How to Make People Like You (Backed by Science)

in psychology •  10 months ago 


(I originally wrote this for Derek Halpern for an assignment to apply for a junior copywriter gig. He liked it so much that he called me immediately.)

When I was a freshman in college, I wasn’t as popular as I wanted to be. My only friends lived in another state.
As the new kid AGAIN and I was pretty lonely. I’ll be honest...for a while, books were my only companions.

Being away from my friends at a new school SUCKED. I felt utterly unlikeable going back to my dorm alone every day.
Until I discovered the surprising solution in a book written by a Hostage Negotiator.

Within 2 weeks, I was surrounded by new friends. When I walked down the hallway, I saw smiling faces looking back at me.I heard the constant “ting” of voicemail notifications on my clamshell phone. People FINALLY invited me to parties AND after parties.

This was it! I was finally LIKED.

I’m Sarah Jordan, and I have a confession to make: I made people like me. And you can too!


I reveal everything including key takeaways for you in this blog.

Repetition = Rapport

Prior to my discovery, I’m the first person to admit that I was not a good listener. I used to constantly interrupt people. Yeah, I was that person! But I was determined to change. And I did. I learned that in order to be liked, I needed to build rapport.

The first step to building rapport is listening to other people when they speak. The second step is to repeat (parrot back) the last few words the person just said to you.

It sounds completely idiotic on paper. But trust me, it works!

Here’s an example:

Let’s say Joe Schmoe and I are meeting for coffee. I sit down and ask Joe how his day is going.
He turns to me,raises his eyebrows and says, “I feel fantastic!”

In order to build rapport, I should respond like this: “So you feel fantastic?! That’s great. Tell me more.”

Here’s Why:

When you repeat what the person just said, they feel understood and heard. They feel that you are interested in hearing more.1

This is simple but powerful tool. So powerful, that it’s used in hostage negotiations.

The Body Talks
Another crucial component to being liked is Body Language.
Did you know that you can create conflict just by standing a certain way? Yes indeed, it’s proven by science.

“A wealth of emotions can be conveyed with a look, a sigh, a smile or a tilt of the head. Nonverbal communication is not just something we do to show how we are feeling, but we also depend on our interpretations of it when we interact with each other.”2

We can also use body language to tip the “I like you” odds in our favor.

So look approachable! Uncross your arms and stand up nice and tall. Turn your body toward the person you are talking with.

According to Amy Cuddy, your body language doesn’t just change how people react to changes your actual body chemistry. 3

It’s All About Me
If you have a business, you need to know about the WIIFM principle. This stands for “What’s in it for me?”
But back in college, this was all brand new to me. Luckily I learned about it before it was too late.

Here’s what I discovered: People LOVE talking about themselves. So if you want to be seen as the MOST FASCINATING person on the planet, start asking people questions about themselves!4

Start showing you are interested in others and they will “like you back”.

One day when I was grabbing a pizza at a local joint near my campus, it dawned on me that I needed to practice this skill. I decided to have practice conversations. I started to use the WIIFM principle on people who are paid to be nice to me.

And it worked! Big time.

I noticed the pizza server guy had one of those rubber bracelets for Team in Training. So I asked him if he was doing a marathon or supporting someone who was.

A grin spread across this skinny guy’s face that lit up the whole room as he excitedly told me his story.

He went on for a few minutes about running. He told me about his trip to Florida. He told me about all the money he raised for children with Leukemia.

Then looked me square in the eyes and said, “I’ve never told anyone this before, but I’m a cancer survivor. That’s why I do what I do.”

I was beyond humbled that this guy shared that with me. And I’ll never forget it.

Don’t Be a Debbie Downer

I bet you know someone who seems to be in a “my life is more horrible than yours” contest with everyone they know. Don’t you just want to smack those whiners?

Complaining might feel good for a second, but it’s so draining for the person who has to hear it.

If you want to be liked by more people, the complaining has to stop! It’s not small talk. It’s NOT appealing.

We are subconsciously drawn to people who are happy and positive. So when you meet new people, resist the urge to complain. Even if you have to bite your tongue.

In fact, I challenge you go without complaining for an entire 24 hours!

Your Task:
Don’t complain at all for an entire 24 hours. It’s harder than it sounds! If you can do that (and I bet you can’t!) then go for a full week.

The positive results you experience will shock you.

Now here’s what I want from you:

Leave a comment telling me one important takeaway you got from reading this, and how you will use it to be more likable.

Make sure you pass this on. Your friends will thank you for it.

The Sources

1Barker, E. (n.d.). How to make people like you: 6 science-based conversation hacks.

2Sanders, A. (n.d.). How Does Nonverbal Communication Affect Relationships?

3Blodget, H. (n.d.). This Simple 'Power Pose' Can Change Your Life And Career. Retrieved from

4How to Make People Instantly Like You. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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