07/01/2013 03:36 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2013

5 Ways to Become More Well-Liked

Lovable fools are often picked first over competent jerks. If that pricks your interest here are five ways to warm up others.

1. Take a cue for Bill Clinton and engage in deep eye contact. One of the hottest triggers of dislike is when we are engaged in conversation with someone who appears to be looking elsewhere as we talk. Even though direct eye contact is not the norm in some Asian and Hispanic cultures, most Americans translate the behavior as a lack of respect. Women, especially feel unheard when they feel unseen in this way. This is one of the strongest triggers to bring out other's better side. When they like the way they act around you they are more likely to like you.

2. Sandwich uncomfortable or otherwise or bad news between two pieces of good news. This "sandwiching" method enables others to hear both the bad and the good news and will be less likely to dislike you -- to want to shoot the messenger. That's because of two emotional triggers:

First, we respond more intensely to bad news than good. In fact we react faster and the effect lasts longer. That's the way we are wired to survive. For example, if you won a $500 gift certificate you would not feel as intensely happy as you would feel distressed if you lost a $500 certificate.

The second bit of research enables you to stay connected, be heard and still be liked when you have to share bad news. Let's say your five-day vacation included staying one night in a dirty hotel room above a noisy street. If that stay was on your last night your memory of that getaway would be negative yet if it happened in the middle your re-telling of it would be positive. How you are given a colonscopy can also color your memory.

3. Take Tim Sanders' brief likability self-assessment and my gut instincts quiz to see where you connect well with others and what you may want to do differently.

4. Ask follow-up questions. Too often we think we are demonstrating interest by listening, then responding by describing one of our past experiences or opinions. Instead prove you've heard and care by probing further.

Asking a second and a third follow-up question takes you down the path towards the underlying elements in what someone expressed. In so doing you are demonstrating deep listening rather than reverting the conversation back to you. It sends a strong signal of liking.
People like people who like them. Deep listening can be connective, where bonding can begin to happen. . We tend to open up more when we feel deeply heard.

5. Most of all act gently towards others in tone, facial expression and in words - - especially when you feel like doing or saying the opposite. Expressing kindness is a first step for building trust. It provides a cushion for you both, especially when you are first meeting someone for the first time.