Ever wonder if there’s anything you can do to make more people like you? While it won’t work on everyone, a few simple changes to the way you interact with people can make a big difference to how likable you are. In an insightful post at Psychology Today, psychologist and popular TED speaker Guy Winch offers 10 simple changes in how you interact with people that are certain to make you more likable to potential customers or business partners, friends, or even possible dates.
You can find all his suggestions here. These are some of the most powerful.
1. Stow your phone.
I know, I know. Most of us wouldn’t know how to function without a phone in our hand or in front of us on the table at all times. But we live in a time when most of us have short attention spans and are easily distracted, and if your phone is out, you will wind up looking at it, Winch warns. “Stealing glances at your phone–which is so hard not to do when it’s right by your side or in your hand–signals that you’re not fully listening (at best) or that you’re distracted and disinterested, neither of which will endear you to the other person,” he writes.
So, difficult as it might seem, put your phone in your bag or your pocket and leave it there throughout your conversation. If you have to have it out on the table, put it to one side and turn it face down. Do this even if the person you’re speaking with has his or her phone out. It’s a great way to signal that you respect the other person and that he or she is getting your full attention.
2. Don’t fill up too much of the speaking time.
When you’re conversing with another person, make sure that he or she gets as much speaking time as you do. This means paying close attention to how much other people are speaking and drawing them out with questions and encouragement, even if you just know they would love to hear that story you’re dying to tell.
If you don’t do this and wind up speaking much more than the other person or people you’re talking with, you could alienate them and not even know it. “People notice these imbalances and register them unfavorably, however much they might seem to enjoy your stories at the time,” Winch notes.
3. Learn to really listen.
Most people want to be listened to. And, Winch writes, “There are no shortcuts here.” To be a good listener, you have to really pay attention and take in what the other person is saying. This will give you a likability advantage compared to most other people, because most people pretend to listen while someone else is speaking–but their minds are really busy planning what they’re going to say when it’s their turn to speak. Signal that you’re listening by nodding, laughing at appropriate moments, making eye contact most of the time, and asking questions that make it clear you’ve been paying attention.
4. Offer the reactions you’d want to get.
Empathy is an extremely likable quality, so display your empathy by telling other people what you would want to hear if you were in the same position. So if someone is complaining about something that seems trivial, don’t say that it’s no big deal, say something like, “Gee, that’s too bad.” After all, whatever it is, it feels like a big deal to them.
In general, Winch says, you’re best off providing validation for whatever people tell you: If they’re upset, be sympathetic. If they’re proud of an achievement, congratulate them. If they’ve had an experience that was exciting or frightening, confirm that emotion back to them.
5. Ask follow-up questions.
Nothing says, “I’m listening” more clearly than remembering the things people tell you and following up on them. If someone mentioned that they were about to give a presentation, next time you talk, ask how it went. If someone was out on vacation, ask where they went and whether they enjoyed their time away.
If this was an important event, consider sending a text or email to ask how things went. You’re letting the person know that not only were you really listening to them, but you care enough to check back on how they’re doing–something that can increase your likability quite a lot. “This is an opportunity most people miss,” Winch writes.
Doing any one of these things will make you instantly more likable. Do all five and you’ll increase your likability quite substantially. You may start seeing an immediate payoff in the way people respond, and how eager they are to do business with you or meet with you again. Give it a try and see.
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