If You Want People to Like You, Then Kill Yourself

After he died, everyone started to like him again. For years everyone would trash him. Then, about a year ago, our friend and ex-coworker suddenly died. The eulogies started spilling out onto the Internet. Everyone “learned how to live” from him. Or learned “everything I know about journalism” from him. One guy, “Rex” wrote the most glowing eulogy I had ever seen for anyone. The last time Rex and I actually spoke together about our dead mutual friend he had accused him of trying to molest him.

People are such liars.

But it makes me think: I always want people to like me more. Sometimes this is in a negative way (maybe I am using people as mirrors instead of just simply liking myself), sometimes this is in some societal, pseudo scientific way (people live longer when they have bigger support systems “studies show”), and sometimes this is in a positive way (I like being around and learning from good people).

10 Ways to Get People to Like you More

1) Die. If you die then certainly people will feel two things: A) they will feel bad. B) they should’ve learned more about the good side of you. C) it’s inappropriate to say anything bad about dead people so the only thing said will be positive things. Now, you might think its tongue-in-cheek that I suggest dying. I don’t really think you should die. But some of the later methods I mention are derived from this method. There are many ways to die. Death being only one of them.

Oh, also, this doesn’t mean faking your death and showing up at your own funeral to see who shows up. That only happens in bad detective novels.

2) You Can Hate Them. I’ve largely stopped myself from falling into this trap. But if Person A hates me and Person B likes me I used to spend much more time trying to get Person A to like me than spending time with the actual person who likes me. (You can see this phenomena on Internet message boards every day).

This is a psychological trap that stems from lack of self-confidence. If someone hates you, then allow them to hate you. You have to catch yourself. It’s normally their problem. Nine times out of ten (and this is quantified based on my experience) they usually hate some aspect of their own lives and they have found you to be a convenient target. They were beaten as a kid and now James is a convenient target. Why a convenient target? I don’t know. I don’t care. You let yourself be. You follow the rules of “How to Deal With Crappy People”. which recommends the exact opposite of what most people end up doing.

3) You Can Ignore Them. There’s two reasons to do this. If you they don’t like you why are you paying attention to them anyway? Rule #1 in the Emotional side of the Daily Practice: Ignore the people who either don’t like you or give you a hard time.

Meanwhile, nobody likes to be ignored. Ignorance is an invisible boundary you put between yourself and the other person. They feel it as soon as they cross that boundary. If they cross it and still choose to stay away, then fine – who needs them! If they cross it and want to still be near your infinitely cool presence, then they have to change the way they treat you.

A lot of this requires confidence in who YOU are, as opposed to the other person. Maybe there’s one person you have in mind that you wished liked you better. That’s ok. But still, rule #1: ignore the people who don’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Imagine a dying ancient wizard (SHAZAM!) who has chosen to give you all the magical secrets so you can be the new ancient wizard that would help the world. In our mind we think: “ok, he’s going to give me bee’s honey and bat’s excrement and I will mix them together and…” But the reality is the magic secrets are the way you transform yourself so that magic happens all around you automatically, without any say or control from you. This is rule #1.

Make yourself into magic.

4) You Can Find Something New Each Day. A human being is an archaeological dig. In an archaeological dig you don’t take a shovel and go right in and find the ancient city of Jerusalem, or wherever. Archaeologists have these tiny picks and they dig one millimeter at a time. Before they find the ancient city they were looking for they have to dig for years and years, one layer at a time. Humans are the same way.

And not only that, there’s more then one type  of layer: there’s the physical (always a pleasure to find something new). There’s the emotional (the years of happiness, sadness, abuse, abusing, the secrets dug away, the secrets she or he would be happy to share). There’s the mental: what do they know that you don’t? What can they teach you? And there’s the spiritual. Everyone realizes that their tiny bodies are not in control of the universe. So what do they believe separates them from whatever does control the beginning, middle, and end of everything. Maybe its purely scientific. Or maybe it’s a hodgepodge of ancient traditions. Or maybe its ideas that have worked for them that they have lived with in private for years.

Find out one small thing a day. One lovable thing. If you put in that effort, they will sense it on some level. If an archaeologist  puts in the time, unravels the layers, ancient treasure is the ultimate dessert.

