In a recent Entrepreneur article by Travis Bradberry, he points out something that my coaching clients often have to be reminded about in the beginning: likability and perceived greatness are not pre-loaded into us like software into a computer or phone. Rather, greatness it is a habit—or more accurately, a set of habits that we load into ourselves through sustained practice.

Here are some of my favorite habits from Bradberry’s article that you can adopt to become more likable and improve the perception others have of you.

Ask questions. People gravitate towards those who aren’t self-centered, those who take an active interest in others. And what is the number one habit of people who take an active interest in others? They ask questions. They ask questions that probe, questions that show a deeper interest in the person in question, not merely in outside things.

Put down the phone. I absolutely love this one. We’re still navigating our swiftly changing relationship with technology and the line between utility and distraction when it comes to smartphones has been increasingly blurred. With that said, we’ve all experienced a time when someone’s urge to look at their phone just completely squashed a meaningful social interaction. Do yourself a favor and learn to put down the phone.

Don’t pass judgment. Judgmental folks, though they seem to know some amazing secret that no one else is privy to, are very unpleasant to be around. But you already knew that. No one wants to come off as arrogant or judgmental, so just take care to be aware of how things you say might be perceived. Is there a chance that when you were sharing your knowledge, it instead came off as preachy or judgmental? Keep an open mind.

Let your guard down. Truly likable people know how and when to let their guard down. They know when to show their professional expertise and when to relax and show a bit of vulnerability. You need to be careful not to get too personal at an improper time as that could have the opposite of the intended effect, but showing your human side is crucial for leaders who want to practice their greatness and improve their likability.

So there you have it. If you want to be a more naturally likable person, it’s up to you to identify and adopt habits that lend themselves towards more open, warm behavior. The ones I’ve highlighted above as well as a few others from Bradberry’s article are easy ways to start actualizing those desires today.

photo credit: Mallos, Aragon, Spain via photopin (license)