Sometimes it is more important to appear more likeable than you are feeling as it can help you build rapport and trust with people you don’t know as well as those that you do.
This well known psychological technique called ‘spontaneous trait transference’ can help you make people like you and this article reproduced below from the excellent Psyblog explains why.
Saying nice things about others when talking to an acquaintance reflects positively on your own personality. If you describe another person as genuine and kind, your acquaintance will assume that you are genuine and kind. The nice things you say about others are transferred to yourself. So, to make the person you are speaking to like you more, say nice things about others.
On the other hand, bitching makes people think you have these negative traits. Psychologists call this slightly weird phenomenon ‘spontaneous trait transference’. The effect is so strong that it even works when people know that the traits do not describe you. For example, let’s say I am a nice person and my friend knows it. Then I start describing another person who is a cheat and a liar. Just this will be enough to start the person I am talking to thinking that I am a cheat and a liar — even though they know I am not! Of course, this makes no sense. The reason it happens is not logical but is attributable to a purely mindless associative process.
Research from JJ Skowronski and others found that “…trait transference is not simply a tendency to attribute negative characteristics to those who disparage others, or to ascribe positive characteristics to those who compliment others. Rather, communicators are ascribed the very traits implied by their descriptions of others.”
It certainly reflects the old saying that if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.