10 ways to make people like you more, according to psychology

Who doesn’t want to be liked?

Even the most independent of us want other people to like us – especially if we like them. In fact, for social animals like us, being likable was once a key survival strategy. That’s why it can hurt us so badly when other people don’t like us. Once upon a time, not being liked could be dangerous.

Although that’s not as true as it used to be these days, it is true that lacking friends and social interaction can have a very damaging effect on your mental health.

But how do you get people to like you? It’s not easy. Especially if you’re an introvert like me.

Still, I’ve found these psychological strategies helpful in making myself a more likable person. Because in many ways, the world belongs to those who can get other people to like them.

And who couldn’t use a few more friends?

1) Listen to people

This one might seem obvious. But it can be surprising how often people seem to forget the basics.

We all want to feel listened to. We want to feel heard. We want to feel as though the things that we say matter to other people and that they are paying attention to us.

And when people really believe you care enough about them to listen to them, they are much more likely to like you.

Psychologist and author Arlin Cuncic advises practicing active listening.

“Active listening is a communication skill that involves going beyond simply hearing the words that another person speaks,” she writes. “It requires being a mindful and focused participant in the communication process.”

In other words, don’t just pretend to be listening while you wait for your turn to speak. Actually pay attention to what people are saying and respond thoughtfully.

It sounds simple. But actually, it requires practice and patience to get good at this. Still, it can instantly make you more likable, since people feel like you are really paying attention to them.

2) Smile

Nothing makes you seem more friendly and approachable than a genuine smile.

Now, I’m not saying you have to walk around grinning like a Cheshire cat 24 hours a day. In fact, that can just make you come across as weird.

But lots of us don’t smile enough. I say that as someone who has an almost permanent frown thanks to a lifelong tendency to scowl.

And if you don’t feel like you have anything to smile about, consider this. Counselor and author Meg Selig points to the positive effects of smiling, including:

  • It makes you look younger;
  • It can elevate your mood along with the mood of people around you;
  • It can predict your happiness in relationships;
  • People who smile more live longer.

Most importantly, a smile can help you seem more likable. However, the trick is to make sure it’s a genuine smile. People can spot fake smiles a mile away, and that can make you seem like an inauthentic person.

3) Find common ground

Maybe we are all a little bit egotistical, because it’s true that we tend to like people that we think are like ourselves.

That’s how you can quickly build a connection with other people and make yourself seem more likable by finding common ground to share.

“The more we have in common with others…the more we tend to like them,” says Ron Freeman, author of The Best Place To Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace.

So find those things that connect you to another person and use them to make yourself more likable.

It could be anything. Maybe you have a mutual acquaintance or come from the same part of the country. Maybe you both enjoy a particular sport. Maybe you have both been to the same place on vacation, or have seen the same TV show recently.

The point is, it doesn’t matter very much what exactly it is you have in common. What matters is that you find something you share and use that to bring you closer to the other person.

4) Be honest and open

things socially intelligent people notice about others 10 ways to make people like you more, according to psychology

It’s important when trying to make yourself more likable to remember that other people aren’t stupid. We are all good at spotting someone who isn’t being genuine.

So even if you do everything else on this list, if it comes off like you’re trying to hide and not be your authentic self, people probably won’t like you as much as they otherwise would.

So how do you convince people that you are being honest with them?

Well, first of all, don’t lie. It may be tempting to exaggerate or even make up positive qualities to make yourself more likable, but in the long run, this can easily backfire.

It also helps to be open about yourself. You don’t need to tell someone you’ve just met every detail of your life, but a little bit of disclosure can be a good thing.

Sharing your personal experiences and emotions helps to remind the other person of your shared humanity.

Make sure you don’t monopolize the conversation and talk only about yourself, because nobody likes that. But letting people into your inner life a little bit can help them like you more.

5) Give them sincere compliments

We all like a nice compliment. But again, the trick here is to be genuine.

“According to the reward theory of attraction, we like people who reward us, or whom we associate with good feelings,” writes psychologist Natalie Kerr. “If you want people to like you, make them feel good in your company. Be friendly, warm, and positive. Offer genuine compliments.”

But notes that she points out the compliments have to be genuine.

If you compliment someone on their elegance when they know that they are actually clumsy, they won’t believe you. Compliment someone on how good they are at speaking a foreign language when they only know a handful of phrases, and you run the risk of coming off as being fake.

If all else fails, you can compliment their bravery and effort in trying something new. Find something they do well to compliment them on, and you’ll make them like you much more.

6) Ask them for a favor

This one seems counterintuitive, but there’s plenty of research to back it up.

It’s called the Benjamin Franklin effect. Basically, it describes the fact that when people do something for you, they tend to like you more.

Maybe it’s because they think that if they did you a favor, it must be because they like you.

But for whatever reason, it works.

So if you want someone to like you more, ask them to do something for you that is well within their power.

7) Be consistent and reliable

Consistency and reliability are often underrated.

The thing is, people like people they know they can rely on. And they tend to like people when they can predict how that person will act from day-to-day.

It might sound boring to be consistent. But actually, it means that people know where they stand with you, which puts them at their ease.

That means showing up when you say you will. It means doing the things you promise you will do. Do that, and people will notice and like you much more.

8) Make them laugh

traits make a woman instantly likable 10 ways to make people like you more, according to psychology

Laughter makes us feel good. But interestingly, as this study shows, laughter is a social emotion.

Have you ever watched a TV show or movie by yourself that you thought was really funny, but noticed that you didn’t actually laugh out loud that much? But if you were to watch something funny with other people, you laugh much more?

You’re not alone. The study suggests that people are 30 times more likely to laugh when they are with someone else than they are when they are by themselves.

Psychologist Robin Dunbar likens this to the grooming that bonds other primates like chimpanzees together, and calls laughter “grooming from a distance“.

Basically, laughing with other people makes us feel closer to those people.

You don’t have to be performing a stand-up comedy routine every time you meet new people. But if you can crack a couple of jokes, it will go a long way to making you more fun to be around.

9) Be good at something

Psychologists call this the halo effect.

Basically, when we find a person attractive, we tend to find other good qualities in them too – whether they exist or not.

“However, this effect doesn’t just affect our perceptions of people based on their attractiveness,” writes psychologist Kendra Cherry. “People who are sociable or kind, for example, may also be seen as more likable and intelligent.”

Being good in one area can make people think you are good in another. So having a special talent or being good at your job may also be enough to produce this halo effect.

Show people your good qualities, and they are more likely to believe that you have others.

10) Show empathy

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you want people to like you, you need to be empathetic.

You need to care about people and have the ability to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what life is like for them.

That way, you can understand them on a deeper level.

People can tell when you have a high degree of empathy. And this compassion is one of the best ways to make yourself more likable to others.

How to be liked

The thing about being likable is that you don’t want to force it. Although these psychological tips can help you become more likable, it’s important to also be genuine.

Draw people’s attention to your good qualities, whatever they may be. That way, they will see you for who you really are and discover your most likable traits.

Clifton Kopp

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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