8 small habits that make someone genuinely likable

When I first heard that Oxford designated “rizz” as word of the year for 2023, I rolled my eyes.

A shortened version of charisma, rizz scratches my ear the wrong way. It lacks musicality.

I thought about it more, though, and realized the sheer fact that people use the word often signals how deeply preoccupied we are with coming across as appealing.

It makes sense. The pandemic forced us to isolate ourselves, reassess our relationships, and, in some cases, shrink our friendship circles.

We emerged from it socially rusty and desperate to connect with others again.

Charisma is in high demand – and becoming more magnetic ensures that people are naturally drawn to you.

On that note, here are 8 small habits that make someone genuinely likable.

Boosting your rizz isn’t as difficult as it may seem at first glance.

1) Remembering names

I’m the type of person who forgets a name as soon as they hear it.

I don’t know if my brain lacks a crucial memory component or if my occasional social anxiety is to blame, but I am horrible with names.

I smile, I shake your hand, I tell you my name in return, my mind goes blank.

Don’t be like me.

A person’s name is integral to their identity.

Remembering and using names demonstrates attentiveness and respect, attributes that win you bonus points with new acquaintances.

Here’s a trick I’ll employ to get better at this name business moving forward: immediately repeating the name in conversation.

So, if a person tells me their name is Jennifer, I’ll say, “Nice to meet you, Jennifer.”

Fast forward a couple of minutes and, “What do you do for work, Jennifer?”

Fingers crossed this repetition works.

Forgetting Jennifer’s name and inquiring about how it’s spelled to hide my ineptitude wouldn’t bode well for me as a writer.

2) Active listening

You know what most of us really want?

To feel heard.

Genuinely likable people give you their whole attention and make you feel like the center of the universe by simply nodding along to whatever you’re rambling about.

It’s not even a superpower. All you have to do is look the speaker in the eye, smile from time to time, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Instead of getting distracted by formulating a response in your head, stay in the moment.

And, whatever you do, don’t interrupt.

That is rude on so many levels.  

3) Making an effort to connect

Similarly, people want to feel like they matter.

There’s a loneliness epidemic going on, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to forge connections with others.

That said, I discovered that you can find things in common even with someone who seems totally different from you.

People contain multitudes.

If you put in a bit of effort, you’ll find that you and the weirdo stranger you met at a party share a love of musicals, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or unhinged memes that seem disturbing to everyone else.  

When I talk to a person I’ve just met and have zero spark with, I usually fall back on these topics of conversation:

  • Hobbies (asking someone what they like to do in their spare time seems safe enough)
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe (it’s almost impossible not to have seen any of them by now) 
  • Pets (if the person has a pet, they will likely gush about it for the foreseeable future)
  • Goals (I ask them about what they want to accomplish that year or what’s on their bucket list)

And if I truly connect with someone?

I follow up, usually on social media.

If the person tells me about a movie they love I haven’t seen, I watch it and DM them afterward to thank them for the recommendation.

If they tell me about a restaurant, I go, snap a pic of the meal, and share it with them.

This shows them that I valued our interaction.

It also makes them realize that I’m a pretty likable person, indeed.

4) Keeping whining to a minimum  

Speaking about connections, it’s possible to connect with someone else based on something you both hate, sure.

However, complaining usually doesn’t get you too far, so I would proceed with caution.

My best friend, my mom, my dog – they are the ones who are privy to my rants, who I vent to when I have a terrible day, or who I text to complain about an event I’m attending.

(The dog doesn’t have a phone, but mom reads him my texts when the situation calls for it.)

People I’ve just met and casual acquaintances? Not so much.

Once, at a relative’s wedding, I sat next to an aunt I didn’t know too well.

I was looking forward to learning more about her but didn’t get a chance. She spent the entire night complaining.

Her chair was uncomfortable. The music was too loud. The food wasn’t tasty enough. Her dress was too tight. The bathroom was too far.

Let’s just say that I avoided her as much as possible, even if that meant making a fool of myself on the dance floor.

Whining about anything and everything makes you exude negativity.

Genuinely likable people would never.

5) Owning up to blunders

Everyone messes up.

When meeting someone new, a certain degree of awkwardness comes with the territory.

Even when you’ve known someone for a while, you might still accidentally offend them or say something dumb.

When that happens, don’t bury your head in the sand.

Genuinely likable people own up to their mistakes and admit when they fumble.  

Flaws make you more relatable – and accountability is incredibly hot.

Plus, taking yourself too seriously usually works against you, making you appear pompous and uptight.

Which brings me to my next point.

6) Finding the humor

I met my closest friend in college, our first lengthy interaction the stuff of sitcom gold.

We had to sign up for a physical activity class, and we both chose aerobics because it was taught by a famous gymnast.

I wasn’t particularly athletic. Turns out, neither was she.

I showed up to our first class and entered a huge gym full of flexible girls wearing tights and doing complicated warm-up movements.

I was wearing jeans and a hangover, so I stopped dead in the tracks.  

I looked around, and there my future friend was, with a similarly horrified expression on her face.

“Do you want to grab a beer instead?” I asked her.

She nodded. We turned around, left, and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon bonding in a nearby bar.

(We also dropped the class and signed up for basketball. The teacher only wanted us to show up sporadically. Score!)

Was our predicament awkward? Yes. Did we laugh about it? You betcha.

Having a sense of humor significantly increases your likability, especially when the humor comes out naturally.

In other words, don’t memorize a bunch of jokes.

But be willing to laugh at yourself and try to focus on the lighter side of things, even in challenging circumstances.

You’ll become a people magnet in no time.

7) Performing small acts of kindness

Being of assistance is another way to come across as likable.

I don’t mean going out of your way to open the door for someone or insisting on offering advice to a person who didn’t ask for it.

Rather, perform small acts of kindness whenever you get a chance:

  • Compliment someone on their appearance, work, or another positive attribute
  • Say “thank you” to express appreciation for others’ contributions
  • Offer to help someone who appears overwhelmed with a task
  • Randomly bring donuts or coffee to the office
  • If you notice someone left out of a conversation, try to include them
  • Congratulate others on their achievements and celebrate their wins
  • Provide words of encouragement when someone is facing a challenge

Being kind doesn’t break the bank. It doesn’t take a lot of time.

Yet, it can make a whole lot of difference to someone.

Genuinely likable people know this, so they always have a sympathetic word to spare or a hand to lend.

Follow in their footsteps.

8) Sharing passions

I’m obsessed with passionate people.

When I meet someone new, and they proceed to talk for 10 minutes straight about a weird passion I am unfamiliar with?  

Wrestling. Dungeons & Dragons. Hayao Miyazaki’s artistry. Stamps.

It doesn’t matter.

Seeing their passion light up their eyes instantly makes me like them more.

Especially when they’re excited to share their knowledge and not condescending about my lack of expertise on the matter.

When someone is passionate about a topic or activity, their enthusiasm is inspiring (and contagious!).

Plus, passion stems from genuine interests.

If someone shares their passions with you, you’re probably getting to know their real, unpolished, unapologetic self.

Moving forward, open up about whatever makes your heart sing.

Stop worrying about being cringe.

The right people will flock to you.

Final thoughts

Being likable isn’t an exact science, but these small habits can help you win friends and influence people.

(Or, at the very least, not push others away.)

Above all, stay true to who you are.

There’s nothing quite as irresistible as authenticity.

When a man is genuinely into you, he’ll almost always display these 8 behaviors

10 phrases that indicate someone may be feeling insecure in a relationship