The Simple Step To Become A Remarkably Likeable Person

Why You Need To Stop Talking and Start Asking

  • Justin Zoradi
The Simple Step To Become A Remarkably Likeable Person

I recently met a local Portland politician for lunch whom I’ve respected for a long time. I went into the meeting planning on asking him about his political career and to get some tips on a few communication questions I had. Basically, I was planning on talking about him for an hour.

Then something incredible happened.

We sat down, he opened up his laptop, and proceeded to take notes while asking me engaging question after engaging question about my work, my family, my interests, and more. When it was all said and done, he hit me over the head with one more: “How can I help you?”

He’s a politician, but his interest in me wasn’t disingenuous. He wasn’t trying to schmooze me. I have no money to give him, no political connections of any value. But for 45 minutes he made me feel important.

The result? I will vote for him in every possible scenario I can. I will tell my friends to vote for him. I will attend his events. I will support his initiatives. I will put up a yard sign. I will put up two yard signs.

Seth Godin calls this the Connection Economy

“Friends bring us more friends. A reputation brings us a chance to build a better reputation. Access to information encourages us to seek ever more information. The connections in our life multiply and increase in value.”

Thriving in the connection economy is based on one important principle:
Getting people to like you.

People who like you will support your ideas, buy your product, hire your services, introduce you to their friends, and go out of their way to make your life better.

If you're an extrovert, getting people to like you is simple:

Stop talking so much.

No seriously. Stop it.

I know a lot of people who, out of nervousness or excitement think the best way to engage people is to talk them into utter submission. As if their endless words, jokes and anecdotes infused with Red Bull and hooked up to a V8 engine will fast-track them into the Connection Economy.

What so many don’t realize is that the secret to building relationships isn’t in the words you say, but in the questions you ask. (Click to tweet)

If you're an introvert, the same truth applies. Don't change who you are, just be more strategic in how you foster dialogue.

Asking the right questions is an art form and it has a name: Social Jiu-Jitsu

Popularized in an article by Jeff Haden, he breaks down this scenario:

You meet someone. You talk for 15 minutes. You walk away thinking, "Wow, we just had a great conversation. She is awesome."

Then, when you think about it later, you realize you didn't learn a thing about the other person.

Remarkably likeable people are masters at Social Jiu-Jitsu, the ancient art of getting you to talk about yourself without you ever knowing it happened.

Social Jiu-Jitsu masters use their interest, their politeness, and their social graces to cast an immediate spell on you.

And you like them for it.

Social Jiu-Jitsu is easy. Just ask the right questions.

As soon as you learn a little about someone, ask how they did it. Or why they did it. Or what they liked about it, or what they learned from it, or what you should do if you're in a similar situation.

Before our lunch order had even arrived, my politician friend Social Jui-Jitsu’d me into submission. And I love him for it.

Here’s a tip: From here on out, in every meeting or meaningful conversation you have, work to try and get the other person to stop and say, “Hmm, that’s a really good question.” That’s the goal. If you’ve gotten them to say that, you’ve won.

Becoming a remarkably likable person in the Connection Economy is a crucial step to building the network you need to make a real impact in the world.

"Be interesting, be enthusiastic, and don't talk too much." - Norman Vincent Peale

- JZ

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Comments (40)

  • Marc


    08 May 2013 at 00:16 |
    Great post, Justin. As an introvert this is a huge blessing to me. I love helping people. I like asking questions. But I always fill a tremendous pressure to "fill the space." The direction you suggest really feels do-able to me.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 02:27 |
      Good to hear Marc. I was worried about alienating introverts in this post. Happy to hear it was helpful. Thanks for reading!
      • Marc


        08 May 2013 at 04:18 |
        No, it's good. Listening is easy for introverts, at least this one. It's the expectation to be socially chatty on the spot that causes great stress.
  • karen


    08 May 2013 at 13:12 |
    I could have used your advice last night. I left a function thinking I did too much of the talking. Next time I will use your advice. Thanks for sharing!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 17:02 |
      Glad it was helpful Karen!
  • Eugene


    08 May 2013 at 16:44 |
    I just got Jiu-Jitsu'd by this article! Thanks for posting. I was never an extrovert, but I developed this attitude/personality due to my military background, and as "designed", my rank allowed me to talk whatever, however, and whenever I want; and my subordinates had no choice but to listen. Luckily, I also had some training on basic communication strategies, i.e, good listening skills are as important as good speaking skills, but your article is more explicit in pointing out the key ingredient in developing a successful strategy in becoming a skilled communicator.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 17:04 |
      Thanks Eugene. Appreciate you reading. I never even considered a place like the military where people would be forced to listen to you because you out-ranked them. Very interesting.
  • Nicole


    08 May 2013 at 17:14 |
    I really enjoyed this. I have the tendency,out of excitement, to talk and talk. And when I realize I'm doing I usually awkwardly transition into asking others questions about themselves. I'm definitely going to work on being more strategic in my question asking and not talking as much.

    Thanks for this!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 18:10 |
      Glad this was helpful Nicole. Appreciate you reading!
  • Anonymous


    08 May 2013 at 17:24 |
    What are some examples of the questions that the Portland Politician asked? Lets get into the nitty gritty how! :)
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 18:12 |
      Ha. He asked a lot of 'why', 'what', and 'how' questions. Why did you go to the college you went to. Why did you choose to move away after you graduated. How did you get into non-profit work. What have you learned since you've been there. Simple stuff, but open ended that leads to further dialogue.
  • cindy smith

    cindy smith

    08 May 2013 at 18:20 |
    Great article. I'm in the communication business (corporate technology consultant). I'm sending this to my peers and MOST IMPORTANTLY my teenage sons. Thanks Justin. Always enjoy your perspective. You're doing great things in the Kingdom.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 18:24 |
      Awesome Cindy. Thanks for reading. And thanks for passing it on. Really means a lot.
  • Jim Liles

    Jim Liles

    08 May 2013 at 19:21 |
    Incredibly helpful. You are a blessing . Thanks Justin
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 19:34 |
      Awesome Jim. Thanks for reading!
  • Melissa


    08 May 2013 at 21:25 |
    Hardest. Thing. Ever.

    Extroverted Communicator here!

