First of all I would just like to qualify that you should not obsess about what people think of you! However, if you are in business it is worth having good people skills (no one will buy from someone they don’t like), or if you would just like to have a smoother journey through life, it can be helpful to know how to be a likable person. It may be that you are naturally likable (or not!), but there are always small adjustments that can be made to help to make social interactions more enjoyable.
Why do we want to be liked?
There is something about being included and accepted that gives us a sense of security which apparently goes back to our hunter / gatherer days. We needed to be part of a ‘tribe’ as it’s unlikely we would have all the essential survival skills on our own. These days there are no such issues but being likable just makes for an easier life. If an easier life is what you are after then read on!
On the face of it, wanting to be a likable person but at the same time being yourself may seem to be at odds with each other but they absolutely are not. It’s not who you are, but how you are coming across that makes all the difference.
Make others feel important
You really don’t have to roll out the red carpet! One of the best ways to make someone feel important is to call them by their name.
I work on a holiday resort on the banks of Loch Tay in Scotland. We have a people who own their cottages for a week (or several weeks) and Club members who come time and time again as well as many repeat rental guests and it is their absolute joy to be recognized and called by their name at check-in. They cite it as one of the main reasons they love the Kenmore Club – being recognized and the sense of belonging. They love it. And I must admit, I enjoy it when they use my name in passing too – it just says something about the relationship. Where new guests are concerned, we make it our business to learn and use their name whenever possible. This (and the fact that our resort is wonderful!) ensures that they will be return visitors, but more importantly, it makes our day when we help people to really enjoy their stay and feel valued.
Another huge tip in making someone feel important is to listen to what they are saying! So often when engaged in a conversation we are several steps ahead, trying to think what we are going to say next, instead of giving the person our full, undivided attention. Worse still is talking over someone. I used to do this and have told everyone that if they catch me doing it, they have to tell me immediately. It is so rude! (I am just worried that I will forget what I was going to say…) Look at people when they are talking to you, listen, show interest and ask questions where appropriate.
A friend of mine who is a school teacher in a rather rough secondary school happened to ask one of the girls in her class if she had enjoyed her dance class the night before. The girl nearly fell off her chair! No one, even in her own family cared enough to ask. Suddenly she felt like she mattered. Can you imagine the impact of just one caring teacher on these young lives?
Your opinion and your right to be right
Another confession – I have an opinion about everything and I used to make sure that everybody knew it! But at the end of the day, it is not important that we share our opinion with everyone we know (or don’t know). I must have been the most crushing bore! Why do we feel the need to say if we disagree with someone’s opinion? If someone hasn’t expressly asked for our opinion, why do we feel we have to give it? Try only giving your opinion when it is asked for. (If you are like me it will very nearly kill you!)
Also, why do we feel the need to correct people all the time? Is there any real need to tell people that they are wrong? (Might it just be feasible that we are wrong?) I’m afraid I can still put up as good a debate as anyone over any point, but have at least learned that there may be some situations where you can just let the other person be right! Can you imagine how many divorced people were right? (Note to self, let your husband be right once in a while…)
Try giving up your right to be right and see how liberating it feels!
In Skill with People by Les Giblin, Les suggests that we remove ‘I’ from our vocabulary. I challenge you to try it! His point is that you should make the conversation about the other person and not you, which apparently makes the other person think that you are very interesting and intelligent. (It is soooo hard!) I definitely take his point though – there is nothing more boring than someone who talks incessantly about themselves.
Give a sincere compliment
One day I was on the Reception desk when an elderly lady happened to pass through. I couldn’t help but notice that she had the most wonderful, chic haircut and he pure white hair was really quite remarkable. I mentioned to her that I thought her hair was beautiful – she said ‘Oh my goodness dear, I’m 83 and I can’t remember the last time anyone paid me a compliment, thanks so much’ which in turn made me feel great! (I since learned that she does not have an easy life, being the carer for her husband who is now in a wheelchair.) If you see something especially nice about someone or they are especially good at something – say it! It MUST be sincere though, and not used to get someone to like you. It will become a habit and you will naturally become more likable, in part because of the joy you will emit .
The bucket filling principle
I was recently on at Leadership course where one of the topics was ‘bucket filling’ – this was a new concept to me but apparently it has been around for some time. To ‘fill someone’s bucket’ basically means to take the time to make someone feel good. Giving a compliment is one example, helping someone who is struggling with something, being kind would all be filling a bucket. ‘Bucket dippers’ on the other hand are people who make others feel bad. It could be an unkind comment about what someone is wearing or being rude. It is also important to use your ‘bucket lid’ to stop other people dipping into your bucket! I don’t know who invented the principle but it has now turned into several children’s books and is taught at some schools. What a wonderful idea! Wouldn’t it be amazing if it could be an end to bullying? There are some great free resources that you can at bucketfillers101. They are aimed at children but give serious food for thought to grown-ups too.
Finally, accept that some people will not like you
Just as there will be some people that you warm to more than others, so there will be some people who will never be your number one fans! Do not go jumping through hoops to get someone to like you! Just be kind, listen to what they have to say and if you don’t like them (or they don’t like you), it’s perfectly acceptable to limit the time you spend with them.
I would LOVE to know you views on all this. Do you perhaps enjoy ruffling a few feathers? Please leave comments below.