I have something to confess. I have people crushes.
It’s not about physical attraction per se. It’s more about being drawn to someone because of the vibe they give off. They’re cool or fascinating or inspiring or good-natured, and I find myself eager to be around them and to get to know them better. I secretly think to myself, “I want to be their friend.”
What Is Social Attraction
What I’m describing here is social attraction. Being captivated by someone for inexplicable reasons simply because of how they present themselves socially.
Social attraction is a layman’s description for interpersonal attraction, a term commonly used in social psychology. It’s defined as “a positive attitude or evaluation” of a particular person through “the three components conventionally ascribed to attitudes: behavioral (tendency to approach the person), cognitive (positive beliefs about the person), and affective (positive feelings for the person).”
While many would assume this is mostly about romantic attraction, it pertains just as much to platonic relationships that may lead to budding friendships.
For me, there doesn’t seem to be any restriction for my social attraction toward others. I’ve been captivated by the young, the old, even interesting couples. And their gender, heritage, culture, or any other element of their makeup has no bearing on their attractiveness to me. It’s their personality that makes the biggest impact.
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What Makes Someone Attractive
For the past few weekends, I have attended a handful of parties where I interacted with a group of new and diverse people. Like in any social gathering, I found myself gravitating toward certain people over others.
While I never before have given this unconscious urge any thought, I was curious. I wanted to know what makes one personality more attractive over another. What characteristics seem to be common in the people I find most attractive? Based on my empirical evidence, (i.e., identifying the kinds of people I’m most drawn to), I created some (unscientific) criteria for what I believe makes a person excel in being socially captivating.
They Possess Natural Warmth
Part of the vibe these people give off is their ability to show a natural receptivity toward others. It comes through in a smile, bright and attentive eyes, or perhaps a warm handshake or a pat on the back. Their face is expressive, demonstrating an interest in you and your conversation. They make you feel included and heard. And when they speak, they find commonality with you and express interest and empathy appropriately.
They’re Interesting People
You’re drawn in because of how fascinating they are. They are typically lifelong learners and have odd curiosities or hobbies. Their interests are varied and wide, and when listening to them, you feel like you’re just pulling back more and more layers of the onion. Sometimes you are left equally dumbfounded and intrigued by the facts and topics they know about but you had no conception of.
They’re Good Conversationalists
Conversation with them is easy and balanced. The conversation moves fluidly because these social geniuses don’t focus exclusively on themselves. Instead, when the time is right, they rebound to inquire of you as an equal contributor to the conversation. They’re also apt at sharing the details of their lives through the tapestry of captivating storytelling.
They’re Good-Natured and Optimistic
They see the glass as half full. Despite our environment of negativity these days, the most socially attractive individuals are usually optimistic and easygoing. They have a balanced perspective and don’t get emotionally entangled in any particular topic. What makes them cool is being levelheaded, looking on the bright side of things, and generally going with the flow.
They’re Quick With a Laugh
One of their most attractive qualities is their ease with laughing—both at themselves and with others. Nothing is taken too seriously, and instead, they have a propensity to find the humor in anything. They know it’s a way to help people relax socially while making the conversation more enjoyable.
They Can Easily Socialize with Anyone
Meeting new people is a bonus to theses socializers. They effortlessly slip into conversation with whomever the meet in any diverse group. They are open-minded and recognize that they can learn from just about anyone. Plus, they carry a poise of self-assuredness, so the idea of striking up a new conversation isn’t an unnerving endeavor. Instead, it’s stimulating because they see conversing with new people as fun and often rewarding.
The Single Most Important Characteristic of a Likeable Person
Confidence. That’s it.
The list above relies on a foundation of self-confidence. These people are comfortable in their own skin and don’t apologize for who they are, what they do, or what they believe in. They also have a keen understanding that you can’t satisfy all of the people all of the time, so they aren’t forsaking themselves in exchange for any kind of immediate social acceptance.