    Hindsight is a great editor, but I would love to be able to do it in the moment better.

    What's a pummel with questions rank in Social Jiu-Jitsu?!
  • Melissa


    08 May 2013 at 21:25 |
    Hardest. Thing. Ever.

    Extroverted Communicator here!

    Hindsight is a great editor, but I would love to be able to do it in the moment better.

    What's a pummel with questions rank in Social Jiu-Jitsu?!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 22:28 |
      Thanks for reading Melissa! Yes, you do need to be careful about not pummeling with questions as well. But it is better I suppose than you talking about yourself the whole time. The goal as well is that with these great questions, that they would ask them back to you as well!
  • Lucas Reding

    Lucas Reding

    08 May 2013 at 21:47 |
    Well that was really good! Reminds me of the book I referred to early. Thank you Justin!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      08 May 2013 at 22:25 |
      Thanks for reading Lucas!
  • Nev


    09 May 2013 at 00:09 |
    Timely Justin! In my profession as a Home Inspector I find myself 'telling' the Client a lot. Discovering a little more about what is on their minds may open up some possibilities I've been missing.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 May 2013 at 03:29 |
      Thanks for reading Nev! We just had a home inspection last week. I imagine if our inspector asked me what I like about my house or what I hope to work on next I'd feel a bit better about paying him $500!
  • David Massey

    David Massey

    09 May 2013 at 02:11 |
    You certainly did not insult this introvert Justin. It helps me so much to read what you wrote, but it also is a great reminder to me to be "me." And the introvert in me has to replenish with alone time and not overdo non alone time. If that makes any sense!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 May 2013 at 03:30 |
      Great to hear David. Thanks for reading and happy I didn't offend.
  • Maureen


    09 May 2013 at 03:23 |
    Thanks for a great post, Justin! So, what's your favorite thing about blogging?
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 May 2013 at 03:32 |
      Thanks for reading Maureen. Favorite thing about blogging is the way it reminds me of why I do the work that I do. It's a valuable mental exercise that benefits me but I like the way I can also helps other people. Good question!
      • Maureen


        09 May 2013 at 04:43 |
        Aw, rats! I was trying to get you to say "Hmm. That's a *really* good question!" :)
  • Irvin MacQuarrie

    Irvin MacQuarrie

    09 May 2013 at 03:37 |
    Now what if both people have the same idea? Then it becomes a Social Jiu-Jitsu off! Wise words as always JZ.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 May 2013 at 03:42 |
      That would be pretty wild Irvin!
  • Diane Hurst

    Diane Hurst

    11 May 2013 at 11:58 |
    Dale Carnegie's book, "How to Make Friends and Influence People" should be required reading today . . . it's a classic, and also says the same thing you said here :) Glad you had such a great visit with the politician-- just knowing there are politicians like him "out there" is a good thing!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      13 May 2013 at 23:01 |
      Thanks Diane! I was definitely influenced by Carnegie's book in writing this post.
  • Kim Meierotto

    Kim Meierotto

    13 May 2013 at 22:23 |
    The sad thing is most extroverts don't believe they are really talking that much. As an disguised introvert (I'm a public speaker, so most don't believe this about me), I often feel like I'm drowning in a waterfall of words and wonder how they cannot see it. Extroverts must work against their default as much as I have to work against mine to enter a room full of strangers and not bolt. And wasn't Jesus the best question asker of all? He even already knew the answers but understood the value of asking questions. Great post, Justin.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      13 May 2013 at 23:02 |
      Thanks Kim! Appreciate you reading and your comment. Most definitely. Jesus was the best question asker of them all.
  • Michael Tyler

    Michael Tyler

    15 May 2013 at 13:30 |
    Justin, your timing and breadth is perfect. It wasn't until the second time I saw your name with the story that I finally stopped to find out exactly what you were sharing. And! WOW! When I finished your share there was a new motivation within.

    How did you end up with the ability to communicate so clearly and with the freedom your communications have visually?

    Thanks, Michael
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      17 May 2013 at 18:30 |
      Thanks for reading Michael. Appreciate it.

      How did I end up with the ability to do this? I guess I did a lot of research about blog structure and what works for people. I'm still very early in the process, but it's important to figure out the word count, spacing, and visuals people will look for in a good blog post. Still learning.
  • Drew Tewell

    Drew Tewell

    28 May 2013 at 11:12 |
    Good stuff, Justin! I'm sometimes so excited about what I'm doing that I can ramble on and on about it. But it's not about impressing people. It's about impacting people.
  • Arlen Miller

    Arlen Miller

    02 September 2013 at 20:05 |
    I simply like your writing, Justin. Your content and your style. Keep doing. All I can say.
  • Wanda Carter

    Wanda Carter

    30 April 2014 at 13:56 |
    This is a fantastic post! I wanted to let you know that it is still relaying its excellent information and message in 2014!!!
  • Eric


    02 June 2014 at 12:46 |
    He took out his laptop and took notes? That seems a little awkward in itself, is he writing a book about you or something?
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