7 steps to being a more likable person

7 Ways You Can Become A More Positive And Likable Person.

As humans, we all crave some sort of interaction with others. It’s a natural instinct for us.   For some, being outgoing and likable comes easy. For others, it can be a struggle. I’m not talking about being Mr. or Ms. Popular, because being “popular” is different than being “likable”.  I’ve known people who will do whatever it takes to be “popular” and yes, it’s quite sad. Being a likable person, however, is really about being you.  A positive version of you, without sacrificing what makes you unique. I’m going to start this article with two examples of people I personally found to be unlikable.

Example 1.

It was May of 2006. I was two months unemployed and going through my savings fast.  I needed a job or money quick.  While at my parents going away party (they had recently retired and were moving) I met a guy who worked with African World Festival Milwaukee and they needed a freelance graphic designer to help with their advertising and website. I said yes and they brought me in to interview.

A few days later a guy, ironically named Terrell, called me asking if I wanted to work “with” him at his freelance studio.  I decided to meet with this guy and let me tell you, it was awful.  Apparently, he had a cousin that worked at the Africa World Festival and she told him about me.  We sat at the restaurant talking and this guy was incredibly pompous. He talked about how he recently earned a degree and how wonderful a designer he was.  He also conveniently mentioned how he had bid for the festival design job as well.

As he continued to brag, he said if I worked with him I would have to “buy new clothes” and work the clubs around the city with his “crew”. He even had the nerve to mention that he knew I was a single father and said, “some nights when we work the clubs that I would have to leave them behind because we’ll need to make that money”.  I had pretty much tuned him out by this point and stayed because I was hungry.

This guy was not only a pompous jackass, but he was rude to the waitress.  She was a little slow getting to our table and he told her “I don’t pay for bullshit service”.  By this time I had heard enough of this guy and his wanna-be Puff Daddy/Baller attitude.   I paid my bill and walked out.  Later that week I found out that I had won the contract and was paid $3000 for my work.  I’m guessing his interview didn’t go so well.  I was humble and respectful. I’m guessing he wasn’t.

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."

Proverbs 11:2

Example 2.

I was browsing around social media and I notice a trend that seems kind of odd to me.  A couple of women I’m “friends” with post things about how they are difficult to deal with and if a man is willing to deal with their attitude it means he loves them.

For me this screams "I want to be single forever."

The only thing I’d be missing out on is my sanity being in this type of relationship.

Well, I quickly called BS on this and decide to ask a few other women about this. All of them said that it was utterly ridiculous and what type of woman would purposely treat a man like crap as some sort of “test” to see if he loved them.  I don’t think it was a coincidence that the women with the “Tell it like it is” nasty attitudes often cried about how they can’t keep a man, while the other women were all happily married.

Since does being difficult a requirement to test love? Avoid such foolishness at all cost.

Since when is being pugnacious a requirement to test love? Avoid such foolishness at all cost.

I learned that being an always negative person is a quick way to end up bitter and alone.  I use to be the person that is always complaining about things I had no control over or the guy that found fault in everyone, somehow thinking I was smarter than the rest of society.  Like most people, that act this way I was hiding my own insecurities and depression.   Masking it is a fake “I don’t care” attitude.    Nothing was ever my fault, I was quick to “Tell it like it is”, I was the victim, and the universe sucks. Yeah, I was a joy to be around.  Well, I decided that this had to change and I made a conscience effort to be a more likable person.

1. Have a Positive Attitude.

“I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.” James A. Baldwin

I was tired of always being a negative person.  It simply isn’t good for you physically, mentally, or spiritually.  No one wants to be close to someone who is constantly negative or a complete know-it-all. No one likes to be around the pompous jackass.

If you are that person that tends to lean more to the negative side, try being more positive.  You may need to force yourself to do it. Avoid things that make you angry and do things that make you happy. I decided that I would be more outgoing and try new things.  I joined a couple Meetup groups, made new friends, became more active at church, I went to festivals, sporting events, happy hours, I just decided to live a little and be more positive.

