Human interaction is complex, filled with subtleties and nuances that may not be obvious.
Why am I always excited to see James yet I try and avoid Mona like the plague? There are those socially intelligent people who we feel comfortable around, as they exude a sense of natural understanding about bonding and connectivity. They’re in demand at most gatherings and their absence is sorely. On the other end of the continuum we have the not so likeable people where interaction with them can be difficult and at times even hurtful. We don’t really want them around and may even be pleased when they’re absent.
So how do people get placed onto the different dimensions of likability?
It’s definitely not random. Many mistakenly believe that being a “Popular Pam” is a natural charm that a fortunate minority possess and others haven’t been gifted with. This misconception is both lazy and incomplete. In fact, being likeable is not magical nor mysterious at all and it’s almost entirely based on observable, identifiable and learnable actions, and behaviors.
More importantly, we are in control of the way we conduct ourselves personally and professionally so don’t ever use or accept the excuse, “this is me, take it or leave it!” Better versions of you can take shape as you develop greater self-awareness and openness to improve.
After going through years of research, the central behavioral traits that likeable and unlikable people demonstrate are listed below. Let’s start with the not so likeable types and things they do to rub us the wrong way, making it frustrating to communicate or interact with them.
• The “No” dispenser — These people have a “no” default meaning their first response to anything is usually “no” or “I can’t.” They may change their mind later, but what’s the use — we’ve already been disappointed by their initial negativity.
• Forever Devil’s Advocate — Here, they frequently take the opposing view, not because they sincerely believe it or that it reflects their value system but just because they choose to be disagreeable. Very tiring indeed.
• Self-Inflator — These people have an exaggerated sense of self about who they are and what they do. They brag endlessly about past and potential projects that don’t actually exist. Social media makes it almost impossible to avoid their fake flaunting as now these attention seekers have a non-stop platform to compulsively crow.
• Flip Flop Frank — Here, the person doesn’t seem to have a coherent or cohesive sense of self because they show inconsistency in attitude, opinion and actions. What they love on one day may be what they abhor the next.
• Hypercritical — Sadly these types have nothing positive to say about anyone. Their contribution to conversation is filled with judgment and criticism as well as an inability to praise others. Instead of looking inwardly at their own flaws, they lash out to distract and divert attention onto others.
• Psychologically Stingy — These people don’t put effort in friendships, discuss any aspects of their life, compliment others, show affection, don’t know how to collaborate and frequently give only short answers to questions asked. They withhold love and intimacy and have quiet a cold disposition.
• Brain Drains — These types don’t choose their words carefully, nor do they filter their thoughts. Without proper consideration, words fly out of their mouth, like bullets hitting innocent bystanders.
• Endless Expectations — It seems no matter what we do for these people, it’s neither enough nor exactly the way it should be. They are never quite satisfied and will lash out at every opportunity to remind us we’re not living up to their ridiculous standards and expectations.
• Mood Machine — This is like the Russian roulette of interaction. You’re never quite sure which version of the person you’re going to get — the one that hugs you or hurts you.
Likeable people on the other hand promote and practice the following traits.
• They show interest in your life and activities.
• They listen carefully to what is being communicated and will often follow up on things during future encounters.
• They add value to the conversation by contributing to points rather than negating or constantly debating.
• They are psychologically generous with their time, words, touch and attention.
• They are a positive voice, whether in regards to advice or general view of the world, avoiding the dark and gloomy by having a more realistically optimistic position.
• They look for the good in people.
• They aren’t satisfied with niceties or small talk. They form deep meaningful bonds that are mutually beneficial.
• Authenticity about who they are and what they believe in. They are honest and trustworthy, because you can see consistency in their actions across a range of situations.
• They laugh with you, not at you.
• They show gratitude and return favors to make sure resentment never creeps into the relationship.
• When there’s tension, they confront it effectively to resolve the situation rather than try to cover it up.
• They are fully present, not checking emails while in conversation, for example.
• Due to their growth mindset, they’re open to receiving feedback about their behavior, sometimes even grateful because they aim to improve not to impress.
• They manage their moods and demonstrate a stable disposition, no matter what challenges they may be facing.
Your likability is what sets you apart and leaves a positive impression on others. In reality, it could be the main force behind making or breaking associations. So knowing we are largely in control here, there’s really no excuse for remaining stuck in old ways of interacting since making minor behavioral adjustments can dramatically improve the quality of your relationships and overall well-being.
