How to Get People to Like You: Six Simple Steps

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to get people to like you? Is making people like you something that you can learn?

Knowing how to get people to like you can be a valuable skill in life. It can help you make connections and forge friendships.

Read more about how to get people to like you and why you need to practice this skill.

How to Get People to Like You: The Six Methods

After you learn the principles, How to Win Friends and Influence People then describes how to get people to like you. 

In summary, make people feel important by being happy to see them, encouraging them to discuss their interests and passions at length, calling them by their name, and giving genuine praise for things they pride themselves on.

1. Show a genuine interest in the other person.

  • Who is universally loved as friendly and approachable? A dog. They’re always excited to see you and seem like you’re the most important thing in their world.
  • Showing interest in other people makes them feel important (principle 2)
    • All of us like people who admire us. If we think highly of ourselves, then we appreciate people who have good taste and judgment.
  • “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
  • People aren’t interested in you or me. They’re interested in themselves, every day, for their entire life.
    • When you see a group photo, whose face do you look for first?
  • Tactics
    • Ask people about their background and their goals. 
    • Remember problems people are having. When you come across a solution, share it with the person.
    • Go out of your way to talk to people who are “beneath your level” – employees who don’t report to you, servicepeople. 
    • For people “above your level,” express a genuine interest in them, their work, their advice. They feel important when they can pass on secrets of their success.
    • When traveling, attempt to speak their language. Try to understand their world instead of being a tourist.
    • Remember birthdays and act on them.
    • Greet people with animation and enthusiasm. On the phone if you know who’s calling, greet them warmly, not with a cold “hello?”
  • It must be sincere.
    • [Start from the perspective that everyone is better than you at something, and that it is worth finding out what that is to better yourself.]
  • Examples
    • An editor said that he could tell after a few paragraphs if the author liked people. If the author doesn’t like people, people won’t like her stories.
    • A famous magician didn’t see his audience as suckers. He was grateful they came to see him and endeavored to give them the very best he could. Before each show he repeated to himself, “I love my audience. I love my audience”
    • It’s a common strategy for employers to ask front desk staff what they thought of applicants. Rude people are rejected.
    • A banker interviewing a company president learned that the president’s grandson was collecting stamps. He dug up stamps his bank owned and offered them to the president, who was now much friendlier.
    • A fuel vendor had tried to sell to a large chain store without success. Carnegie arranged a debate where they had to argue whether the chain store was better or worse for the country, and the vendor took the positive side. He approached the large chain manager asking for his help. The manager talked for two hours, proud of his company’s contributions to the world and even changed the vendor’s attitude. At the end, the chain store placed an order with the vendor.

2. Smile.

  • A smile says, “i like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.” It’s a messenger of good will. This is why dogs and smiling babies are so beloved. A smile makes people feel important and appreciated. This is one of the easiest ways to learn how to get people to like you.
  • “People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it.”
    • You must have fun meeting other people if you expect them to have fun meeting you.
  • If you don’t feel like smiling, force yourself to smile. Hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were happy, and that will tend to make you happy.
    • “Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be…you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire.”
  • Tactics
    • Talk on the phone with a smile – your intonation changes entirely.
    • Greet people with animation and enthusiasm. On the phone if you know who’s calling, greet them warmly, not with a cold “hello?”
    • Smile especially at people who are not used to be smiled at and just see frowns all day, e.g. servicepeople.
  • “A smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no good to anybody till it is given away.”

3. A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

  • A name is a person’s identity. It makes her unique among all others. Remembering it and calling a person by it makes her feel important. Saying the name is a subtle and welcome compliment. Forgetting it or misspelling it is a crippling mistake that suggests you didn’t care enough to get it right. 
    • Politician maxim: “To recall a voter’s name is statesmanship. To forget it is oblivion.”
    • “The executive who tells me he can’t remember names is telling me he can’t remember a significant part of his business and is operating on quicksand.”
  • A name is one of the most important words in a person’s entire vocabulary. A person’s name to her is far more important than all the other names in the rest of the world combined.
  • People pay loads of money to have their names remembered after they die (naming buildings, having park bench plaques dedicated to them). This is a surefire way to learn how to get people to like you.
  • Tactics
    • Use it multiple times in conversation. This will help you remember it and also sweeten what you have to say to the listener.
    • Try to tie together the name and details about a person to form a longer-lasting image.
    • If an unusual name, ask how it’s spelled.
    • Bother to get difficult to pronounce names correct, eg names from foreign languages.
    • Address mass emails warmly.
    • Get to know your customers’ names, especially if you operate a retail store.
    • Get to know servicepeople’s names when you interact with them frequently.
  • Examples
    • Carnegie stories
      • As a child, Carnegie had a large litter of rabbits. He promised that anyone who helped him pick clovers and feed would get a rabbit named after her.
      • Later, Carnegie wanted the business of the Pennsylvania Railroad, run by Edgar Thomson, so he named the local steel mill “Edgar Thomson Steel Works.” 
      • He wanted to merge with the sleeping car company Pullman. When Carnegie mentioned the new company would be called Pullman still, Pullman became far more eager.

