It’s very difficult to be objective about your own personality traits. In psychology, there’s a bias known as the better than average effect. Put simply, it means most people think they’re better than average in most ways: we think we’re smarter than average, we think we’re better looking than average, we think we’re more likeable than average, and of course, we think we’re less susceptible to biased thinking than average.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it feels good to think we’re better than average. But, this type of thinking comes at a cost. When there’s a difference between what we think our personality is like, and what it’s actually like, it’s very easy to make the same mistakes over and over again, without knowing we’re making those mistakes.
Learning to be likeable shouldn’t be hard, the steps involved are quite simple: listen well, show interest, find commonalities, be positive, and be honest. If you did all those things, you’d be one of the most likeable people in any room, and there’s nothing intrinsically challenging about doing any of those things.
But, learning to likeable IS hard. Not because the steps to become likeable are complicated, but because we don’t know what it is about us that isn’t likeable. Truthfully, most of us think we’re good listeners, we tend to think we’re positive, and we tend to think we’re charming as hell- even if we’re not.
If people don’t respond to you as positively as you like, if they don’t seem to be charmed by you as you’d hope, it’s probably not for the reasons you think it is. It’s probably something you’re not aware of, but that is obvious to others. Maybe you don’t listen well, maybe you make everything in a conversation all about you, or maybe you take things to a negative place too often.
But it would be hard to admit that you do any of those things. It’s not easy to be aware of our own negative personality traits, our ego is way too involved when it comes to our own likeability.
So, I could tell you the steps to becoming a good listener, I could tell you how to be positive, etc. but none of that advice would make much of a difference, because the underlying problem is that you don’t know what it is that prevents you from being incredibly likeable.
Once you know what it is that’s holding you back, it’s not that hard to change, but when you’re not aware of your own bad habits, it’s impossible to change.
I went to my college campus with a friend to meet women and hopefully find a date. I noticed that every time he talked to a girl, she would look pretty uncomfortable. I couldn’t tell what he was doing wrong from a distance, and he wasn’t normally a creepy guy, so I decided to go up to a girl with him- to hear what he was doing that was so off-putting.
He introduced himself and shook hands with the girl (normal enough), but shortly afterwards, he said, “Are you 18 or above?”
She said, “Um, yeah,” and immediately looked uncomfortable.
He followed with, “That’s perfect, so would you like to see me some time to go on a date?”
Of course, she said no.
Now, from an outsider perspective, that’s obviously pretty weird. But he’s from a different country, and legitimately didn’t know that he was doing something so uncomfortable.
Since then, he’s learned the culture better, and his interactions with women are much less awkward. But if someone didn’t tell him that he was talking in a way that isn’t relatable, who knows how long have would have kept making that same mistake.
You might not be making a social mistake as obvious as the above example, but chances are, you’re bad social habits are pretty obvious to the people you interact with.
For most of us, there are some very simple changes we could make to become exponentially more likeable, but it’s not easy to find out what it is we need to change, we are limited by our perspective.
What’s the solution? It’s something a bit unusual, but wickedly effective.
How To Make Anyone Like You: The Technique
When I started recording videos for YouTube, I was full of nerves. It was extremely stressful to talk in front of a camera, and editing the videos made me cringe with discomfort. I noticed all my little bad habits: I would swallow when I was nervous, I would nervously look away from the camera again and again, and my tone sounded very forced.
Although it was uncomfortable watching myself, it was also an amazing education. I noticed countless mistakes I was making, and because I noticed them, I was able to correct them over time. Watching my own YouTube videos let me see myself from the perspective that other people see me from.
And although it was very uncomfortable to watch myself in the third person, it turned out to be the most useful strategy I’ve ever found for making changes to how I present myself to others.
Recording yourself is perhaps a bit strange, but it’s a powerful tool. Recording yourself on video is great, but it’s even better to record audio of yourself interacting with people in real life.1
Look, I’m not saying you need to do this every day, but just recording yourself a few times and then analyzing the audio can give you a lot of invaluable insights about your personality that you never would have noticed otherwise.
You might notice that you interject too much when someone else is talking, you might notice that you take a lot of opportunities to brag, and you might even notice that you sound arrogant. These are all things that I noticed in my recordings, and I had no idea about them before I listened to a recording of myself interacting with people.
If you want, you could let people know you’re recording the conversation, but personally I just use some headphones with a mic and leave the earbuds on the outside of my shirt (like people often do after working out).
You might think people would notice, but I’ve never had that happen, and if it did, I would just say I’m doing a social experiment or explain what I’m doing, no big deal.
I get that this may sound eccentric, but I’m sharing it anyway because I’ve found it to be one of the most useful self-development tools I’ve stumbled on.
Wrapping Up How To Make Anyone Like You
When it comes to being likeable, it’s a lack of self-awareness that gets in our way and causes us to keep repeating the same bad habits day in and day out.
Taking just a couple hours to look at yourself objectively can give you invaluable information that may, at first, be a little embarrassing to notice, but can ultimately pave the way to real improvements. After trying this exercise, you might be surprised to find that becoming more likeable is much easier than you ever previously imagined.
- Recording yourself on video can be useful, but how you interact with a camera is very different than how you interact with other people in real life. If you want to improve your presentation skills, watching your own videos is probably the best method. But if you want to improve your social skills in general, listening to recordings of yourself is probably the best method.
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