Are you easy to like? Think for a moment about the people in your life who are genuinely self-confident (not bombastic or self-important!). Are they also the people who are easiest to like? If the answer is yes, here’s why. You know you can trust them. You enjoy their company. You don’t have to walk on eggshells around them. They don’t blow hot and cold. Sharing their company makes you feel better about yourself. Life feels good in their presence. You know they are capable of empathy. They awaken your empathy also.
Are you that confident? Are you that likeable? Well, you can be. Self-confidence and the confidence that “I am likeable” go hand in hand. In fact, most of us want more than just to be liked. We want to be respected, trusted and appreciated. We want to be cherished and loved. What follows is the shortest list that I can make that will guarantee changes for the better.
1) Switch off your critic. Become a daily “appreciator”. Speak up about what’s going well. Take constructive decisions if things are not going well. Yes: act on your own behalf, but aim for results that will benefit everyone.
2) Recognise how different your “bad mood thinking” is from how you think when you are feeling good. Be extremely cautious about what you express when your mood is low. Or when you are angry. Never “dump”. Never speak to or about someone in a way that would shame you if others were to hear it.
3) Listen deeply. Watch your loved ones’ faces as you speak. Observe their body language. Do more of what lifts their spirits. And listen also to the tone of your own voice and what it displays.
4) Take it for granted that you won’t always get your own way. So what?!
5) Take it for granted that other people experience life differently from you. Hurrah!
6) Take it for granted that conflict and differences of need can be resolved without hostility. Your confidence will deepen.
7) Check your assumptions – especially about what someone close to you “should” be doing or should “have to” put up with.
8) Value currencies other than money: time, thoughtfulness, care, optimism and concern. These currencies are truly priceless.
9) Curb your demands, self-righteousness and self-pity. They are all deeply unattractive.
10) Cultivate your warmth, openness, gentleness and curiosity. They are all deeply attractive.
And did I mention changing YOUR behaviors and responses rather than blaming others for the way you are…or assuming that everyone else should adapt or bend to your world view? I hope that’s clear because self-mastery is also crucial to self-confidence: knowing that we have choices. And making those choices wisely.
PS: If you are at the receiving end of someone else’s negative behaviours, please take renewed care of yourself. Your sense of self and self-confidence will always be undermined if someone treats you badly. In that situation, get intelligent professional help at once. None of us deserves to be the dumping ground for someone else’s misery or frustrations. We must save others from our own worst moods. Often, too, we must save ourselves.
The behaviors that undermine relationships – and self-confidence – include treating others with indifference or contempt, “punishing” or belittling with bad moods or silence, making unfair demands (or any “demands”), a lack of confidentiality and respect, not listening, name-calling, withdrawing and denying kindness or safety. These common behaviours radically undermine the wellbeing of everyone who suffers them. And they pave the way to relationship hell. But with some strength of mind and especially with insight and good will, they can be changed.
I have written extensively in my books about how and why someone might behave in self-defeating ways in their closest relationships. If you want to understand more about this you can read Intimacy & Solitude. If you want to do something about it you can read and find much practical help in Choosing Happiness and The Almost-Perfect Marriage. But even if you read those or other books repeatedly, nothing will ever matter more than “reading” your own behaviour – and especially “reading” the effect of your behaviour on other people – and the effect of their behavior on you. And taking the action that’s needed. Blessings.