Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash

While still children on the playground, we begin learning one of life’s most beneficial skills: the ability to play well with others.

That trait continues to reap benefits through adulthood. For example, when you make others feel good about themselves, they enjoy being around you. Those people then seek you out, which leads to all sorts of opportunities. (Not to mention that when others like you, they’re more likely to give you the things you want.)

And although life is much more than a popularity contest, your likability can make the day a little brighter for everyone.

Here are five simple and practical habits to make yourself more likable:

1. Smile.

Science points to numerous benefits to smiling, and they include influencing how others perceive us. For example, studies have shown how smiling makes us appear more friendly, approachable, and even competent.

Research also indicates that smiles are contagious. By smiling more, you can actually influence the mood of others and contribute to a more pleasant working environment.

2. Praise.

We all crave praise and acknowledgement of our work, whether we realize it or not. When you take time out to tell someone what you appreciate about him or her, you provide motivation and bring out the best in that person.

Of course, the key is authenticity; people can spot a fake compliment from a mile away. So make sure your commendation is sincere and specific. (More on that here.)

3. Be helpful.

Years ago, I read some valuable words of wisdom from renowned business leader Douglas Conant. He relayed the following experience, which occurred shortly after he lost a job early in his career:

I went to an outplacement counselor; a man by the name of Neil MacKenna. Every time Neil would answer the phone he would say, “Hello, this is Neil MacKenna, how can I help?”

With those four words, “How can I help?” Neil changed my entire work life. He helped me see beyond my own agenda to discover the fulfillment of starting every interaction with a desire to be helpful. This was a very powerful lesson, delivered in four words. It took all of two seconds.

Most of the time, it doesn’t take much to be helpful. A minute to help a colleague carry a heavy load, another to walk someone to a location that’s difficult to find.

By cultivating an attitude of helpfulness, you make an impactful difference that others notice.

4. Get to know others.

Nowadays, I work from home. But when I shared an office, I’d always take time to greet whoever was there when I came in. Later on, I’d seek out one or two individuals to share a morning coffee with.

View those few minutes a day as a small investment that pays rich dividends–in the form of higher-quality working relationships.

5. Be thankful.

Unfortunately, even saying thank you has become more and more rare. But if you really want to make an impression, don’t just say it. Prove it.

Along with leaving a note or saying thanks, why not bring in a box of doughnuts or take the team out to lunch? This doesn’t take much time or money, but it goes a long way in bringing people together and building a positive mood in the workplace.

Parting Thoughts

Not one of these suggestions takes much effort. But when you cultivate these habits on a daily basis, you’ll find that others are naturally drawn to you.

And you might just like yourself a little bit more too.

Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

A version of this article originally appeared on