A guy walks into a bar…
He tells good jokes.
And when he speaks, people listen.
You’re drawn to him, but you don’t know why exactly.
He’s just… charismatic.
Maybe it’s not in a bar, but I’m sure you’ve met someone like him. He’s the life of the party and everyone likes him.
Grrr…. Why can’t you be like him?
Far too many people believe being likeable is a god-given talent. A precious gift bestowed only to a lucky few — the charming, good looking, and talented few.
But that’s not true.
A New Angle Likability
Tons of articles and books have been written about likeability, charisma or whatever you wanna call it. Some are based on experience, some on psychology, or social studies. But have you ever wondered how celebrities do it?
People like celebrities. They’re admired, worshipped even. So how come we like them, even if most of us haven’t met, let alone talked to them?
Yes, you and I don’t have their wealth and fame. We don’t have hit TV-shows or any huge platform for that matter. But now, we have the chance to be as likeable as they are, straight from their playbook.
How to Be Likable, Straight from the Stars
1. Show Vulnerability
“I already mourn my father; now I mourn the veterans he served,” says Kerry Cahill, who played Lt. Whitley in Terminator Genisys and Wendy in the TV series, Zoo.
You can quickly build a connection with someone when they know you’re just a normal person, who bleeds, struggles, and cries just like any human on this planet.
Cahill doesn’t do it to illicit sympathy or gain more followers. But it’s an important cause for her, and it shows in the way she talks about it. Cahill said,
“My father’s honorable and faithful service lives on in me and I am committed to doing all I can to raise awareness of the ongoing issues for our veterans and active duty.”
“When people share their stories, there can be a two-pronged effect: they can help people and that can transfer into being relatable”, says Tracie Hovey, CEO of Ovation PR.
2. Show it Through Body Language
Politicians aren’t celebrities per se but they must be likeable to win an election.
Shaking hands and waving to the crowds isn’t enough. If you’re pre-occupied, it shows in your body. Bill Clinton is a master of this, Hillary isn’t.
When Bill Clinton shakes your hand, his whole body will point toward your direction. Hillary, on the other hand, seems distracted. In the first picture, she’s shaking hands while her body is facing away from the person she’s greeting, in the second she’s shaking hands while walking.
Body Language expert Dr. Jack Brown explains this,
“We turn our whole body — eyes, head, shoulders, hips and feet — towards those we like and respect.”
When you’re campaigning for any political office, you’re expected to shake hands with many people. You can’t get to everyone, of course. So the natural tendency is to shake as many hands as you can, right?
It’s the same with mixers, office parties and formal events — the number of hands you shake won’t matter much compared to the quality of connection you pack in that brief encounter. (Tweet this quote)
By pointing your whole body towards the person you’re engaged in, you’re increasing the rapport you build.
3. Show Your Funny Side
Being funny is a given for likable people. It’s almost a cliché advice but there’s more to it besides cracking a joke.
April Masini, author of four best-selling relationship books and former TV & Film producer, says “You have to be smart to be funny.”
There’s a belief that comedians are smart, and Masini gave me the best explanation I’ve heard so far:
“Unless you’re slipping on a banana peel and people are laughing at you, making someone laugh requires intelligence because it usually calls up and mixes reference points that your audience didn’t previously connect”
What’s happening in people’s heads is more interesting though: When people laugh at your jokes, they think you’re smart. More importantly, they think THEY are smart, too, for understanding your joke.
Not sure how to tell a good joke? Check out this guide from Comic Wonder.
4. Dress For The Occasion
First impressions count. Whether you meet new friends or stay alone by the bar, will be determined by what you wear.
“Your clothing choices can accentuate your day or throw you off your game,” confirms celebrity stylist Sam Russell, who’s worked with countless celebrities including Stevie Wonder and Sophia Bush.
For the ladies, “wear eye-catching jewelry when you want a genuine conversation starter,” says Russell. Beware of loud logos and patterns that could be uneasy to the eye. “If the eyes don’t like it, people will rarely want to get closer, explains Russell.
