My current emphasis: how to make good habits and break bad ones (really)

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This Wednesday: Seven tips for making someone like you.

MagnetThis Wednesday: Seven tips for making someone like you.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Seven tips for making someone like you.

Well, no. You can’t actually MAKE someone like you. But you can behave in ways that will make it slightly more likely.

We all want to feel that other people like us, that they seek our company, that they enjoy being with us. Having close relationships is one of the most meaningful elements to happiness. Also, social contact brings a big boost in mood—for extroverts and introverts alike (surprising though this may seem).

To form a friendship, you must like someone. But you must also be likeable.

How can you boost the chances that someone will like you? Here are seven strategies to keep in mind:

1. Smile. No, this doesn’t come as shock, but studies do show that the amount of time you smile during a conversation has a direct impact on how friendly you’re perceived to be.

2. Be easily impressed, entertained, and interested. Most people get more pleasure from wowing you with their humor and insight than from being wowed by your humor and insight.

3. Have a friendly, open, engaged demeanor. Lean toward people, nod, say “Uh-huh,” turn your body to face the other person’s body. Don’t turn your body away, cross your arms, answer in monosyllables, or scan the room (or look at your Blackberry! I have seen this happen!) as the other person talks.

4. Remember trait transfer. In “trait transfer,” whatever you say about other people influences how people see you. If you describe a co-worker as brilliant and charismatic, your acquaintance will tend to associate you with those qualities. Conversely, if you describe a co-worker as arrogant and obnoxious, those traits will stick to you. So watch what you say.

5. Laugh at yourself. Showing vulnerability and a sense of humor make you more likable and approachable. However, don’t push this too self-deprecation too far – keep it light. You’ll make others uncomfortable if you run yourself down too much.

6. Radiate energy and good humor. Because of the phenomenon of “emotional contagion,” people catch the emotions of other people, and they prefer to catch an upbeat, energetic mood. Even if you pride yourself on your cynicism, biting humor, or general edginess, these qualities can be conveyed with warmth.

7. Show your liking for another person. We’re much more apt to like someone if we think that person likes us. Look for ways to signal that you enjoy a person’s company.

It’s particularly worth your effort to be your friendliest when you meet someone for the first time. Studies show that within ten minutes of meeting a new person, we decide how close a relationship we’ll have with that new acquaintance, and that in evaluating people, we weigh early information much more heavily than information acquired later.

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One of the joys of the internet is that it makes it so much easier to stay in contact with people who otherwise might have drifted out of sight. Through email and her great blog, The Flame Tree, I keep tabs on an old friend who is now living an adventurous life on the other side of the world.

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