This question originally appeared on Quora: What do likable, pleasant people do differently?.
Answer by Jordan Phoenix, Director, Project Free World. Author, It's All My Fault: How I Messed Up the World, and Why I Need Your Help to Fix It
Here's some food for thought:
Imagine there was an entire country comprised only of clones of you. Try to envision -- in as much detail as possible -- what it would be like. Now imagine you had to create a Wikipedia page about this country. What would be its biggest strengths? What would be its greatest weaknesses? What social fabric problems would it have?
If you have trouble at first, you can do this same exercise a few times, but first substituting in other people you know to give you an idea of what it can teach you.
The reason why this thought exercise is so powerful is because it amplifies all of your character traits -- good and bad -- to an extreme degree. It will show you what you are doing that turns people off.
For example, if you are the type of person who cuts people off in traffic with no remorse, imagine what a disaster it would become if everyone in your entire country drove that way.
If you are dishonest and apathetic about other people's wants and needs, imagine if everyone acted that way. If you have a short fuse and a bad temper, imagine how much violence would break out in that place, and what an awful place it would be to live in.
If you're lazy, imagine the entire country not working, which would lead to economic collapse and starvation.
If you're too judgmental of others and try to bring them down rather than wanting to see them have fun, imagine living in a country with no entertainment, no arts, no nightlife, and how boring and unhappy it would become.
Now, think about the ideal type of country you'd want to live in. What traits should it have? How should the people act and treat one another? Is it possible to create a way of living and being such that if all of the clones acted that way, things would become amazing, and there wouldn't be any problems?
Once you can clearly see this vision in your mind, you now have the exact blueprint to become the type of person who almost everyone will enjoy being around.More questions on Quora:
- Life: If you had a chance to send one message to your past self 10 years ago, what would it say?
- Human Behavior: What is something that can't be untaught?
- Personality: How do I strike the balance between confidence and arrogance?
- Social and Behavioral Norms: What are some of the most annoying double standards that women suffer?
- Likability: What are some examples of how to create characters that are likable, but aren't too perfect?