You might know someone who seems to make friends wherever they go. It might seem like they have a magnetic power that magically attracts people to them, but this probably isn’t the case. While the law of attraction is unproven, research has identified certain traits and habits that make some people more likable than others.[1, 2, 3] This article breaks these down into 20 simple steps anyone can take to attract friends and become more likable.
The first step in becoming more likable is to get a better understanding of how others see you. Start by looking at your social media account and reading some of your texts and emails. Imagine that someone had to form an opinion of you based only on these messages and posts. What impression would they have?
You can also become more aware by asking a family member or close friend for feedback. Ask them to talk about your strengths, weaknesses, and how they think others see you. If you are worried about being unlikeable, consider taking this quiz to figure out why.
People who make friends quickly often ask a lot of questions and show interest in getting to know others. Because most people like this kind of attention, asking questions, listening, and giving people your undivided attention can all help you attract friends.[1, 2, 3]
You can also show interest in others by popping by their office to say hi, sending a text asking how they are, or even calling them just to talk. These thoughtful acts are often appreciated, even though they require very little time and effort.
Trust is one of the main qualities people look for in a friend. One of the best ways to earn people’s trust is by being consistent.[1, 2] For example, when you say you will do something, make sure to follow through, especially if others are counting on you.
It’s also important to be genuine and not fake interest or concern. Most people can tell when you aren’t straight with them, and this can erode their trust. By keeping your word and being open with people, they learn they can count on you in a time of need, which is one of the main differences between a friend and an acquaintance.
First impressions are powerful and lasting, and according to research, form within the first seven seconds of meeting someone. It’s easier to make a good first impression than to try to recover from a bad one, so be aware of how you present yourself.
When it comes to making a first impression, the most important thing is to be friendly. A smile, handshake, and warm greeting are great ways to make a positive first impression. Using someone’s name during a conversation is another easy way to be friendly and make a good impression.[2, 3]
It is easier to bond with people you can relate to, so looking for common interests is a great way to build a connection.[1, 3] Start by assuming you have something in common with everyone you meet, even if they seem totally different from you.
Ask about their hobbies and interests, where they’ve traveled, and what they love most about their job. Eventually, you are bound to find some common ground. This approach trains your mind to look for similarities instead of differences and keeps you from making hasty judgments.
The secret to having a lot of friends is not just to make new friends, but also to keep them. If you lost contact with friends from high school, college, and your two last jobs, it might be too late to reconnect. You can prevent this by making a point to stay in touch with people, even when your lives take you on different paths.
Add friends, family, and coworkers on social media and message or call them every month or so just to catch up. All relationships need to be maintained, so don’t let months or years pass without reaching out. This way, you won’t need to rebuild your friend group every time your circumstances change.
Being a good listener is more important than being a good speaker when it comes to making friends. Great listeners do more than just smile and nod. They listen intently and show a lot of interest in others, and they resist the urge to make every conversation about them.
When you give people your full attention, you demonstrate that you are interested in what they have to say. Because focusing on them also keeps you from obsessing about yourself, listening can also help reduce social anxiety. Listening is one of the quickest ways to earn trust and get people to open up to you.[1, 3, 4]
When you feel excited about something, let more energy and emotion show through your tone of voice and expressions. Things you find interesting and exciting spark natural enthusiasm, so don’t hesitate to steer conversations towards these topics.
Everyone needs to vent sometimes, but don’t let this become the norm. Remember that positivity attracts people more than negativity, and aim for more feel-good conversations. Complaining and gossiping is a turn-off and can make people wonder what you say about them behind their back.
When you are positive, people look forward to talking to you and become more likely to seek you out for future conversations. Use humor and optimism to lighten the mood when the conversation gets heavy. Try to highlight each discussion with good news, a happy ending, or a topic that sparks excitement.
Storytelling is a powerful way to get people interested and engaged in a conversation. A good story stirs emotion and uses details to capture people’s attention, making them eager to hear what happened next. Stories make information easier to digest and remember, helping to make a lasting impression.
If you want to know how to tell good stories, search your memories for experiences that stand out as funny, strange, scary, or interesting. Weave these into your conversations when an opportunity presents itself. Stories help people get to know you better, make you more relatable, and keep people interested.
Many people try to impress people, believing this will win them more friends. In reality, flaunting your success or status can make people dislike you, triggering their insecurities. Your imperfections make you human, and hiding them can make you unrelatable.