What other qualities of likeable people have you noticed? Would be delighted if you shared your thoughts with us.
Till next time, over to you...
Power Of The Pomegranate
Have you ever deseeded a pomegranate? This might sound like a strange question at first, but allow me to elaborate and then perhaps you’ll better understand why this crown wearing fruit is the protagonist of our story here.
A few months ago, I was rushing around the house and as I walked passed the fruit basket on the coffee table, I noticed three pomegranates perched along side apples, oranges and a few kiwis. How jealous the other fruits must have been of this mystical fruit that has enjoyed regal status for millennia. Poets and physicians as well as herbalists and artists have revered the pomegranate for its beauty and healing properties, symbolising longevity, fertility and prosperity.
On this exceptionally busy day, I’m not sure why I suddenly abandoned my task and was mentally teleported to another time and place.
Maybe I needed a break. But not the artificial break I fooled myself into recently that consisted of checking emails or sliding down the dark hole of social media.
I needed to just flow freely.
To really feel present and rooted in the here and now.
‘I know,’ I whispered to myself. ‘I’m going to peel and deseed the pomegranates.’
Was I using this as a procrastination tactic? Did I just want to distract myself from the project I was working on? I’m not quite sure but whatever the reason, the next 20 minutes or so were significant enough for me to want to share the experience with you. Keep in mind, all these ideas were pieced together afterwards — at the time I was just ‘being,’ not ‘thinking.’
I took the first pomegranate and skillfully carved out a round hole on top. I then cut it in two sections, revealing the plump and shiny ruby seeds all perfectly lined up and positioned in their natural case.
Is there a system to how I should do this? It doesn’t matter.
What if the seeds don’t all get extracted perfectly? It doesn’t matter.
Very little mattered actually once I got into the meditative zone of focusing entirely on this task. The sound of the TV in the background gradually faded so that I could no longer hear about some of the most devastating human atrocities of our generation.
The temperature in the room felt as right as a Mediterranean summer’s afternoon where the air is still and the atmosphere feels so warmly embracive.
I felt my heart slowing down as did my breathing. The cognitive chaos that usually controls my thoughts and actions decreased intensity, only intruding every once in while when trying to better guide my deseeding technique. My muscles were quite relaxed and the concept of time and space had very little meaning.
I briefly thought about my son’s first assembly at school, for some reason, which made me smile. Maybe they had served pomegranates after the show. Fleetingly I thought about the lovely breakfast I had enjoyed with my husband that morning. The only other sensation I remember was feeling almost hypnotized by the blood red color and scent of the pulpy seed. Nothing else.
Fast forward to today. I enjoyed the session so much that since then, I’ve made a commitment to engage in my self devised ‘Pomegranate Power Program’ at least twice a week, no matter how busy I am. Not only do I carve out an incredible sense of being present through mindfulness but I also get to have a nutritiously delicious snack right after.
This act of quieting the mind and only focusing on what I’m doing has a number of positive effects. Of course the outcomes may vary from person to person but here are a few which we may all benefit from.
• A calmer disposition
• More focused and level headed
• Not distracted
• Not feeling fragmented and pulled into different directions
• A deeper sense of gratitude
• Greater attentional skills
• Paying more attention to people, places or objects that may have been ignored for some time
• Feeling more clear and creative
• Having more energy
• Less intense symptoms of PMS
• More patience
• Not irritated by small challenges of obstacles
Mark Robert Waldman, speaker and communication expert explains, ‘active meditation (such as coloring or knitting) focuses attention on simple tasks that require repetitive motion. Concentrating this way replaces negative thoughts and creates a state of peace, and many people who have a difficult time with concentrative meditation can find this easier.’
Why is it important to consciously make the effort to appreciate the present? Well, unfortunately many of us suffer from either being archeologists of the past or anxiety architects of the future or both. So if we worry about what could have been or what might be, we miss what is.
Therefore, like many others in my field and across other philosophies, I too would like to encourage more people to sense the present, through pomegranates. I invite you to take part in our Pomegranate Program Challenge. Try the experience and if you enjoy it, take a picture of yourself with the fruit either before or after your session, upload it on Instagram with a brief description of how you felt, closing it off with #pomegranateprogram. Let’s see how many people we can inspire to join in!
Till we meet again... wishing you a calm and clear day.