Throughout your life, you’ve probably heard that some people are inherently more likable than others, and that some people were just unlucky and unlikable due to having certain personality traits, habits, and ways of thinking.
If you hate people-pleasing, yet you’re also overly anxious about it, it can be quite difficult to deal with feeling unlikable. You may think it’s because you’re innately inferior to others, which simply isn’t true, and this thought hurts you more than you think.
Being likable is an essential survival skill, but stressing out about not being as likable as other people can hinder your personal growth and cause you to do counterproductive things like comparing yourself to others who aren’t even on the same life path as yours. This habit leads to a toxic sense of self-worth, which then makes you less able to stand up for yourself when you’re trapped in unfavorable circumstances.
For those who suffer with social anxiety, being likable can seem like a harsh death sentence, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to meet society’s beauty standards, have a degree from an elite school, reach a high level of expertise, be aggressively competitive, or come from a prestigious background to be likable. You don’t have to be a fake person to get people to like you, because for all you know, they may not even care for the fake person you pretend to be. Being empathetic and accommodating while not losing yourself in the process is what you should aim for instead. You owe it to yourself to make life easier, not harder, for yourself, and being likable doesn’t have to give you an overwhelming sense of dread.
So, here’s what being likable actually entails—that there’s no need for you to sacrifice your genuine self, flip your personality around, or compromise your values in the process.
1. Show respect to everyone, no matter what their position is. No matter how much people are being assholes towards you, restrain yourself from yelling back at them. Anger doesn’t solve anything—it only makes you look like you can’t properly control your emotions in a healthy way.
2. If you’re going through a hard time, don’t dramatize all the terrible things you’ve had to face. It makes people feel uncomfortable and it also makes you look like a pathetic, self-centered attention-seeker. There’s a time and place for venting, but when you need to get work done with other people, there’s no time for you to complain about how you’ve had it worse than other people. Nobody really has any sympathy for those who deliberately set out to make everyone else feel bad for them out of some twisted and delusional sense of superiority for having suffered more.
3. Whenever you see someone in need of assistance, offer it to them. A helping hand can go a long way, and if you do this every now and again (without going overboard or looking like you’re trying too hard), you’ll be known as the person who goes out of their way to do random acts of kindness.
4. Don’t exaggerate your enthusiasm. It actually makes you less likable if you force yourself to be overly enthusiastic about something you aren’t enthusiastic about. Instead, it’s better to speak with a positive tone but keep it consistent with the way you actually speak.
5. Love yourself and act like you mean it. The more you love who you inherently are, the less judgmental you’ll be towards others, and accepting yourself as you are leads you to accept others as they are, which then creates genuine connection.
6. Be honest about what you don’t know or can’t do. Don’t cover it up with excuses or try to make a huge backstory about it because rambling on about all the shortcomings you have makes you look incompetent, insecure, and untrustworthy. People would like you more if they believe they can trust you, and if you’re upfront about your limitations, you’ll still gain more trust than if you pretended that you knew something you didn’t or if you gave too many extraneous details and excuses as to why you haven’t mastered something yet.
7. Don’t blame others for any mistake, especially when it’s something you’re personally responsible for. Apologize and take action right away to show that you’re committed to doing your best to solve the problem before it gets worse.
8. Understand that others are going through something and listen to them with compassion and empathy. You are not the only one struggling, and when you show that you’re not too wrapped up in your own problems, people will believe that you’re a genuinely goodhearted person.
9. You don’t need to talk about boring things like the weather or traffic to get others to like you. Instead, ask deeper questions that make people come alive and actually want to answer. Ask about what they like to do, something they’ve read that made them think differently, what songs they’re playing on repeat, or what they’re looking forward to in the near future. This shows that you care about making people feel valued for who they are and that they can share their interests with you without feeling insecure about it.
10. When you’re aggravated or exhausted, allow yourself to step back, simply observe your surroundings, and listen. While lashing out is inappropriate, you don’t have to overexert yourself by going to the opposite extreme. Even when you feel pressured to put up an energetic and happy front all the time, you actually don’t have to—you can’t demand this from yourself all the time and most people will understand this.
11. Don’t apologize when it isn’t necessary, especially when you’re not even at fault. It doesn’t make you look self-sacrificial or humble. It just makes you look paranoid and insecure, and this in turn influences people to believe that you’re less trustworthy.
12. Be flexible and open to doing things differently. If you’re set in your ways and believe that you know best, you send out a red flag that shows you’re unable to cooperate or accommodate other people’s different working and learning styles. People like those who make them feel valued and not imposing your way onto other people is the most critical step in becoming a more cooperative and open-minded person.
13. Believe in people even when they doubt themselves. Encourage them to pursue whatever it is they think they cannot do because you’ll stand out from other people they know, especially if you’re one of the few who sees their potential as opposed to the naysayers who use fear and harsh criticism to crush their dreams and influence them to stop believing in themselves.
14. If you aren’t interested in something, don’t fake it. It’ll be worse if you fake it and then people find out you’re just pretending to like something for the sake of being included.
15. Know your own worth. While this may sound counterintuitive, especially when you keep neglecting your own worth due to being anxious about pleasing others, this actually helps you become more likable. When you know your worth, you’re less likely to grovel for attention, say “yes” to promises you can’t keep, and get stressed over unpredictable changes. All in all, never losing sight of your own worth is what will make you have a lasting, positive impression on others, far more than simply being an anxious people-pleaser without a solid sense of identity.