Don’t be afraid to let your quirks show or to laugh at a mistake you made. People find this refreshing and will feel more comfortable around you. Just make sure you don’t go too far, as making negative statements about yourself can make people uncomfortable.
Having a good sense of humor can help you get through a lot of challenges in life, but it can also help you attract more friends. When it is well-timed, humor can help break the ice, lighten the mood, and get people to relax and open up.
You don’t have to be a stand-up comic or have a stash of jokes on hand to make people laugh. Taking yourself less seriously and making a funny observation can have the same effect. Because humor is all about being a little less formal, it can help other people loosen up and relax.
When you focus on the other person instead of yourself, you will have an easier time socializing. When you pay attention to them, you get out of your head, which can also help you feel less anxious and insecure.[1, 5, 8]
Focusing on them can help you find topics they enjoy and avoid talking about things that make them uncomfortable. When you notice subtle signs that you’ve hit a sensitive subject, change the topic. When you notice signs of interest, you can feel confident you’re on the right track.
It’s hard to widen your circle without getting out more. If you want to make a lot of friends, consider getting more involved in activities, clubs, or social events. This is especially important if you work from home, are more of a homebody, or have few opportunities to socialize.
Acting more like an extrovert can help improve your social skills while also giving you more opportunities to make friends.[1, 5] Consider broadening your social horizons by joining a meetup, class, or book club. Many apps can help you meet like-minded people, find fun things to do, and make new friends.
Another way to make more friends is to pay attention to details. For example, if a coworker talks about their children, make a point to remember their names and ages. If someone makes a passing comment about a job interview, follow up and ask how it went.
People sometimes assume others ask questions just to be polite and not because they’re interested in getting to know them. Remembering small details about others means a lot to people and sends the signal that you want to know them better.
Asking for help and offering to help are great ways to build friendships. Closeness and trust develop when favors are exchanged, even when you’re the one asking for help. Consider starting small by asking to borrow a charger instead of asking for $100 or the keys to their lake house.
It’s also important to return favors whenever you can. Look for opportunities to help people, offer input, or lend a hand. By helping someone out, you build trust and make yourself a priority in the lives of other people.[2, 3, 4]
The Five Love Languages is a book that outlines five different ways that people express love and affection. The 5 love languages can be used to get closer to family, friends, and even coworkers.
The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation: Praise, compliments, and kind words
- Physical touch: Showing affection with a warm handshake or a hug
- Quality time: Prioritizing quality time and shared experiences
- Acts of service: Offering help, support, or doing small favors
- Gifts: Giving small or thoughtful gifts or tokens of appreciation
Most people have one or two love languages that they respond the best to. You can usually find out a person’s love language by paying attention to how they treat others and what they respond well to.
Your body language sends signals that are just as important as the words you say. If you aren’t aware of your body language, you might accidentally be sending people the wrong message. For example, checking your phone, yawning, or avoiding eye contact with someone can make them think you aren’t interested or don’t want to talk.
A recent study suggested the following steps help nurses adopt friendlier body language. SURETY stands for:
- Sit at an angle (instead of sitting face to face to someone, which can feel intimidating)
- Uncross your legs and arms (opening up your posture to seem more approachable)
- Relax (as opposed to having a rigid or stiff posture, which can make people nervous)
- Eye contact (not constant eye contact, but also not avoiding eye contact)
- Touch (when appropriate, putting a hand on a person’s shoulder or a light touch)
- Your intuition (paying attention to gut feelings when a person seems uncomfortable, nervous or upset and adjusting your communication)
You can dump your boyfriend, ignore calls from your boss, and move across the country to get away from your mother, but you can never escape yourself. How you think and feel about yourself influences all of your other relationships. If you don’t like yourself, you probably assume that no one else will either, and it might be too scary to let people get to know you.
By being kinder in your thoughts, more forgiving of your mistakes, and more accepting of your flaws, you can become more comfortable with yourself and will have an easier time letting people in. Self-compassion can also be developed by using exercises like these designed to help you improve your self-talk. Developing more self-compassion can improve your mood and reduce your stress while also strengthening your relationships.
Using the skills and strategies listed above, you will boost your likability and develop the magnetic powers to attract more friends. Keep in mind that these powers only work when there are people around, so make an effort to get out regularly, meet new people, and start more conversations.