How to be likable and improve quality of relationships, on and off the road.

Driving twenty-one hours from Arizona to Washington makes one wonder, “How did the westward expansion pioneers cross endless miles of Nevada sagebrush with their minds intact without Sirius satellite radio and GPS?” One asks, “When will the Wi-Fi be up? Where is the next rest stop? Are we there yet?” (No, we’re still driving.) Yet, the thing I am pondering most is likability. As in, my travel buddies are extremely likable and this trip would be painful if not for their pleasant company. There is nothing else quite like being sequestered in a small confine with other human beings to test and confirm the value of likability.

My travel buddies are well-practiced in basic behaviors and skills that can be learned by anyone to build rapport and connect with others. Here’s a summary of How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert,

  • Focus on them. Really listen, don’t just wait to talk.
  • Ask them questions; don’t try to come up with stories to impress.
  • Ask people about what’s been challenging them.
  • Establishing a time constraint early in the conversation can put strangers at ease.
  • Smile, chin down, blade your body, palms up, open and upward non-verbals.
  • If you think someone is trying to manipulate you, clarify goals. Don’t be hostile or aggressive, but ask them to be straight about what they want.

Likable behaviors and skills, such as smiling and listening, can be genuine and avoid being manipulative when they come from true respect. This is especially true when we move from building rapport with strangers to engaging with those we’ll encounter regularly, such as work colleagues, social media networks, and friends. Here are a few examples of respectful rapport building principles from 10 ridiculously simple steps to becoming more likable,

  • Confident doesn’t mean stuck up, and humble doesn’t mean insecure. There is a middle ground between narcissistic and timid. This is where the likable people live.
  • If you want to be a charmer, go for the elaborate flattery. If you want to become more likable, keep the compliments sincere.

Being sincerely likable includes telling the truth and showing true emotions, especially to those we love and call family. Likable can move past a superficial level to lovable when those involved are trust worthy and engaged. For example, children can be taught and practice being likable within the context of family as described in the article, Is your child likable?

  • Kids need to know how to let others “hold the floor” – constantly interrupting, blurting out, and talking only about themselves undermines likability
  • Kids need to know how to play cooperatively – how to take turns, work together, and listen to other points of view
  • Kids should know how to be gracious – they should share in others’ joy and be a good sport
  • Kids should know how to bring themselves to their interactions with others – being overly withdrawn is not an asset with peers
  • Kids should know how to be positive – having enthusiasm is much more appealing than being the naysayer

Driving twenty-one hours back to Arizona from Washington challenges me to ask myself, “How can I be more likable to my travel buddies? Be a better listener? Ask about the challenges they face? Compliment them? Engage positively?” Especially when the Wi-Fi is down and the nearest rest stop is 134 miles away.

Do you value likability in yourself or others? Do you consider yourself likable, why or why not? Do others consider you likable? Which likability skill is your weakest or strongest?

Best ~~~~~~~~ Angie Mc

69 thoughts on “How to be likable and improve quality of relationships, on and off the road.

    • I can vouch for the getting to know you, all good part, Vic 😀 You make a *very* important point that I didn’t expand. Being likable, thankfully, isn’t dependent upon a certain style or temperament of a person. One of my travel buddies, my husband, is quiet and reserved as well. What makes him so likable is his generosity, patience, good humor, and willingness to drive all 42 hours!

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  1. Also, there is no in between with me–either folks love me or dislike me immensely. Partly, because I tell the truth less the chaser and coated-candy. I both love and like myself, except for those days that I’m getting on my own nerves! Lol 😂 But, across the board, I’ve received rave reviews about my travel companionship as I truly enjoy the experience and am a tad silly, so it usually keeps things light! 😊

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    • “getting on my own nerves” <- that's me, LOL! I imagine that we need to consider being likable towards/for ourselves too 😀 Well, I'm glad to fall into the "love Keisha" camp, for sure. You are amazingly likable, as shown by your many encounters of courtesy at the Phoenix Farmer's Market. I can definitely see your being an excellent travel buddy. Your blog shows that you "get" that travel is for enjoying the scene and our companions. BTW, yes to coffee soon ❤

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  2. I love this! The tips from the FBI behavior expert was interesting. I never would have thought of the time constraint thing. It’s actually true when you think about it…it takes a lot of pressure of to know the conversation will be quick 🙂

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    • I agree that the time constraint one, Jill. I needed to it read twice! Then I saw the light 😀 It reminded me of using “10 words or less” with my children when they were young. I would count my words while holding my fingers to show them that they only needed to listen carefully to my directions/concerns for 10 words. It’s a relief for all involved. I still use this tip with my husband ;-D

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      • Yes, I thought the time constraint was interesting as well. I guess that is something I will need to pay more attention to. I am usually the person trying to “break the ice” so it would come in handy to keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Funny you use it on your husband LOL But I might just need to do that, too, because my husband seems to get lost in what I say quite often:p
        Wonderful post!