I also decided to not get angry about things that I had no control over, like politics. I know people that always seem to be angry over politics. Being a somewhat conservative guy, things that people who are more liberal use to say and do really made me angry.  Today I’m like whatever. My anger never changed anyone and never will. Arguing with someone over stuff like politics and religion serves no purpose, so I chose not to argue. What’s the point of that?

I was at Starbucks and a woman who was obviously very Liberal asked me who I’m voting for.  I simply said, “I’m not discussing politics”. For one, I knew where such a discussion would lead, also it was none of her business.  Argument avoided.

2. Try To Find Something You Are Passionate About. Be Authentic And Engaging.

When I say passionate I don’t mean be intense like the lady in Starbucks.  Have a passion, meaning have something you have a passion for.  As I stated above, I joined a couple of Meet Up groups, one of which is a food lovers group.  We all have a similar passion which makes our company more enjoyable.

At a church fundraiser with the fellas. We share a similar passion

At a church fundraiser with the fellas. We share a similar passion and purpose when it comes to our faith.

Being a single father and having certain life experiences, helping others is also something I am passionate about.  Hence why I started my blog.  I have a passion for helping others get through tough times, whether it’s being a single father, issues with insecurity, or working through tough relationships. Before I started this blog, I would often have people ask me for advice on things they were going through. They often would tell me how I could relate to them because I had similar experiences.  So I listened and started a blog about something I was passionate and apparently good at.

3. Practice Being A Good Listener.

It’s been said that you have one mouth and two ears so you can listen twice as much as you talk.  Part of being engaging is being able to listen and be attentive when someone is speaking to you.  No one likes being around the person that always has something to say.  Being the person that talks too much is a quick way to turn people off.

Sometimes I get people would call me for advice because I was a good listener.  One guy told me, “I can’t talk to my brother or my dad, but I feel I can talk to you.” How could I give advice if I’m not listening to the problem a particular person is facing?  If I’m always interrupting their sentences or being impatient, that wouldn’t make me a good person to talk too, but it would make me less likable and trustworthy?

4. Laugh A Little And Have A Sense Of Humor.

Me and a couple friends from my food lovers Meetup group. Get out and meet people with similar interest.

Me and a couple friends from our food lovers Meetup group. Get out and meet people with similar interest.


Stop taking everything so seriously and learn to laugh, even if it’s just a little.  We all have insulting moments, some are small and others not so much.  It’s the small stuff you need to learn to laugh at.  I was at work one day speaking to a couple of colleagues. Unfortunately, I had no idea that my fly was wide open, which someone quickly pointed out jokingly in front of everyone. I could have been ticked off, saying the person purposely tried to embarrass me.  Or, I could do what I did, and laugh it off, saying “Wow, that was embarrassing. Anyways, as I was saying…”  See, now I’m the guy that laughed it off and didn’t make it a big deal.

Having a sense of humor doesn’t mean being a clown 100% of the time. There is a time and place for everything.   Also, don’t make fun of other people, especially for things that they have no control over like handicaps.  It doesn’t make you a guy with a sense of humor, it makes you a prick. Don’t be that guy.

5. Stop Being Insecure And Indecisive.

Few things are as annoying as someone that can’t, or won’t, make up their mind.  That or the person that is always so insecure. This is especially true in the area of relationships. I have oftentimes said that insecurity is like arsenic to a woman and few things will kill her attraction faster.  Nevertheless, it must be stated that she shouldn’t give you a reason to be insecure.  You know, the woman with the lingering ex-boyfriends and such. (I’ve been there, but that’s a story I’ll save for another day when I post about boundaries).

Also, don’t be that person that is always breaking plans. You know, the friend that is always either late or canceling. If you don’t want to do something, then don’t do it.  Don’t agree to it because you don’t want to look like a flake, but then don’t show up.  That’s a great way to guarantee you’ll spend a lot of nights alone.

