How to be popular (with real answers)

This is something that all but the most confident or most misanthropic people ask themselves (and occasionally others) at least once in their lives. It’s possibly what students in middle school and high school worry about more than anything else. Yet, when they pluck up the courage to ask a trusted adult for help, they are usually fobbed off with non-answers such as ‘just be yourself’ or ‘there’s a lot more to this life than being popular’. The fact is that the people giving these answers don’t know how to be popular. While it is true that there is so much more to life than being popular, there is no doubt that popularity is something we should strive for. The reason? Once people like you, you have contacts and a network of people who will do things for you, teach you, listen to you and get things done. This could mean the difference between meeting Mr or Mrs right or not, that elusive six-figure job offer, that lawyer who’ll take on your case ‘for old time’s sake’.

Before we look at what makes certain people popular, let’s just be clear about one thing: being popular and being feared are two completely different things. If you terrorize those around you, you may well have a following of people who seem to like you. However, as soon as you show weakness, they will do their best to shut you down so they don’t have to continue living in fear of you. This would never happen to a truly popular person, as their friends would be there to support them in their time of need.

So, let’s get down to it. In order to be popular, people have to see in you what they want to be themselves. If you’re a math genius and a wizard hacker, you’re likely to be popular with the nerds, if you’re someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies, you’ll be popular with those who have been bullied. If you’re a fashion queen, you’ll attract like-minded people. There are qualities, however, which unite all popular people:

Truly popular people are confident but not cocky. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and accept them. They also appreciate those of other people. Confident people are willing to take control and show leadership, but they are not dictators. Popular people listen to others and empathize with them. Outwardly they speak clearly and with authority. They take care of themselves physically. You don’t need to be an athlete for this, even using the treadmill every day (check out will have the effect of improving your body and releasing the endorphins which make you seem happier and more attractive to others.

Being good-looking is a massive bonus, but it won’t make you popular on its own. All you really need to do is to keep yourself and your clothes clean and fresh. Nobody has ever become popular by smelling bad and appearing unwashed. If you are concerned about your appearance, ask someone you trust for honest advice (and don’t let them tell you ‘you look perfect the way you are’). Teenagers, especially, could use guidance on everything from how to deal with acne, when to shave off your first mustache and what type of bra to wear.

People are also drawn towards kind people. If it’s no skin off your nose, do what you can to help those around you. Do something to help in the community and consider it paying for a favour you haven’t yet received. Another big one is honesty and trust. Although it is by no means the easiest path to take, people will respect you for it. Learn this early as an untrustworthy and dishonest person can quickly become very unpopular once their thread of lies and deceit unravels around them.

The last thing we should mention is determination. People are not attracted to quitters. If you throw a tantrum or sulk every time you don’t get what you want, people are going to learn to avoid you. Learn to be resilient, patient and focused and you will probably find yourself with disciples who look at you in awe.