As a dating coach, I help people become more likable so they can find love. But working on those dating skills can often have a halo effect: As people learn to become more likable to potential partners, they often see improvements at work and in other relationships, too.
Likability is crucial in every aspect of our lives, professionally and personally. People want to date people they like, elect people they like and do business with people they like. The good news is that your likability quotient or charisma isn't something you're just born with. You can develop it. Here are five easy ways to improve your likability quotient, or LikeQ, today:
1. Become Socially Generous
One of our most fundamental needs is to feel liked, accepted, and important. Become socially generous and make people feel good about themselves. A great way to remember this is as follows, "The best way to get someone to like you is to like them first."
Look for what is good in them, and make them feel like a million bucks. Compliment them sincerely, be present when you're talking with them, listen with all of your might, and find places where you have connections and can agree with them.
2. Be Positive and Enthusiastic
One common thing all likable people have is a generally positive attitude. They are the ones who manage to see the bright side in things, have something fun to say, comment on, and bring people up. Your mood is contagious, so if you're feeling like Debbie Downer, you are definitely going to bring those around you down.
Before you interact with new people, think about the things in your life that are positive, that you love and are excited about. Or, if you're at a new event, observe things you like about the venue, the speakers, etc., and contribute to conversations based on something positive. In our dating practice at Smart Dating Academy, we have a coaching exercise called "The Dating Resume" to practice answers to the top getting-to-know-you dating questions you'll be asked (where do you work, what do you like to do, tell me about your divorce). We mock date every client to make sure that their conversational soundbites sound positive and fun.
3. Look more Approachable
Understanding what your facial expression looks like in everyday settings is really crucial to looking warmer and becoming more likable. I consult with a beautiful female physician at a major Chicago hospital whose boss told her she needed more charisma, and that her patient satisfaction scores needed to go up. Upon getting to know her, she was lovely, but when you first met her, her piercing blue eyes and serious countenance made her appear downright icy.
During our first meeting together, I asked her to describe her job while I was videotaping her. Upon viewing the footage, she had tears in her eyes; she was really shocked at how cold and aloof her facial expressions were. Next, I had her do a second video, describing her job, but smiling the entire time (even while she was talking which feels super awkward). The simple change of smiling changed everything. She couldn't believe how much lovelier she looked while smiling - and how easy it was to do. The work results were staggering. Her patient satisfaction scores climbed rapidly above 90 percent, which she was thrilled about.
To do this at home, you can have someone videotape you, and practice until you find an expression/style that you like, or even just practice alone in the mirror, which is also very effective. When you find an expression you like, your face will develop muscle memory for it, and you'll be able to put it on your face pretty easily and know how it looks.
4. Listen to Understand
Make this your new silent mantra before you enter any conversation: "Listen to Understand." When you start to practice this, you will find yourself actively listening to friends, family and strangers with intent focus – in a natural way. Listening to understand means trying to really understand what the person is saying and feeling. This type of listening makes a world of difference. It will make your conversational partner feel understood and comfortable and open up in ways you wouldn't imagine.
I say "Listen to Understand" to myself during conversations, and it has become a great mantra and centering point to focus on the person speaking to me. Every day when my kids come home from school, I “listen to understand” them, and hear the little details about their day that make me smile. They get their day off their chest, and feel like someone gets them. When you listen to understand, people will instinctively like you, love talking to you, want to be around you and seek you out for your great advice.
5. Be Thoughtful With Your Emails
Instead of firing out one-word emails that can seem cold and abrasive, try to warm up your messages. A good way to do this is to put yourself in the receiver's shoes and read the email from their vantage point. When appropriate, throw in a "I hope you had a great weekend" or "Thank you so much for your help." If the environment is right, use an exclamation mark or emoji to show excitement or warmth. (One is enough: Match.com did a survey that showed that singles who use one positive emoji per text or email were interpreted as warmer and smarter, and had more sex.)
A dating client of ours implemented these tips, and within three months was promoted to Global Project Manager from "Assistant," because his team respected and liked him more. And he got much better work out of his team. Use these five tips, and you will start to see the differences in how people treat and react to you. I wouldn't be surprised if you have lots more lunch and party invitations, and maybe even a promotion.
Bela Gandhi is a contributor to NBC’s Better and Today.com and is the founder of Smart Dating Academy.