The crux of being human is the wanting to be liked and make friends. We are pack animals at our core and strive to be socially accepted no matter how evolved or independent someone thinks they are. This need for social acceptance is assumed to stem from caveman days when people rolled as tribes and rarely went off alone, lest they be killed by another animal, due to their vulnerability.
Social acceptance is ubiquitous. The need to fit in is deeply engrained in us. It’s why everyone isn’t running naked in the streets. It’s why we avoid confrontation and fear making a mistake public speaking. It motivates us to behave and do the “right” things- to fall in line.
There’s a lot of fluff advice out there on how to be cool or liked and most of it is painfully redundant and obvious. I’ve compiled a list that goes deeper than the “smile” and “listen” and “join a group” advice. Here, however, we focus on the most effective not-as-obvious attributes. This list can accomplish several things. It can make you more likeable at work, more attractive to the opposite sex, and generally make you more magnetic. More than just how to make friends, acquaintances, attracting partners, and making your life easier, life will become more fun and satisfying.
Steps to Make Friends
Be extra engaging –
- I’ll never forget several people through my life who were very engaging and therefore, well liked. When I would come to their house, they would greet me warmly and ask a few sincere questions. When I went out with these people, they collected and could make friends everywhere they went. They naturally approached and chatted away to whoever was around. Sometimes they would simply wander around and meet people. Also, they were great at getting others involved, whether it was having them make rounds with them to meet people at a party or to just join our group. Engage with people and do it everywhere.
Make them feel very important –
- People love feeling important and they go to what makes them feel that way. It’s why we patronize the restaurant where they know our name and know where we like to sit. It’s the same reason why we’re drawn to people who greet us with enthusiasm and are genuinely interested in us. Similar to why a pet owner is so entranced with the ritual of coming home to their dog: because it greets them with intensity. Great hosts are excellent at making people feel important. They always check on you and your drink/hunger levels, as well as introduce you around as someone special. The opposite is true for those who make you feel low and inferior- you don’t want to be around them. Attract people to you by making them feel important every time they are around you. They will have no choice but to want to be near you.
Be really interesting –
- Observe bars, dinner dances, family get-togethers, and the like and you will notice that when you have something going on right then and there or have cultivated a life that’s “going on,” it draws people in. For example, at family get-togethers, conversation often gravitates toward someone in the family with great things going on in their life, such as a unique job or crazy hobby. When at a bar, and there’s a group that is doing a lot of dancing, smiling, high-fiving, they’re magnetic and all eyes are on them. That group is far more interesting than staring at your bottle of beer or some inconsequential chit chat. In contrast, how many people want to meet and talk with that person sitting there peeling the label off their beer? NO one. That’s who. Have that hobby. Be that group.
Ask relevant questions –
- When you ask someone questions about their passion, all bets are off. We had a shop teacher in high school who hated us and walked around the shop with a chip on his shoulder. He used to bring his kayaks in to work on them, and one day a few of us started asking him kayak questions. Immediately, his eyes lit up and he gabbed away about his kayak trips and the maneuvers they do. He loved us from then on. We had another teacher for French class in elementary school who would teach as normal until we would ask her about her trip to France she had years prior. If we didn’t want to do a French lesson that day, we would ask her about France at the start of the class.
- A simple non threatening, non sexual touch has a power. When you can tell it is a genuinely friendly touch, it feels great to receive it. You make a connection beyond words. There’s research on the power of touch and honesty. When a stranger gave a typical touch to another while asking a question that is easy to lie about, the person lied far less than if there was no touch. Use appropriate touch to connect.
More carefree attitude –
- Not needy would also suffice. You should go through life never feeling like you need anything, especially approval, friends, etc. Intrinsically, we seek those things, but extrinsically, it shouldn’t be our mission or utmost priority. Friendships and relationships are more real when you don’t NEED them, you simply like having the people in your life (see unconditional love vs conditional love). Let love and friendships evolve naturally… because desperation is a stinky cologne.
Neither a No nor Yes man –
- You are stoic with your no’s because it expresses your personal power (which is attractive) and shows you are not approval seeking. Further, being too agreeable is a turn-off to people because it comes off as disingenuous and untrustworthy. Find a healthy balance of both, and for God’s sake, be decisive about it.
- Honesty is more likeable than not. I tend to prefer a raw honesty approach, but some people can’t stomach it. Regardless of whether an honest message is offensive or not, it is still something you can trust and feel safe around. You may not like it, but at least it’s not deceiving you. Be real and honest.
Be mostly positive –
- Not over-the-top positive, just not negative. The people who have this figured out are great to be around because they don’t introduce negativity into the interaction. Their positivity doesn’t piss you off because it isn’t exaggerated. It’s calibrated well enough that, instead, you strive to meet them on that level because it’s contagious.
Confidence of a leader –
- A leader that possesses a few or all of the above traits is bonus points, but being a leader is, in and of itself, likeable. The unconscious reasons of being associated to a leader-type point to: having better access to resources and security through the leader; an authority that can guide them; and social proof (being known as linked to a leader). A good example of the attractiveness of a leader is people’s desire to be near and connected to celebrities. Choose to be a leader in some area of your life.
It can’t be stressed enough that the most important, yet easy habits to adjust are being engaging, being interesting and make them feel important. Each one on their own has the power to revolutionize your life. This post could have easily been called “how to be liked,” or “how to be magnetic,” or “how to be cool.” The same listed principles apply to how to make friends.
People will honestly talk behind your back to say how much they like you. Those that embrace and implement these points rarely have any haters, and not even envious haters because they’re so likeable! Even when you try to hate them, it’s too hard because they’re approach is so disarming.
Hopefully seeing how to make friends here makes it an easier task after all. Good luck!