How to Be More Likable

There's something about likable people that lift spirits. Not everyone is born with the natural charisma that can knock socks off, but there are some skills that can be acquired at any time. The result? An uptick in what is known as "emotional intelligence." In a nutshell, it's the ability to understand your emotions, and the emotions of others. For some people, the social graces that go along with emotional intelligence are easier imagined than done. It's worth the effort, though; empathetic people are more likable. Their social skills can pave the way for better relationships, seed new friendships, and even improve work environments.

Here are five easy tricks that can boost likability:

Ask Questions

The New York Times ran a story that discussed why some people were more likable than others. The common denominator? When it came to conversation, they asked questions. Think about it: The more questions you ask to follow up on what someone is saying, the more interested you will seem in the person you're speaking to. It sounds so simple, but consider this old advice chestnut: Most people listen with the intent of responding. Listen with the intent to listen.


This one is a no-brainer. Smiling people seem friendlier, more open, and willing to engage. When you offer someone a warm, genuine smile, it's like offering them an invitation to your inner circle. It's an invitation to talk. You're making someone feel seen, and like they matter. What's not to like?

Stay Focused

You know those awful people at parties who constantly stare over the shoulder of whoever's speaking in order to see who the next person is who's walking through the door? Don't be that person! This doesn't mean you need to talk to only one person all night long (offering to refresh a drink is a great escape hatch at a party). That said, it's more fulfilling to get to know a couple of new people than to spread yourself thin and not get to know anyone at all. Don't glance at your phone, either! It can wait!

Remember Names

Rebecca, the film = Rebecca, my new acquaintance!

This isn't easy, but if you keep these few tricks from Psychology Todayin your back pocket, then Rachel-Who-You've-Just-Met won't accidentally become Rebecca. 1) When someone tells you their name, pay attention--don't let your attention wander during these first few moments. 2) Repeat their name back to them. "Hi Rebecca, it's so nice to meet you." 3) Make an association with their name. Maybe you have a niece named Rebecca, or adore the old black and white film Rebecca, based on the Daphne de Maurier novel. 4) Finally, make a connection between your new acquaintance and the association you drummed up. For example, visualize new Rebecca in a glamorous flower-studded dress, like in the movie.

Don't Be a One-Upper

It's quite possible that you ran the marathon faster; ate in a cuter trattoria when you were in Rome; had a worse fight with your boyfriend. But you don't always have to say so! If someone is telling you a story, don't turn it into a competition. For some people, this is an old habit that dies hard. It's not meant to make people feel bad—in fact, it's a way to show enthusiasm for what they're talking about. This doesn't mean it comes off that way, though. Try taking a deep breath or counting to five when you feel yourself leaping into what they're saying.

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