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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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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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