7 behaviors that immediately make people like you when you first meet them

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 People often say that it’s important to give others the benefit of the doubt, but the truth is that first impressions matter.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. It’s just a fact.

The kind of opinion you form about someone upon meeting them for the first time informs how you think of them during your future interactions, and if that impression isn’t great, it may take quite a lot of effort to change your mind.

So, how do you make sure that people immediately like you? Here are the 7 behaviors to keep in mind.

1) Ask interesting questions

The way I see it, people who don’t like small talk just haven’t mastered the art of asking the right questions.

If you talk about the weather, I imagine the conversation must get pretty dull – unless you decide to dig a bit under the surface, that is.

From seasonal depression to holiday planning procedures or the changes in how we perceive the summer months depending on our age, there is much to unpack in matters that are automatically dismissed as superficial or boring.

Curiosity is the key here.

Once I started asking myself, “What is something I’d really like to know about this person?” my conversations transformed.

Farewell, awkward silences! Hello, interesting discussions!

And you know what? As it turns out, asking interesting questions is one of the best ways to make a good first impression.

This is because people tend to judge you based on how you make them feel (we’re all a bit self-centered, after all), and if you really take the time to pick their brains, they’ll feel seen, not to mention interesting.

2) Make everyone feel welcome and included

Everyone, say hi to my best friend Leila.

(Hello, Leila.)

There are a lot of amazing things I could say about Leila, but the one thing that sticks out to me the most is just how invigorating and pleasant it is to be in her presence.

And that’s because the moment she walks in the room, it’s like sunshine in a human has come for a visit. And not one person is left in the shadow.

Leila has the wonderful ability to make everyone feel included.

If someone’s on the outskirts of the conversation, she asks them a question to bring them back into the center.

If we’re walking in a group, she makes sure no one trails too far behind.

If new people join in, she puts in the effort to get to know them and make them feel welcome.

While asking interesting questions is all about making the other person feel interesting, Leila’s behavior fulfils another function – she offers people a sense of belonging.

No wonder everyone loves her.

3) Give thoughtful compliments

Ever heard of the reciprocity of liking effect?

As humans, we love it when someone likes us. We find it so appealing, in fact, that the simple knowledge that someone likes us motivates us to like them back.

Ever since I heard this fun little fact, I’ve been monitoring my social interactions with more care, and I’ve noticed it really does hold true.

When someone acts distant and cold, I immediately feel intimidated and put off. When they’re open and welcoming toward me, though, I warm up to them in a snap of a finger.

In other words, it is easy to like someone who already acts like they like you from the get-go.

One of the easiest ways to do precisely that is to give people compliments. A simple compliment about someone’s skirt or appearance never hurts, of course, but do you know what’s even better?

Compliments that show you genuinely pay attention.

“I love how driven you are. You’ve got this passion inside you, and it’s really inspiring.”

“That facial expression you’ve just pulled is so cute. You do it when you’re nervous.”

“You keep everything so neatly organized! I admire this about you.”

Wouldn’t you just love to hear compliments like that? And wouldn’t you immediately think to yourself, “Wow! This person is great?”

Point made.

4) Be fully present

Sounds easy enough, right?

Except when it comes down to it, many people aren’t actually present in the conversation at hand.

They’re either rehearsing what they’re going to say next, ignoring what the other person is saying, or their thoughts are drifting away while the conversation itself takes a backseat.

Unfortunately, this completely devalues the other person’s energy, and what’s more, it comes across as self-absorbed and dull.

Not to mention it makes the person you’re talking to feel uninteresting or even invisible, which is the complete opposite of what you should aim for.

So, how do you make sure you’re fully present and actively listening to the person in question?

Researcher and leadership expert Ruth Gotian Ed.D., M.S. recommends that you:

  • Use open body language (nod along, unfold your arms and legs, use facial expressions)
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Avoid interrupting
  • Show empathy and avoid judgment
  • Reflect on what the other person is saying

Personally, I also love to chime in with little noises and phrases that signal I’m fully immersed in the conversation, such as:

  • “No way!”
  • “Okay”
  • “And then what happened?”
  • “Hmm”
  • “Aww”
  • “Ah, I see”

5) Don’t be afraid to get a little vulnerable

We’ve already said that people want to feel a sense of understanding and belonging in order to warm up to someone.

There’s a magical third element we haven’t yet mentioned, though, and that’s… drumroll, please… a sense of safety.

If you want people to immediately like you, you’ve got to establish trust. You’ve got to show them you’re not going to judge them or use their insecurities against them. In other words, you have to prove yourself to be a kind and accepting person.

This is easier said than done, especially if you’ve only just met them.

I do have a hack for you, though.

My advice is to get just a tiny bit vulnerable.

I’m not saying you should talk about your deepest traumas with someone you met two hours ago, but it might be a good idea to admit to something that doesn’t necessarily portray you in the perfect light.

For example, you can say something along the lines of:

  • “Don’t worry, I feel nervous, too”
  • “It’s taken me ages to learn this skill, I was completely hopeless at the beginning”
  • “I was quite anxious before coming here, but you’ve made me feel so welcome that it’s all good now”

By opening yourself up to the other person, you’re letting them know that you trust them to hold space for you. At the same time, you’re encouraging them to feel the same way about you, which helps build positive rapport.

6) Respect other people’s boundaries

Another way to make people feel safe in your presence is to instinctively respect their boundaries or ask where they are if you’re unsure.

A lot of this comes down to common sense. For example, you should automatically respect others’ need for personal space (that is, don’t stand too close to them) or try not to probe into topics that could be a bit too sensitive.

If in doubt, the best course of action is to simply ask.

Personally, I like it when people ask me, “Is it okay with you if we do X/talk about Y?”

A simple question like this showcases that the other person cares about my feelings, doesn’t want to make me uncomfortable, and respects my autonomy.

And just like that, I feel a bit safer.

7) Be your authentic self

My final advice may sound like a bit of a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Many people can sense when you’re putting on a front. They might struggle to put their finger on it, but their intuition will silently whisper that something’s just… off.

This is why the best way to make people like you isn’t to present a polished version of yourself. It’s to show others your authentic core. And own it.

People gravitate toward healthy confidence. The healthier your sense of self-esteem, the higher the chances that you’ll pull off an amazing first impression.

It’s time to be proud of who you are.

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