5) Give Them Credit. At work everyone wants credit. At home everyone wants credit. “I DID clean the dishes today,” my daughter might say. People tend to hoard credit. They are afraid that if others get credit for what they did then they might get diminished in some way. So do the opposite. Give credit/appreciation for everything, even work you did. Here’s a ratio: for every piece of credit you give out, it comes back tenfold. How will it come back? We don’t know.

That’s part of becoming an ancient wizard. The world bends to create magic for you. Because you’ve given credit to it’s citizens, the world itself will return the favor. And, on top of it, the people you help – by either appreciating them more or giving credit to them – will like you more.

This is not being manipulative in any way. This is being a superhero. It’s making people feel better. It’s showing people that you paid attention to what they were doing. You NOTICED.

An example that happened to me by accident: I was at a public company that had about 1000 employees at one point. I was in charge of my division but I had a plan to leave. I wanted to start a venture capital fund. So I stopped caring about my job. Instead, all I did was give credit to everyone else. If someone had even helped me a slight bit on a project I would give them all the credit.

The next thing I knew the powers-that-be at the company offered me the job of CEO. Which I turned down. But that was the magic at work. The only way the universe rewards you infinitely is when you give away everything.

6) Listen. When my two daughters are over I have “office hours”. I talk to them one at a time in my “office” (the bedroom) and downstairs my wife will have “girl talk” with the other daughter. During office hours they can talk to me about whatever they want. Things that are bothering them, things they are happy with, or just anything. Sometimes talking to a ten year old about “anything” is really boring. But  they know they can just talk and talk until they are done and I will listen.

My goal is not for them to like me better. Who knows if they do or they don’t. But I always know it’s good to have someone to listen to. You don’t always want to judge. If a friend complains to you about her boyfriend, don’t egg her on. She might end up loving the boyfriend and hating you. The only goal is to listen.  DON’T FIX. Just listen. This is one way you learn about people also.

“But what if nobody listens to me?” you might say. Well, those might be the people you start weeding out of your life. You need someone also! But listening is just one of the tools you can use to dig through those archaeological layers, to open up the hidden vaults. Not everyone gets access to the hidden vaults. Only those who listen.

7) Honesty. This doesn’t necessarily mean spew all your garbage out towards a person. But it might mean “no more white lies”, which is harder than most people think. If you can’t make it for a night out on the town you might make up an excuse so as not to hurt their feelings.

If you can’t make a meeting you might say you have another meeting, even if that’s not true.  On the big things in life (Stealing, Adultery, etc) you might feel guilty over not being honest. But often people don’t mind telling white lies here and there. But they add up. They put a distance between you and the friend, very slowly, so that nobody notices. And suddenly you have to build a bridge to get across the distance. You suddenly wake up and realize, “I’ve lied over 1000 times to this person!” even if they were just the tiniest of lies.

And then even the bridge gets shaky. And suddenly the distance is insurmountable. I’m not an advocate of “radical honesty” where you say things like: “I want to sleep with your sister”. You can keep your hangups to yourself. But I am in favor of putting your amazing imagination in some other direction than your friendship.

People don’t realize: if you practice honesty without fail (and without harming anyone) then soon your words have actual power in them. The universe will listen to you because even it will know your words are always TRUTH.

8) You Can Be Quiet. This is different than Listening. Maybe they want to be quiet also. People are complicated. On my very first date with my wife we took a walk and then sat down at a bench. For about 15 minutes we were quiet and didn’t talk. Then she had to go and I walked her to the train station. When two people are comfortable being quiet with each other it’s a pleasant experience.

Not all communication is with words. Sometimes words hide the real communication. Words are the physical mask that our thoughts, emotions, and spirit wear. Sometimes we can take off the mask. Words are a “market” like the stock market. It’s based on supply and demand. Limit the supply of your words and demand will go up.

9) Intimacy. I don’t mean having sex. But sharing things that are personal. You tell me about your cheating and I will tell you about my stealing. You will tell me who you hate and I will tell you who hates me. You will tell me about your drugs and I will tell you about mine. Deep down we’re all the same. So if we build up the web of intimate threads that connects us even further, then we are bound together. Sharing creates caring.

My idea muscle is tired now. And my friend that I used to bounce ideas off of is now dead. Everywhere he went he got people laughing. He had enormous charisma and would throw big parties at local restaurants and would get everyone laughing. Too bad I hated his guts. Meanwhile, anyone with a tenth idea?