But he also admits that looks can only take you so far. He explains,
“Visual stimuli are temporary. One rule to the path of likability is to treat the waiter and CEO like equal VIPs. Likeable actors on the rise know that.” (Tweet this)
5. Celebrate The Success And Goodness of Others
“Though charismatic people are aware of their strengths and achievements, they’re also careful not to cross the line into narcissism,” says Stacia Pierce, coach and motivational speaker who’s worked with Grammy Winners and Shark Tank judges.
Compliment people on their strengths. Celebrate their achievements. Share the limelight, because the more you do, the more it shines back on you.
6. Show Your True Colors, Even If People May Not Like It
It takes guts to come out of the closet. It’s career-breaking when you’re a celebrity.
In 1997, Ellen De Generes revealed she’s a lesbian on her sitcom, Ellen. Society wasn’t so accepting back then. Her advertisers backed out, they took away her airtime, and eventually the show was cancelled due to low ratings.
Now, because of her authenticity, her talk show The Ellen De Generes Show is on its 13th running. Viewers love her, and even the celebrity guests feel at home on the show.
Madonna was comfortable enough to reveal she got bullied as a kid, and this, Entertainment Weekly Editor Ken Tucker suggests, is because “Ellen created a safe haven where stars can go to either reveal small bits of news.” Because Ellen is true to herself, she’s making it easier for others to do it, which in turn creates a deeper bond between her, the guests and audience.
7. Act Like Everyone’s BFF
What’s your stance on Taylor Swift and her music? Like her or not, she’s an influential and well-liked musician — even outside her demographic.
Her secret? Despite her fame, she maintains an approachable, girl next door image. She invites fans to her home (yes, her home!) for private parties where they bake, listen to new songs and eat pizza. She gives life advice on Tumblr, replies to fan Tweets and generally acts as her fan’s BFF.
You don’t need to play Dr. Love to new acquaintances but sharing a couple of drinks, reaching out and grabbing some pizza will give you a chance to build better relationships.
8. Ask Intelligent Questions and Don’t Be Judgmental
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most beloved talk show hosts of our time. The occasional viewer might think it’s because of Oprah’s Christmas Specials, or the celebrity guests she interviewed.
However, if you were a regular viewer of the show, you’ll know that there’s something special in the way she interviews people. Oprah’s book club is evidence that she’s a wide reader. Because of that, and the preparation she does before interviews, she’s able to ask deep, insightful questions that allow her guests to tell their stories in a way that her audience can relate to, and apply to their lives.
Winfrey said in a previous interview,
“I approach every interview by asking, “What is my intention? What do I really want to accomplish?” You can’t accomplish anything if you’re judging.”
You don’t need to prepare 100+ questions like Oprah did for her Lance Armstrong interview, but here are a couple of resources to help you:
- 8 Conversational Hacks to Make People Like You
- And this video from The 21 Convention with Marcus Oakey
9. Admit You’re Not Perfect
You’ll connect more to others if you show them the real you — flaws and all. (Tweet this)
Ann Mahoney from The Walking Dead openly admits to her insecurities, which makes her more relatable, not just someone we see on TV.
“Every time work was slow for me, I would think it had to do with my looks. I wasn’t pretty or thin enough, but if I could just lose weight, then I might get more work,” says Mahoney.
“Here’s the thing though, the character I play on The Walking Dead, Olivia, is supposed to be slightly overweight. If I had achieved my goals of getting ‘skinny,’ I wouldn’t be playing this role.”
If you have low self-esteem, now’s the time to take advantage of it. Talk about your imperfections, instead of keeping it all in then berating yourself in private.
Will You Try At Least One of These Strategies?
Meeting some friends later? Going to a seminar? An interview? A date? Try one of these tips and let me know how it goes.
But don’t be too excited and go straight for humor first. Unless you’re a naturally funny person, cracking jokes is an advanced step that requires practice. Things could get ugly pretty fast, so try an easier tip first.
I’m honestly an introvert myself so I’m excited — and terrified — to apply these tips.
PS. Know anyone who might love this post? Maybe a shy friend, an introvert, or a celebrity lover? Share this post to them using the links at the side.