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Cultivating your inner Jennifer Aniston: 9 Characteristics of Likable People

Published: November 17, 2010 | Last Updated: January 9, 2023 By | 13 Replies Continue Reading

If someone asked you to characterize actress Jennifer Aniston, after “beautiful” and “talented,” the next word that might come to mind would be “nice.” She appears to be likable.

An article in The Wall Street Journal (How To Vend it Like Beckham) raised the question of why stars get paid so much and why some stars get paid so much more than others. It makes the point that talent is hard to measure; there isn’t always a direct correspondence between someone’s critical acclaim and their salary.

The article talks about several celebrities and their ascent to stardom and makes an interesting observation about Aniston and her success:

“Jennifer Aniston has never been nominated for an Oscar, but she gets endless attention from celebrity magazines, and she brings in audiences because they like her.”

Aniston became iconic first as Rachel on the popular sitcom, Friends, and then starred in a string of comedies on the screen. We don’t know her but we feel like we do: Most would agree that her public persona is sweet, attractive, and affable.

She has a smile on her face and appears to be better at making and keeping friends than most celebrities, despite the demands of a busy career. In addition to the credits, woven through her bio on IMDB is a list of fellow actors who are considered her friends off-camera, too, including Andrea Bendewald. Courteney Cox, Andrea Buchanan, and Catherine Keener.

Being likable can have payoffs for the rest of us, too. The friendships I cherish most are with people who are warm, friendly, and kind, and go out of their way to make people around them feel comfortable.

This weekend, my friend Linda visited from out-of-town and we spent the day together. Seeing her again made me realize why she is so important to me. I watched her interact with the reservation clerk at her hotel, the young man in the pizza shop where we stopped for a bite, and the clerk at TJ Maxx where we went to hunt bargains. She was as kind and authentic with each of them as she is with me and with other friends. Each person she met smiled and felt good after interacting with her.

Nice people have a knack for drawing others close to them and making them feel better about themselves.

I began thinking about the characteristics that make people like Jennifer and Linda likable. Here’s my list:

9 Characteristics of Likable People:

1. Being kind and considerate of others
2. Having a good sense of humor, liking to laugh, and having a ready smile
3. Being warm, friendly and outgoing
4. Being authentic and unpretentious
5. Being vivacious, perky and engaged in life
6. Having interests
7. Showing interest in others
8. Being relaxed and easygoing
9. Being easy to talk to and nonjudgmental

For some people, like Jennifer and Linda, being likable seems to come naturally. Perhaps, it’s borne out of being happy and self-confident people. For the rest of us, it’s something worth thinking about and cultivating if we want to have friends.

What qualities do you admire that makes a friend likable?

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Comments (13)

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  1. Irene says:

    This is a great topic for a future post. I’ll work on it!

    Best, Irene

  2. layla says:

    Sorry for the late comment… I just discovered your blog.

    This is so true – some people just have this “likeable” characteristic. They’re friendly to everyone and their confident, relaxed attitude is contagious.

    While I liked your list, I think it would be great if you get a chance to elaborate a bit on each point. Also, I noticed that many of your tips are geared towards extraverted people (be outgoing, have a good sense of humor) – do you have any tips for introverts? Obviously we can’t be quite as popular and well-liked by as people who put themselves out there and tell jokes and are funny and witty, but I assume there’s a way to work with our existing personalities to still be likeable in our own way.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it’s true, they ARE all likeable. Just different “flavors”!

  4. Irene says:

    I don’t think you are in a minority in pointing out that attractiveness isn’t a matter of looks. Whether it’s Jen or any of the other celebrities you listed that you admire, wouldn’t you agree that they are likeable people? Everyone you named seems to have many of the same traits of likeability.

    Thanks for chiming in!




  5. Anonymous says:

    I guess I’m in the minority here. Jennifer Aniston has never particularly appealed to me. I tend to be drawn to Hollywood stars who are prodigies of talent, such a Meryl Streep, who also have intellectual depth, artistic brilliance, personal authenticity and uniqueness, as well as being kind, altruistic human beings. Even in the world of comic actresses, I admire exceptional comediennes such as Goldie Hawn, Bette Middler, Lily Tomlin, Gilda Radnor, Diane Keaton, Ellen DeGeneres, or the incomparable Lucille Ball.

    I don’t really get the Jen phenomenon; while she seems like a nice “girl next door” person, she is not someone I would particularly idolize or even choose as a friend myself. She strikes me as reasonably attractive, but kind of a superficial cheerleader type. Yes, in high school people like that do win popularity contests and I guess Jen is still winning them. But I was never best friends with people like that.