  • Capitalistic

    Nice one.
    I once had a huge asshat of a manager at a bulge bank I previously worked for. I was a hard worker. I made him look good in terms of productivity, revenue and visibility. Unfortunately, the loser was uber insecure. He tried on many occasions to blame me for the most idiotic things. His insecurity became so bizarre, that HIS boss realized how insecure he was. 
    I approached the loser and asked him why he was sabotaging me. He didn’t have the courage to admit it – but it was obvious.
    From that day on, I ignored him. I assumed a “I don’t care if you get me fired” attitude – and it worked.
    The “I don’t care if I get fired” attitude works on various levels. Once people realize that you don’t care about their views or opinion, they lose power. And I drink your milkshake. 

    • Artie Cab

      People who think they have lots of friends are usually wrong.  What they have are lots of acquaintances.  Most people are lucky to have ONE good or BEST friend.  I have two in that category and I’m not sure about one. The only one who is my best friend for sure is the woman I live with.  She loves me. 

      • Roy

        HI Artie…

        A friend of mine recently asked me if I only love or care about people that love me back.

        Friends can take different forms….some people are more expressive in their love…

        Some people never learnt how to show love, and yet they can still be good friends

        Its important not to see as friends “only” those who love us first.

      • Here is the litmus test to decide who is your real friend:

        Would this friend give you a kidney? Would you give him/her a kidney? If the answer to BOTH questions is YES, then you have a friend…

    • Laura Mann

      One problem I’ve been having recently is sometimes when you ignore someone, they get excited that they are upsetting you enough to ignore them and try to get in your face even more. I think that means they’re, uh, passive-aggressive. They become harder to ignore as they almost try to taunt me out of ignoring them, usually by pretending to be really friendly. They usually act friendly to you when others are around so that it becomes difficult to ignore them. Argh!

      • Carol

        This is very common in behavior management – if you ignore a behavior, sometimes the person escalates, but if you stick to your ignoring behavior, this usually disappears as they realize their escalating behavior is not working.

        • Laura Mann


          Thank you so much for your reply. I was sort of thinking the same thing…just keep ignoring, but I haven’t been very good at that. Maybe I’ll do some reading on behavior management.

          Do you have any book suggestions?

          Thanks again,


          • Laura Mann

            I mean thanks for the feedback that one should stick to ignoring. Your feedback gives me hope that eventually, ignoring will work.

  • Just be the person you like yourself. Then the right kind of people will be attracted to you.

  • what a terrific post, james.  

  • Bell_er

    James, I’ve read every post for months, but I think this might be my favorite. Each one resonates. I’m writing a lot of these 1 word titles down on my hand to remind myself throughout the day… I want to improve on a lot of these issues. Not even just so people like me more, but also because they are the traits of a GOOD AND HUMBLE PERSON

  • Another awesome post James! Despite the title, it is an appropriate “light” read for Friday…

    My super-logical approach to being liked (or hated) is: 

    Only people whose opinion matters are those who care about me, and those I care about (family and real friends. Facebook “friends” don’t count :).

    With that in mind, I only have two dozen people whose opinion actually matters. Then, you just have to focus on being liked by that small group which is easy because they probably already like you… Others are not worth the effort…

  • There were people at my mothers funeral who acted like they knew her better than I did.  These were faces I’d never seen nor heard, people from church who didn’t bother seeing her during her illness and former coworkers who mistreated her.

  • Nice one James. I like it a lot.

  • the pontificator

    ….”Get” People to “Like” You?  Really?  Uh, Dale Carnegie?   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People

  • “A human being is an archaeological dig.” /VERY true.

  • Efrain_M

    Reminds me of George Carlin:  “Dan? that motherfucker is still alive isn’t he? I wish he would die so I can like him.”

  • Brutal honesty is really REALLY difficult and I’ve lost a few friends over it.  People want to hear all of the positive and rebuff any of the negative.  I’m in the process of losing a friend now because of what my wife describes as “my brand of honesty”.  I have no intention of changing for two reasons: 1. I want people to be honest with me.  If my idea sucks – TELL ME!  Don’t let me waste a bunch of money and time pursuing it.  2. I want to have meaningful relationships with people.  It’s easy to have hundreds of connections on LinkedIn or friends on Facebook, but it makes more sense to develop really strong relationships.

    I also find myself falling into the trap of wanting people to like me, even after they’ve treated me like crap.  That’s stupid and I need to do a better job of letting go and just ignoring those people.

