18 simple social skills that will make you more likable

You might be naturally likable, or you might be a work in progress

If Kutcher and Kunis are photographed together it's usually when they're sat courtside
If Kutcher and Kunis are photographed together it's usually when they're sat courtside

At the end of the day, your likability often boils down to your emotional intelligence.

You might be naturally likable, or you might be a work in progress. If you're in the latter group, here are the highlights of one particularly helpful Quora thread: “What are useful social skills that can be picked up quickly?”

Out of the 83 answers submitted by users, we selected 18 simple ways to instantly become more likable:

Kathleen Elkins and Natalie Walters contributed to previous versions of this article.

1. Make eye contact

“It is an idiotically simple thing, but it remains one of the most impactful life hacks around,” writes Quora user Brad Porter. “The most attractive quality in a person is confidence. But 'be confident' is not very good advice. Instead, find the best proxy for confidence, in terms of interactive behavior. And that's eye contact.”

Start this habit immediately, says Porter. It requires no practice or special skill — just the commitment to meet someone's gaze and look them in the eye while conversing.

2. Put your smartphone in your pocket

And keep it there until your conversation or meeting is over. Basil Chiasson puts it simply: “Pay attention. Look at them. Stop what you're doing. No interruptions.”

This is another simple yet effective habit that can be executed immediately and does not require any effort or skill.

3. Call people by name

The next time someone greets you by name or uses your name mid-conversation, remember how great that feels.

If you have trouble putting names to faces, try different strategies, such as writing them down or using imagery or rhymes associated with the name. Quora user Howard Lee suggests repeating names verbally when you're first introduced and then twice more in your head.

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4. Smile

Don't underestimate the power of smiling.

Additionally, laugh and tell jokes, recommends Quora user Craig Fraser. People unconsciously mirror the body language of the person they're talking to. If you want to be likable, use positive body language and people will naturally return the favor.

5. Give a firm handshake

“Not too hard, certainly not limp and soft, and with no dominance play,” writes Tony Vincent.

Research shows that people decide whether or not they like you within seconds of meeting you. A firm handshake contributes largely to that first impression, as do strong posture and positive body language.

6. Listen

Listen more than you speak, says Quora user Mark Bridgeman: “You have two ears, only one mouth. That's the ratio you should use them with.”

7. Don't just listen — actively listen

Simply hearing words doesn't cut it. Likable people truly listen to the person they're talking to.

Active listening requires four steps, writes Chiasson: hearing, interpreting, evaluating, and responding.

Step one requires dropping what you're doing and paying attention. Next, “paraphrase what you've heard and ask clarifying questions,” she suggests. Evaluating means steering clear of quick judgment and jumping to conclusions: “Make sure you have all the pertinent information before forming or expressing an opinion.” Finally, “give feedback to let the speaker know that you heard them,” she writes.

8. Flatter people

“This grabs people directly by their ego and is therefore extremely effective,” writes Julian Reisinger.

He suggests using conversation openers that make the other person feel like an expert, such as “You know a lot about social marketing, don't you?” or “Do you know why I always get this error message?”

This way, you learn something new and the other person gets to feel needed. “It's as easy as that, it's a win-win, and it works 100% of the time,” Reisinger says.

9. Know how to accept a compliment

Accepting a compliment can be tricky because you don't want to seem egotistical.

But you also don't want to mumble a “Thanks, you too” because that makes you seem self-conscious and socially inept.

So instead of giving phrases like “You look 10 times better than me” or “It was all thanks to you,” Reisinger suggests accepting the compliment with confidence by using phrases like “Thanks! Hearing that feels really good” or “Thank you! What an amazing experience.”

10. If someone is interrupted, ask them to continue

Everyone has been that person who is telling a story, gets interrupted, and then has to awkwardly stand by, wondering if anyone was even listening to you.

Milena Rangelov says that you can be that person's liberator by saying something like, “Hey, can you please finish your story about the bicycle ride? The last thing you mentioned is that dogs started following you. Can I hear the rest, please?”

You will instantly put the speaker at ease and make them feel appreciated, she writes.

11. Don't complain

Being around negative people is draining.

That's why Milena Rangelov calls them “energetic vampires” — “because they suck your energy.”

Being a Negative Nancy is an instant turnoff. If you notice yourself complaining while everyone else starts to look distracted, do yourself a favor and pick a new topic.

12. Tell great stories

Google used to be a big example of this, with high standards and head-scratching questions.

Storytelling doesn't come naturally to everyone. Quora user Joe Cassandra gives some good, concrete advice on how to master the skill:

“Write down 20 stories and store them in an Evernote. Before social interactions, pull it out to refresh and whip those bad boys out and get people laughing. What you'll find is each time you tell the story, you get better. You'll see where most people laugh. Where they don't, Where their eyes glaze over etc. Practice, Practice. I've mastered my dog Cooper's 'Easter from Hell story' because I've told it a zillion times. It's funny.”

13. Ask specific questions

Reisinger says to appeal to the ego by acknowledging your companion's expertise and asking plenty of questions.

“These questions are not only positioning the other person as an expert, they are stroking their ego so much, that you can learn a lot of stuff from them.”

14. Be a bit self-deprecating

Quora user Dean Yeong says he's terrible at remembering names, which can make for awkward scenes at professional events. Nowadays, he's just upfront with others about his bad memory.

“Therefore, before people even introduce themselves to me, I tell them I’m bad at remembering names in the first place,” he says.

15. Don't jump to conclusions

Sometimes, our brains can cause us to jump to conclusions about people. This can cause us to become more closed off. In order to avoid getting the wrong impression of anyone, Quora user John Roldan argues that it's important to get familiar with nonverbal communication.

“The problem with making a 'snap judgment' is we make them with a 'low level structure' in our brain. This implies that little reasoning is employed when we initially attribute character traits to someone.”

16. Watch your body language

Donald Trump is interviewed during FOX special "Megyn Kelly presents"

“The words you use are just a small part of communication,” Rahul Jain says. “How you use your tone of voice and your body language is over 90 percent of what you are communicating.”

17. Skip the small talk

Pete Zbrojkiewicz recommends to forgo “polite conversation” and get a little vulnerable with the other person, if you're looking to become friends.

“We may not have experienced the same activities, but we have experienced the same emotions,” he argues. “So when I say you need to find common interests, I mean you need to find something that sparks similar emotions in both of you.”

18. Make everyone feel included

It stinks to feel left out when you're talking in a group. You can avoid this by making sure you look at everyone involved, according to Reisinger.

“Make everyone feel like they are a part of the conversation and their attention will be yours,” he says.

If it appears that someone in the group is trying to say something but keeps getting cut off, take it upon yourself to help them jump in. You can try, “Jim, did you want to say something?” But never put anyone on the spot of make them feel uncomfortable.

Read more:

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Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2016. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

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