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How to Be More Likable in 10 Easy Steps

To ensure your celebrity status on the job, try these 10 tips. You won't regret it.
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Have you noticed there are people who always seem to be more likable?

In a recent episode of the new ABC drama Mind Games, one of the characters mentions an interesting personality trait that defines the most popular people: They more readily admit their weaknesses rather than waiting for them to be revealed over time. The show is about using cunning tricks to manipulate others and ensure a positive outcome, so it's a bit ridiculous, but there's truth in the observation.

In the office, it's possible to exhibit traits that help you to be more likable. In my years as a corporate manager and developing my writing career, I've noticed when people appear more likable, and I've tried to develop these traits myself. Here are a few to cultivate.

1. Ask questions.
I've noticed people who ask questions are often well liked. It's human nature to be helpful, and we all have a great desire to share what we know. When someone appears to need our help, we tend to like him or her more, because we like being the one who provides the answers.

2. Talk more, not less.
A friend of mine is a small-business owner, and he is extremely well liked. One of his strongest traits is that he tends to talk constantly. You never have to guess what he's thinking. He's not blunt or rude, but he explains things in detail. (Being an introvert, I need to develop this trait more in myself--and use texting and e-mail a little less often.)

3. Give your time...gratis.
A no-strings-attached approach to helping others also makes you more likable. Think of the person you like the most--usually, it's someone who will help you with the copier machine or is willing to read through your business proposal in a pinch. Of course, those who help just to be liked always reveal a manipulative trait, so make sure you're genuine.

4. Listen better.
I mentioned how talkers tend to be more likable, and that's true. Sometimes, overcommunicating puts people at ease. But it's also important to pause once in a while and listen. Good communicators take a breath once in a while! Likable people are always listeners who are curious to (genuinely) learn new things. The best communicators talk and talk--and then listen for a response. That makes them an office favorite.

5. Really and truly care.
How do you develop the personality trait of caring? It can be difficult, especially in an age of social media, where everyone is dangerously close to being a narcissist. Caring is an act of setting aside your own interests and ambitions for a while and helping others. It requires effort. You have to consciously decide you are going to care about someone else. When you do, and you are genuine about it, you'll find that more people will like you.

6. Admit it: You don't know everything.
We all know how important it is to steer clear of the office know-it-all. Why is that? Part of the reason is we know that person won't ask for our help, and we like to be helpful. More important, those who have all the answers are usually pushing their own agenda. In their conceited attitude, they exhibit a sense of pride that's not attractive to anyone.

7. Go for the laugh, every time.
It's hard to hate a jokester or someone who has a carefree approach to life. Usually, the most-liked people are those who can fill a room with laughter. It might not be in your nature to joke around, and that's OK. Just make sure you are ready to see the humor in something. Be someone who can laugh easily and smile often. You'll win people over.

8. Lighten up.
I will admit to struggling with this one. I'm a serious person with serious concerns! (Most of the time.) But it's better to see the big picture in life. Really serious people are essentially acting selfish, because they focus too much on their personal issues. Highly likable people at work are those who can set aside their concerns and go with the flow. They're selfless.

9. Don't be pushy.
Here's an interesting one--and a difficult trait to master. I went on a road trip with someone a few years ago, and I remember how he told me he doesn't have highly distinct tastes. What does that really mean? For starters, he's not that selfish and won't push his preferences; he'll go to lunch at any restaurant and listen to any form of music. He's flexible. That makes him likable, because he will adjust to the situation.

10. Admit your weaknesses.
That character on the show Mind Games is right: Admitting weaknesses makes you more likable. People figure them out on their own anyway. Of course, it's important not to act like a victim or share your problems with everyone you meet. At work, it's OK to go into a meeting and lead with the challenges you face. People are more likely to suggest a few solutions, come to your aid, and even pat you on the back.

 

IMAGE: Annais Ferreria/Flickr
Last updated: May 29, 2014

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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