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      • Thank you very much for your feedback, Nena! Short and sweet communication has it’s place, right?! I totally know what you mean about your husband getting “lost” in your words. The funniest is when not only my husband but my 3 sons get that dumbfounded look on their faces when I get in on verbal roll. Poor things 😉

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      • Do let me know if you give it a try! I learned the trick from a mom of 5 when I had 2. She was amazing and “10 words or less” can work both ways as in, “Can you tell me in 10 words or less?” Kids are really good at it!

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  3. “There is nothing else quite like being sequestered in a small confine with other human beings to test and confirm the value of likability.”—Ha, truer words were never spoken.

    Introverts tend to be good listeners, but we might fail on the body language tip listed above. We don’t tend to have very receptive body language, something we need to work on.

    Glad you survived your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Carrie! We strolled into town late last night and I’m especially loving my introverted husband right about now ❤ You hit the nail on the head. My husband is an amazing listener (which matches well with my amazing talking, lol) and he has needed to learn how to make his body language match his words/intentions. When I first met his family, I was shocked that not one of them smiled! Introverts one and all. Fortunately, as I've mentioned to you before, our family is a mix which really helps us to be empathetic to differences.

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  4. Mmm, I am an acquired taste. Those who love me really love me. Most people can do without me. I’d say I’m not particularly likable, not that I mind. I don’t lack social graces at all, but I’m too outspoken for a lot of people. I bore of small talk and ‘polite conversation.’ My husband is the same, but he’s incredibly charming, a total flirt. He says he draws people in with his charisma and then they figure out I’m the keeper. It’s a nice story, so I let him tell it, and I let myself believe it.
    I like the focus on the kids learning, especially assertion. I work on that with my kids a lot.

    Liked by 4 people

    • “Acquired taste” <- I like that, Joey! Outspoken is something I highly value, especially when the truth is being spoken AND often with great humor (oh do I highly value humor). I also adore charmers, I really do. Charmers can be SO likable. The gentleman who fixes our house is a total charmer and I say things to him like, "You're charming me again Keith, and I love it!" I think your story is true and a keeper 😀 Working with your kids makes this topic real, doesn't it? I mean, everyone is growing up together, working it out together. Love it (when I'm not completely exhausted from all the growing, working, learning)!

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  5. Love this post, Angie, It reminds me of “How To Win Friends and Influence People” from back in the day; it was a must-read for anyone in sales careers, but applied to every facet of life. The concept of really listening, and not just “waiting to talk” is something I’ve had to work on, my whole life. Great tips here, so very useful. ☺

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    • Jim, do many of these likable “skills” feel natural to you? I ask because you appear effortless in your ability to get along with most anyone, from the homeless to elite cyclists to go-getter Mark B 😉 I’m a smiler from way back, but some of the other skills I’ve need to choose to learn!

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      • That’s very kind of you, Angie, and you pose a very good question. I think I’m hard-wired to some extent to try to get along with others, although it doesn’t always work that way. I think being a newspaper reporter for 20-plus years contributed to my penchant for getting along with a variety of people. Sure, there are abrasive reporters, but I think for the most part you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Sometimes I have to bust out the vinegar and administer as needed, but not too often. 🙂 Thanks again for such a thought-provoking post.

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      • You describe a powerful nature plus nurture combination, Jim. Honey in the form of respect, truth, likability can be salve on souls caught up in the challenges of life. Lots to ponder here, thank you! And to digress a bit, I’m sorry for the recent loss of the two young journalists. My daughter, being a journalist too, has shown me the fraternal side of journalism. Sending my best to all affected by this tragedy.

