What is it that makes a person popular and liked? Do you think you can learn how to be likeable, or is it something you’re just born with?
Even if you don’t think you’re a natural people person, research in the field of social psychology brought many findings that can make you understand how people think and what they like, and you can use that knowledge to better yourself and make people like you more.
If you’re ready to learn about it and expand your social circle, keep reading for 7 ways to make people like you more!
1. Talk nicely about other people
Have you ever met a person who just couldn’t stop talking badly about others? “Oh, her hair looks so bad… he is so annoying, just look at that terrible outfit….”
What did you think about that person? Did you think they weren’t really likeable and trustworthy? If so, you’ve discovered what is called a spontaneous trait inference.
Spontaneous trait inference is a judgement you automatically make about people’s personalities based on their behaviour. For example, when you hear someone describe others in a negative way, you tend to associate those same negative traits with them and your first impression of that person isn’t so nice. On the other hand, if a person talks about others in a positive way, you will probably like that person more.
So, if you want someone to like you, beware of what you say about others. Keep away from gossips, look for qualities and positive traits in everyone and if you talk about someone behind their back, give them nothing but compliments!
2. Be aware of your body language
Even when your voice is quiet, your face and body are telling stories about you to anyone who “listens”. So you want to make sure that those stories are the prettiest they can be! Here are some of the examples of what you should pay attention to:
- Eyes: Look a person in the eyes when you talk to them – it will let them know they have your full attention, and everyone likes getting attention, right? However, be cautious to get your timing right, every now and then look around you for a second, it could seem threatening if you just kept staring at them without even blinking.
- Head: When you’re having a conversation, slightly nod your head when they talk to show you’re really listening.
- Arms and legs: Try not to keep your arms and legs crossed, as it may send a message that you’re being defensive, self-protective or closed-off. Also, don’t nervously tap your fingers and feet, or the person you’re talking to might think you’re bored or anxious.
- Posture: Stand or sit straight – it will show a person you’re talking to that you’re confident and paying attention to them.
3. Be aware of their body language, too
Researchers from New York University in 1999 published a paper describing a phenomenon called a chameleon effect – to mimic other people’s posture, mannerism, facial expressions and other behavior. The findings of that research are still relevant today, mostly known as mirroring behavior.
But what are those findings? Basically, matching your body language to the other person will make that person like you more. It goes the other way too, if you notice that a person is matching you, it means they like you already. For example, if a person smiles, you smile. If a person touches their hair, you touch your hair. If a person nods their head, you nod as well.
Of course, be careful not to overdo it as it may end up looking creepy if you just start mimicking everything they do. It’s like an art form that asks to be mastered – with practise you can learn how to be subtle and successful!
4. Try not to judge anyone
Do you know someone who just can’t help themselves when it comes to judging other people and their values and opinions? Do you like that person? Probably not, and you’re not alone in that. When you’re in the company of someone who is judgy, you feel like you can’t share any opinion or be yourself since you don’t want to start a heated discussion.
That’s why you should try being non judgemental, as much as you can. Try to think positive, recognize that every opinion matters, and that every choice people make is driven by something behind the curtain, something that is important to them. It may be hard if you’re passionate about a certain topic, but if you create an image of yourself that presents you as a non judgemental person, others will feel safe to share their lives with you, they will feel comfortable near you, they will feel respected, and of course, like you more!
5. Ask them questions about their lives
In a 2012 study from Harvard University, researchers found that talking about yourself makes your brain release the same chemicals as it is releasing when you do something pleasurable, like eating a delicious meal, having sex, or recieving money. As a matter of fact, in the same research, when they had a choice of answering questions about themselves or receiving money, participants chose to talk about themselves!
The results send a clear message: let people talk about themselves. Ask questions about their career, school, favorite band, family… Anything that you think might be important to them. Talking about it will make them happy, and they will associate that happiness with you!
6. Spread happiness and positivity
Have you ever spent time with someone who was just a bubble of joy? Always smiling, laughing, spreading positivity? Did you notice those good feelings catching onto you?
Psychologists have a term for that, and it’s called emotional contagion. This means that emotional states can be transferred to others and lead people to experience the same emotions as someone else without their awareness.
It goes for all emotions – fear, sadness, frustration… But most important for social interactions, joy and happiness. Even though you can’t just be happy all the time, when you are feeling happy, try to experience that happiness to the fullest. Let the people around you feel it too! If you share that joy, others will catch on and they will seek your company next time they see you!
7. Let them know you like them
We emphasized how people like being in the company of those who give them pleasurable feelings, and there is one more effect that can help you achieve this: reciprocal liking. Confirmed by a large body of research, it shows that knowing someone likes you will make you like that person, too.
So, what you should do is let the person know you like them. You can tell them directly, you can be extra friendly, and just act warm in general. Most probably it will make them accept you and like you back!
Are you ready to try these out?
Just remember, practise makes perfect. Try implementing some of these tips to your social relationships and learn as you go. Hopefully, you will notice your confidence and friendliness grow with every new interaction.
Good luck and have fun!
Thank you for reading!
Written by: Stela Košić
If you wish to find out more about topics on making people like you, feel free to check out some of the videos from Psych2Go’s YouTube channel:
- 6 Subtle Behaviors To Make Others Like You Instantly
- 6 Habits That Can Make Someone Like You
- 6 Ways To Attract Someone Without Saying ANYTHING
- 7 Habits That Makes You More Likeable
- 6 Behaviors That Make People Dislike You
- 10 Things That Destroy A First Impression Immediately
- 7 Psychological Tricks To Make a Good First Impression
Refer to this list for studies mentioned and used in writing this article:
- Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: The perception–behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(6), 893–910. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1243
- How to Read Body Language and Facial Expressions. (2019, June 28). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/understand-body-language-and-facial-expressions-4147228
- Kramer, A. D. I., Guillory, J. E., & Hancock, J. T. (2014). Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(24), 8788–8790. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1320040111
- Mae, L., Carlston, D. E., & Skowronski, J. J. (1999). Spontaneous trait transference to familiar communications: Is a little knowledge a dangerous thing? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(2), 233–246. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199
- Montoya, R. M., & Horton, R. S. (2012). The reciprocity of liking effect. In M. A. Paludi (Ed.), The psychology of love (pp. 39–57). Praeger/ABC-CLIO.
- Non-Judgement. (n.d.). The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.berkeleywellbeing.com/non-judgement.html
- Orghian, D., Smith, A., Garcia-Marques, L., & Heinke, D. (2017). Capturing spontaneous trait inference with the modified free association paradigm. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 73, 243–258. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2017.07.004
- Tamir, D.I. & Mitchell, J.P. (2012). Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(21), 8038-43. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1202129109.