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No one has enough friends. And if that's not reason enough to be likable, we tend to do business and build professional and relationships with people we like. We're instinctively drawn to people who are modest, agreeable, polite, kind ... in short, to people who are genuinely likable.
How do people decide whether they like you, especially once they've gotten to know you a little better?
The answer often lies in what likable people don't do.
1. They don't talk a lot.
I know that sounds odd, since friendly people tend to be gregarious and outgoing. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that — but there's a big difference between friendly and likable.
Likable people already know what they know. They want to know what you know. So they ask questions. They ask for details. They care about what you think, and they show it by listening.
That makes you feel important. That makes you feel likable. (As well you should, because you are.)
And that makes you like them for making you feel that way.
2. They don't blame.
Friends make mistakes. Employees don't meet expectations. Vendors don't deliver on time. It's easy to blame other people for our problems.
But we are also to blame. Maybe we didn't provide enough training. Maybe we didn't build in enough of a buffer. Maybe we asked for too much, too soon.
Taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others isn't masochistic, it's empowering — because then we focus on doing things better, or smarter, the next time.
And when we get better or smarter, we're also more likable.
As long as...
3. They don't try to impress.
No one likes us for our clothes, our cars, our possessions, our titles, or our accomplishments. Those are all "things." People may like our things — but that doesn't mean they like us.
Sure, superficially they might seem to, but superficial is also insubstantial, and a relationship that is not based on substance is not a real relationship.
The only way to form genuine relationships is to stop trying to impress ... and start being yourself.
4. They don't interrupt.
Interrupting isn't just rude. When we interrupt someone, what we're really saying is, "I'm not listening to you so I can understand what you're saying; I'm listening to you so I can decide what I want to say."
Want people to like you? Listen to what they say. Focus on what they say. Ask questions to make sure you understand what they say.
They'll love you for it — and you'll love how that makes you feel.
5. They don't complain.
Our words have power, especially over ourselves. Whining about our problems makes us feel worse, not better.
If something is wrong, don't waste time complaining. Put that effort into making the situation better. Unless you want to whine about it forever, eventually you'll have to do that. So why waste time? Do it now.
Don't talk about what's wrong. Talk about how you'll make things better, even if that conversation is only with yourself.
And do the same with your friends or colleagues. Don't just be the shoulder they cry on.
Friends don't let friends whine. Friends help their friends make their lives better.
6. They aren't controlling.
At work, you may be the boss. You may be in charge. The buck may stop with you.
Everywhere else, the only thing you really control is you. People who try to control other people — to tell them what they should do, what they should think, what they should feel — they've decided that their goals, their dreams, or even just their opinions are more important than everyone else's.
People like people who help. Don't tell someone else what to do. Ask them how you can help them do what they want to do.
They won't just like you for it. They'll love you for it.
7. They don't criticize.
Maybe you are more educated. Maybe you are more experienced. Maybe you've been around more blocks and climbed more mountains and vanquished more dragons.
That doesn't make you smarter, or better, or more insightful.
That just makes you you: unique, matchless, one of a kind, but in the end, just you.
And just like everyone else.
Every person is different: not better, not worse, just different. Appreciate the differences instead of the shortcomings and you'll see people — and yourself — in a better light.
And that will help them see themselves in a better light.
8. They don't preach.
People who criticize also tend to preach. And judge.
The higher you rise and the more you accomplish, the more likely you are to think you know everything — and to tell people everything you think you know.
When you speak with more finality than foundation, people may hear you — but they don't listen.
Want to be instantly likable? Be the person who has accomplished really cool things...but manages to make other people feel like they are the ones who have accomplished really cool things.
9. They don't dwell on the past.
The past is valuable. We should definitely learn from our mistakes.
And then we should let them go.
Easier said than done? It depends on your focus. When something bad happens to you, see that as a chance to learn something you didn't know. When another person makes a mistake, see that as an opportunity to be kind, forgiving, and understanding.
The past is just training; it doesn't define you. Think about what went wrong, but only in terms of how you will make sure that, next time, you will get it right.
Optimism — rational, reasoned, justifiable optimism — is contagious.
And very, very likable.