My 10yo had a couple events at our place today and one friend was going to be coming for both, with five hours in between. To save his parents driving, I offered that he could stay through, but explained when I made the offer that my kids need a break from social time or they'll get drained, so could their kid bring a book or something over for some alone time in the middle of the afternoon for my introverts to recharge? His parents happily complied and I've been chatting with the kids about it. "I'm worried that you guys are having a ton of fun right now because your battery is still charged, so you're not taking a break—I want to make sure that you don't crash and need a recharge right before the party starts tonight, because at that point you won't be able to take your break to recharge." Both kids very seriously listened, agreed, and have been having their chill time separately. One's reading and one's watching YouTube.
Can you fucking IMAGINE learning this kind of energy management, which is so important for neurodivergent people to avoid shutdown/meltdown, before your 30s?
On Being Socially Accepted / Well Liked
Human beings are sociable animals. No matter the degree of sociability, there’s a part of us that wants to be loved, nurtured and accepted by those around us.
I didn’t want to make a guide of how one should be likeable, because if you think a little - from all the people you like, do you like them for the same reason? Not necessarily. You may like one friend for their humour; another for being a solid person thick and thin; a third for their extroverted personality… we’re all different and should be!
Now, you may have certain qualities that you want in all your relationships, regardless of the person. For instance, I’m very adamant about transparency and loyalty. Loyalty to me doesn’t mean standing up for me even if I’m wrong - it means caring for me enough to tell me I’m wrong. However, these qualities wouldn’t make you likeable per se - they would make you accepted within a social circle.
So how does one become likeable?
1. Ease up on the doormat culture
You’ll notice that most of the people you like are capable of having an independent opinion and thought. People pleasers may come across as inauthentic and dicey, especially the ones who change their opinion to agree with the majority. So start cutting out the people pleasing behaviour.
2. Have hobbies
You’ll generally gravitate more towards someone who seems to have their life together as opposed to someone who doesn’t. I’m always keen to talk to someone who does something a little different in their free time. I remember talking to a physicist who also wrote poetry - I was very intrigued by his work, and I invited him to my NYE party along with his girlfriend.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with not having your life together as long as you’re at least trying to make it better. Hobbies don’t have to be expensive. It’s also a better way to expand your circle- not all your friends will enjoy pottery or tennis, for instance.
3. On emotional/ trauma dumping
The worst people to guide you in life, my father always told me, are your friends. Blind leading the blind.
Your friends may have a good heart but not necessarily good advice. Keep the trauma dumping to a minimal unless your friend is okay with you sharing more. Bear in mind that even as a listener, when you hear someone’s traumatic experiences, you may feel emotionally overwhelmed.
Never share your private experiences, current situations, drama, problems, gossip with acquaintances or friends who you’re not particularly close to. Trust me, it can be tempting to engage in catty behaviour but there’s a good chance it’ll bite you in the ass.
4. Figure out your strengths
I know what I bring to the table when it comes to friendship - gentle honesty, alternative solutions and perspectives to issues and I’m always a planner.
One of my friends is a blunt critic and I always speak to her when I know I need a reality check about life.
Another friend is very non judgemental, she’s the one I open up to about the weird things I think of.
A third friend is my party friend, who is 100% the life of the party and I love his energy.
We can’t share the same relationship with everyone. Understand your strengths and hone them.
5. Likeable people don’t care about being likeable
Become detached from this idea of “I want to be liked.” Rather than that, I feel the statement “I want relationships who accept me for who I am” make more sense. As you grow older, you’ll realise that this teenager definition of popularity is nothing but inauthentic bullshit. You deserve friends who care for you and cheer you on.
The idea of “I want to be liked/ popular” also low-key reeks of desperate behaviour. It shows that you don’t really care about your thoughts or opinions as long as you’re accepted and you’re ready to modify your opinions to fit in. That’s the worst way to making friends because you literally can’t be yourself.
6. Yes, looks do matter
Looks do matter to a degree. I don’t mean that in a sense of physical features - I mean it from a sense of grooming.
I’ve noticed that people will be taken more seriously if you look a certain way. That doesn’t mean you have to buy stuff until your money runs out - it just means being at a healthy weight, dressing well, practicing personal hygiene.
7. Observational skills
Whenever I’m at an event and I notice someone feeling left out, I go and talk to them.
I remember being in the shoes long ago and feeling uncomfortable going to places. So when I see someone in the same position, I try to be the person I wanted at that point of time.
It’s important to have keen observation skills but what’s even more important is dealing with it subtly. I remember a girl at a party wearing a dress with the price tag still attached to the neckline at the back. I casually went over, put a hand on her back, discreetly whispered that her tag was out, should I put it back in? She said yes, and I put the the tag inside her dress without people around us noticing me. Discretion is a must in life. Don’t shout your good deeds- do them, don’t get flattered by compliments when people tell you that you were nice, and just play it off like it’s not a big deal.
8. Being impolite
I read a study that polite people are harder to connect with. Overly polite people can be seen as boring and that you need more energy to talk to them because the conversation only revolves around a few “polite” topics (studies, career, life in general, how nice the establishment is, the weather, common friends… surface conversation). I’m not saying don’t be considerate - I’m saying don’t be overly polite. Don’t be over accommodating to other people. You can disagree with things respectfully. You can share a different perspective or crack a joke.
9. What are you like?
Are you better one on one or in groups?
I’m a much better person one on one. I resonate with people better when we have a conversation - when it’s a group, it’s just the usual hi-hellos.
You may prefer groups, if one on one conversations seem too vulnerable.
How do you figure this trait out? Ask yourself a simple question : if you had a meet a new person, would you rather meet them alone at a cafe or at a party with your friends?
Figuring this out is important because it gives you a sense of the relationships you value and how you can take them forward.
10. A balanced ratio of talking and listening
Try to listen more than you can talk. This advice is useless if you’re talking to an introvert. With most introverts I’ve noticed that they WILL talk to you - as long as they don’t have to make the first move. Once you set the ball rolling, they’re happy to talk.
So you have to understand how and when to switch being an active listener and speaker.
A simple generalised guide:
When dealing with extroverts: ask basic/ generic/ yes or no questions, give opposing opinions (most extroverts are generally up for a challenge) and listen more in the beginning, switch to talking more later.
When dealing with introverts: again, ask questions but you can make them more subjective than objective, less generic and definitely no yes/no questions. Talk more in the beginning and then listen more later, to make them comfortable.