The Essence of Likeability

She annoyed me. Something about her just annoyed me and I’m not sure what or why. But she knew how to bring out the pettiness in me and I have no explanation about it. Let’s call her Allison and no, that is not her real name. We’ll call her Allison and I haven’t seen or spoken to her for 13 years.   I met her when I worked in a mail room in a Salt Lake office. We started about the same time. She was young, newly married, and oh, so annoying. For 13 years though I’ve wondered why. What made her so annoying to me? More important, what is the essence of likeability and is it something that we are just born with or can we learn skills to help us become fairly likeable. At least, make it so people don’t want to smack us around whenever we venture to speak.

I have pondered this and realized my answers may not be the same as they are for other people. So I took it to Facebook. “What is the essence of likeability? What is that thin line for you that separates someone between likeable and annoying?”

The few answers I received didn’t focus on the likeability factor. Apparently, to figure out what makes a person amiable we look at the opposite characteristics. Maybe it’s that simple, if a person doesn’t annoy us we will like him or her. Just don’t have the personality akin to fingers down a chalkboard and we’ll be fine.

Ok, so what is the essence of annoyance? The most common factor we look down on is being focused on self. That is a big turn off. Showcasing one’s accomplishments without letting another person speak up is a big no-no. The lack of safety or trust is another big issue. If our names don’t feel safe on that person’s lips we tend to shy away from him or her. Or if there is a general sense of distrust that person usually pushes our buttons. Also, lack of true confidence. Not the fake confidence that manifests because of poor self-esteem but true confidence. Having to constantly bolster someone up wears down the friendship pretty quick. It’s difficult to always be the support beam holding someone up.

Since we know what annoys us, I ask again, what is the essence of likeability? Is it something we can learn or are we stuck with what few grams of pleasantness we get sprinkled on us at birth?

Oh, how I hope it is something we can work on while here.

This is my list of things to work on compiled from the list of ‘what-not-to-do’s’ my friends shared.

  1. Have a sincere interest in the other person. Ask about his or her interests. Or what’s going on with him or her at the moment. There is a caveat to this though. There should be a balance, a give and take. Too much focus on your friend and no focus on you can have the same result as being too self-absorbed. I have heard complaints about a person “only asking questions about me and never telling me about her.”   It’s an art-form this one. For some of us, it takes practice and effort to know when to share and when to ask. I never said being likeable is going to be easy for all of us.
  2. Share warm smiles more. Another thing to practice. I tend to look like I’m either angry, in deep thought, or confused 99% of the time. I have to remember to loosen my face muscles and just smile. It’s okay to smile. While smiling it’s also good to say a friendly hello. As far as I know, it hasn’t killed anyone.
  3. If someone tells you something or shares his or her story with you, you don’t have to repeat it to other people. Remember whose story it is and if you are not the author or participant it is not yours to tell. It doesn’t matter if you can tell it better, if it’s not yours don’t share it.

It’s my goal to work on these three things the next little bit. If I’m successful I’ll let you know. Or I’ll just throw a party because who wouldn’t come to a party thrown by such an agreeable person?

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