6. Stop Being A Hater And Learn How To Compliment Others.

We all like compliments and encouragement. We like to be complimented on our appearance, on our job performance, on how good we are at sports, acting, cooking, video games, whatever.  If it’s genuine, compliments feel good to give and receive.  No one, however, likes a person who is a hater.  The person that is always negative, always gossiping, always in someone else’s business.

I wrote an article about overcoming professional where I described how I hated seeing anyone achieve a level of success I felt I deserved.  I didn’t care if it was business or their personal life. I hated seeing others get what I wanted. What made me angry is that they seemed to do so effortlessly.  I was allowing that hatred and jealousy to make me miserable, thus become a miserable person to be around. I later learned that I couldn’t live this way. That I needed to change the way I saw things before things would change.  We can’t assume that people didn’t work hard and struggle for what they have. Yes, I do know some people that had things handed to them, but I’d rather work hard and earn it.  Either way, stop being a hater.

Read my article ,"Are You Envious of Other People’s Success? Here are 3 Steps I Took To Help End Professional Jealousy."

While it is good to give compliments, don’t go overboard or be inappropriate.  If you are crushing on a woman and always complimenting her appearance, you may end up looking creepy and desperate.  Don’t be the guy that likes to compliment women on their bodies all the time because you will look like a pervert (unless you are one, then whatever). That will not just cause you to look creepy, but can as well bring you a meeting with HR, or angry boyfriend, or husband, or brother, who will be more than eager to set you straight.

7. Be Humble

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” Thomas Merton

Humility.  This is a quality many people don’t have today.  Thanks to our celebrity culture and social media, people are ready to brag about any little thing, even if unwarranted.  We’ve all seen that guy on Facebook with the profile pic of him standing next to a fancy car or holding a hand full of cash. These pictures don’t make you look successful.  They make you look foolish (as well as immature).

Being attractive, having a great job or learning awesome skills, all of these are great.  But when you become the guy that is always trying to impress others, you quickly become the person that no one likes.

Terrell Owens was a wide receiver in the NFL with tremendous talent. His problem, however, was that he wasn’t very humble, and was known as a troublemaker.   When he became a free agent, he invited ESPN to come down and film his training session, expecting to see a lot of NFL coaches and scouts there waiting to sign him. Only two teams of the thirty-two NFL teams showed interest and he was embarrassed.

I grew with a guy who liked to brag a lot. While we were in elementary, whenever someone in school become somewhat popular, he claimed they were his cousin.  That was until someone called him out asking “Is everyone your cousin?”

I ran into this guy at the store one day and asked how he was doing. He was quick to tell me the name of the high-rise luxury apartment he lived in, and how he had to get the oil changed in his new Chrysler 300.  A simple “I’m doing good” would have been sufficient. Instead of being humble, he became “That Guy”.   As long as I’ve known him (since age 6) he was the type of person that liked to exaggerate.  I see 30 plus years hadn’t changed that at all.

I know people that earn six and seven figures a year, they don’t brag because honestly, they don’t have to.  They are secure in who they are and don’t need to somehow validate themselves or try to impress others.  People who are always attempting to be something they aren’t or always bragging, shows more that they are missing something in life since have to impress others to feel important. Don’t be that guy either.  No one like a braggart.

Let me conclude by saying this.  Everyone isn’t going to like you and you shouldn’t attempt to be liked by everyone.  The two people in my example, I wouldn’t care if they liked me or not. As I stated before, it’s not about being popular. However, it’s more about being positive and surrounding yourself with positive people. If you do this, life will be more enjoyable.

Terrell Cotton

Terrell Cotton is a motivational blogger and a full-time single father of two boys who are his heart and soul.  His blog, Terrellcotton.com, is dedicated to helping men become better versions of themselves by planting the seeds for authentic manhood, fatherhood, and entrepreneurship.




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