever tend to be a little blank faced, or don’t grin as often as you want to? According to researchers at the University of Ottawa, smiling and showing more expression can actually make you seem more likable to others.
They discovered that, if one wanted to build more social bonds and likability, showing expressive dissonance, especially such as smiling when anxious, may help achieve just that. You know how people say that smiling can help you feel better when you’re sad? Well, the researchers found that those who smile are actually seen more likeable by others– to an amount greater than positive internal outcomes that result from smiling.
So, don’t be afraid to crack a grin or two the next time you’re with others, and you’re enjoying yourself– it might just make you a bit more liked.
5. Speak up.
Imagine you’re being introduced to somebody new. You’re trying to make a good impression by being conversational, but they just can’t really get much of a word out… only the occasional “nod” or “mhm.”
You might think that less is more in a conversation to come across as likeable… after all, you don’t want to be seen as a chatterbox. It also keeps you mysterious, right? This is actually not as true as you may think. In fact, talking more in a conversation with someone new, according to researchers at the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago, can be associated with higher levels of likeability. Talking for as much as 70% of the conversation can form a positive impression with other people. It might make you seem more familiar, giving others the ability to find similarities. Still, remember that it’s just as important to listen to others, and that you shouldn’t dominate a conversation– keep it natural. Everyone has at least something to say, but talking more than you usually do, especially to new people, couldn’t hurt!
6. Don’t suppress showing stress.
Do you ever show stress by biting your nails, fidgeting, or touching your face? New studies from the University of Portsmouth have shown that humans may actually have evolved to show these signs of stress to seem more likeable, and to cause others to react more positively to us.
Showing behaviors of stress can invoke empathetic responses in other people, as honest signs of weakness can cause others to engage in a cooperative– not competitive– interaction. Think about Courage the Cowardly dog, or even Harry Potter– characters who are almost always stressed but among one of the most loved and adored. Don’t be ashamed of showing stress, or even being stressed– it’s a natural thing, and other people will feel for you.
And there you have six convincing ways to make people like you. Things like smiling, showing vulnerability, speaking more, and just being a little more socially open are all ways to be a better people-person and strengthen your connections with others. We hope you can find ways to implement these ideas in your life.
Aronson, E., Willerman, B. & Floyd, J. The effect of a pratfall on increasing interpersonal attractiveness. Psychon Sci 4, 227–228 (1966). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03342263
Bahl, N., & Ouimet, A. J. (2022). Smiling won’t make you feel better, but it might make people like you more: Interpersonal and intrapersonal consequences of response-focused emotion regulation strategies. Journal of social and personal relationships, 39(7), 2262–2284. https://doi.org/10.1177/02654075221077233
Hirschi, Q., Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2022). Speak Up! Mistaken Beliefs About How Much to Talk in Conversations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672221104927
University of Portsmouth. (2022, May 15). Humans may have evolved to show signs of stress to evoke support from others: Showing signs of stress could make us more likeable and prompt others to act more positively towards us. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/05/220515113229.htm
Winch, Guy. (2020). 10 Ways to Become More Likeable. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/202009/10-ways-become-more-likable