Though none of us would admit that we desire popularity, it resides in all of us. It may look nothing like being the high school jock or cheerleader, but we do want to be liked. None of us would ever complain that too many people like us. And if can’t get that, we settle for people disliking us, because it’s still attention. Really, we just want to be known, preferably liked and loved, but we’ll settle for disdain as long as we’re noticed.
All kids and most adults seek affirmation by drawing attention to themselves. Seems logical – exaggerate your strengths and diminish your weaknesses so people see you as an admirable and attractive person, and therefore gravitate towards you. After all, we don’t really admire people who are bad at doing things. But what if the secret was the opposite? What if you took the attention off of yourself, and put it on other people?
Rather than trying to convince everyone how great you are in order to get them to like you, try convincing people how great they are. I’m not a super popular person. In fact, I’m naturally an introvert that gets shy around new people. So what do I know? I have really popular friends. People whom everyone seems to know and like. What I’ve noticed about them is that they’re not exclusive, but inclusive. They really value and take interest in other people. They make you feel awesome, so you want to be around them more.
Whether you’re in the workplace or a social event, and whether you’ve known someone a long time or just met a person, you can boost people’s affinity for you. Here are a few tips on how to treat and value other people first, which results in you being a more enjoyable person to be around. These specific action points may even help you break out of your shell.
1. Be Excited to See Other People
When first seeing a person, act as if you haven’t seen them in a year, even if it was just yesterday. Smile big. Greet them with a hug or handshake, whatever is appropriate for the relationship. Say something like, “It’s so good to see you.” Ask a question a little more specific than “How are you?” such as “How was your morning/weekend/drive/flight?” If you can, be even more specific and refer to a specific event you know about, such as “How was the concert/movie/dinner/game?”
2. Be Interested in What Other People Are Interested in
Naturally the conversation moves into what they are interested in. It may be a long term project they’re working on, an activity they recently did, or a new hobby they’re picking up. What ever it is, take interest in it and ask questions. Having a good conversation doesn’t require you to know a lot about the topic. You just need to ask good questions. Ask about the details and why that person is so interested. As you get people talking more they’ll remember you as the person they had a great chat with, and will want to do it again.
3. Publicly Share People’s Interest with Others
The best way to respond with enthusiasm is to share it with others. In a social setting, grab one of your friends or colleagues and pull them into the conversation. Tell your friend how amazing whatever this person’s interest is, and recap what you can. Then ask the person to retell it or expand upon it. For example, you pull in a friend and say, “Hey, I just found out that Dave is like a cheetah when it comes to running. He runs marathons all the time. In fact, he just ran a 10k this past weekend. Isn’t that awesome? Dave, tell John about how much you had to train for this one.” By including other people, you are letting the person know that you value their story – enough that it is worth re-sharing.
4. Ask to Spend Time with People
Take the initiative to let people know you enjoy their company. Ask them to go grab a drink, go out for lunch, or go get coffee. You’re essentially giving up your time to spend with them, which lets people know that you value them. Of course, be sure to make good on your offer.
5. Follow Up with People Later in the Week
A few days later, follow up with that person through a text, phone call, or email, whatever is appropriate in the relationship. Let them know how great it was to chat about whatever topic(s) you discussed. This lets people know you were truly interested because you remembered. If they have something coming up, add an extra encouragement, such as, “Good luck on your project proposal at work this week.”
I definitely don’t have this down, nor do I profess to be an expert in social interactions. I just notice that this is why I am so drawn to certain friends and are always looking to hang out with them. it’s not that they have an amazing resume of a life, though all of them are pretty interesting and have done amazing things. The main draw is that they treat me as if I was the most amazing person in the world, which they do to everybody. This is the essence of what it means to be “down to earth” and why we value that quality.
So to be popular, make other people popular. As you start treating valuing, encouraging, and spotlighting other people, you’ll notice a gradual shift in yourself. It’s no longer about you or elevating yourself. It’s about elevating other people.