As human beings, we like to pride ourselves on being intelligent, objective and logical — and we are, most of the time. But we are also emotional creatures; in fact, we are swayed by emotions more often than we think.

When you first meet someone, you subconsciously form an impression and make a decision: “Do I like him or not?” The person does exactly the same thing in those brief seconds.

The answer to this question determines if you two will invest additional time and energy in furthering the conversation, building rapport and eventually developing the relationship to a deeper level.

What trumps other qualities is the likeability factor. If you like someone, you are usually more forgiving of his less desirable qualities.

Think about how lovers perceive their partners to have the most desirable qualities, and easily overlook other character flaws that may be obvious to others.

The converse is true as well. If you think that a person is worthy, but you do not like him for reasons known or unknown, you will sabotage the relationship in some way.

Hence, one of the simplest ways to influence someone’s perception of you is to get that person to like you. How do you ensure that? The easiest way is for you to like that person first.

This is one of the primary keys to influence: People like people who like them.

So how do you increase your likeability factor? Here are three simple and effective ways:

Be interested, be a friend

Do you segregate professional and personal relationships?  You do business with people, not companies. How much do you really know about the people you work with?

Develop a healthy curiosity about the people around you. Take time to know their thoughts, family, interests, life history and proudest achievements.

When your professional contacts start sharing their personal details with you, something happens. You move into the “friend” category. And friends come before professional contacts in the “like” category.

Have confidante conversations

When was the last time you talked about what you were inspired about to any one?

Conversations about dreams, inspirations and direction in life fall into the realm of confidante conversations. People have these conversations with family, best friends, mentors and advisors — in brief, people they like and trust. 

When you ask someone about what inspires him, it shows that you are interested and care about him where it matters most. He can be your boss, boss’s boss, colleague or client. When they share with you, you will become the person that cared to ask.

These conversations will add depth to your relationships with others. You may learn more about a person in that one conversation than over the course of a year talking about other people, work projects or the weather.

Ask “How can I help you?”

People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care. If you are focused on your self-interest, and convey that you are only interested in achieving your own goals, people are likely not to give you the time of day. They may only do after much cajoling and if there is an immediate, upfront and obvious benefit to them.

The key is to put the other person first and ask the magic question: How can I help you? That question immediately frames your conversation in the other person’s best interests by putting her first. This is a very refreshing angle in the increasingly self-centred society we live in.

This is best done after you have built a connection with that person in steps one and two. By asking the magic question, the person will tell you how you can influence him most.

You will have the keys to add the greatest value to the relationship, by recommending contacts, sharing ideas, or even just providing a listening ear. People are all positively influenced by generosity, and they will reciprocate by helping you in turn.

These three ways not only increase your likeability factor, they also make your life easier and happier. As you journey from step 1 to 3, note how your natural influence grows in the process. Enjoy the ride.