photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

There are hundreds of books and videos on how to be popular. In this column, I’d like to talk about some of the personality characteristics I’ve noticed over the years in clients, friends and colleagues who were particularly loved and cherished. If you’re feeling lonely or unloved, consider these suggestions:

Appreciation – Find reasons to thank people. This raises their self-esteem and is likely to increase their desire to be around you. Make sure the compliments are genuine. No phony praise, please.

Ask questions, then shut up and listen – Has anyone ever asked you how you’re doing without letting you respond? Yeah, me too. Not very attractive, is it? Don’t pretend to care. Take an interest in someone else and let them have the time and space to respond to your question(s).

Be reliable – The Ohio farm boy in me really likes this one. Don’t cancel at the last minute and don’t show up 30 minutes late. Do what you say you’re gonna do. Let people know that they can count on you.

Dare to be Eccentric – Most really popular people have something unique about them. They’re not like everyone else; they don’t totally blend in. It may be their hobbies, clothes, interests. It’s not about conforming, it’s about the courage to do things that not everyone else may approve of. Be brave!

Don’t Be the Star – You may think that the most popular person is the star of the party/club/event. Not true! This person may be the star today, but that star won’t last. The most popular person habitually places the attention on other people who are usually grateful. Generosity is very attractive!

Enjoy Yourself – Do things you like. Don’t go places to be “seen” or “cool”, it will backfire. When you’re enjoying yourself, you are naturally more attractive to others. And you smile more – naturally (not that fake smile that screams, “Get me outta here!”)

Expand Your Comfort Zone – Are you shy or socially anxious? I used to be too. How did I become less so? I learned to shift my attention from myself and my fears (“They’ll think I’m an idiot.”) and began to focus on other people. This is a great stress reliever: it’s not about you! Aren’t you relieved? When someone makes you feel nervous or shy, get interested in them. This will calm you and intrigue them.

Find the humor in things – The older I get, the more I laugh at myself and the situations I find myself in. Laughter is magnetic: people want to know what’s so funny and I think it makes people more attractive. It sure beats scowling!

Give People Your Full Attention – People feel valued if they are listened to and respected. When you listen closely to another person, their self-esteem rises: their brain releases endorphins – nature’s “happy drug” – and they feel good about being with you.

Go for Quality – Popularity isn’t about numbers. Wouldn’t you rather have a few dependable, loyal, true friends instead of a bunch of acquaintances? Develop relationships with people of good character and ethics who are faithful and loyal.

Oscar Wilde is not a good role model – Sure he was funny and sarcastic, but I’ve seen many brilliantly witty people scare other people away when they share their clever – but negative – observations too often and too quickly. People may laugh at your cutting comments, but they may not want you as a friend.

Try not to judge – This isn’t easy, but, do the best you can. I struggle with this one a lot. It’s easy to make quick conclusions about people, but try not to judge others based on appearance or a perceived stereotype. When I have a negative reaction to someone, I try to give myself 3 days before coming to any conclusions. I tell myself: you don’t know what that person has been through, give them a break.

Work on Yourself – Know what you’re good at and what throws you off. Most popular people know their strengths and work on their weaknesses. They aren’t naïve; they know themselves and work to become the people they want to be.