How to get peo­ple to like you, ac­cord­ing to the FBI

Los Angeles Times - - MARKETPLACE - — Sh­eryl Pos­nick, The Job Net­work

W e all want to be liked. We all want to be pop­u­lar at work — at least enough to one day be pro­moted, en­joy suc­cess, and get along with our col­leagues. And we all want to make that cru­cially im­por­tant first im­pres­sion into a great one. Net­work­ing is too im­por­tant to fum­ble.

You may have heard that the art of mak­ing friends isn’t some­thing you can study up on. But there are a few tried-and-true tricks you can and should em­ploy in the in­ter­est of keep­ing the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing, build­ing re­la­tion­ships, and im­prov­ing your like­abil­ity.

1. Don’t be judgy.

Ac­cord­ing to Robin Dreeke, for­mer head of the FBI’s Be­hav­ioral Anal­y­sis Pro­gram, this is the num­ber one piece of ad­vice she can give to peo­ple hop­ing to be well-liked. It means lis­ten­ing to your con­ver­sa­tion part­ner, ask­ing ques­tions and so­lic­it­ing opin­ions, and then not judg­ing that per­son’s thoughts or feel­ings.

Val­i­date the per­son you’re speak­ing to. Un­der­stand where they’re com­ing from and what they want and need. You’re show­ing in­ter­est by do­ing this. And let­ting peo­ple talk about them­selves? It’s like hand­ing out candy and cock­tails when it comes to like­abil­ity.

2. Let go of your ego.

Next time you’re talk­ing to some­one and you feel the de­sire to cor­rect them — or tell an even bet­ter story than the one they just told — don’t. Let go your need to be cor­rect and be in the spot­light — it’s the other per­son’s chance to im­press for a while. Don’t just con­tra­dict some­one be­cause you can. Save that for sit­u­a­tions where it’s too im­por­tant not to.

3. Lis­ten cor­rectly.

If you think lis­ten­ing is just about shut­ting up and not say­ing any­thing, you’ve got a ways to go. It’s def­i­nitely not wait­ing for the other per­son to stop speak­ing long enough for you to get in your lines. In­stead, show that you’re lis­ten­ing by para­phras­ing bits of what was said back to the per­son, and then ask­ing fol­low-up ques­tions im­me­di­ately to keep the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing. Lis­ten ac­tively, not pas­sively.

4. Take an in­ter­est in other peo­ple.

Don’t nec­es­sar­ily ask peo­ple about their per­sonal lives or dra­mas, but do in­quire as to what chal­lenges they’re fac­ing — es­pe­cially in the work­place. It can be help­ful for them to talk through th­ese things, and also you can frame it by ask­ing ad­vice. Maybe they raised twins. Maybe they started a busi­ness. Start ask­ing ques­tions about chal­lenges and find more com­mon ground.

5. Don’t overdo it.

New peo­ple are more likely to re­lax around you if you don’t look like you’re about to camp out next to them for the fore­see­able fu­ture. Make it clear that you have to dash im­mi­nently, but you wanted to say hi in the few min­utes you still had at the party, etc. Smile and make eye con­tact, but don’t be too in their face. Be as gen­uine and pleas­ant as pos­si­ble but re­main slightly re­moved, as though they def­i­nitely have your full at­ten­tion, but you still have to keep one foot out the door.

6. Ad­mit when you’re wrong.

It’s not enough to just avoid telling peo­ple when they are wrong. You should also make a point to ad­mit when you are wrong. Apol­o­gize and take steps to fix it. Be sym­pa­thetic and con­trite and you’ll avoid hard feel­ings.

7. Be self­less.

Once you’ve got a group of co­work­ers you’re try­ing to build last­ing bonds with, do lit­tle things to make them feel im­por­tant. Say hello to ev­ery­one. Show ap­pre­ci­a­tion when due. Put your­self out to do things for your col­leagues — even small things like re­mem­ber­ing birth­days or in­clud­ing them in con­ver­sa­tions. Take a sin­cere in­ter­est in peo­ple and they will re­ward you with their in­ti­macy.

8. Crit­i­cize with class.

If you find you do have to crit­i­cize some­one, make sure not to make a big show of it. Keep it pri­vate, just be­tween the two of you. Don’t make a spec­ta­cle or ex­am­ple of it in a more pub­lic set­ting. And try throw­ing in a com­pli­ment or two to couch the blows.

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