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Cultivating your inner Jennifer Aniston

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If someone asked you to characterize actress Jennifer Aniston, after "beautiful" and "talented," the next word that might come to mind would be "nice." She appears to be likeable.

An article in last weekend's Wall Street Journal (How To Vend it Like Beckham, November 13-14) raises the question of why stars get paid so much and why some stars get paid so much more than others. It makes the point that talent is hard to measure; there isn't always a direct correspondence between someone's critical acclaim and their salary. The article talks about several celebrities and their ascent to stardom and makes an interesting observation about Aniston and her success:

"Jennifer Aniston has never been nominated for an Oscar, but she gets endless attention from celebrity magazines, and she brings in audiences because they like her."

Aniston became iconic first as Rachel on the popular sitcom, Friends, and then starred in a string of comedies on the screen. We don't now her but we feel like we do: Most would agree that her public persona is sweet, attractive, and affable. She has a smile on her face and appears to be better at making and keeping friends than most celebrities, despite the demands of a busy career. In addition to the credits, woven through her bio on IMDB is a list of fellow actors who are considered her friends off-camera, too, including Andrea Bendewald. Courteney Cox, Andrea Buchanan, and Catherine Keener.

Being likeable can have payoffs for the rest of us, too. The friendships I cherish most are with people who are warm, friendly, and kind, and go out of their way to make people around them feel comfortable.

This weekend, my friend Linda visited from out-of-town and we spent the day together. Seeing her again made me realize why she is so important to me. I watched her interact with the reservation clerk at her hotel, the young man in the pizza shop where we stopped for a bite, and the clerk at TJ Maxx where we went to hunt bargains. She was as kind and authentic with each of them as she is with me and with other friends. Each person she met smiled and felt good after interacting with her. Nice people have a knack for drawing others close to them and making them feel better about themselves.

I began thinking about the characteristics that make people likeable. Here's my list:

9 Characteristics of Likeable People:

1. Being kind and considerate of others
2. Having a good sense of humor, liking to laugh, and having a ready smile
3. Being warm, friendly and outgoing
4. Being authentic and unpretentious
5. Being vivacious, perky and engaged in life
6. Having interests
7. Showing interest in others
8. Being relaxed and easygoing
9. Being easy to talk to and nonjudgmental

For some people, like Jennifer and Linda, being likeable seems to come naturally. Perhaps, it's borne out of being happy and self-confident people. For the rest of us, it's something worth thinking about and cultivating if we want to have friends.

Who qualities do you admire that makes a friend likeable?

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