All of us like to be liked. Likewise, there are some people who we like, some who we don’t particularly mind, some who we’d rather avoid and others who we’d hate to be in the presence of. But what does this mean in terms of science?
What’s likeability all about?
Let’s understand what likeability as a human trait involves. We do find that some very boorish, blunt and impolite people may somehow be quite successful in their professions, but we are all very likely to bond with, build personal relationships with, do business
with or simply hang around people who are kind, friendly, modest, natural, authentic and agreeable … in short, people who are ‘likeable’. Likeability, or if you prefer amiability, is a personality trait. A likeable person is usually liked by most people most of the time, leaving aside a few who may be nursing a grudge or who may be jealous.
What do people like?
The impression you leave on others is related to your own likeability. People choose who they like and if they do, they would buy from them, spend quality time with them, vote for them, help them and even marry them.
Let’s look at some of the traits people usually like about others.
#1 Comfort: You instinctively feel ‘comfortable’ with someone. Why? It’s hard to explain. Some call it ‘vibes’, but psychological research calls it intuitive compatibility that is formed in a snap. The best measure of compatibility is the comfort of silence between people. If moments pass without anyone saying anything and there is no awkwardness felt, it is comfort.
#2 Openness: Being open refers to an accommodating attitude towards other’s opinions, beliefs, behaviour and experiences. It also means being liberal in one’s own beliefs. Basically, it means being accessible to others and not being judgmental or opinionated.
#3 Authenticity: People who say what they think and do what they say are trusted by others. Certain behaviours inspire trust and faith. Basically, if you don’t pretend, put on ‘airs’, drop ‘names’ or talk about yourself, it adds to your likeability. Authentic people are the ones who are the same within and without.
#4 Interest: Likeable people are the ones who are genuinely concerned and interested in you, and are comfortable listening to you. So if you are sought by people to talk about their concerns and issues, you are definitely a likeable person. A likeable person is one who can listen to you when you need to talk about something or someone you can simply feel free to talk to about almost anything under the sun and even share secrets.
#5 Humour: We instinctively like people who have a positive sense of humour. More importantly, they are people who are comfortable laughing at themselves. Likeable people will openly admit their mistakes and don’t mind being the butt of jokes. They are perceived as cheerful and positive people and are the kind we love to be around.
#6 Body language:
People are highly perceptive
of the non-verbal cues we give. Some people make you feel welcome by their genuine smile, demeanour and other subtle visual cues. They mirror your body language—they smile when you smile, frown when you frown, laugh when you laugh, nod when you nod—to convey that they are in sync with you. Research has shown that we have ‘mirror’ neurons in our brain to generate empathy, amiability and a host of other positive social behaviours. The feedback loop helps two people to bond, and that is the essence of likeability.
#7 Personal touch: There is this personal touch that some people exhibit in their interactions. Likeable people are great with names. If there is one thing worse than the awful feeling you get when you forget someone’s name, it is realising that another person has forgotten yours. Likeable people also use the power of physical touch. Touch that is free of sexual innuendo can be incredibly powerful. In an experiment, participants were asked to convey over a dozen emotions to a blindfolded subject by simply touching his forearms. Surprisingly, the accuracy of perceiving diverse emotions like anger, sympathy, love, gratitude, disgust, rejection, etc, ranged from 43-84 per cent.
Self-effacing humility can be a very endearing trait. An appropriate example would be that of the Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
. He managed to ensconce himself in the hearts of millions in the country and across the globe by sheer dint of his humility. Many people put on a convincing show of caring for others in certain situations, but they don’t really try hard enough when they think that person is ‘beneath’ them. If you want to know for sure, simply observe how the person behaves towards the doorman, the driver, the cleaner or the waiter. Likeable people treat everyone the same way.
Your Amiability Quotient
So, do you want to test yourself and find your Amiability Quotient? Go through the below mentioned statements. For every Yes, give yourself a point and then evaluate yourself on the basis of the key mentioned after.
✔ If people are rude to me, I just shrug it off.
✔ I prefer working within a very stable rather than flexible environment.
✔ I feel uneasy if I’m the centre of attention.
✔ I don’t like unexpected responsibilities.
✔ I approach life in an easy-going manner.
✔ I tend to take on other people’s problems on myself.
✔ I like to have plenty of time to myself.
✔ People find it easy to request me for help.
✔ The words ‘kind’ and ‘helpful’ apply to me.
✔ I accept things as they happen.
✔ I am always ready to help others.
✔ I respect my elders and those in authority.
✔ My friends describe me as very calm and peaceful in nature.
✔ I tend to take decisions that are agreeable to most around me.
✔ I am quite happy with how my life is progressing these days.
✔ I tend to trust people blindly.
✔ I like places that are quiet and peaceful.
✔ I try to be helpful and friendly to others.
✔ I have a tolerant attitude towards people and get along well with them easily.
✔ I am polite and use a requesting style to get things done by others.
✔ I rarely lose my temper.
✔ I like to attend parties where others of my group are also going.
✔ When I pack my suitcase for a trip, I take all the things I may need.
✔ If my actions are not getting results, I may give up and try something else.
✔ I enjoy team and group activities and sports.
✔ I get upset if my plans are changed suddenly.
✔ I don’t like arguments and like to avoid conflict.
✔ I rarely raise my voice during an argument.
Above 22: You are definitely amiable. People find you extremely likeable and seek you out.
15-22: Most people will be happy in your company and many will seek you out.
8-15: You are okay. Will get invited to some parties, but you need to work out a few things.
Less than 8: Hmm … some serious work is required.
About the author
An alumnus of BITS, Pilani, Parakram Mishra is a recognised human resource consultant and has been involved in the development of assessment tools and training programmes with the active participation of several leading psychologists, educationists, technologists and human resource experts.
Written By : Parakram Mishra