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17 Verbal Habits of Highly Likable People

1. They are polite when then can be.

Words like “please” and “thank you” might be tech­nic­ally unne­ces­sary but they’re invalu­able if you want to be more cha­ris­mat­ic.

2. They acknow­ledge small favors.

You’re wel­come.” These two short words com­mu­nic­ate much more than “no prob­lem” (or, of course, “yup”) when someone thanks you for some­thing. Likable people appre­ci­ate being thanked, and they pay it back verbally.

3. They offer mean­ing­ful praise.

The key word here is “mean­ing­ful.” Cha­ris­mat­ic people give sin­cere compliments–never bash­ful, nev­er obsequious. When someone mer­its praise, they say so.

4. They express sin­cere empathy.

They use phrases like, “That must have made you feel proud,” or “I can ima­gine you must feel angry,” thus both explor­ing and val­id­at­ing oth­er people’s feel­ings. (Because here’s a little secret: Every­body wants to be under­stood.)

5. They share use­ful inform­a­tion.

Some people like to hoard inform­a­tion because they think it makes them more power­ful. Don’t be that per­son. Import­ant caveat, how­ever: Truly likable people under­stand that “inform­a­tion” and “rumors” are not the same thing.

6. They offer to help.

Many of us want to con­trib­ute to our soci­ety, but we often don’t know where to begin. The most cha­ris­mat­ic people among us start simply by look­ing for chances to help–in their fam­il­ies, in their com­munit­ies, and in the small moments of their day-to-day lives. (Note to Amer­ica: Hold doors for people com­ing in behind you!)

7. They speak with jus­ti­fi­able con­fid­ence.

They don’t boast or brag. But when faced with chal­len­ging situations–especially things that affect oth­er people–they’re the ones who approach the prob­lem with an air of calmness, curi­os­ity, and con­fid­ence. You might hear them say­ing things like, “Hmmm. I won­der how we’re going to solve this.”

8. They use names and titles that con­note respect.

Cha­ris­mat­ic people remem­ber oth­er people’s names, and use their titles in cir­cum­stances when it makes those people feel good. It takes a long time to earn titles like “doc­tor” or police officer, for example; why not use them?

9. They express their faith in oth­ers.

Four simple words: “I believe in you.” My old boss Bob Wood­ward used to talk about how a few small words of encour­age­ment from Ben Bradlee, his edit­or at The Wash­ing­ton Post,  were all he needed to feel he could suc­ceed as a journ­al­ist. That kind of val­id­a­tion from oth­ers can inspire achievement–and affec­tion for the per­son who gives the val­id­a­tion.

10. They remem­ber that they’re part of a team.

A sense of camarader­ie makes tough situ­ations bear­able. Hav­ing a sense of humor can even make them fun. Really cha­ris­mat­ic people are the ones who say things like, “Hey, we’re all in it togeth­er” dur­ing tough times–and then work hard to achieve the team’s goals.

11. They make intro­duc­tions.

Want to know five of the nicest words any­one can ever say to two people at the same time? “I’d like you to meet.…” We’re all net­work­ers these days, I sup­pose, but truly cha­ris­mat­ic people are the ones who are out to help oth­ers meet still more people–rather than just build­ing their own net­works.

12. They take their turn.

Likable people aren’t afraid to step up when it’s their turn to do some­thing enjoy­able, or even to bear the bur­den of some­thing that isn’t so great. In oth­er words, they can take a com­pli­ment or be gra­cious, but they’re also the ones who remem­ber when it’s their turn to pick up the tab for lunch.

13. They let oth­ers make their own decisions.

Truly cha­ris­mat­ic people have con­fid­ence in their opinions–but they also recog­nize that oth­er people may legit­im­ately see things dif­fer­ently, and that they have to choose their own paths in life. Moreover, cha­ris­mat­ic lead­ers aren’t afraid to del­eg­ate, and then to trust oth­ers to accom­plish what they’ve asked them to do.

14. They listen–and they want to hear more.

Highly likable people are act­ive and sin­cere listen­ers. You can tell them your opin­ion or a story or ask for their advice, and they respond with ques­tions and verbal cues that sug­gest they’re present in the moment–interested, even. For any of us, our time is our most valu­able resource, and yet they’re more than will­ing to give it to you.

15. They take respons­ib­il­ity.

When it’s their job or their fault, they step up. They take con­trol of the things they’re sup­posed to have con­trol over. It makes sense: Reli­able people are often very likable.

16. They voice their sup­port.

We all appre­ci­ate people who stand by us and who let us know that they’re there. In the mil­it­ary it’s called hav­ing the oth­er guy’s “six”–his back­side pos­i­tion. Think of someone who showed you sup­port when you needed it and tell me you did­n’t think of him or her as highly likable in that moment.

17. They ask, “Why not?”

Likable people are often dream­ers, optim­ists, and doers. RFK put it best: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that nev­er were, and ask why not?”

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