How to Be a People Person
Are you wondering, “Can I learn to be a people person?” You may have heard the expression “people person” before, but do you know what it really means? There are two parts: enjoying being around other people and having other people enjoy being around you.
Even if you don’t think of yourself as a “people person,” you can learn emotional intelligence skills that will make you a more likable person. These skills include empathy, active listening, and relatability.
And, as you become more skilled at navigating social waters, you’ll likely find that your enjoyment of people increases, especially if you are naturally socially anxious or an introvert.
Can I Learn to Be a People Person?
You might think of a people person as someone who is outgoing and gregarious or the life of the party. Or you might think of a people person as someone who is charming and always knows how to make others feel at ease.
While you won’t ever be able to change your inborn temperament, you can certainly gain the skills to navigate social waters more skillfully. While you will likely always be an introvert, for example, you might find that by learning some simple people skills, you can increase the chances that you will enjoy socializing and even make new friends.
If you have social anxiety, learning to be a people person can help you gain the confidence needed to become more comfortable in social situations. However, if your social anxiety is severe, you may want to seek professional help.
In essence, learning to be a people person means learning to interact with others in a way that is sensitive and considerate. As noted by Tracy Hensel in her Youtube video on this topic shown below, every social interaction is a negotiation where you want the other person to say “yes” to you.
What Is a People Person Personality?
Is there a personality type that makes someone a people person?
In terms of personality types, two of the most commonly referenced are the Myers-Briggs and the Big Five.
The Big Five personality type is based on five traits:
Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience.
According to the Big Five personality type theory, people who are outgoing and gregarious make great friends because they know how to interact with others. Thus, if you score higher on Extroversion, then you might be more likely to naturally be a people person.
On the other hand, the Myers-Briggs personality types (MBTI) are determined based on your preferences in four key dimensions:
- Introversion vs. Extraversion
- Sensing vs. Intuition
- Thinking vs. Feeling
- Judging vs. Perceiving
Based on how you score for each dimension you are assigned a four letter acronym (I am an INTP, for example).
According to the MBTI, those who are high on extraversion are more likely to be outgoing and friendly. Thus, if you score high on Extroversion you might have a natural inclination toward being a people person even with social anxiety.
Free Training: "Conversation Advice for Overthinkers"
Check out this free training offered by the experts at Social Pro Now!
- How to use "Conversational Threading" to avoid awkward silence
- The proven way to get past boring small talk
- Instantly beat self-consciousness with the "OFC-method"
- Busting the myth that you have to get a "more interesting life" to be more interesting"
However, even if you lean more toward introversion than extroversion, you can learn to be a people person. It will probably just look different than if you were an extrovert. You might be really good at holding one-on-one conversations, but still find large groups overwhelming.
If you’re curious and want to take these assessments, I recommend this company. They offer assessments for both the MBTI types and the Big Five.
What Makes Someone a Good People Person?
What do you think of when you hear the term “people person?” While there is no agreed upon definition of the term, in general it’s a person who people like to be around.
A people person is someone who:
- Is confident and comfortable around others.
- Has a friendly, open demeanor that invites conversation and makes it easy for others to approach them.
- Values personal interactions.
- Makes a good leader.
- Is generally positive, even in tough situations.
- Can hold a conversation with anyone about anything, even if they don’t know the person very well.
- Focuses on others’ emotions and needs, not just their own.
- Is empathetic.
- Is easy to get along with.
- Is polite, respectful, and considerate of others’ feelings.
- Looks for ways to help people feel good rather than negative about themselves or uncomfortable in their own skin.
- Connects people to each other.
- Makes a point to let people know that they’re appreciated.
- Is open and accepting of others’ ideas, even if their opinions or beliefs are different from theirs.
- Treats everyone the same way, from friends and family members to supervisors and strangers on the street.
- Is aware of other’s nonverbal body language cues and understands how they can be misconstrued.
- Is tactful.
- Is good at managing interpersonal relationships in the workplace, school, or other settings where cooperation is necessary for getting things done.
- Never projects his or her own negative feelings onto someone else’s behavior.
What Does it Take to Be a People Person?
Now that you know it’s possible to learn to be a people person, you’re probably wondering what it takes to develop these characteristics. Below are some tips for becoming a more likable person.
- You don’t have to have “good vibes only” but you do need to try and maintain a positive attitude even when faced with tough situations. Nobody wants to be around someone who complains all the time, so don’t be that person.
- It goes without saying that a people person is a good listener. This means listening instead of waiting for your turn to speak. It means asking questions about what you just heard to make sure you understand. In general, showing the other person you are engaged and care about what they have to say.
- A people person is skilled at managing their emotional reactions. If you see your date is tense, or a friend looks uncomfortable in the restaurant where you’re meeting for lunch, try not to take it personally. Instead of getting hurt and becoming defensive when someone doesn’t respond well to something you did or said, think about what could have happened before that moment to cause them stress.
