7 things that make you instantly likable, according to psychology

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Do you know those people who just have that je-ne-sais-quoi? People who immediately come across as charming, warm, and like they could very well be your best friends?

Yeah. I used to feel inspired and intimidated by them too. That was before I realized that it is actually possible to be likable yourself – all you’ve got to do is employ the right strategies, and voila!

Je-ne-sais-quoi is born.

Here are the 7 things to do in order to be approachable and charming, aka, instantly likable.

1) Develop a judgment-free mindset

The number one thing that makes people like you isn’t how you dress, talk, or even behave.

It’s how you make them feel.

To increase your charm and likability, focus on establishing a sense of safety and openness in your relationships with others and general attitude.

Is it possible to have a completely judgment-free mindset?

Not really. Humans always make judgments about others and the external circumstances they find themselves in. It’s what helps us navigate the world at large.

However, we are also able to foster enough self-awareness to look at our assumptions and second-guess them. What’s more, we can give others the benefit of the doubt before cementing those assumptions inside ourselves.

As former clinical psychotherapist Charles Harper Webb PhD says, “To judge without being judgmental requires empathy. If our judgment is negative, this involves experiencing some of the judged person’s pain.”

Empathy is everything. If you can empathize with other people and hear them out before you pass final judgment, you are automatically boosting your likability because you’re able to make everyone feel safe to open up and be themselves.

And that brings us to the next point…

2) Show up as your authentic self

It’s quite ironic, but the best thing you can do to be instantly likable isn’t to change your whole personality in a snap.

It’s to be authentically yourself.

Easy enough, right?

Except it’s not. Many people struggle to express themselves in a way that feels authentic and genuine because they’re terrified of other people’s judgment, mocking remarks, or being the odd one out.

After all, we all want to feel like we belong; like we’re part of a group; like we’re accepted by another.

Therefore, putting your true self out there is incredibly brave. What’s more, it boosts your likability because it makes other people feel inspired and encouraged to embrace their own real sense of self, too.

To become more authentic, psychologist Cortney Warren PhD, ABPP recommends that you:

  • Explore and identify your values
  • Observe yourself and self-reflect
  • Look for inconsistencies in your choices
  • Build your sense of self-esteem

3) Display a genuine desire to get to know other people

Remember what I said about the importance of making others feel good?

Listen closely. This ties into that.

The truth is that we all want to feel wanted, validated, and interesting. We want to know that someone genuinely cares about us. We want to feel that our minds are fascinating and that another person would love nothing more than to connect with us on a deep level.

This is why likability is inherently not about what you are like but rather about how much you care to know about another human being.

Ask thoughtful questions. Listen with intention. Show genuine curiosity.

Don’t make small talk for the sake of it – always try to gain something of value out of the conversation, be it a fascinating piece of information about the person in question or a better sense of understanding between the two of you.

Personally, I like to ask myself, “What is something I can learn about this person?” And then I let my questions stir the conversation in new and fascinating directions.

4) Have open body language

Our body language says a great deal about how we feel on the inside, and what’s more, it can affect other people’s feelings and experience of the conversation as well.

If you want others to like you, a simple trick you can do is to learn how to carry yourself with openness and confidence.

Aim to:

  • Have an open stance (don’t cross your limbs)
  • Lean toward the person you’re talking to (rather than away from them)
  • Respect other people’s personal space (don’t lean too far into their comfort bubble)
  • Smile and laugh
  • Show genuine reactions to what they’re saying (nodding your head, opening your mouth in surprise, and so on)
  • Hold your head high and your back straight (don’t hunch)

These all seem like small things, but when you put them all together, the overall impression makes a huge difference.

5) Always respect other people’s boundaries

Cultivating a sense of safety in your relationships is of the utmost importance, and while you can do that by showing up as your authentic self, there is another – much more important – way to do so.

Always try to show everyone you interact with a sense of respect.

No, I’m not talking about excessive humility or submission. I’m talking about treating everyone like an equal who deserves to have their boundaries, opinions, and experiences respected and recognized.

If you never push anyone to do something they’re uncomfortable with, if you ask for their permission before you go ahead and do something unexpected, and if you always try your best to remain respectful and polite…

Bingo.

You’ve immediately become more likable because you make people feel safe in your presence.

Here are some of the ways to make sure you respect other people’s boundaries according to psychology:

  • Watch out for nonverbal cues that someone’s uncomfortable
  • Don’t be afraid to ask other people what they need or whether something is okay with them
  • Make sure you clearly understand someone’s stated boundary by asking follow-up questions
  • Apologize when you accidentally cross someone’s boundaries and learn not to do so again
  • Forgive yourself for making mistakes – we are all human, after all

6) Don’t take yourself too seriously

Have you ever heard of the Pratfall Effect?

According to the Pratfall Effect, we tend to like other people a bit more once they make a mistake. For example, a celebrity who stumbles or stutters a bit actually increases their appeal.

Why?

Because we love people who are relatable. If a celebrity makes a small and cute mistake, we subconsciously think to ourselves, “Wow! She really is just like me!”

This is why it’s important not to take yourself too seriously.

In order to be likable, you don’t need to portray yourself as someone perfect – on the contrary, it helps to admit that you’re nervous or tell someone who’s new to your hobby you’re also still struggling sometimes.

What’s more, people often connect through laughter and play. If you make yourself appear too confident and unapproachable, people may admire you and feel intimidated by you, but they won’t necessarily like you.

7) Try to connect with others on the basis of fun rather than negativity

We all grumble and complain sometimes. In fact, many work relationships are forged through having a common “enemy”, be it long working hours, an annoying boss, or an insufferable customer.

However, connecting with someone through complaints isn’t automatically going to make you likable. It’s just going to give you something to talk about.

If you bring something of positive value to other people’s lives, though…

That’s a different story.

This is why optimistic people make for the most likable sort out there. When you’re around an optimist, it feels like sunbathing on a beach – their positive energy rubs off on you, and before you know it, you’re excited about everything life has to offer.

To embrace optimism, try to:

  • Practice mindfulness and gratitude
  • Look for small magical moments in your everyday life
  • Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you
  • Find hobbies that fulfil you and help you connect with your inner child

As you can see from the seven points above, likability isn’t about pretending to be someone you’re not or charming your way into other people’s hearts.

It’s about embracing your authentic self, showing genuine interest in others’ lives, and having a loving relationship with your own selfhood.

It’s about having so much self-love and kindness inside of you that it radiates onto everyone who comes close, making them feel amazing about themselves and the world in general.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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