Biblical support is found for the recommended character traits defined in, "13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People," by Travis Bradberry.
Yesterday in Topeka, Kansas, was the funeral of a beloved man. Several of us here from Northwest Arkansas got to know Paul Urbom when we attended the Feast of Tabernacles with him and his wife just two months ago in Estonia, Eastern Europe.
Paul was always gracious and kind throughout the Feast. During one of our Feast meals his wife mentioned that Paul was the nicest man she has ever known. They raised five children – three girls and two boys.
But two weeks ago Paul fell ill and went to the hospital – thinking that he was stricken with pneumonia. Unfortunately, Paul was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer that would take his life within days.
On Thursday evening the receiving line for the final viewing at the funeral home extended outside of the building. There was standing room only at the funeral on Friday morning.
Paul was a high school teacher. His superintendent wrote a glowing commentary on his obituary page. The superintendent of this huge public school district exclaimed that Paul was everything a Christian could hope to be.
The funeral service on Friday was standing room only. I counted 160 people inside the main hall of the funeral home. Others were standing along the walls and in the foyer. During the funeral service several of Paul’s children spoke fondly and at length about their father. Paul’s brother and sister re-iterated how nice of a man he was. Paul’s school principal spoke of his outstanding qualities. One of his students from 40 years ago spoke of Paul’s patience and gentle nature.
As we walked away from the funeral service a number of us wondered how we could ever measure up to the Christian example set by Paul Urbom. We all felt as though we have so much more to do to be considered such an exceptional, likeable person.
I happened upon a article in Forbes magazine that explored the reasons why some people are particularly likeable.
13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People , By Travis Bradberry
Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few—the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented. It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, being likeable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).
In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top-rated adjectives had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top adjectives were sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding (another person).
These adjectives, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence. TalentSmart research data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren’t just highly likeable, they outperform those who don’t by a large margin.
We did some digging to uncover the key behaviors that emotionally intelligent people engage in that make them so likeable. Here are 13 of the best:
13. They Ask Questions
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to listening is they’re so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said. The words come through loud and clear, but the meaning is lost.
A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows that not only are you listening, you also care about what they’re saying. You’ll be surprised how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking questions.
Luke 11:9-10 Luke 11:9-10 9 And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
10 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
American King James Version× 9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 Matthew 7:7-8 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:
8 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
American King James Version× 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Jeremiah 29:13 Jeremiah 29:13And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.
American King James Version× And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
12. They Put Away Their Phones
Nothing will turn someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all of your energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.
Psalms 119:69 Psalms 119:69The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep your precepts with my whole heart.
American King James Version× The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.
Psalms 119:145 Psalms 119:145I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep your statutes.
American King James Version× I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O Lord! I will keep Your statutes.
Mark 12:28-34 Mark 12:28-34 28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32 And the scribe said to him, Well, Master, you have said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that dared ask him any question.
American King James Version× 28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, [i]perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the [j]first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The [k]first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ [l]This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, [m]with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
But after that no one dared question Him.
11. They Are Genuine
Being genuine and honest is essential to being likeable. No one likes a fake. People gravitate toward those who are genuine because they know they can trust them. It is difficult to like someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel.
Likeable people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. By concentrating on what drives you and makes you happy as an individual, you become a much more interesting person than if you attempt to win people over by making choices that you think will make them like you.
Psalms 34:12-14 Psalms 34:12-14 12 What man is he that desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
American King James Version× 12 Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit [KJV – guile]. 14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.
Psalms 32:2 Psalms 32:2Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
American King James Version× Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not [b]impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit [KJV – guile]. .
Revelation 14:1-5 Revelation 14:1-5 1 And I looked, and, see, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
American King James Version× 1 Then I looked, and behold, [a]a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, [b]having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were [c]redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no [d]deceit [KJV – guile], for they are without fault [e]before the throne of God.
10. They Don’t Pass Judgment (Not quick to condemn)
If you want to be likeable you must be open-minded. Being open-minded makes you approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen.
Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace where approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes. This doesn’t require you believe what they believe or condone their behavior, it simply means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick. Only then can you let them be who they are.
Proverbs 14:29 Proverbs 14:29He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalts folly.
American King James Version× He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
But he who is [a]impulsive exalts folly.
Proverbs 15:1-2 Proverbs 15:1-2 1 A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness.
American King James Version×
A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
James 1:19 James 1:19Why, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
American King James Version× So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
Proverbs 18:13 Proverbs 18:13He that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.
American King James Version× He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.
9. They Don’t Seek Attention
People are averse to those who are desperate for attention. You don’t need to develop a big, extroverted personality to be likeable. Simply being friendly and considerate is all you need to win people over. When you speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, you will notice that people are much more attentive and persuadable than if you try to show them you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what—or how many people—you know.
When you’re being given attention, such as when you’re being recognized for an accomplishment, shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help you get there. This may sound cliché, but if it’s genuine, the fact that you pay attention to others and appreciate their help will show that you’re appreciative and humble—two adjectives that are closely tied to likeability.
