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Yes, But Do People Like You?

Yes, But Do People Like You?

What are the most important personal attributes for business success? Ambition? Drive? Ruthlessness? Self-confidence? Lust for power? Intelligence? Expertise?

None of the above.

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According to Tim Sanders’ book The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams

    , being likeable outranks all of these. Research shows likeable people have the best chances of being hired, promoted and rewarded. Customers are more likely to buy from those they feel good about — even if they aren’t offering the best deal. Bosses who are liked get better performance from their staff and fewer problems.

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    On the other hand, the kind of boss who provokes fear rather than warmth produces poorer results, higher employee turnover and more breakdowns. Tough, abrasive companies trap themselves in an atmosphere of constant anxiety, mostly because nobody will cut them any slack.

    If those who live by the sword, die by it, those who live by being more abrasive than the next guy get the same treatment in return.

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    You can prove this for yourself. If you had a chance to put one over on an unpleasant, domineering colleague, boss or supplier, would you do it? In a heartbeat.

    Likeability counts, believe me. Here’s how to increase your own.

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    1. Practice being friendly and open with others. First impressions truly matter. If you’re seen as approachable and fun to be around, people will seek you out.
    2. Focus on the other person, not on yourself. Self-centered people aren’t attractive or likeable. If you genuinely concern yourself with others, you’ll be swiftly rewarded.
    3. Be yourself. We’re nearly all born with a highly-sensitive “phoney radar”. Unless you’re an Oscar-level actor, people will sense immediately if you’re simply playing a part. You can’t be likeable if people don’t trust you. If you don’t like yourself enough to stick with who you are, why should anyone else like you?
    4. Slow down and take time with people. Time and attention are gifts of immense value. Give them freely. Likeable people have endless time for others, regardless of how busy they are. Unpleasant people only have time for themselves.
    5. Talk less and listen more. Ever been in a room with a boorish, nasty type? Who talked most and listened least? True listeners find themselves in the center of almost any group because that’s where the others want them. We all like good listeners.
    6. Always be polite and courteous. However mad you feel, stay friendly and open. Anger destroys all attractiveness.
    7. Develop your senese of fun and humor. Have you ever heard anyone criticized for being fun to be around? Or avoided because they make people laugh?

    If all else fails in times of stress and crisis, remember this: stay quiet and forget about it afterwards. If you keep your mouth shut, you won’t say things you’ll regret. And if you don’t hold a grudge, you’ll be free to start again without a lot of baggage.

    Friendly people have lots of friends. Friends who will speak up for them, help them in tough times and watch out for their best interests. And, best of all, people who will forgive their mistakes and overlook their weaknesses.

    That’s something we all need.

    Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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