We’ve all encountered them. We know they exist. People who we can’t help but like and somehow always put a smile our faces when they enter a room. They make us want to be more like them, but we’re usually left at a loss as to how. We assume there is just something naturally different about them– and while that may be true, there are also a set of certain habits they have likely formed that we can learn from and emulate. Here are five of them:
They don’t assume a dominant stance when meeting or interacting with someone. They step towards, lean in– as to show the other person they are enthusiastic about being near them. Their posture is confidently humble.
Physical contact is powerful. And in the context of introductions and meetings, it can act as a diffuser of walls, angst, and perceived distance. Remember though that comfort with physical touch is a spectrum and that some people aren’t very keen on it. That said, not many people are going to be offended with a pat on the back or a touch to the shoulder as you walk up from behind them. Going the extra mile in this area will make a big difference in how genuine you and the person you’re engaged with will feel the interaction was.
Often times when we have conversations with these magical, likable people, we walk away from them only to realize that we did all of the talking. Likable people are typically those who keep the conversation focused on the other person. When we tell them something about our day, our jobs, or our families, they ask deeper questions to keep us going on the topic. We feel listened to and like they are genuinely interested in our lives. And who doesn’t like being made to feel like that? So, try it! The next time you’re having a conversation with someone, allow and encourage them to talk about their favorite subject– themselves. This is also a great way to take a conversation further than the cliché exchange of “how are you doings” that awkwardly dead-end when neither person gets this concept.
Nobody likes telling a story they are excited about only to have its significance deflated by a similar, but somehow cooler experience had by the person they’re talking with. Also, likable people realize that they aren’t the best at everything– and they allow others to be better at those things. They ask for advice and tips when they encounter this reality. They are human.
Likable people don’t end every conversation with an ask or networking agenda. We don’t walk away from exchanges with them feeling used or like the conversation was a means to an end. If you do want to get something from the person you’re talking to, think first about a way you can help them, and offer that. Likable people end conversations in a way that matches the rest of the interaction– genuinely. Try to avoid the typical “nice to meet you” or “good talking to you” as you’ve already begun to step away and create distance. Instead, make physical contact again (appropriate to the relationship…could be anything from a handshake to a hug) and let them know that you truly enjoyed the conversation and/or getting to meet them. Punctuate your conversations with a solid followthrough to really knock them out of the park.
Making these changes to our behavior will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Like any habit, making these traits a part of who we are will take time and discipline. Start with one at a time. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and become discouraged. Pick the one that stood out to you the most either because of how much you appreciate being on the receiving end of it or because you know it is probably the area you need the most improvement, and start there.
Become the kind of person that you enjoy being around.