    • I sometimes feel like brutal honesty hurts me too, but I too want meaningful relationships, and brutal honesty is the best way to build them IMO. Have 

      I lost friends from being too honest? Have I been crapped on in the corporate world for being too honest? Sure. But do I care? Not really :)

    • Roy

      By all means be honest….but you can phrase what you want to say in so many ways

      What you say can sound judgmental….can sound degrading…can put others down…even if what you are saying is all honest

      So its not just about being honest…its about conveying that truth is a productive, unhurtful and positive way

      Imagine you have a child…..it makes mistakes….you can be honest and say

      “you are stupid for the mistake that you made”

      or you can teach them in a more loving way

      and lets not forget that alot of what people think is honesty is just their opinion

      I have had many ideas that I have bounced of people and they told me that the idea would never work…they thought they were being honest

      But i went through the idea anyways and came out on top

      So there is also a different between fact based honesty and opinion based honesty

      alot of times, these supposed self proclaimed honest people are just spewing their own opinions……based on their own limited experiences and knowledge

      and one of the best and most honest statements you can make is…”I dont know ….I dont know the answer to that….I am not sure…so I cant really say”

  • Ccfaille

    One of your best, James.

  • 10. be kind.
    11. be humble

  • Never lend money you need to get back and never borrow money you can’t pay within the week. 

    Every time I loan money to a friend I assume I will never get it back. And I don’t bring it up again. Ever. Even if I am hungry and need the money in order to eat. And, if I pay for lunch with the understanding that next time it will be “their turn,” I never expect that reciprocation. 

    Don’t count the dimes. If the bill comes and their meal cost more, just split the check. If your meal cost more, make sure you offer to cover the difference. 

    I have almost nothing. I am surviving below the poverty line. And I still adhere to these. I also try and give to people who have less than me. People who have less than nothing. 

    I don’t do it in order to gain favor from the universe. But I will say that every time I have been on the verge of broke but still given money to a friend in need or brought a meal to a hungry person, I have always somehow avoided going hungry myself. 

    •  I think that technique, played larger and larger, is the key to abundance.

    • Ziming

      Respect, man.

    • Tuan

      good stuff

    • Brooke, are you still broke ? or some magic has played out for you ?

  • MiguelitO

    10. Smile & Complement…read and repeat

    Emotions are quite contagious, and a smile might greatly change someones day. Now I don’t mean smile and then tell someone how great your day was, because hey, maybe theirs just wasn’t so awesome, and your smile is like a stabbing reminder of how much things may suck at the moment. Instead Smile and complement. Everyone loves it when you acknowledge the little things that no one else notices. Maybe a new pair of shoes, a new pair of earrings, a great new sports jacket, the color of their eyes (hmm be careful with this one), etc… Whatever it is everyone loves complements, it justifies the amount of absurd thought and action people put into their presence. Even if it doesn’t justify, it gives tons of confidence, which I’m pretty sure everyone needs. 

  • SierraVolk

    Thank you.

  • Thanks – another great post, and a screen capture from Top Gear UK!

  • Jonesey

    What I’m having a problem with is other people lying about you.  Some people are spiteful and want to take away from your validity because of either jealousy or whatever reason.  They try to hurt you behind your back, even when they are no longer a part of your life.  You keep the crappy people out.  They catch onto it and get offended so they start spreading lies.

    • dmp

      Been through the same. Not only do you have to cut the crappy person out, but also the entire social ring that person is in. Then the lies don’t matter, because everyone connected to that person is no longer connected to you.

      • Jonesey

        Such a long process.  This could take years.    

        • Yes. It does. But it’s worth it, and the peace of mind is worth it, and you’ll be more wary of the bully/slander signs next time around, and hopefully more aware of your own contribution to creating that situation, so that history doesn’t repeat itself.

  • Laura Paddock

    I did #7 by accident today. My angry boss called me into his office and something took over and I kind of emotionally did this advocational and candid spew defending myself for the smack down and he responded amazingly. Told me he wanted this to be my last job and we could work through anything! I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and maybe I’m good at my job after all. Still kind of absorbing it all really – it’s only been a few hours. But typically I don’t boldly and honestly advocate for me. Fear of ridicule I guess. Hey! Maybe mitigating fear of ridicule could be idea number 10?

  • Sherry Siska

    Great post!  I am a teacher and I particularly encourage the “office hours” concept.  It never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn about a student and their difficulties just by having an “open door” and being quietly available to just listen.  Lots of kids today don’t have anyone who is willing to stop telling them what to do and ask what it is they want to do.  I can’t encourage this enough.  Kids need someone,especially an adult, to just listen. 

