Blog Short #51: 12 Characteristics of Likable People
Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday, I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you. My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!
I recently read a book called Social Chemistry by Marissa King that included a chapter about what makes people likable. I thought that would make a good subject for a blog, so I did some additional research to see what I could find out. There’s actually a lot written on the subject!
Today, I’m giving you a composite list of everything I read and learned, along with some thoughts about what it means.
My list consists of twelve characteristics or traits that show up in most of the literature. See if it resonates with you. It does with me. Here we go.
Characteristics of Likable People
1) They listen.
Likable people listen. Really listen. They show interest in you and ask sincere questions. They’re curious and want to understand what you’re saying and how you feel. They’re empathetic and work to see things through your lens. They look you in the eye with openness and invite you to talk. They put their phones away or at least turn them face down. They’re attentive and focused. And if you need help or want some advice to solve a problem, they willingly offer their best. They add value.
2) They’re authentic.
It’s difficult to trust someone who feels fake or who doesn’t reveal much about themselves. Likable people are comfortable in their own skin and aren’t self-conscious while talking or listening. There’s a sense of consistency in their personality and presentation, which helps you trust them. They feel solid and seem secure without being overbearing or narcissistic.
3) They don’t judge.
It’s pretty tricky to go into depth with someone who is judging every word you say. Likable people can listen to an opinion that’s in total opposition to what they think or believe and still be respectful and interested in knowing your point of view. They’re open-minded and approach discussions with curiosity. They’re interested in understanding what you think. They don’t need to be right. They’re comfortable with differences.
4) They don’t compete.
Likable people are secure with themselves and have no need to inflate their egos at your expense. They don’t one-up, interrupt, talk over, or monopolize conversations. They’re on the same side as you and want to connect rather than win.
5) They don’t seek attention.
They’re humble, don’t brag or name-drop, and aren’t focused on boasting about their successes. They’re openly interested in others and don’t need to be center stage.
6) They leave a solid first impression.
According to some studies, “people decide if they like you in the first 7 seconds of meeting you, and then spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction,” (Bradberry). Another study says that people can judge us in a 10th of a second, and in the next two or more seconds, those judgments tend to become more negative (Donna Van Natten). Either way, first impressions often stick.
Likable people use positive body language, which goes a long way toward making an excellent first impression. They face forward, relax their shoulders, keep their arms open rather than folded across their chest, make direct eye contact, have a firm handshake, and above all, smile! They feel genuine.
7) They’re positive.
Likable people are positive overall, but not in a confining way, meaning they don’t enforce positivity to the exclusion of hearing about someone’s real issues or problems. They don’t insist that everyone be happy all the time or put a positive spin on everything. But they exude inward joy and radiate warmth and receptivity. They don’t over complain, and above all, they don’t talk ill of others. They tend to describe others in a positive light and avoid engaging in petty gossip.
8) They follow up.
Following up means you remember previous conversations or information you’ve been told and check up on it later. For example, if your friend was ill a week ago and you ran into her, you would follow up and ask how she’s feeling now. You remember what was said and find it important enough to ask about later.
9) They use touch at the right time.
Touch is a tricky thing in that it needs to be done appropriately. Not all people like to be touched. Likable people generally can read whether someone would be receptive to touch. If so, they use light touches such as a pat on the shoulder or arm, shaking hands, or giving a hug. Touch releases oxytocin in the brain, which is associated with pleasure and positive feelings.
10) They call you by name.
Likable people greet you by name and continue to say your name throughout the interchange without overdoing it. Hearing your name in a conversation creates intimacy and helps forge a connection.
11) They go for deeper conversations.
Chit-chat is all right sometimes, but it can be inane and energy-zapping. Likable people move toward deeper conversations that create real connection. They invite people to talk about themselves and likewise reveal themselves as they converse. Deeper exchanges allow both parties to learn about each other which is intimate and stimulating at the same time.
12) They find similarities.
Research has shown that people gravitate toward those with whom they can find common ground. Mutual interests, hobbies, values, beliefs, experiences, and ideas all help people bond together more easily. In part, it’s because you feel like the other person relates to and understands you. You think to yourself, “We’re alike! He gets me!” It’s a mirroring function which is something that lies deep in our human DNA. It’s the original way Mommy and baby bonded. It satisfies our need to be connected and understood.
What can we take from this?
Several things come to mind when you read through this list.
First, there’s no reference to how people look, their age, or their personality types. These things aren’t important. What is important are their internal qualities.
Secondly, likable people are emotionally intelligent. If you go back over the list, the following characteristics stand out:
- Capacity to empathize
People who are well-developed psychologically and emotionally can attend to others with genuine interest and understanding. That’s a big part of what makes them likable. We all want to be valued and understood, and those who make us feel that way get our respect and positive regard.
Last, likability comes from someone’s capacity to be “other” focused. It’s being warm, caring, and serving as an attentive witness to someone else’s life.
That’s all for today! I hope you have a wonderful week! Please leave a comment below!
All my best,
Bradberry, T. 2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. Talent Smart.
Bradberry, T. (2015, January 27). 13 habits of exceptionally likable people. Forbes.
Huang, K., Yeomans, M., Brooks, A. W., Minson, J., & Gino, F. (2017). It doesn’t hurt to ask: Question-asking increases liking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(3), 430–452.
Joseph, S. (2016). Authentic: how to be yourself & why it matters. Piatkus.
Kashdan, T. B., McKnight, P. E., Fincham, F. D., & Rose, P. (2011). When curiosity breeds intimacy: Taking advantage of intimacy opportunities and transforming boring conversations. Journal of Personality. 79(6), 1369-402. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2010.00697.x
King, M. (2020). Social chemistry: decoding the patterns of human connection. Dutton.
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Suttie, J. (2017, May 31). Why curious people have better relationships. Greater Good Science Center. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_curious_people_have_better_relationships?
Tenney, E R.., Turkheimer, E., & Oltmanns, T. F. (2009). Being liked is more than having a good personality: The role of matching. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(4), 579-585.
Turkle, S. (2015). Reclaiming conversation: the power of talk in a digital age. Penguin Books.