The best ways to make people like you

    Your adoring fans await. Photo by Half Chinese on flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons.

    You know that friend you have who seems to get along with everyone? The one who makes friends wherever she goes, wins the admiration of students and professors and gets internship offers practically thrown at her every summer? Yeah, that person. Whom you want to hate, but can’t, because she’s just so darn likable.

    How does she do it? It’s not because she’s better-looking. It’s not because she’s smarter. And it certainly has nothing to do with Facebook friend-count.

    Nicholas Boothman, author of the bestselling How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less, said that he realized wherever he went, there were two groups of people: one that got along with everyone and another that couldn’t. “It was nothing to do with looks and nothing to do with talent, so I wanted to figure out what it was,” Boothman said.

    There is no one key to forming a rapport with someone, according to Boothman. A successful interaction results from a combination of several behaviors.

    Impress with a first impression.

    A good impression begins with a good greeting, according to How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less. When meeting someone you should follow this sequence: Open your body towards them, look them directly into the eye, give a big beaming smile, greet them with enthusiasm, and lean in towards them just slightly.

    If you’re into abbreves, just remember this sequence: open, eye, beam, hi, lean. Whether you are being introduced to a cutie at the Keg or greeting a recruiter at a job fair, this simple greeting will create a good first impression. But what next?

    Enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

    We’ve all experienced those awkward moments after first meeting someone where we inevitably resort to, “So…um…whatchya studyin’?” You can do better.

    Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, written in 1936 and one of the first bestselling self-help books, reminds the reader that people love to talk about themselves. Anything from “I love your shoes, where did you get them?” to “How is your day going today?” is a great way to engage people in their favorite conversation topic, which, unsurprisingly, is themselves.

    “Here’s the bottom line,” said Boothman. “People like people who are like themselves. You have to adapt like a chameleon and find a way to be like them.”

    But this doesn’t mean feigning an interest in pro basketball when you don’t know the difference between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Rather, in the first few minutes of meeting someone, adjust your tone of voice to match theirs, try to find some common ground, or give feedback that indicates you share an interest in what they are saying.

    It’s all in the attitude… and your memoir.

    Enter new situations with a positive attitude to avoid being accidentally perceived as rude or hostile. “Charming people understand that by adjusting your attitude you will be massively more likely to get what you want,” Boothman said.

    Being well-liked may help you after leaving Northwestern, too. Lest you scoff at these pieces of advice, consider the fate of some of these well-known people who weren’t quite likable enough. In politics, John Kerry’s loss to George W. Bush in 2004 was attributed in part to his inability to connect with voters on a personal level. Martha Stewart is so disliked by her neighbors that she has been sued numerous times. And of course, infamous Vogue editor Anna Wintour had a best-selling novel and hit motion picture, all based on her notoriously difficult personality.

    “These reputations at some point, become fairly solidified,” according to Professor Gary Alan Fine, a Northwestern sociology professor and author of the book, Difficult Reputations: Collective Memories of the Evil, Inept and Controversial which studies political reputations throughout history.

    Fortunately, most students have not hit this point of solidification yet. As Boothman said, “Making people like you is a skill that anyone can learn.”


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