  • Excellent post. I really like the part of “letting people hate you”. It sounds so useful.
    It says, I don’t care that you hate me, I don’t necessarily hate you or even dislike you, but until you change your attitude towards me, we can’t associate with each other. 
    This is so true, I tend to like people who like me. 
    I have always felt guilty about it to a certain degree. As in, why should I only like people that like me. I felt as if I should like people on some type of rational, balanced measurement of their person. But, now I hope to let go of that and just like who I like without pressure to “like” a person just because they are a good person.
    As a matter of fact, I have a strong tendency to be skeptical of a person who everyone likes. 
    Anyways, cool post James and have a good weekend.

  • Laura

    Say to someone, “What do you think?”

  • amy thompson
  • amy thompson

    dont threatn me with a good time


  • Menz

    I was reading James blog and I thought about skiing. I live near the Rockys and have always skied. Ski hills are great places to interact with people, especially if the ski area is at a high elevation were there is less oxygen. A lot of skiers get anxious and a bit aggressive when out and judgement is impaired a bit by having less oxygen to the brain. In high elevation Colorado there are bars that have oxygen pumped in to prevent brawls from breaking out – no kidding . 

    An extreme case of this type of misjudgement would be where someone is a novice and embarrassed about their clumsiness so wanders off into the woods where no one will see them and then gets lost in the wilderness. It’s not uncommon.You ride chairlifts and gondolas with strangers that are experiencing these behavioral shifts. It can be fascinating how someone will react with you. Out of the blue you can have someone instantly hating you for no particular reason.

  • Ana Calves89

    Honesty…the word of my life

  • Let go of ever needing to be liked

  • Rob

    This is the best post I’ve seen in quite awhile.  Great stuff.

  • GG

    10th idea: Greet them with a smile….. ;)

  • Rob

    Commenting again: #7 and #9 are key to get really close to another person.  It is so hard to find someone willing to do that.  And you put it the right way – “not radical honesty”.  I will be re-reading this post often.

  • agarcian

    Be greateful and express it.  This may be related to #5 but explicitly tell people why you are grateful for.   When I graduated from college I went to see 2 or 3 professors or administrators that I had interacted during the previous years that made a difference on me.  These were people I admired.  I went to their offices and one by one I told them ‘Thank you’ and why they were an influence on me.   

    This are people I still remember, and I am pretty sure they remember me, because I took the time to recognize them.   I have done the same with over the years with the few people that have really influenced me, that have done a great job in one way or another.  
    I didn’t do it for them to like me, but because they deserved it.  I’m pretty sure that helps to get them to like you anyway.

  • MA

    I enjoy reading your post. Nice advice! Another thing I have realized that I can’t make everyone happy and like me 100% of time. So have adopted 80-20 rule. Where I assume I can make only 80% of people like me, and I can’t make those people like me more than 80% of time.

    • Detester

      um, you can’t make anyone like you.  They either like you, or they don’t.   You can become more likeable, but you can ~make~ anyone like you.

  • Jim

    10).  When you find yourself in a moment of conflict with another, before doing anything else – STOP.  Ask yourself if there was anything you may have done to contribute to the conflict at hand and what it is you REALLY want in terms of the outcome.  

    I’ve seen far too many people, particularly in relationships, who – for some odd reason – become self-sabotaging and further damage the situation, leading to the exact opposite of what they really want.  

    Taking the initiative to show you’re human and have your own foibles, and more importantly the ability to self-detect them, will create an environment of trust and more likely than not, inspire the other person to follow suit.  

    Many of you may have heard this in the best-selling Crucial Conversations book or been subjected to it in corporate training (as I was).  Recommended reading.  

  • BekahWright

    Altucher, you’ve done it again! Caused me to reflect and laugh at the same time. What a gift.

  • G8R HED

    #10 “Don’t take yourself too seriously….”
    My dad used to tell me that when I was in a snit. People don’t like you when you’re in a snit.  I’ve come to realize that he may have left the most important part of an incomplete sentence unsaid…. “because no one else does.” ;)

  • Puzzled

    10.  Don’t care if others like you.
    11.  Ask for what you want from others.

  • Eric

    Reread this post and substitute the word “but” for the word “and” Try it in real life when dealing with people in conversations…

  • Lovey in Las Vegas

    The irony in truth…