How to Be More Likeable According to Hollywood and PR Experts

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He’s suave. He’s confident.

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: Likeability

Many articles and books have been written about likeability, charisma or whatever you want to 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 can be as likeable as they are, straight from their playbook.

Some actors use science-backed research to become more likeable.

How to Be More Likeable

Sometimes you may find that some people are more naturally drawn to you than others and want to be around you as much as possible.

A more likeable personality type exhibits several key qualities, including listening actively, making a great first impression, being accountable for mistakes, and treating everyone with respect. If you want to learn how to be more likeable, you have come to the right place.

They are more agreeable people overall in social situations, displayed by their extroversion—they are social, talkative, assertive, and excitable.

Run through our likeability strategies below and learn more about the likeable person test to determine your own likeability factor.

1. Show Vulnerability

A white computer generated face with a vulnerable expression on a black background.
Do you show enough vulnerability to connect with others?

Kerry Cahill, who played Lt. Whitley in Terminator Genisys and Wendy in the TV series, Zoo, advises people who want to be liked to show vulnerabilitiy.

You can quickly build a connection with someone when they know you’re just a normal person who bleeds, struggles, and cries 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 shows in how 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.

Kerry Kahill

“When people share their stories, there can be a two-pronged effect: they can help people and that can transfer into being relatable,” adds Tracie Hovey, CEO of Ovation PR.

2. Show it Through Body Language

A firm handshake showing confident body language.
Politicians aren’t celebrities, but must be likeable to win elections.

Shaking hands and waving to the crowds isn’t enough to create meaningful interactions. It shows in your body language and facial expression if you’re preoccupied. 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.

Dr. Jack Brown

When 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 possible, 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)

You’re increasing the rapport you build by pointing your whole body toward the person you’re engaged in.

How else can you use positive body language to make you more likeable? A simple and gentle nod of your head can make you more approachable and likable than staying motionless.

Researchers at Hokkaido University in Japan found how a head nod or head shaking affects the perceived personality traits of a person. The same researchers also found that nodding increased likeability attributable to personality traits rather than physical appearance.

3. Show Your Funny Side

April Masini, the 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.

April Masini

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.

A few good jokes also make for good conversation openers too!

4. Dress For The Occasion

A man in a pink bowtie and seersucker jacket to make a good first impression.
Make strong first impressions by dressing well.

“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. Likable actors on the rise know that.

Sam Russell

5. Celebrate Others

Likeable people compliment others on their strengths and celebrate their achievements. Share the limelight and these positive vibes because the more you do, the more it shines back on you.

Some may find it challenging to celebrate the success of others, but not only can it make for more likeable people, it also motivates you to strive for your own personal success. It also shows you care about the other person and are invested in their happiness, which can build more meaningful relationships.

If this seems difficult, remember that even wildly successful people often get rejected. Check out our list of 15 Ego Crushing Letters Sent to Famous People to see that likability gets you only so far sometimes!

6. Be Genuine and Authentic

In 1997, Ellen De Generes revealed she was a lesbian on her sitcom, Ellen. Society wasn’t so accepting back then. Her advertisers backed out, took away her airtime, and eventually, the show was canceled 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, creating a deeper bond between her, the guests and the audience.

7. Act Like Everyone’s BFF

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

However, if you were a regular viewer of the show, you’ll know there’s something special in how 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 can 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.

Oprah Winfrey

Related: 8 Conversation Hacks to Make People Like You

9. Admit You’re Not Perfect

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, I might get more work,” says Mahoney.

She continues,

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.

Ann Mahoney

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.

Likeable Person Test

The likeable person test is based on research conducted to look into the traits of likeable people. The likeable person test results can show you how easy you are to get along with.

The test was created by researchers at Individual Differences Research Labs and is informed by psychologist Stephen Reysen, Ph.D.’s likeability scale research.

In his research, he found that laughter made a person perceivable as more likeable. While Dr. Reysen doesn’t have anything to do with the test, he discusses its merits.

He says participants should not overthink responses to the questions and use the test for entertainment purposes only.

Factors of the Likeable Person Test

The likeable person test is a personality assessment that features certain factors determining a person’s likeability. It is important to understand each.

Friendliness: If you score high in the friendliness category, you are open, warm, and enthusiastic. You know how to make people feel comfortable and welcome. People want to spend time with those who are approachable and easy to talk to.

Humor: Likeable people are also funny. They are happy with who they are and comfortable in their own skin. Laughter is contagious, and so is a positive mood.

Happiness: This doesn’t apply to someone who just smiles a lot. They have to be genuinely happy in life and with who they are. They are genuine, honest, show an interest in others, and are straightforward.

Kindness: A kind person is generally considerate, giving, and helpful. This draws more individuals to them in social situations.

Positive Feelings: Positivity is another personality trait of a likeable person. Optimistic people are empowered by positive feelings and are often happier than those steeping in negativity. They are also more agreeable, making interactions more genuine.

Tolerance: If you score high for tolerance, it means you have a genuine interest in others and know how to show both tolerance and understanding.

Honesty: People are likelier to seek advice from honest people than those with a history of dishonesty. This kind of trust helps build better relationships.

Can an Introvert Become More Likeable?

Ultimately, to become a more likeable person, you need to start accepting who you are. If you have quirks, don’t be afraid to embrace them. Speak your mind. Talk about what is important to you. By doing all this, you are sending strong signals to those around you that show how comfortable you really are in your own skin.

An introverted person feels more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas and doesn’t care to focus on what is happening around them externally. While they may enjoy spending time with a few select people, they don’t do as well in social situations where large groups exist.

To be more likeable as an introvert, try the following strategies:

  • Smile! Yes, a simple smile and a hello can be a big first step. Make eye contact with someone, smile, and say hello to them. This will make the other person more comfortable, and over time, you will also become more comfortable and not as shy.
  • Make a note of people’s names. When you do this, it shows you care. It will also put a smile on their face.
  • Treat everyone with respect. Too many people these days are rude and impolite. As an introvert trying to be more likeable, treat everyone you meet with respect, even if they aren’t in your social group already. Even introverts can go out of their way to be polite and respectful toward others.

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 with them or comment below.

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