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    • Ha! Your kids are on the road to gracious behavior, believe it or not, Scott! Siblings have a way of working things out and making each other better. Gracious comes after they move out of the house, from my experience ;-D

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  6. Well stated, my dear Angie….
    I totally agree with you when you say> Being sincerely likable includes telling the truth and showing true emotions, especially to those we love and call family….
    Thanks so much for sharing this meaningful post… All my best wishes. Aquileana 🐬🐳🐋

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  7. We have had some pretty awesome trips with friends because everyone is wacky and gets along well. But more importantly because we plan well and enjoy each other’s company. It doesn’t hurt that I have a degree in psychology and love to pick their brains on certain issues either without them always knowing, LOL

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  8. Very interesting post, Angie. I especially enjoyed your comment about teaching kids to know how to let others “hold the floor”. I remember those days with my boys, vividly. That is a hard lesson to teach when they’ve been the object of everyone’s attention. I finally came up with a system where they were to send me a signal they wanted to talk, and then wait until I acknowledged them. They put their index finger on their lips to let me know they had something they wanted to say. Even this was not foolproof with young ones.

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    • Now that’s smart parenting, Michelle. Teaching children how to be discreet at times is a monumental task! I recall my little ones all raising their hands at the table to talk, but there would be so much “oo oo” and other noises made in their effort not to interrupt or make noise, lol! Love it! Hope your week is off to a great start 😀

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  9. Lovely post! This helps me figure out news ways of communicating with others! I love road trips…but have never experienced a trip this long before. I look forward to adventures like this. I try to believe that I am usual able to get others talking. I love discussions and jump on the opportunity to get other perspectives on topics/ I agree that we shouldn’t come up with stories to impress someone. That just screams annoying!

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  10. Great advice here, Angie. My strength is encouraging others through sincere compliments, and my weakness is not listening as closely as I wish I would—but I’m working on it. One of the reasons why I like blogging is I can take my time and carefully read what the writer has to say. It’s helped me to listen better in person too. Now I’ll go check one of your links. Thank you.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    • I’m identifying with the strengths and weaknesses you mention, Wendy. Thank you for connecting them to a reason to like blogging; that by taking my time to carefully read, I’m practicing a form of listening…that’s right! A very cheering thought, indeed 😀 Blessings right back at you and a beautiful Sunday as well ❤

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  11. Angie – Terrific topic and discussion that followed. Without conversation and all that evolves around it, where would mankind be? My weakest attribute is that sometimes I just want to check out. I become tired and information seems to come from every direction and it’s hard to concentrate. I have learned it’s better to excuse myself than to become cranky. [I send myself to a make-believe room, much as a parent used to do with a child]. My all time annoyance is when individuals cannot carry on a conversation without looking at their cell phone. My theory is that I lived many years without one, therefore I can turn mine off when I’m in conversation with a real live individual, having dinner, spending time with Tom and endless other examples. I’m concerned about the breakdown of the American family due to everyone being on their cell phones instead of actually talking to each other and having a sit-down dinner.

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    • Great perspective, Sheri! While we’re a cell phone heavy family, when we’re together, we put each other first. But you aw right. This takes habit and discipline. I do see parents make the mistake of allowing their kids to check out with their phone (especially listening to music which I love) when in a social setting. I liken it to when I was a teen and some teens were allowed to check out by being aloof, bored, impatient. The key for us is to expect engagement when appropriate. And to find ways to make ourselves engaging (to some extent) to younger generations. You’ll be glad to know that all (most) of the kids who come to my home much prefer to talk my ear off and eat my food than be on their phones ☺️ Praying for you and Tom as your prepare for Wednesday ❤️

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      • Angie, It tells me a lot about you that kids coming to your home would rather talk with you and eat your food than be on their phones. You are available and interested. They respect you and obviously they are getting great info from your kids at the same time [not because you take long vacations and leave them at home to party alone] but because you and Dave make a family and stay engaged in their lives. What a difference real parenting makes.
        I too love listening to music and normally have a playlist on when I’m in my office alone. However, if I’m on the phone or Tom needs me or even if the dog wants to go out, the earbuds come out and I’m game on.
        One of the reasons I continue to mentor students, both high school and college, is to stay present in their world and be aware of what’s important to those responsible for all of our tomorrow’s. It always makes me feel great when I’m introduced as, “My cool older friend.” I’ve always believed in mentoring and did so during my career. When I retired, it only seemed natural to continue doing so and I’ve always been thankful for the decision I made.

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