It’s a known fact that life is way easier when people like you and are more likely to help you. This is not a case for ingratiating yourself to everyone, but only to those people whose opinion you may value. This is a case for allowing yourself to be on good terms with KEY people in your life. You do not have to be friends with everyone or even be liked by everyone, but it is important that you are liked by the people whose opinions shape your present and future. These people may be your close friends and family, your boss and coworkers, or people in the fields that you’re interested in pursuing. The key is to be an overall likable person. You’re not going to please everyone, and you shouldn’t aim to, but winning the good opinion of people you want to form relationships with (be it personal or professional), involves a number of things.
Be you, but better. Fact: No one likes a faker. It’s also way harder to keep up with the lies because you have to remember all of them. Be yourself, but package yourself in a way that focuses on the positive more than the negative. You are your own worst critic, and there really is no point in pointing out your flaws to people. You’re either waiting for them to negate you and you’ll interpret that as them invalidating your feelings OR they’ll actually agree with you and you’ll be crushed. It’s a lose-lose game. Just don’t even go there.
Be warm. Many people adopt this cold, unbothered persona that portrays them as edgy and cool. Honestly, it just translates to people avoiding you because you’re not inviting them in. The only people you’ll attract are other cold people, and that really narrows down your pool of possible connections. Being warm isn’t about being fake and smiling at everyone and being overly nice. It’s about making people feel comfortable. If they initiate a conversation, you keep it going. Ask people about themselves and learn how to listen. Unless you want them to go away (sometimes you just want to and that’s fine), don’t give one-word replies and not extend the conversation. Don’t be outwardly judgmental. If you disagree with their choices in hair style, makeup, fashion, or life choices, keep it to yourself. You can choose, however, to never see them again so what’s the point in making them feel bad about themselves?
Be a ray of sunshine. I’m not telling you to be 100% happy all the time, but the reality is that people won’t want to be around you if you’re a total downer. If every interaction they have with you is negative, they would not want to associate with you any further. We seek refuge and solace in our friends when we are down, but if you are always venting to others and being negative about life, others will wonder what value you actually bring into their life. If you truly think that your life sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it, you need to reevaluate and center your locus of control internally. Quit the woe is me attitude and look for ways to improve your situation. Once you overcome your defeatist mentality, things will work out for you because you’re actually trying.
Be a giver. Every relationship is give-and-take. I’m not saying count every single thing exchanged between you and others, but learn to balance the trade. Also, money or gifts are not the only currency of giving in relationships. It could be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, time spent reviewing their resume, or making them a cup of coffee. Don’t give too much to the point of being “too much,” but learn to match the energy that others give you. It’s less tit-for-tat and more of a harmonious balance of generosity.
Reserve advice. Unless explicitly asked for advice, do not give any. Most of the time, people just want you to listen and that’s it. You don’t need to insert your opinion disguised as advice to others when, most of the time, they’ll figure it out themselves. You are not them, and you are not living their reality, so unless asked, keep it to yourself. If the situation is something a mandated reporter would feel they need to report, then yes, give your advice.
Work on yourself. You can’t get others to like you if you yourself don’t even like you. Whether it’s your appearance or a personality trait, you need to actively work on improving. You’ll see a dramatic change in your personality that others will find magnetic and approachable.
Look your best. There’s this less-talked about privilege called “the attractiveness privilege.” It’s basically the privilege that good-looking people have that gives them an advantage in terms of getting jobs, decreased jail time, free drinks, etc. Unlike other privileges like racial or gendered privileges, the attractiveness privilege is relatively more attainable. All it takes is time, effort, and if you can spare it, money. So why do you need to look your best when you want people to like you? It’s because they’re already programmed to like visually pleasing people so you already have that going for you.
Learn from every interaction. This might be weird, but hear me out. After every interaction with someone, ask yourself these questions:
How was the person’s emotions today? (sad, angry, distressed, happy)
Were they like this before the interaction or did it change at some point during the interaction?
Did they say farewell like they usually do?
If in a group setting, did they seem eager to break off the conversation and talk to others or did they want to keep talking?
By asking yourself these questions, you may arrive to the conclusion that you may have done/said something to turn people off, or they were turned off by influences independent of you. If you think that it was your doing, remember what exactly you did/said and analyze it. You may be surprised that the habits you have are keeping people from liking you.
The work never stops. Interpersonal relationships take work. ALL of them. Your family bonds, romantic relationships, friendships, acquaintanceships, they all need your consistent constant attention. Think of your relationships as orbits around you. Your romantic partner and nuclear family are inside. Your best friends in an outer ring, friends in another outer ring, work connections in another outer ring, and so on. The closer people are to the center (you), the more intense and frequent your interactions will be. Learn to prioritize but keep people in your orbit at some level.
Winning people over isn’t a game where you count exactly how many people like you. It’s about a mindset that allows people to get to know you and develop good will towards you. Your network of people who want to be around you is crucial to your wellbeing and progress down your chosen path. If you want to attract kind and good-natured people, you have to be that exact person also. Your friends are a reflection of you and vice-versa, so be selective. You attract what you put out, so be mindful of your thoughts and actions when interacting with others.