It’s a conundrum that’s plagued most everyone, from awkward middle schoolers to nervous first day trainees: How do I make more people like me?

Granted, there are certainly innate qualities that help in the likeability department — height in particular shapes your success in everything from dating to political aspirations — but charisma is more of a matter than simply winning the genetic lottery. So, let’s go ahead and take a look at what the available research says on how to raise our charm quotient, one mischievous wink at a time.

A Voice That Can Charm The Pants Off A Snake

What makes a person's voice sound especially likable? The answer might depend on where and to whom they’re speaking.

In 2014, Medical Daily reported on a study that tried to quantify the bare vocal essentials of good public speaking. The authors sampled male politicians' speeches from Italy, Portugal, and France, stripped them away of the actual words spoken, and played them back to their test subjects. Those who spoke in a low voice and wide pitch range were generally seen as more powerful, while higher frequencies were more submissive yet benevolent, confirming previous research. Different nationalities, however, preferred different styles, with the Italian subjects finding the deeper voices more winning and the French enjoying politicians with medium vocal pitches.

These results and others suggest that the likability of a voice depends on the context in which it’s belted out. "A male with a low, deep voice would be perceived as dominant by other males but maybe as sexy by females. In contrast a higher vocal pitch can convey submission (male speaker, male listeners) or sexiness (female speaker, male listeners),” lead author Dr. Rosario Signorello of the University of California, Los Angeles told the BBC. "So there is no general recipe for being charismatic but in every culture there are ways to manipulate your voice to convey different types of charisma."

Gender stereotypes also play a part here as well (unfortunately). Sampling the voices of people who spoke in a creaky, low-pitched voice, otherwise known as vocal fry, researchers found in 2014 that these people were deemed less trustworthy, educated, and attractive compared to a so-called normal voice. That negativity, however, was much more amplified for female friers than their male counterparts. The authors speculated this might be the case because women are generally higher-pitched than men and it’s therefore seen as more disdainful when they deviate from that norm.

There might only be so much you can do to change the tone of your voice on the fly, of course, but if there’s any prudent step you should take to bump up the charm, it’s this: Avoid stuttering. A 2014 study found that stutterers at a job interview were much more likely to be immediately rejected or placed in unfulfilling positions they were overqualified for, thanks to the unfair perception that they were less competent or able to interact well with customers/co-workers than their peers.

On Your Feet

A dolcent voice can work wonders for your charm, but so can a quick tongue.

Last November, a study found people who were quick thinkers, as measured by how fast they answered a set of trivia questions and other tests, were more likely to be rated as charismatic by their friends, even after other factors like IQ or humor were taken into account.

"Although we expected mental speed to predict charisma, we thought that it would be less important than IQ," said study author William von Hippel in a statement at the time. "Instead, we found that how smart people were was less important than how quick they were. So knowing the right answer to a tough question appears to be less important than being able to consider a large number of social responses in a brief window of time."

In addition to becoming especially adept at making quips, von Hippel and his colleagues believe having mental nimbleness allows people to quickly correct themselves when they make a social faux pas.

Being quick on your feet isn’t everything there is to having social grace, though, since the researchers found no correlation between it and good conflict resolution skills or being better able to identify how someone is actually feeling. So go ahead and start boning up on your trivia skills — just don’t expect it to immediately turn you into the coolest kid at the party.

Bah Humblebug!

So we’ve covered the more outward and changeable aspects of charm, but surely there’s concrete inner qualities that make for an alluring person.

Again, context matters a lot here. What might make you likeable at your best friend’s wedding to a cute bridesmaid/groomsman isn’t necessarily what will win the hearts and minds of your co-workers during a powerpoint presentation. But there are some traits that universally shine through.

A 2007 study asked participants to rank what characteristics they deemed most important in someone who they had to work together with in a number of social situations (playing sports or on a work assignment) or what they’d prefer in a relationship (close friends, co-workers). Across the board, trustworthiness was tops on the wish list, and while there was definitely variance elsewhere, overall, a sense of cooperation and warmth was considered more important to likeability over traits like physical attractiveness.

Something that no one likes? Humblebragging. An April 2015 study of five different experiments found that subtly bragging while also complaining (whether on social media or during a job interview) was seen as both more insincere and less likeable than doing either individually. One experiment even found that humblebrags about appearance (“Just rolled out of bed and still get hit on all the time, so annoying”) made a person seem less attractive than simply bragging.

“Across the studies, perceived sincerity is a key predictor of liking: the disingenuousness signaled by humblebragging manifests in dislike,” the researchers concluded.

In short, when it comes to personality, most everyone is charmed by a straight shooter and team player who’s not afraid to be empathetic when the occasion calls — a solid sense of humor couldn’t hurt either.