We've all known frogs and people who attract friends to them like bees to flowers, and others who have all the outward appearances of being likable, yet repel others. We often mistakenly believe that being likable is a trait we're born with, that it's a natural, unteachable thing. That those that who are born good-looking, are social butterflies, or are incredibly talented are the lucky few. But, in reality, being likable is within our our control. It's a matter of emotional intelligence. In a recent study conducted at UCLA (University of California - Los Angeles) the top descriptors used by the study participants, for being likable, were sincerity, transparency, and being capable of understanding another. So what are the things that we can change about our behaviors that will make us more approachable? Consider these nine common (mis)behaviors. I'm guilty of several. How about you...and be honest!
9. Sharing too much too early. You know the type; the ones who tell you the most intimate details of their life five minutes after meeting them. Be careful not to share too much too soon, like personal problems and confessions. "Oversharing comes across as self-obsessed. If you get into the nitty-gritty of your life without learning about the other person first, you send the message that you see them as nothing more than a sounding-board." And no one wants to feel like that.
8. Having a closed mind. Open-minded people are approachable and interesting. No one wants to have conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is unwilling to listen. This is especially crucial in the workplace. This doesn't mean that you condone what they're saying or that you must believe what they believe...it simple means that you've quit passing judgement long enough to hear (really listen) to what they are saying.
7. Gossiping. Gossiping doesn't benefit anyone, including the person doing the gossiping. it will make you look negative and spiteful every time.
6. Name-dropping. It's fun to know famous and interesting people. But using these famous names at every opportunity and in every conversation is boring, pretentious, and silly. When you connect everything you know with who you know, conversations lack meaning. You may not believe it, but others actually would like to know what YOU think! Name-dropping makes us appear desperate for attention...like we have no value on our own, without our connection to the celebrity world. Being friendly and considerate is all that is required.
5. Whipping our your phone. Nothing will make you more of a turn-off then whipping out your phone, mid-conversation, to check or send a text, or to glance at your emails. Conversations are more enjoyable when you immerse yourself in them. That text message and email can wait until later....
4. Emotional hijacking. Emotional hijacking demonstrates low emotional intelligence. So what is emotional hijacking? it's when you pitch a fit, yellow, scream, and generally carry on when things don't go your way. No matter how much someone might "deserve" to be treated badly or have something thrown at them, it throws negative attention your way. When you are able to control your emotions in bad situations, the wrongful party comes off looking bad instead of you. Having a "hissy fit," and no matter what THEY did, will make them wind up looking better than you.
3. Not asking enough questions. When you're so busy thinking about what you're going to say next, you often miss a lot of the conversation. Oh, the words may come through clear enough, but you'll miss their meaning. People, and frogs too, like to know they're being listened to. So ask a lot of questions. Focus on what being being said...not on what you're going to say next, or mentally making up your grocery shopping list, or planning your weekend get-away. Actively listening (paying attention) and asking questions qill make you much more likable then than sitting there trying to come up with the your next clever thing to say.
2. Being too serious. We tend to gravitate towards those who are passionate, but it's easy for passionate people (and frogs, like me) to come across as being too serious or to be only one-sided. Likable people know how to balance their passions with the ability to have a little fun. Focus on meaningful interactions with co-workers, family, and friends will make you far more interesting, likable, and approachable.
And I saved the best for last....
1. Humble-bragging. This is bragging about yourself behind the thin mask of self-deprecation. You know the type...the lovely girl who always says she's too fat or the really smart guy who's always saying he's stupid. It's pretty obvious to those who listen to this stuff, that their self-deprecation is really bragging. We can see right through their mask. They're not hiding anything. So, in addition to bragging, they are also trying to deceive us. And neither of those attributes in endearing.
It is possible to make ourselves friendlier to others; to become more approachable and likable. The question then is are we unconsciously doing these things these to keep others away? Perhaps the memory of a painful relationship from the past is motivating us to keep everyone at arms length. Being open, learning to judge each person and each situation on their own merits, and learning to accept others as they are can help propel us forward; making all of our relationships more fun, fulfilling, and worthwhile.