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How to Quickly Get People to Like You

Updated on November 13, 2010

Life of the party or loner?


Many people are naturally engaging and friendly.  They are first to introduce themselves in a crowded room and are eager to turn acquaintances into friends.  Their friendliness is usually reciprocated, and relationships are built.  They are a hit wherever they go, and it always seems easy for them.

Others are not so lucky.  Perhaps they are loud and often say the wrong thing.  Or possibly they avoid talking to people they don’t know well and are labeled shy, reserved, modest, or a loner.  Anyone experiencing anxiety or difficulty in meeting people probably has trouble making friends.  Sometimes social situations force people together and bonds are formed when withdrawal is unworkable.  Getting people to like you in such circumstances is doable, but often the friendship ends with the shared experience. 

There’s no reason to shy away from social gatherings, however.  It is possible to get people to like you within the first few moments of meeting you.  There is a way to make your first impression a lasting one and create a bond within seconds.   Will these steps work for everyone?


Getting people to quickly like you is easy

Are you alone in a crowd?
Are you alone in a crowd?
...or the life of the party?
...or the life of the party?
A smile, good eye contact and a friendly posture makes for a good first impression
A smile, good eye contact and a friendly posture makes for a good first impression
You don't have to be a comedian to be liked
You don't have to be a comedian to be liked
It helps to be an attentive listener
It helps to be an attentive listener
Success! It's easy to be noticed and liked quickly
Success! It's easy to be noticed and liked quickly

Make a good first impression

The recommendations in this article are divided into two components: nonverbal and verbal cues. Nonverbal cues are important for getting a stranger to notice you and are the first step. They are what you project that tells others you would be a good person to know. My five recommendations for using non-verbal cues to get people to like you are:

1. Relax. Don’t try too hard to make friends—it will be perceived as awkward or desperate and give you the opposite result. People want to meet folks who are relaxed and at ease—those who are visibly uncomfortable are (unfortunately) more apt to be ignored. Before entering into a social situation, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Remember that most folks in the room are likely to be at least a little nervous, and everyone is just as eager to be liked as you are.

2. Smile. A natural, relaxed smile is one of the first things someone will notice while deciding whether to introduce themselves to you or not. Your smile makes you appear friendly and approachable. If it doesn’t look natural, stand in front of a mirror and say “happy” in an amusing voice. In social situations, silently say “happy” to yourself in the same voice and you will smile.

3. Make eye contact. No matter how uncomfortable it might be for you, you must make eye contact with others to connect with them. Meeting the other person’s gaze is a sign of interest. However, it is important not to make someone uncomfortable by staring. Glance periodically at the mouth or forehead—your head will be kept high, but you won’t be staring. A warm smile and consistent eye contact makes for a great first impression.

4. Maintain open body language. Keep your arms uncrossed and your hands unclenched to maintain a friendly posture. If you fidget, put your hands in your pockets or keep them behind your back. Placing your weight on one leg and slightly bending the other at the knee suggests a relaxed and confident manner. Without an open body language, you might look not only unfriendly but actually hostile.

5. Mirror the other person’s body language. If someone uses hand gestures to speak, use them yourself. Be careful not to use the exact same gestures, of course—that would appear mocking and disrespectful. If someone speaks in a slightly louder voice, do the same (within limits—you’re not trying to shout down your listener). If you can mirror body language well, you will appear kindred. Who doesn’t like someone that reminds them of themselves?

Mastering these five recommendations will make you more approachable to others, and that’s the first step toward getting people to like you—but it’s only the first step. While non-verbal cues can attract others to you, you can’t remain silent and get to know other people. What will you say when the conversation begins? Here are some simple recommendations, both for what to say and what not to say.

1. Avoid jokes, hot topics or loaded questions. The most amusing joke in the world tells others nothing about you, and if the joke is awful you’ve merely forced everyone to laugh awkwardly in polite response. You don’t have to be a comedian to be liked. Also stay away from hot topics, either as statements or questions. Asking another person what they think about the “rotten job” the President is doing or stating adamantly that there is no God is a recipe for loneliness. Judgments are seldom charming, and anyone with a sense of social etiquette will consider your opinions boorish in a first encounter.

It is also wise to avoid profanity, talking down to your listeners, and sarcasm. Very nice people might substitute sarcasm for humor, but most listeners do not find sarcasm directed at them to be funny.

2. Ask questions and listen to their answers. People like talking about themselves. Asking open-ended questions will get a conversation started while yes or no questions will kill a first encounter. When you do ask someone about themselves, listen with undivided attention. You will be liked and admired if you demonstrate an ability to listen fully. Don’t just listen with your ears, however—be observant of facial expressions, a change in volume or tone when speaking, and body language. Nonverbal cues offer considerable insights into the person you’re speaking with, and they willfind your perceptiveness attractive.

3. Stay alert for comments that indicate common interests without probing for them. The conversation will flow more smoothly if you don’t try too hard to seek that common ground. If you jump in with a question about sports and the other person hates sports, you’ve emphatically emphasized what you don’t have in common. (If you’re more interested in the Yankees than in your acquaintances, it will justifiably be perceived as an insult.)

4. Don’t talk about yourself. It isn’t necessary to be evasive, but don’t turn everything someone says into an “I can top that” story. When asked, state facts about yourself in a humble way that doesn’t sound like boasting, or tell an amusing or self-effacing anecdote. Save a list of accomplishments for your resume.

5. Avoid arguments. A conversation is not a debate. If you differ with someone’s ideas or opinions, let it go. Discussing why someone’s opinions are wrong won’t win you points with the one you disagree with, and will likely alienate anyone else who is listening, also. Making friends is allowing others to be right sometimes.

(I realize the verbal recommendations are more what not to say than what to say, but if you stay away from topics and behaviors that are apt to offend, you will be closer to your goal.)

You're ready!

You’re now ready to exist more easily in social situations by getting people to notice and like you within moments of seeing you. With these simple recommendations, you will bond with others and spark their interest. The next time I’m at a social gathering, I’ll take a look around. If I see you across the room, looking me in the eye with a smile on your face and sitting with a relaxed, confident posture—I’ll come over and say hi.

Take the quiz!

How quickly and easily do you make friends?

See results

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