They refrain from being self-critical, arrogant, or insecure, preferring to focus on their conversation partners without the need to promote themselves. They come to each conversation with high expectations and an open mind, but if an exchange offers no chemistry, they can easily move on with no mental second-guessing.
In short, being socially attractive means being easy, comfortable, and nonrestrictive. And a pure joy to converse with.
10 Things You Can Do to Be More Socially Attractive
You may be asking, “How do I become more socially attractive?” Often it requires a lot of inner personal work that takes years to cultivate. But like many things, small doses of effort over time add up to a lot. Believe in yourself through and through. That’s the foundation for all of this.
But for tactical application, use the list below as a good starting point. Focus on one or two things to practice when interacting with new people. Start every interaction with a positive mind-set, even if you have to temporarily convince yourself into it. Such mind tricks will give you a good shot of conveying the vibe of confidence and approachability you so admire in others.
1 - Practice Good Grooming
It doesn’t matter how cool you come across, if you smell and look like a slob, no one will come around. Remember, physical attraction is still a component of this. You don’t have to have model looks, but you shouldn’t be gross either.
2 - Display Open Body Language
When talking, be cognizant of your body language. Are you slumped in a chair, or are your arms crossed in front of you? These gestures signal a lack of approachability. Instead, keep your head up, shoulders back, and arms comfortably by your side. Greet people with a smile and an inviting handshake. Look like you’re happy to see them.
3 - Smile
This is low-hanging fruit. A smile indicates receptivity. How often do you feel motivated to approach someone who doesn’t appear friendly because they’re not smiling? There are all sorts of reasons people tend not to smile, but if this is you, realize this omission will be the biggest hindrance to conversation starters.
4 - Be Brave—Start the Conversation
Part of displaying confidence is having the courage to start up a conversation with a stranger. It may feel unnerving, but it’s helpful to remember most people are envious of this social boldness and appreciate the gesture. To make the first move easier, rely on a few conversation starters and a sentence or two you can shoot off to introduce yourself.
5 - Have Curiosity About People
Often the thought of starting up a conversation with someone new brings about feelings of angst. What should I say?! The simple solution is to say nothing. Instead, ask questions. Be genuinely curious about people, and let them do most of the talking up front. This gives you a chance to seek out commonalities and mutual interests, which can further the conversation and build rapport.
6 - Balance the Exchange
Don’t talk exclusively about yourself. You may do this unconsciously, like a nervous tic, but when you drone on and on, your conversation partner is bored to death. To make a balanced emotional connection, both of you must share and find common ground. Aim for a balance of self-disclosure and inquiry. The conversation will last longer and be more interesting.
7 - Get Good at Storytelling
We’re all drawn to stories because they elicit emotions. When talking with someone new, see how you can share facts of your life through interesting anecdotes. It will make you more captivating and the conversation more memorable. As a quick exercise, develop a story to the banal question of “What do you do?”
8 - Make Someone Laugh
Humor is the magic elixir to breaking the ice and establishing rapport. It helps ease the tension of any social awkwardness. Try to inject relatable humor into your conversation wherever appropriate. It can also be self-deprecating if done in a good-natured way. People feel more at ease with others who don’t take themselves too seriously.
9 - Show a Little Vulnerability
While being lighthearted in a conversation helps ease tension, it’s the disclosure of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, including our struggles, that accelerates bonding. We’re all living a human experience with the good and hard emotions that go with it. Offer up selective self-disclosure to signal that you’re relatable because your experiences are much like everyone else’s.
10 - Don’t Forsake Who You Are
Have a quiet yet solid conviction about who you are. Don’t water down your identity to adapt artificially to new encounters. And remain indifferent to winning someone over. Instead, possess a simple desire to meet fun and interesting people. With such an approach, you will probably draw them in.
Decide on one or two of the suggestions above, and determine how you can incorporate them into your regular interactions. Perhaps it’s about remembering to smile more or approaching conversations with more curiosity. Do them over and over again so they become second nature and part of your personality.
What other traits do you think socially attractive people possess or demonstrate?
Please share your insights in the comments below.