Do you know someone that everyone seems to like? Do you ever wonder what makes them so appealing? Wondering how you can be like that too?
Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
But some people seem to defy this rule by the way they conduct themselves in public. Here are some of the things that incredibly likable people never do (at least not in front of others!)
1) Show anger unless it’s righteous
In the ‘Big Five’ personality traits model that psychologists use to assess people, agreeableness is one of the main characteristics that determine how likable other people perceive you.
Not losing your temper in front of others is one way to score high on the agreeableness level. Who likes a grumpy angry person?
There is an exception though, and that’s when getting angry is the morally correct thing to do. This could be when somebody tries to harm an animal for no reason, or picks on someone smaller than them. Very likable people instinctively know the difference and act appropriately.
2) Ridicules others in public
Making fun of others, or being overly antagonistic, is another trait mentioned in the ‘low agreeableness’ score. It can feel like there is nothing worse than being made fun of in public, and so very likable people usually avoid this.
You probably know someone that most people like who do this in an amusing way, and they may be likable, but probably not as much as someone who finds other ways to express humor.
3) Gossip and talk badly about people who aren’t there
A related point is how people talk about those who aren’t present. Although gossiping can sometimes feel like a bonding activity, it can also make others wonder what you will say about them behind their backs.
I don’t believe that all gossiping is bad, some gossip is simply the sharing of information. But if it’s done with negative intent and content, it’s going to lower people’s perception of your likeability.
4) Be difficult and insist upon their own way
Do you have that one friend who seems to want everything to be ‘just so’? I know I do! And whilst I like and value him very much (because I see past that), I can understand why he isn’t popular with everyone.
It can be annoying and also make you seem like you are arrogant.
Do you know the song My Way performed by Frank Sinatra? The main lyrics are “I did it my way”. While this is a song that celebrates personal autonomy, I vividly recall a comedian who roasted these lyrics, saying how going on about doing it ‘My Way’ made Sinatra seem overly self-involved.
On the whole, extremely likable people are easygoing. And while they aren’t afraid to direct the way that things are headed, when appropriate, they are also happy to just go with the flow. They don’t need to do everything ‘their way’.
5) Complain about everything
Moaning. Most of us do it at some point, and I would say that it’s probably healthier to let out some or even most of our grievances from time to time.
However, extremely likable people know that complaining all the time is not just boring for others but it also tends to bring them down. They may complain in front of their best friend or partner, but they certainly won’t be doing it in public.
6) Be judgemental or closed-minded
One of the quickest ways to turn certain people against you is to judge others and assume that your way is the only way.
To give you an example, I was at the bar the other day and a friend of mine mentioned that she hadn’t showered that day, due to lack of time. Another lady who was present and didn’t know her very well immediately scrunched up her face and said, “That’s disgusting!”
Whether you think it’s gross or not, saying that in front of others is a quick way to show that you are opinionated and judgemental (and a bit mean!). And it wasn’t only the ‘unwashed friend’ who felt this. Everyone at the table took note and thought it unkind or rude.
An extremely friendly person probably wouldn’t think such a thing and even if they did, they would keep it to themselves. It’s not the way to give off a good impression!
7) Show off
Few of us enjoy a braggart. And most people agree that even humble bragging is annoying. Whatever the mode of self-aggrandizement, going on about how amazing you are isn’t going to win you any friends.
You can share some of your achievements, but also be sure to practice humility if you want to be well-liked.
Sometimes we actually do deserve to be praised and even show off about something, but very charming people know that it’s best to save this for their closest friends or partner.
8) Make insensitive comments
Remember my friend who didn’t shower? She was hurt by the judgemental woman’s insensitivity. And others were shocked too.
Magnetic people think before speaking to avoid unintentionally offending others. They avoid making insensitive remarks about appearance, background, and beliefs.
So what if you don’t agree with someone’s beliefs about the city of Atlantis or the accuracy of astrology? Engaging in debate is fun when it’s welcomed. But challenging someone’s beliefs for no real reason, or making personal remarks, can be harmful and is something that an amazingly friendly person will not do.
9) Taking without giving
Lovely people understand the importance of reciprocity.
They avoid constantly taking from others without ever giving back. This might look like buying a round of drinks at the bar, giving a birthday gift, or bringing a bottle of wine when they are invited for dinner. But reciprocity relates to more than just money.
Likable people will be generous with their time and attention, making sure to listen as well as talk, and be there for others when needed.
They understand that relationships are a two-way street. And so they make an effort to actively give as much as they receive. Highly appealing people realize that generosity and care make the world a little bit better for everyone.
Being extremely well-liked by others requires empathy, self-awareness, and an outward focus.
Charming people think about how their words and actions impact those around them. They are aware of their flaws and biases, making an effort not to judge or ridicule. And they consider the needs and feelings of others, rather than being self-centered.
No one is perfect, and trying to look that way might actually make you appear annoying or fake!
But for the most part, saving negative things for private moments or just avoiding them if they are not necessary, is something that likable people are great at.
Following the golden rule of treating others how you want to be treated, goes a long way. With practice and conscious intention, we can all cultivate greater likeability, inside and out.