    I have been blessed with very special friends who have depth, compassion, talent, and wit. They are not stereotypic beauty queens, just unique human beings who have truly been blessings in my life.

    I have nothing against Ms. Aniston, I just wanted to voice a different opinion.

  6. Irene says:

    I’m glad that it provoked discussion and thought!

    You all rock!!!!





  7. Sarah says:

    I totally agree. It really doesn’t matter how nice and genuine you are to people because the people with the most friends/followers are usually complete jerks or party animals and just know how to manipulate others with ease. Every once in awhile you’ll see a truly genuine person who is nice to everyone and people like them but that is the exception not the rule. I know a lot of people who view niceness as a weakness.

    For instance, I smile at people all the time. It’s a 10% chance I’ll get a smile back and the other 90% I get a scowl or a “what do think your smiling about” look. The truth of the matter is that people usually befriend others they see that can help them get to where they want to be. Sad but true and it’s been proven to me over and over and over again. It’s just about getting connected to where you want to get. Genuine friendships are very scarce.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I feel strongly that your #4 “Being authentic and unpretentious” for me, that is #1 with a bullet! One of my biggest challenges with friends and associates, colleagues and clients, is when they have a predisposition to be phony, fake, pretentious. It’s my least favorite quality behind being a liar, and is always a deal breaker for me. If someone is at least authentic and genuine (even if it ain’t pretty), I can work with that and at the very least give them a shot at some kind of association. I’m actually pretty tolerant of almost anything — except a lack of authenticity.

    Jennifer Aniston is definitely a great example of a woman whose qualities we can aspire to. In fact, I loved this post so much because I’ve often found myself in less-than-admirable thought patterns and considering less than friendly impulses when I’m riled, and then I’ll remind myself … WWJD?…. “What would Jen do?” in this situation. 🙂


  9. …of both Irene Levine and Jennifer Aniston.

    Irene, this is a great list for people to consider, both about other people, but especially about yourself. I suspect your friend Linda has done that, and that’s why she clearly values other people–because she values herself first, and her confidence spreads outwardly in a positive way. How wonderful for you both to be able to find time to share together!

  10. Tootie says:

    Irene does indeed rock! Her blog is awesome.

    That being said…this list makes me think of my friend who is “nice” to EVERYONE and says whatever she thinks the person wants to hear. But you never know what she really thinks about anyone or anything. It seems her primary motivation is to ensure people aren’t mad at her. I am oversimplyfing, I’m sure. But the time comes when the jig is up and you find out she actually has been harboring less than “nice” feelings about you or about others. I have thought a thousand times about how sincere I think her “nice” words are. They never really are substantive. It’s very disconcerting. The result is that you don’t feel you really know who the heck she is, or if she REALLY likes you……… I understand very much why she doesn’t want people mad at her. I feel the same way. But I am unable to simply say or do ANYTHING to ensure people won’t be mad. On the other hand, I very much admire and wish to cultivate the notion of giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. And in that sense, I think the list sounds worthy. For example on crowded city trains andn buses it is easy to feel angry toward the person shoving you. But just today I smiled and said something “nice” to the person, and they apologized and stopped shoving. It felt a heck of a lot better than if I’d told the person off for shoving.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Irene rocks! Don’t complain about the list, people! It’s merely an article meant to make you think!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This strikes me as a list of how things ought to work, but not how they actually work. I’ve seen some spectacularly shallow, self-absorbed, gossipy, backstabby, intellectually dim, and stuck-up people gather a whole posse of followers, while nice folks who meet the criteria of this list just get ignored. Oh, and good looks don’t necessarily make a difference. Sometimes the prettiest girl is the loneliest, because all the other girls are jealous.

    I think many people are actually attracted to people who validate their own priorities, desires and behaviours, whether those priorities etc are healthy or not. If I like gossiping, I want to hang out with another gossiper, and so on. Or I want to feel like I’m *in* a group while others are *out*, so I’ll hang out with a group that pointedly excludes others.

    So one’s choices are 1) adapt to fit the expectations of whatever group you want to join or whoever you want to befriend, or 2) be true to yourself and let the chips fall where they may. I’m not sure which feels lonelier.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure why, but this list sounds like the most boring person in the world. I am not saying we should all be mean and aweful, but it is manipulative and inauthentic to to be all of these things just to be liked. There will be people who like you just because and others who hate you just because. We do not all need to be robots to have friends. It is about being yourself and finding people who have things in common with you, and in general being an interested and flawed person, in a word – human.

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