Some people are simply born likeable, and everyone seems to enjoy their company. Sometimes, it is not easy to point out the things we love about these people, it might be their smile, or their wit, their charisma, or the way they talk, or maybe the energy they possess and share around.
Yet, these things are not so easy for everyone. If people do not fall in love immediately with you on the first encounter, that doesn’t mean that you have no chances to become their friend later.
Many people believe that being likeable comes from our natural traits and it cannot be learned. However, this is a misconception, and luckily, we can all control the effect we have on others, as it is a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).
An UCLA study asked participants to rate more than 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. Contrarily to these beliefs, the top-rated ones weren’t attraction or intelligence, but sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding.
Therefore, here are some psychological tricks to get people to like you and help you develop friendships faster:
1. Spend more time around them
People like things that are familiar to them. Therefore, spending more time with people will make them like you more.
Back in the 1950s, MIT researchers found out that college students who lived closer together in housing projects were more likely to be friends than students who lived farther apart. This might be due to their passive everyday interactions, like greeting in the common room.
Psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh conducted another study. Four women posed as students in a university psychology class, and each of them appeared in class in different number of times. When male students were presented pictures of the women, they showed a greater affinity for those they’d seen more often in class.
2. Emphasize your shared values
This is called the similarity-attraction effect. The study done by Theodore Newcomb revealed that subjects liked those that had more similar attitudes with them. Therefore, always try to find a similarity between you and the other and focus on it.
3. Positive mood
If you want to make people around you happy, you should focus on positivity. Emotional contagion happens when people are strongly affected by the moods of others.
A research paper from the Ohio University and the University of Hawaii pointed out that people can unconsciously feel the emotions of those around them. When we are in the company of optimists, we tend to become more positive.
Studies have found that we like people who smile the most, and if you greet one with a smile on the first encounter, there are higher chances that they will remember you later.
5. Make friends with their friends
There is a term for the social-network theory, triadic closure. This means that people become closer when they have a mutual friend.
You can surely understand this. We all accept a friend request on Facebook easier after we notice that we have mutual friends.
6. Imitate them
This is a popular strategy, known as mirroring. During the conversation, you should try to subtly copy the gestures, body language and facial expressions.
In 1999, New York University researchers conducted a study to investigate the effects of the “chameleon effect,” which occurs when people unconsciously imitate each other’s behavior, and this mimicry aids liking. Seventy-eight women and men were divided in pairs, and they engaged in different mimicry levels.
Researchers secretly videotaped the interactions, and at the end, participants were asked to tell how much they liked their partners. They actually explained that they liked their partners more when he imitated their behavior.
7. Be warm and competent
Social psychologist Susan Fiske developed the stereotype- content model, which means that people judge others based on their competence and warmth. This means that people trust those that seem noncompetitive and friendly. On the other hand, they tend to respect those that seem competent.
Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy advises to demonstrate warmth first and then competence in business settings.
“From an evolutionary perspective, it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.”
8. Display a sense of humor
Researchers from Illinois State University and California State University at Los Angeles confirmed that having a sense of humor is very important.
On the other hand, the lack of it can backfire, especially at the office.
9. Let them talk about themselves
Being an attentive listener is very important. Researchers have found that the brain regions linked to motivation and reward were most active when participants were sharing information publicly and when they talked about themselves.
Therefore, it would be useful to share details about your life with others, but it is also very important to let others share a story about their life too. Show them your interest and don’t focus on yourself only.
10. Don’t be complimentary all the time
According to the gain-loss theory of interpersonal attractiveness, your positive comments will have an effect only if you deliver them occasionally.
The findings of a 1965 study by University of Minnesota researchers, people like when they have won you over in some capacity. Therefore, don’t exaggerate, as your words might lose credibility.
11. Act like you like them
This is known as a “reciprocity of liking“. We like those that we believe like us. Therefore, when you want to gain someone else’s sympathy, show them that you actually like them and would enjoy their company.
12. Casually touch them
Subliminal touching occurs when you touch a person so subtly that they barely notice. When you touch the other on the back or arm, they start feeling more warmly towards you.
Author Leonard Mlodinow spoke about a study conducted in France in which young men stood on street corners and talked to women who walked by. They were much more successful after they lightly touched their arms.
The experiment by the University of Mississippi and Rhodes College showed that waitresses that briefly touched customers on the hand or shoulder earned dramatically larger tips than those that did not do it.
13. Compliment others
There is a phenomenon called spontaneous trait transference. It means that people associate the adjectives you use to describe other people with your own personality.
Another study even showed that this happens even when others know that certain traits do not depict the people who had talked about them.
Gretchen Rubin, author of books including “The Happiness Project,” explains that “whatever you say about other people influences how people see you.”
Huh, we already knew this one. We often hear that what you say about others really says more about you than it does about them.
14. See the other person how they want to be seen
We all want out views to be validated. Therefore, people like to be perceived according to their own beliefs about themselves, they need feedback consistent with their known identity. This is known as self-verification theory.
Studies conducted at Stanford University and the University of Arizona showed that participants with positive self-views preferred people who thought highly of them, while those with negative self-views preferred critics.
This bolsters the feeling that we are understood, which is a vital component of intimacy.
15. Occasionally reveal your flaws
Researcher Elliot Aronson first discovered the pratfall effect when he studied the effects of simple mistakes on perceived attraction. Many studies suggest that pointing out our vulnerability boosts our attractiveness and trustworthiness.
When you reveal your mistakes, but are generally considered as competent, others start seeing you as more relatable and vulnerable.
Aronson asked male students from the University of Minnesota to listen to tape recordings of people taking a quiz. In the end, they liked people that did well in the quiz, but made some mistake, like spilling the coffee afterwards.
Yet, have in mind that you should not make mistakes that will lead to people questioning your reputation. “Psychiatrists can build trust by spilling their coffee and saying, ’I’ve never been very good with my hands.’ Surgeons can’t do that.”
16. Tell them a secret
One of the best techniques to build relationships is self-disclosure.
When meeting someone, you can ask questions about their last trip, their family, and work, and as you develop trust, you will feel closer, and they will want to confide in you in the future.
17. Expect good things from people
The Pygmalion effect claims that people treat others in ways that are consistent with their expectations of them.
This means that people behave in a way that confirms our expectations. If you believe someone is going to be friendly towards you, they are more likely to behave in that way.
In a Harvard Magazine article, Cuddy explains, “If you think someone’s a jerk, you’ll behave toward them in a way that elicits jerky behaviors.”
Try these tactics and you will be thrilled by the result!