- Practice giving genuine answers to even the most mundane questions. For example, when asked how you are, instead of just answering, “Good. How are you?” or “I’m fine. And you?” try to really think about how you are feeling and give a more accurate answer. This doesn’t mean unloading all of your problems onto the person you’re talking to, but simply answering honestly with an anecdote about your day that puts the other person at ease. For example, you might say “I got caught in rush hour traffic getting here, but I’m here now!”
- Learn to express empathy rather than sympathy. A really easy way to learn how to do this is to begin your statement with “You must feel…” rather than “I feel…” For example, if your friend is having a bad day, don’t say “I feel sorry for you.” Instead, say “You must feel overwhelmed.” This simple tweak shows that you are trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
- Remember details about people you meet! If you had a conversation with someone, it’s likely that they told you something about themselves. You can use this information to show interest in them and make the conversation more personal by asking questions relevant to what you learned from them earlier. However, if your memory is terrible like mine sometimes is, write these things down in a journal or on an index card so that the next time you see them, you can bring it up!
- Smile. It sounds simple enough but smiling will make a huge difference in how people perceive you. And, your body language sends subtle messages to others about the way you’re feeling. A smile shows that you are open to conversation.
- Make small talk with people around you. A people person naturally engages in conversation with others around them. You don’t have to talk about deep topics. Just be friendly and say “Hello!”
- Invite people to do things. A people person will make a point to invite their friends and family out for nights on the town, get-togethers at home, or just to meet up for coffee.
- Make eye contact and have open body language. A people person’s body language is open, inviting, and approachable. They make eye contact with others to show that they are engaged in the conversation and care about what the other person has to say (and not looking around because their mind is somewhere else).
- Give compliments. An easy way to show that you’re a people person is to give out compliments. Complimenting someone else’s hair, outfit, and shoes (or anything) shows that not only do you notice what others wear, but you notice when they look nice.
- If you aren’t naturally a people person, learn to mimic someone who is. Think of someone who you would like to be more like. Are they always smiling and laughing? Do they make eye contact? If so, try to mimic some of those qualities.
- Make people laugh. An easy way to show people that you are a personable individual is by being able to make others laugh.
- Listen more than you speak. Learning to listen and pay attention requires discipline; most people are listening to respond and if you can learn this one skill, you’ll be ahead of everyone else.
- Open up about yourself. This is the opposite of what most people do when they meet someone new; you’ll be surprised at how much respect and trust you can build with others if you open up to them.
- Listen during introductions. When you are first introduced to someone, do you remember their name? This is probably one of the first things your new acquaintance will remember about you so if you are able to listen, use their name more than once during the conversation.
Remember that learning to be a people person requires practice. You can’t learn to swim if you won’t get in the pool. Force yourself out of your comfort zone and get to know others.
At the same time, it’s important not to force yourself to be someone you’re not. If you are not naturally a people person, it’s okay to want to spend time alone. You don’t have to be around people all the time to have quality friendships. As long as you work on building your people skills, you’ll be able to connect with others.
Still struggling? Remember this one bit of advice: leave people better than you found them. If you’re at a party, and find yourself feeling anxious or overwhelmed, go talk to someone who has been quiet all night. You don’t have to say anything earth-shattering—just start by asking them about their day. You’d be surprised how a little kindness can go a long way.
And if your social anxiety is getting in the way of learning to be a people person, that will need to be addressed first. If it’s severe, then you’ll want to reach out for professional help. If it’s mild, then reading self-help books on the topic may be something to consider.
You might also want to consider signing up for something like an Improv class (gasp! I know). Improv forces you to break through your anxiety about social situations and learn to be more spontaneous. If you spend a lot of time stuck in your head and unable to really “be in the moment,” improv class could really help with that.
Related Articles about Social Skills
- How to Stop Being a People Pleaser
- What Are the Unwritten Social Rules Everyone Should Know?
- What Is the Fear of Being Yourself?
Can I Learn to Be a People Person?
Here are some of my favorite social anxiety tools
Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope you’ll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, I’ll earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.
Online Therapy: For online therapy, I have personally used and like the service offered by Betterhelp. It's easy to get started from the comfort of your home. You'll even get a discount on your first month of therapy when you use my link.
Doctor Visits: For doctor visits, Web Doctors offers convenient online appointments.
Audible Subscription: I recommend a lot of self-help books on this site, but I actually prefer an audiobook subscription over print books! My favorite subscription service is Audible because it has all the best-sellers and they stay in your digital library forever (even if you end your subscription). You can sign up for a free trial and listen to your first two books for free.
Social Anxiety Masterclass: The Social Anxiety Masterclass is my signature course where I walk you through everything I know about how to manage social anxiety. If you're not ready to enroll in the course, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter to hear about special deals!