How Likability Creates Powerful Advantage In Life

Likability is a crucial attribute for success from the playground to US presidential elections.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why some students start strong but don’t end well. Some students come into college with a bang – superior grades, high confidence, huge support, and disciplined ambition. When things go too well for them, it becomes hard to be likable. They may be so serious about studies that they don’t have time to connect. They may seem so untouchable that others feel inferior around them.


Other students are average across the board, but able to enjoy others. They find ease in making connections and helping others. They are are more “likable” and become more successful.

Likable students live in a different world that propels them to a happier, more effective and successful career because they like others and feel liked by them. They are more optimistic, more concerned for others, and happier about their lives and world. These qualities attract others.

And in their world (one they’ve mostly created), their reaction to experiences molds their outlook, their responses, and their success.

In his fascinating book Popular: Finding Happiness and Success in a World That Cares Too Much About the Wrong Kinds of Relationships, Mitch Prinstein lists some of the characteristics of a likable person:

  • Likable people are generally well adjusted.
  • They are smart (but not too smart).
  • They are often in a good mood.
  • They can hold up their end of a conversation.
  • But they give others a chance to speak.
  • They are creative, especially at solving awkward social dilemmas.
  • And they don’t disrupt the group.

Likable people are not just perceived to be better at their jobs, more satisfied, happier, and more fulfilled. They are actually all of those things!

From kids to adults, likability shapes who we are and how we respond to those around us. It may not be fair, but likable people are treated better. Their willingness to make eye contact, walk with their head up (and not in their phones), and smile are small examples of being open and likable.

In an experiment, a group of students on a college campus was asked to make note of their interactions with others each hour and how it affected their mood. The next day they did it again with hundreds of the students in the study wearing matching bright green t-shirts with slogans like, “Everyone likes me!” or “I’m Friendly!” instead of their everyday attire.

The response was incredible. On the second day, they waved more, smiled more, and their attitudes and moods increased because of their connections with others. In a sense, they were thrilled with life because of the responses of all the other students and their subsequent interactions. (I always knew t-shirts were powerful!).

As I read about this social study on a college campus, I was heartbroken by one student’s response: “I would be a totally different person if I had worn this t-shirt as a child.” Feeling likeable as a child would have changed him for the better.

Be likable! Incorporate the above characteristics into your life. Respond to others in kind, thoughtful, and positively Christian ways so others can get in on the action of living a likable life.

Popular: Finding Happiness and Success in a World That Cares Too Much About the Wrong Kinds of Relationships by Mitch Prinstein really is an interesting read.

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