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People with excellent social skills often display these behaviors

beautiful young woman with green eyes smiling, wearing a red dress, trees in the background

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to be liked by everyone?

It’s not just about their appearance, their smile, or the words they use — likable people often display some subtle behaviors that make others feel good around them.

From the way they listen attentively to how they navigate social situations with grace, their social habits make all the difference in how they connect with others.

What follows are some behaviors people with excellent social skills tend to display.

They treat you like an old friend

The people we tend to like are often those who treat us like an old friend, even if they don’t know us well —or at least not yet — which makes us feel at ease around them.

And if you think about it, it’s something we can all learn and apply. Treating someone like an old friend involves a certain warmth and openness that bridges the gap between strangers and creates an instant sense of familiarity.

In my experience, I’ve noticed how certain people excel in this area. They seem to radiate a positive energy that sweeps away any initial awkwardness or barriers to connection. And this energy simply boils down to a few things.

These things are: using some spontaneous conversation starters — for example: “Is this your first time here?” “How’s your drink?” — asking good follow-up questions, using open body language, and showing a genuine interest in others.

See, this isn’t about pretending or being fake, but rather about adopting an approachable behavior that suggests your willingness to get to know someone, trust them, and earn their trust.

They’re curious about you

Likable people have a genuine interest in getting to know others. This habit is almost unconscious and it’s rooted in a fundamental belief that everyone has a unique story worth hearing, an idea to share, or an experience from which they can learn.

Also, this curiosity is not intrusive but respectful — a delicate balance of wanting to know more about someone while valuing their privacy.

This reminds me of Sarah, a colleague I met during a professional development workshop. At first glance, she seemed pretty reserved, but within minutes of getting to know each other, I felt surprised by her level of curiosity about my job and background.

We had been assigned to collaborate on a project, and while our expertise was similar, she wanted to know more about me and my experience. Her questions were so specific and she seemed so enthusiastic that I found myself sharing thoughts I hadn’t fully articulated even to myself.

There was no comparison or competition, it was only pure curiosity. And honestly, talking to her felt good.

Recommended read: If you want to be charming, say goodbye to these behaviors

The graceful exit strategy

A few weeks ago I was in Italy to visit my family.

One night I went out with some friends. I was having an interesting conversation about solo traveling with a friend of mine, Marta. I knew she had to leave earlier because she had to work the following morning.

I had already talked for a while about one of my solo trips and she was telling me about her last trip to France. Then she told me:

“I’d keep talking about this for hours, but it’s really late and tomorrow I have to get up at 5. Let’s meet up for a coffee before you leave Rome or let’s schedule a video call on Whatsapp. I’d love to continue this conversation!”

Ending conversations can be awkward for many, but people like Marta know how to bow out gracefully.

They can exit a conversation leaving you feeling valued and respected, rather than cut you while you’re talking to them.

“Presence in silence”

“Presence in silence” is a subtle art that some people seem to master effortlessly. It’s about understanding the value of a quiet moment — not as an awkward pause, but as a shared space for reflection and deeper connection.

I’d like to explain this point better by sharing another personal anecdote.

A few years back, I was in a coffee shop talking with a close friend of mine, Elena. We were discussing life’s crossroads, and I was sharing with her my worries about the uncertainty of my career path.

As I shared my fears and hopes, Elena listened intently, nodding, sometimes asking some follow-up questions, but never interrupting as most would with unsolicited advice or redirecting the conversation to themselves.

At one particular moment, after I had mentioned a particular concern, she let the conversation dip into silence. It wasn’t uncomfortable or abrupt. It was as if she knew I had something more to excavate from my thoughts, something I hadn’t yet realized I needed to express.

In that silence, which could have spanned only a minute but felt much more expansive, I found clarity. I discovered an underlying desire that I had been hesitant to acknowledge: the fact that I needed to take a sabbatical and travel.

When I spoke next, revealing this fact, Elena simply smiled — a warm, genuine smile that said, “I knew you had the answer in you.”

Recommended read: People who are good at small talk use these conversation starters

Measured self-disclosure

Some people know how to find a balance between openness and discretion.

They share just enough about themselves to create intimacy, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming or self-centered.

An example of this behavior comes from my interaction with a mentor during my years at the University. We’d meet occasionally to discuss my progress, and she would share bits of her academic path — aspects that were directly beneficial to me, serving as both inspiration and cautionary tales.

However, she never went into extensive detail about her personal life, keeping the focus mostly professional, with just enough personal touch to connect with me.

Her self-disclosure was always relevant and often made me feel that I was not alone in the challenges I was facing. This sharing created an environment of mutual trust and respect.

Measuring self-disclosure is an art that, when done right, helps build rapport and trust, making others feel comfortable to open up — ultimately deepening the relationship.

Final thoughts

In the end, being pleasant isn’t rocket science—it’s about being that person who’s easy to talk to, who listens well, and who knows when to step back or share just the right story at the right time.

It’s like those friends of mine I’ve told you about; they’ve got this ability to make people feel heard, comfortable, and eager to open up. And the thing is, we can all learn and practice these habits.

It’s not about putting on a show; it’s about showing up as we are and caring about the person we’re with.

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The Truly Charming