THE INC. LIFE

Science Says These 6 Traits Will Make You a Likable Person

Are you interested in others? This would be a good start.

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BY Marcel Schwantes - 13 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There are so many factors to consider when it comes to being a person that will attract others to you. Perhaps showcasing your emotional intelligence and keeping your cool under pressure is a feature of your likability. The possibilities of being likable are endless.

Whatever the case, if you're looking to boost your influence to connect with people in high places, or expand your business and social networks, start paying attention to what science is saying will make you more likable.

1. Be curious and ask interesting questions

Want to be the most interesting person in the room? In a previous article, I posed seven questions a person needs to ask that will ignite captivating conversations. But in order for that scenario to happen, curiosity is the social prerequisite.

Several studies published in the Greater Good Science Center reveal that curious people have better relationships and connect better with others. In fact, other people are more easily attracted and feel socially closer to individuals that display curiosity.

George Mason University psychologist Todd Kashdan, author of Curious?, conducted one of the studies and wasn't surprised by his findings: "Being interested is more important in cultivating a relationship and maintaining a relationship than being interesting; that's what gets the dialogue going. It's the secret juice of relationships," stated Kashdan.

2. Describe other people in the positive

Research has found that when it comes to winning people over, lavishing them with positive comments will give others a positive perception of you. But beware: That also works for negative comments.

The studies, conducted by Purdue University and published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggest that when someone says something, good or bad, about someone else, people tend to associate that trait with the person who made the statement.

So, for example, if you call another person dishonest, the people you're speaking to will tend to remember you, the speaker, as being less than honest.

On the flip side, when people hear someone describe someone else as, say, intelligent or funny, the brain conjures up an image of intelligence or humor. That somehow gets linked to a mental image of the speaker, so when the listeners are asked to recall the speaker later, the intelligence or humorous traits are also activated and the speaker is remembered as a smart or funny person.

3. Make an immediate good first impression with your face

While that sounds obvious enough, according to Dr. Donna Van Natten, the Body Language Dr., people can judge us in just a 10th of a second. And in two or more seconds, people's judgments of us tend to become more negative. In an in-depth interview to discuss her new book, Image Scrimmage, I asked her how we can avoid this. She said it comes down to two things: teeth and eyes. Here's Van Natten's explanation:

As visual beings, we seek to lock eyes with others for an immediate pupil, eye, and facial read, including exposed teeth, smiles, skin color, and physical stature. We know that smiles are universal and clear indicators of "it's ok, I'm safe." People need to work on their smiles. Some may have unhealthy teeth and that's frustrating and impacts smiles and, too often, self-esteem. We judge the condition of our teeth for health, beauty, and economic status. We like to see teeth. So, smile! We also quickly seek eye contact and that's a struggle for some people. But, in our country, we are an eye contact culture for a sign of trust. People aren't hopeless, but they are definitely making impressions and hopeful that we'll mirror each other -- monkey see, monkey do. Try smiling at a stranger--they usually smile back or at least nod. In both cases, there's eye contact and a quick connection. We need this as humans.

4. Listen. Really listen

Are you a good listener? Let me test you with two quick questions. Now, lets be honest...

• How often do you find yourself trying hard to avoid the bad habit of interrupting others while they are speaking?

• Do you find yourself tempted to jump in and finish someone else's sentence?

Active Listening is one of the least-taught skills in leadership, yet the most utilized. As this historic study on human communication, published in Harvard Business Review decades ago, points out, we spend 70 to 80 percent of our waking hours in some form of communication, and of that time, 45 percent is spent listening.

The worst part? When you talk to a friend, boss, co-worker, or customer for 10 minutes, we pay attention to less than half of the conversation. Within 48 hours, whatever information we've retained decreases to 25 percent. In other words, we often comprehend and retain only one-fourth of what we hear.

If you want to drive down the fast-track to likability, start actively listening to others with intent.

Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind make the need for good listening evident in their research published in the book Talk, Inc.

They found that the most effective leaders in more than 100 companies employ the principles of "organizational conversation." The secret? Operate your business as if it were two people having a conversation.

In their Harvard Business Review article "Leadership Is a Conversation," Groysberg and Slind state:

Leaders who take organizational conversation seriously know when to stop talking and start listening. Few behaviors enhance conversational intimacy as much as attending to what people say. True attentiveness signals respect for people of all ranks and roles, a sense of curiosity, and even a degree of humility.

5. Choose every opportunity to experience joy

Ever been around people who are really positive and happy all the time? For your average mood swinger, they can be annoying as heck! But here's what you can learn from people who genuinely express joy: They choose to enjoy life to the fullest. You now find yourself wanting to be part of their tribe--to soak up their positive energy, passion, and enthusiasm for life. These are extremely likable people.

These people express their joy in making a positive difference in the lives of others. They visit nursing homes, share meals with lonely people, learn to surf, volunteer at homeless shelters, teach CPR classes, eat exotic foods, and learn something new every day.

They are also naturals at guiding others along the path they need to take, and inspiring others to scale the mountain and meet their goals. They let people grapple with their issues, but will come alongside someone to cheer them on to success. You can't help but be empowered and feel happy yourself when in their company.

6. Don't pass judgment

Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of the bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and president of TalentSmart, has collected research data from more than a million people to uncover the strengths of those who possess emotional intelligence (EQ).

Bradberry found that they are not only highly likeable, but they outperform those who don't have EQ by a large margin. And one of their strengths is not passing judgment. Bradberry expands on this finding:

If you want to be likeable you must be open-minded. Being open-minded makes you approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen. Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace where approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people's eyes. This doesn't require you believe what they believe or condone their behavior, it simply means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick. Only then can you let them be who they are.

Well stated. What a judgmental attitude will do is alienate your colleagues. A good strategy to increase one's self-awareness is to stop jumping to conclusions before hearing all the facts, and start listening intently. Remember the saying, "When we judge, we invite judgment upon ourselves.".