Whether you’re trying to get ahead in business or just improve the quality of your friendships and relationships, being more likeable isn’t different. In fact, science has got it down to… well, a science.
These 10 tips are backed by scientific psychological research that prove anyone can improve how people perceive them:
Encourage people to talk about themselves.
According to science, talking about ourselves sets off the same pleasure chemicals in our brain as food or money. In fact, in one experiment, people were willing to forgo money in order to talk about themselves.
Spend more time with them.
Interestingly, an MIT study shows that people tend to like things that are more familiar, so simply spending more time around someone makes you more likeable.
Ask for advice.
As much as people like to talk about themselves, they also like to be seen as an expert, and so asking someone for advice (whether you plan to take that advice or not) is a great way to make people warm to you.
Moods are contagious. So try acting positive and happy around people, and you’ll find that they tend to become more positive and happy too — and who doesn’t like to be happy? But be careful; anecdotally, bad moods are more contagious than good ones.
Ask two simple questions.
First, ask the other person about something positive in their life. Then — and only after they answer — ask them how they’re feeling about life in general. When they’ve just talked about being happy in some specific area of their life, they’re more likely to say they’re generally happy — and they’ll associate you with that happiness.
Be friends with their friends.
Students at the University of British Columbia found that people were more likely to become friends with their friends’ friends. (Try saying that three times fast.)
Compliment them. There’s a weird psychological phenomenon called “spontaneous trait transference” that means that when you compliment someone, they start to think the same thing about you. If you tell someone they’re kind or smart, they’ll start to think you’re kind or smart, too.
Be honest about your mistakes.
A study at the University of Minnesota found that when people who were otherwise viewed as competent made a small mistake — like spilling coffee after successfully completing a task — they were viewed as more likeable. A good argument for not making your social media persona too perfect.
Spread nice gossip.
Hey, gossip happens. But instead of sharing nasty tidbits, make a point of gossiping about positive things, like your coworker’s promotion, their kids’ intelligence, or their partner’s great cooking. Studies show that what you talk about colours how people think of you, so talk about nice things and you become more likeable.
Casually touch people.
Research has shown that when you make casual physical contact with another person, they are more likely to view you as likeable. Anything counts; the study was based on waitresses who merely touched a customer’s hand when returning change, and earned significantly more tips.