Matthew 6:1 Matthew 6:1Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version× “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Proverbs 27:2 Proverbs 27:2Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
American King James Version× Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
8. They Are Consistent
Few things make you more unlikeable than when you’re all over the place. When people approach you, they like to know whom they’re dealing with and what sort of response they can expect. To be consistent you must be reliable, and you must ensure that even when your mood goes up and down it doesn’t affect how you treat other people.
Psalms 33:11 Psalms 33:11The counsel of the LORD stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
American King James Version× The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Hebrews 13:8-9 Hebrews 13:8-9 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
American King James Version× 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried [b]about with various and strange doctrines…
Ephesians 4:14 Ephesians 4:14That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
American King James Version× that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
7. They Use Positive Body Language
Becoming cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they’re positive) will draw people to you like ants to a picnic. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the person who’s speaking are all forms of positive body language that high-EQ people use to draw others in. Positive body language can make all the difference in a conversation. It’s true that how you say something can be more important than what you say.
Ephesians 6:14 Ephesians 6:14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
American King James Version× Stand [firm] therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
6. They Leave a Strong First Impression
Research shows most people decide whether or not they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting you. They then spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction. This may sound terrifying, but by knowing this you can take advantage of it to make huge gains in your likeability. First impressions are tied intimately to positive body language. Strong posture, a firm handshake, smiling, and opening your shoulders to the person you are talking to will help ensure that your first impression is a good one.
Ephesians 5:15-16 Ephesians 5:15-16 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
American King James Version× 15 See then that you walk [e]circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
5. They Greet People by Name
Your name is an essential part of your identity, and it feels terrific when people use it. Likeable people make certain they use others’ names every time they see them. You shouldn’t use someone’s name only when you greet him. Research shows that people feel validated when the person they’re speaking with refers to them by name during a conversation.
If you’re great with faces but have trouble with names, have some fun with it and make remembering people’s names a brain exercise. When you meet someone, don’t be afraid to ask her name a second time if you forget it right after you hear it. You’ll need to keep her name handy if you’re going to remember it the next time you see her.
Learn names by Thanksgiving/Spring Break – “He is not kidding.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 1 Thessalonians 5:11Why comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do.
American King James Version× Common English Bible (CEB)
So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.
4. They Smile
People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want people to like you, smile at them during a conversation and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.
Proverbs 15:30 Proverbs 15:30The light of the eyes rejoices the heart: and a good report makes the bones fat.
American King James Version× New English Translation (NET Bible)
A bright look[a] brings joy to the heart,
and good news gives health to the body.[b]
Proverbs 17:22 Proverbs 17:22A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.
American King James Version× Good News Translation (GNT)
Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.
Proverbs 16:20 Proverbs 16:20He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
American King James Version× He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.
3. They Know When To Open Up
Be careful to avoid sharing personal problems and confessions too quickly, as this will get you labeled a complainer. Likeable people let the other person guide when it’s the right time for them to open up.
Tell it like it is… no filter
You are dumb and ugly – and your mother dresses you funny.
James 5:16 James 5:16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
American King James Version× Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Zig Ziglar – Sharing Go up goals (with supporters) v. Go down goals (with everyone)
Proverbs 11:13 Proverbs 11:13A talebearer reveals secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter.
American King James Version× Common English Bible (CEB)
A slanderer walks around revealing secrets, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.
2. They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them)
When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain, a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and a slew of other positive feelings. A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or a friendly handshake is all it takes to release oxytocin. Of course, you have to touch the right person in the right way to release oxytocin, as unwanted or inappropriate touching has the opposite effect. Just remember, relationships are built not just from words, but also from general feelings about each other. Touching someone appropriately is a great way to show you care.
Matthew 8:1-3 Matthew 8:1-3 1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be you clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
American King James Version× 1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Matthew 8:14-15 Matthew 8:14-15 14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.
15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered to them.
American King James Version× 14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served [a]them.
Matthew 19:13-15 Matthew 19:13-15 13 Then were there brought to him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed there.
American King James Version× Blessing of the Little Children
1. They Balance Passion and Fun
People gravitate toward those who are passionate. That said, it’s easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likeable people balance their passion with the ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They still get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalize on valuable social moments. They minimize small talk and gossip and instead focus on having meaningful interactions with their coworkers. They remember what you said to them yesterday or last week, which shows that you’re just as important to them as their work.
Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version× But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
13 Habits of Extremely Likeable People
13. They Ask Questions (Curious and willing to learn)
12. They Put Away Their Phones (Focus – paying attention to others)
11. They Are Genuine (Without guile or deception)
10. They Don’t Pass Judgment (Not quick to condemn)
09. They Don’t Seek Attention (Demonstrate humility)
08. They Are Consistent (
07. They Use Positive Body Language (Position ourselves for success)
06. They Leave a Strong First Impression (Suit up and show up)
05. They Greet People by Name (Personalize your relationships)
04. They Smile (Let everyone know you are a happy person)
03. They Know When To Open Up (Being careful with your relationships)
02. They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them)
01. They Balance Passion and Fun (Joy in our lives)
Each of us daily must prepare for that time when we must appear before the throne of God and give account for our lives. Let us ask the question every day: How likeable are we to God?