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Episode 137: The Likeable You

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Many people fall for the mistaken belief that being likeable is linked to something innate and unlearned, something you must be born with.
As if it’s linked to how attractive or talented you are.
Yet in reality being likeable is simply a matter of understanding other people, empathy. A skill that can easily be learned.

I’ve had many emails from listeners asking the question “How can I be a nicer person?” and the fact that someone feels that they need to ask that question means that must be a nice person in the first place, if they weren’t then they wouldn’t care and wouldn’t ask!

When this comes up in one to one therapy sessions we might look at self esteem to help people recognise their worth, their value.
But we may well need some practical things to do, because if you’ve had 30 years of hiding your personality from people in order to protect yourself then hiding becomes your personality.

So what do likeable people do?
Basically, I think they provide value to our social group. Now, that can be as big as having a full on conversation about current affairs at the water cooler, or it can be brief eye contact and a cheery “Good Morning” as you walk past someone.
Once you are a part of someones life, you’re contributing to it in some way and people can form an opinion about you and hopefully a positive one, so be positive!
If you would normally walk into the office and say “Another day, God I hate it here” you’re going to get on peoples nerves!
I know that sounds obvious but sometimes we say these things thinking that that’s what everyone wants to hear. We often project how we feel onto everyone else and assume that they all feel the same way, and so speak accordingly and it can drag people down.
Whether they agree with you or not it certainly doesn’t add value to their life.

If you’re quite shy and usually let everyone else do the talking that’s fine but you can still join in. Smile, nod, laugh in the right places, ask questions to show that you’re listening.
If someone feels that you’re engaging with them then they will like you more. and it snowballs into many areas of your life.
I meet people in therapy who say that they never get invited out when there’s a work social event, which reinforces their belief that their colleagues don’t want to engage with them and so they keep their head down, say nothing and just get on with their job. Reinforcing everyone else belief that they aren’t interested in being invited out on social events.

If you want the same result then do the same things.
If you want a different result then you must do something differently.

If every conversation you have also involves you checking your phone for Facebook updates or messaging someone else then you aren’t engaging. The other person isn’t going to feel listened to or respected, and you will get pushed down a little in the order of importance in that persons life, it’s not rocket science.

Have you ever met someone that seems to deliberately disagree with you over something, just for the sake of trying to prove you wrong?
This is often linked to insecurity, where a part of them is desperate to appear more intelligent in order to make them more likeable. But it ends up having the opposite effect.
Be aware of it, because if you feel the pull to behave like that then your self esteem needs a bit of a boost.
We should be able to engage with each other feeling that we’re on the same level, in a non judgemental way.

If you go through life not judging others then you’re less likely to create a feeling that you’re being judged yourself.
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