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

  • You can be a good conversationalist merely by 1) showing genuine, undivided interest, 2) getting the other person to talk
    • Even better, give sincere appreciation and praise. Tell them how fascinating the stories are, how you wished they had their knowledge of their experiences, how you must get together again.
    • You don’t even need to talk yourself, if the other person doesn’t invite you to.
    • [Again, this must be GENUINE. Saying “that’s so interesting” listlessly without any elaboration quickly shows insincerity.]
  • A person’s life is the most important life to that person. “A person’s toothache means more to that person than a famine in China that kills a million people.” Allowing someone to talk makes that person feel important and flattered and is one way how to get people to like you.
  • [Especially if your “stature” is relatively higher than the others. This is my personal theory about why people describe presidents to be incredibly engaging “like you’re the only person in the room.” Not only are presidents already very skilled at focusing on people in conversations, but it feels even more precious knowing that you probably don’t deserve Bill Clinton’s attention.]
    • “If you want enemies, excel your friends; if you want friends, let your friends excel you.” Talking about your own accomplishments makes people feel inferior and envious and is not how to get everyone to like you.
  • Often angry people just want to be heard. Customers get progressively tired of being rejected without having their voice heard. If you listen to them with quiet patience, then graciously acknowledge your mistake, they’ll often be pleasantly surprised and dial back their demands. 
    • “Thank you for coming to me with this. You’ve done me a great favor, for if you feel this way, it may annoy many other customers. So I’m eager to hear about what you endured.”
    • They may consider themselves crusaders for a cause, but once they feel important and heard, they get all the venom out of their system.
  • Bad conversationalists talk without concern about the other person. “They are concerned with what they are going to say next that they do not keep their ears open.”
  • Tactics
    • To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other people will enjoy answering.
    • Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
    • Ask famous people genuine questions about their backgrounds. They may invite you to get to know them better.
    • Everyone has gone through what they feel to be tough times, and they like to reminisce about them if they’ve overcome them. Ask about this.
  • [Sometimes when good listeners get together it’s an amusing struggle to get the other to talk more.]

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

  • Using an earlier analogy, why fish with cheesecake? Fish with the bait that the partner wants. People are usually far more enthusiastic about topics they care about than ones only you care about. Talking about other people’s interests is a great way to learn how to make everyone like you.
  • Tactics
    • Before meeting someone, research their interests thoroughly so you have a working knowledge of the field.
    • Look around for clues of their interest – keepsakes, news articles. Then have a genuine interest and ask them about it.
    • Identify someone’s major goals, then talk about how you’ll help them get closer to their goals. Especially useful for job applications.
    • Note what people spend a lot of time on, what they are clearly proud of. Point it out, show appreciation for that.
  • Examples
    • Boy scout looking for funding who read about a president’s having a million dollar check bounce. He asked to see the check and wanted to boast to his friends that he had seen such a check.
    • If you’re applying to a job where the founder has a drive for power or money, then talk about how you’ll help them gain more money. If they’re more of a missionary, then talk about how you will achieve their mission.
    • When visiting an elderly aunt-in-law, a man admired the house and its craftsmanship. The aunt showed him around and explained all the memories, then desired to leave her deceased husband’s car with the man because of his appreciation of fine things.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

  • Really a repetition and recap of the other principles.
  • Inversely, avoid doing things that demean the other person and make them feel small or unimportant.
  • For people who think highly of themselves, showing that you think they’re important suggests good taste and sense on your side.
  • Almost all people you meet feel superior to you in some way, and let them realize in some subtle way that you realize their importance.
  • Tactics
    • Give a genuine compliment when the cost is low. “I wish I had your head of hair.”
    • Give praise without wanting anything from them, merely to radiate happiness and lift them up. It helps both people for a long time.
    • Phrases: “I’m sorry to trouble you.” “Would you mind-” “I know you’re busy-” “Thank you.”
    • Pay special attention to people who are often treated as unimportant – the elderly, poor, servicepeople, front desk staff.
    • Everyone has gone through tough periods. Ask about a person’s unique struggles and appreciate them.
    • Give public approval of someone’s work.
  • Example
    • A salesperson visiting Eastman (of Kodak) was told he had strictly 5 minutes of time. The salesman walked in and admired his office, and Eastman talked about the woods selected. They then passed through the window, Eastman pointing out the way he was using his fortune to help humanity. The salesman asked about his early struggles, and Eastman talked about the poverty of his childhood.
      • [Even people of high stature need genuine appreciation, since they so frequently get barraged with people who want things from them.]

Now that you know how to make everyone like you, you can move onto other methods in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

How to Get People to Like You: Six Simple Steps

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  • The 6 ways to make people like you
  • How you can give feedback to others and improve their behavior
  • An essential checklist for handling arguments in a productive way

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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