I.3.4 What can we do to be liked?

To be happy means spending time with others like me, even more, with others who like me. These two points are closely related. I like people that are similar to me, which means that others that are more like me will also like me more. We also like people better whom we trust more. For instance, we trust people from our in-group more, that is people of the same race and ethnicity, social background, age, gender, etc. According to trust researchers, we trust people more who are more agreeable, predictable and reliable. In fact, we make decisions about whom we trust based on facial features of others  with features that express less dominance and more happiness as rated to be more trustworthy. When looking at a face, our brain makes a split-second decision whether we trust the other person, or think he or she is a psychopath and narcissist. The conclusion is thus that there is a four-way relationship between being liked and liking others, and trusting others and being trusted by others. The good news is that there are different things we can do to be liked and trusted.

What can you do to be liked?

  1. Mirror the behavior of the other person – if I copy the body language, gestures and facial expressions, nodding back at my opposite in the same rhythm as she is nodding at me, if we move our hands in similar gestures, and walk in lockstep, that will make my opposite more positive towards me.
  2. Spend time with the other person, even lightly touch them – the more time I spend with somebody, the more the other person starts liking me.
  3. Make yourself vulnerable – making myself vulnerable by disclosing some of my weaknesses will make the other person like me more, however disclosing too many weaknesses might undermine my trustworthiness.
  4. Show positive emotions, smile – if we smile more, our opposites will see us in a more positive light, and also remember us for a longer period of time.
  5. Let them talk about themselves – talking about themselves can be inherently rewarding like food or sex, activating the same reward circuits in the brain, and thus letting them see you in a more positive light.

In extension, this means that you like people most, who

  1. Mirror your behavior
  2. With whom you voluntarily spend a lot of time
  3. Who make themselves vulnerable to you
  4. Who show you positive emotions, and smile at you
  5. Who let you talk about yourself.

There are some types of people that are universally liked, similarly there are people that nobody really likes. The key point to be liked is to be not just nice, but to be kind.


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