Original question from Quora:

What are the secrets of being likable?

My Answer:

There is one secret to likability that most people aren’t wise enough to embrace, but it’s incredibly simple to do.

There’s a story I’ve heard Jay Abraham tell that illustrates this idea well, but the same idea can be found in How To Win Friends And Influence People, and I’m sure it’s an idea as old as people are.

As the story goes, Jay was on a flight next to someone he didn’t know and they started talking. I guess it was a long flight and Jay might have had a few drinks. They kept talking, and Jay mostly listened more than he talked. In fact, I believe he said he barely talked at all.

After what turned into a long conversation where this man told Jay his whole life story or something, and Jay hardly saying anything at all, the man said something to Jay, “You are the most interesting person I’ve ever met.”

And that illustrates an important point. If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.

We are all most interested in ourselves. We want to talk about what is going on with us and our situation. If you’re married you know this.

When I get home, my wife tells me about her day and everything that happened to her that day. She’s totally into telling me about everything that is interesting to her. She doesn’t stop to ask if it’s interesting to me.

That is not a complaint. I love to hear about my bride. She’s my favorite person in the world. I don’t mind hearing her tell me everything she’s interested in.

But I also don’t expect her to be totally interested in what I’m interested in. I like her because she will listen to what I care about and she likes me because I will listen to what she cares about.

Sometimes we both care about the same thing at the same time, but that’s not usually the case.

If you want people to like you, you need to be willing to listen to them. More than that, you should be interested in them. It shows that you like them and people like being liked. People like being listened to.

It’s really the old “love your neighbor as yourself” idea from The Bible. We all want to be liked, listened to, and cared about. Give other people those things and you will be very likable.

-Brian

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