The key to instant popularity? Make people feel good about themselves.

When people around you feel good about themselves, they will like you and seek more opportunities to experience the same inner glow. If it is so simple, why don’t more people do it more often? One simple answer is that we spend too much energy focused on ourselves, our own feelings, that we end up ignoring the energy of others if only by default.

1. Smile. Sincere smiles from the heart trigger warm, reciprocal feelings.

2. Praise. Compliment. Appreciate. Be specific (“You did terrific research on the Gotham market,” versus “You are doing a great job”) and avoid insincere flattery. Look for the best in everyone and in every situation.

3. Ask questions that show an interest, listen attentively.

4. Use their names. Dale Carnegie, author of the perennial best seller, “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” said “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

5. Empathize. See the world from their perspective. Reflect back their feelings toward them, show understanding: “So you feel…” “Sounds like you are experiencing…” “If I understand you, you want…” “Let me summarize to see if I understand you…”

6. Ask a favor of them. Strange as it may seem, research again and again has shown that when one asks a reasonable favor of another, a bond is formed. This is known as the Ben Franklin effect. (Not kidding, see footnote. There even is a Wikipedia entry on it.)

Footnote: In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin explains how he dealt with the animosity of a rival legislator when he served in the Pennsylvania legislature in the 18th century. “Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return’d it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.” (Wikipedia)

Closing quotes:

“When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it’s because he’s so human; and that is the secret of his popularity.” — Walt Disney;1901-1966

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” — Henry David Thoreau

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find.” — Rachel Naomi Remen