Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Make People Like Me?
IT IS only normal that you want to be liked. And it is well within your reach to make more people like you. Yet, it may seem that no matter how hard you try, you manage to turn others off; that you verbally trip over your own feet every time you try to start a conversation; that you are always the last one invited, the last one included, the last one sought out. How, then, can you change things and get others to like you?
Do You Like Yourself?
First of all, face the fact that nobody is liked by everyone. Why, some did not even like Jesus Christ—and he was perfect! (Isaiah 53:1-3) It is therefore a bitter fact of life that some people simply will not like you. This somewhat unsettling truth is much harder to accept, though, if you do not like yourself. When self-esteem is lacking, it can be devastating to find that someone does not like you. Feeling insecure, you may even make fruitless efforts to gain the approval of everyone.
Fifteen-year-old Sean found out that doing so can be self-defeating: “I find that when I am overly concerned with having people like me, I work so hard to get them to like me that they can sense [the insecurity] and are actually turned off.”
Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” shows that a certain amount of self-esteem is appropriate and necessary. (Matthew 22:39) So recognize your own worth as a person. While you no doubt have your flaws, remember that you also have much to offer as a person.*
A healthy dose of self-esteem helps you deal better with the occasional individual who snubs your efforts at friendship. It also prevents you from clinging too tightly in relationships. Young Kelly, for example, felt personally threatened when a girlfriend of hers began associating with another girl. However, friendships need not be exclusive—as if there were only one person in the world capable of liking you. Feel good enough about yourself to be willing to share those whom you are close to. Indeed, Kelly found that in spite of her friend’s having other companions, their cherished friendship was as good as ever!
It may be, though, that your problem is not so much having a low self-image but a personality with a few rough edges to it.
Mastering the Art of Conversation
Tarah wants to be liked by adults. However, when older persons attempt to draw her out with questions, Tarah’s awkward responses quickly short-circuit the discussion.
A person who can converse comfortably with others is usually well liked. But do you feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try to converse? Do you simply run out of things to say? Worse yet, do you bore others by always focusing the conversation on yourself? If so, cultivate the art of meaningful conversation.
Begin by developing your ability to talk on a variety of subjects. You might, for example, try to keep abreast of current events. If you find it hard to find time to read the newspaper, speech consultant Dorothy Sarnoff suggests that you “keep a TV or a radio news program on while you’re dressing, and collect tidbits that will make for interesting exchanges.” Being a regular reader of Awake! is another way to keep your storehouse of conversation topics growing and up-to-date.
Another conversational skill is to learn how to keep a discussion moving forward. For example, someone asks if you enjoyed the weekend. Don’t bring the dialogue to a screeching halt by simply answering yes. Explain what you did on the weekend and why you enjoyed it. Take the conversation yet further by asking how the other person passed the time.
What, though, if you know little or nothing about a subject under discussion? Or suppose it simply doesn’t interest you? The Bible urges us to ‘keep an eye in personal interest upon the matters of the others.’ (Philippians 2:4) So try asking some questions. People will like you for being interested in what interests them.
Show good manners in your conversations. Don’t alienate others by doing all the talking or by pouncing upon others when you disagree. (Compare Titus 3:2.) People resent such obnoxious behavior. Let others talk. Look for points of agreement and try to dwell on these. If you feel you must express disagreement on some important point, do so with “a mild temper and deep respect” for the views of the other person.—1 Peter 3:15.
Know How to Give, How to Receive
Helpful favors, sincere words of appreciation, and encouraging remarks all tell others that you are thinking of them and that you do not take them for granted. This goes a long way in making yourself likable to others. As the proverb puts it: “The one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.” (Proverbs 11:25) The apostle Paul was one who followed this principle. Read the Bible account at Acts 20:31-38, and note how unselfishly Paul labored at encouraging his Ephesian fellow workers. The result? Christians at Ephesus became so fond of Paul that upon learning of his departure, “quite a bit of weeping broke out among them all, and they fell upon Paul’s neck and tenderly kissed him.”—Acts 20:37.
Do you likewise give of yourself—your time, your energy? Do you give encouragement, support, and help to others? If so, people are sure to like you. Said Jesus: “Practice giving, and people will give to you.”—Luke 6:38.
How, though, should you react when others, in turn, want to do something for you? Perhaps embarrassed at the attention, some reject such offers. However, allow others to draw close to you by being a gracious receiver. (Colossians 3:15) On one occasion, Jesus Christ accepted perfumed oil that likely cost the giver nearly a year’s wages. (John 12:3-6) Remember, others want the joy of giving too. Show that you appreciate their gestures of friendship, and people will like you for that.
Taking the Risks!
Admittedly, opening up and showing a genuine interest in others is a bit risky, especially at first. You may fear that others will view your efforts as a weakness or that some might put you down for trying to be friendly. That is how one youth named Glen felt. As a result, he was inclined to be reserved and distant when talking with others. Glen soon realized, though, that while being detached protected him from attack, he wasn’t winning any friends either. Glen thus began expressing himself a little more, showing an interest in people. “It was a bit of a forced thing for me at first,” says Glen, “but it got easier with time.” Glen now enjoys much better relationships with his friends.
Granted, there are some who may not appreciate your attempts at friendliness. But if a person snubs you or pokes fun at you, he is the one who has a problem—not you. There are plenty of others who will respond to your efforts. So don’t be afraid to face the risks that come with taking an interest in others.
King Solomon said that “work brings profit.” (Proverbs 14:23, The Living Bible) Yes, your concentrated effort is essential to your getting results. So practice and refine your abilities to enjoy good relationships with others. Practice good manners and gracious conversational habits, and show a sincere interest in the welfare of others. Like young Samuel of Bible times, you will be sure to become “more likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.”—1 Samuel 2:26.
See “How Can I Build My Self-Respect?” in the April 8, 1983, issue of Awake!
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Personal Hygiene and Your Appearance—They Really Count!
One youth found himself avoided by his peers. An offensive personality? No, the youth was negligent in his personal hygiene. He decided to give some attention to this—and his circle of friends increased considerably! This should be no surprise, for to a great extent, your personal hygiene reflects the degree of your concern for the feelings of others. Really, who wants to be around someone who is unclean or emits a foul odor?
Attention must also be given to your clothing and personal appearance. Author Milo O. Frank points out: “In the long run, it doesn’t really matter how expensive your wardrobe is, or how old-fashioned or up-to-date, as long as it gives the impression that you care. When you care enough to present yourself at your best, then people will care about you.”
True, there are those who will be impressed if your clothes are sloppy or extreme in style. But are these the people you wish to attract as friends? Likely not. Does it not make sense to seek out friends who bring out the best in you instead of the worst? (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33) A modest and neat appearance will best serve your interests in this regard.—1 Timothy 2:9.
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Those who do things for others are usually well liked