Relationships can be difficult, whether you are trying to get by with established partners or meeting new friends. Being more likable can assist in improving relationships. By seeking out social interactions, being compassionate and responsive and avoiding perfectionism, you have a better chance of being likable.
Seek out Social Interactions
To be likable, you have to interact with others. Many of those who feel “less likable” have issues in the social arena. For instance, those with social anxiety tend to have issues with social skills such as initiating conversations or activities, notes 2012 research published in Psychiatry Research. Avoiding others can inadvertently make you come off as less likable. Though this research notes that those who don’t find pleasure in social interactions tend to have less adept social skills, such as ease of conversation, you may be able to fake it until you make it, anxiety or no. Come up with a list of conversations starters, from new restaurants to the teams on their way to the playoffs, to current events. If you get stuck, ask about the other person and listen attentively to their answers, seeing what you can relate to in their experience. And if you continue to have trouble in social situations, seek professional assistance to reduce any social nervousness and continue to improve your ability to socialize and maintain likability.
Be Compassionate (to Yourself)
Being compassionate and understanding tends to be appreciated by those around you, leading them to hold you in higher esteem. But this isn’t only directed outward. Those who are compassionate toward themselves tend to show more compassionate behaviors toward others and more pro-social behaviors, according to research published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2014. Pro-social behaviors — such as helping others with groceries or being sympathetic when they forget an appointment — tend to boost your likability. Because self-compassion may be part of a wider cycle of behavior (as well as practice in just plain niceness), offer yourself the same type of compassion you’d expect from a friend. This means don’t berate yourself for being late, particularly not if you don’t think others would respond well to such criticism. Treat yourself well and set yourself up to treat others well.
Responsiveness — or being able to provide physical and emotional support for those around you — improves relationships, notes one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2010. If someone is in pain, provide comfort. Responding to the needs of others and reciprocating favors is part of this process. Don’t ask for things if you are unable to pay back favors, and try to pay attention to what those around you might need. Just beware of those who might take advantage. If you find that you are providing all the support without getting anything in return, it might be time to worry about being likable with someone who is worth liking.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
Relationships are difficult by nature and humans imperfect. Don’t try to turn on the charm all the time or constantly discuss your accomplishments. The people around you are not perfect and those who tend toward perfectionism tend to have difficulty engaging those who feel threatened by it, decreasing their likability. Admit to small failures, whether it’s burning dinner or having issues at work. Find common ground in the smallest misfortune during conversations. Say that you understand because you’ve been there if someone is talking about a difficult conversation with their mother-in-law or car trouble. If you can avoid coming across as high and mighty or “perfect,” you are more likely to be seen as down to earth and likable.
- Psychiatry Research: Social Anhedonia and Affiliation: Examining Behavior and Subjective Reactions Within a Social Interaction
- Frontiers in Psychology: Helping the Self Help Others: Self-Affirmation Increases Self-Compassion and Pro-Social Behaviors
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Creating Good Relationships: Responsiveness, Relationship Quality, and Interpersonal Goals
- Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images