How to be More Likable

By | December 29, 2019

[December 29, 2019]  Ending the year on a “more likable” article is not what I had in mind this morning when I sat down at my computer.  Last night, I was watching an old episode of Seinfeld, the one about the character George Costanza faked being disabled to get a job.1  For fans of Seinfeld, George is not a likable person.

Likability is helpful for success in life.  For example, psychologists have noted that likable children are well adjusted and exhibit low-risk behaviors over time.  These studies are a powerful lesson for those of us who wish to improve upon our leadership skills.  Learning to be more likable – as opposed to popular – will allow our journey to leadership to be easier.2

Self-help books are full of suggestions on how to be more likable.  Some tell us to have a positive attitude, be confident, have empathy, be honest, and always have something interesting to say.  Others say that it’s essential to be respectful and polite, be gently honest, listen carefully, make people laugh, and always remember to smile.

Before we go on, the question “Why should we even bother improving ourselves?” must be answered.  I believe the answer is that we should improve ourselves and be more likable so that we don’t have to suffer unnecessarily or bring suffering upon others who are important to us.  Likability helps prevent such occurrences.  But how do we do that?

  1. Fix things that need fixing. Look around for something that is broken and take action to fix it.  Make things better.  Start things where you can start.  Create a little more order.  Fixing things involves the trivial as well as important things in life.
  2. Have some humility. Recognize that you are not that important, that you cannot be everything for everybody, and that you can only work within your domain of competence.
  3. Be genuine about your goals. Do not lie to yourself (or to others).  Tell the truth about what you want to do and then go about conducting yourself in such a way that fulfills your goals.  Remember that you “see” what you aim at.  This means that your goal(s) must be arrived at thoughtfully and with deliberation.
  4. Recognize your potential malevolence. You are prone to evil deeds and thoughts.  We all are.  Be aware that this part of you and that evil can surface and destroy relationships and your goals.

There are more, of course, but I think this is a good start.  When you do these things I’ve listed, people will gravitate to you.  They will be attracted to you as a person who is worthy of friendship and relationships.  These are ways to be more likable.


  1. See it on this YouTube video, 32 seconds –
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “How to be More Likable

  1. The Kid 1945

    Leaders — be good, be bold, be gone! Humor at its best.

  2. Valkerie

    Spot-on article. Glad I didn’t miss the leadership blog today, General Satterfield. I’m happy I found your website.

  3. Army Vet

    I’ve been in enough jungles fighting the enemy of democracy to know what a good day is like. I also can tell you that Gen. Satterfield is right about his list of things that make you more likable. Leaders don’t have to be popular but being likable sure helps smooth over the problem areas. Even when you have to lead men into battle (sorry women but I purposefully left you out of that equation), you have to have a big enough ego and enough guts to do it without overly worrying about their getting out alive. Get the job done and they will like you more than the coward that walks behind you.

      1. Janna Faulkner

        Please encourage Army Vet to write more. I’m his first and most dedicated fan of him and his work. Army Vet, go kick some more commie butt.

        1. Janna Faulkner

          Ohh, did I write “kick some more commie butt” without thinking? Hell yeah!

        2. Mark Evans

          He he he he he…… smack ’em up side the head Janna. Well written. Keep it up, you made me laugh.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      Hi Army Vet. Wow, you’ve returned. Thank god for your health. Please update us on your adventures.

    2. Joe Omerrod

      Hi Army Vet. Welcome back. I assume you are back in the good old USA for now. I certainly would hope you could give us an update. I really appreciate your stories about stomping on the socialist down “south.” Thanks.

  4. old warrior

    #2 on Gen. Satterfield’s list on ‘humility’ is one that military members are particularly good at. Why? They see that they cannot get the job done without the full cooperation of everyone else. If you are narcissistic and egotist then you are likely to fail in your job (no matter how smart you are). Being humble gets you over the obstacles quicker than brute strength.

    1. Lady Hawk

      Old Warrior, I just love the way you talk! 😊😊😊😊

  5. Dead Pool Guy

    I’m a little early with this but Happy New Year! ✌

    1. Greg Heyman

      Yep, 2020 will be here before we know it. I’m working on my list of things to accomplish in the new year. Giving up too much food and drink, exercising more, and spending more time with the family. I hope others do the same. No one at work will remember me any way.

  6. Tracey Brockman

    Good points here, Gen. Satterfield. The traditional self-help book talks about “listen better,” “be more positive,” etc. But you have really hit the target with a much better explanation. Well done.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Thanks Tracey. Yes, he has done a good job on pointing out what those of us who study leadership should already know. The problem for us, however, is that we don’t practice it enough. It’s one thing to be prepared but another to execute it also. Everyone have a Happy New Year.

    2. Eva Easterbrook

      When the average person is a leader, it means working very hard to be good at it. This website is one of the few places you can go for a quick dose of leader medicine. No one should be surprised at how worthwhile it is if you just come here everyday to do a quick read. Reading, also, the forum is enlightening and sometimes entertaining as well. Max is one of the funny and deep thinkers we have here.

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