Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Be Likable, Part 2 of 2

In my last post I started talking about some general advice I have for people who are interested in being likable. I talked about the trust earned from being perceived as a hard worker, the perils of complaining, not making people feel bad, and how gossip is a minefield. Today I'm going to conclude this two-part blog post by talking about things like being generally pleasant, self-deprecation, and more, including a secret weapon when all else fails.

The fact is, people like to feel good. Most people, anyway. I know I can't cheer everyone up, but at the very least I want to know that I wasn't the one who brought them down in the first place. That's what I mean when I talk about being pleasant. I don't mean to be bubbly and smiling all the time; that's likely to drive people away, especially if they're feeling down to begin with. Pleasantness is about not getting angry, not saying bad things about people, and at least making the attempt to look on the bright side of things. Being pleasant is also just an impossible state to maintain at all times, but it's worth trying, especially around people you want to make friends with. It's hard to stay pleasant for long, though, if you can't laugh at yourself.

Self-deprecating humor is one of the most powerful tools in a likeable person's arsenal. They say that every good joke has a victim, but when that victim is yourself it sets everyone at ease. I don't think anyone really likes a person who thinks too highly of themselves. Of course, self-deprecation has its limits: you don't want people to feel sorry for you or think that you lack confidence or hate yourself. You want to seem humble, not worthless. The "humor" part of the equation is important: your self is a source of humor for everyone, including yourself. It's a valuable mindset that plays into most of the things I've talked about so far: I laugh at my complaints before I can voice them. I know my own faults, so who am I to point out the faults of others? A person who can laugh at themselves has an endless source of amusement, so it's easier to stay pleasant longer. And if you don't take yourself too seriously you won't be as likely to drive people away by being pushy.

People don't like pushy people. One of my least favorite feelings is when I'm being solicited. We experience it all the time: when we're shopping and someone goes for the hard sell, when those two well-groomed boys knock on your door offering to tell you some good news, and even when we see a flashy banner ad on a website. Those people aren't my friends, they're people who want something from me. Pushy people can feel very similar, whether they're trying to get you to do something you don't want to do or they're trying to make you think the way they do. They use all sorts of methods to convince you, too, from begging and bargaining to passive aggressive social media posts. In the end, we have to accept that different people are different than ourselves--we like, enjoy, and believe different things--and until we accept that it's going to be a tough road making friends... unless you know one special trick.

The most powerful tool in a likeable person's arsenal is to make people feel wanted and appreciated. Given that, most other traits are just icing. As always, there's a limit of course: you don't want to seem needy or obsessive. However, if you visibly brighten when someone walks into a room they will take notice and feel appreciated. If you invite someone to do something, not out of a sense of obligation but out of genuine desire for their company, they'll appreciate it, even if they can't go along. The key component of this is sincerity: if you can make someone feel sincerely welcome in your company you'll soon have a friend. Even if you're a lazy gossip with a high opinion of yourself.

I sure hope this advice is helpful to someone. I'm not always good at all of this stuff myself, but I think most of this is pretty sound based on my cross examination of my own traits and things I appreciate in others.

No comments:

Post a Comment