The Secret to "Likeability"
By Pam Holloway
Strange as it might seem, likeability
is not a gift – it’s a skill set. Is it worth developing? You
decide. Here’s what we know about likeable people:
They are more successful in business and in life.
They get elected, promoted, and rewarded more often than those
They close more sales and make more money.
They get better service from all types of service providers,
including Doctors and other health care providers – which means
they probably live longer as well!
Still not sure? Take a look at these
A Columbia University study by Melinda Tamkins shows that
success in the workplace is guaranteed not by what or whom you
know but by your popularity. In her study, Tamkins found that,
"popular workers were seen as trustworthy, motivated, serious,
decisive and hardworking and were recommended for fast-track
promotion and generous pay increases. Their less-liked
colleagues were perceived as arrogant, conniving and
manipulative. Pay rises and promotions were ruled out regardless
of their academic background or professional qualifications."
The Gallup organization has conducted a personality factor poll
prior to every presidential election since 1960. Only one of
three factors - issues, party affiliation, and likeability, has
been a consistent prognosticator of the final election result.
Of course, the factor is likeability.
What makes you likable?
We find a plethora of opinions as to the specific elements that
contribute to likeability. Tim Sanders in his book, The
Likeability Factor notes these four:
your ability to communicate liking and openness to
2. Relevance: your capacity to connect with others' interests,
wants, and needs
your ability to recognize, acknowledge, and experience
other people's feelings
4. Realness: the integrity that stands behind your likeability and
guarantees its authenticity
Seven Components of Likeability:
Through research and experience, these seven
elements are integral for “likability”:
1. Positive mental attitude:
Likeable people exude a positive mental attitude. That does not
mean they are silly or giddy. They don’t ignore hardships or
failures, but consciously reframe those difficulties and
negative emotions to healthier positive ones. Positive means
that you can find a better direction out of a problem, rather
than wallowing in the problem or negative emotion.
The truly likable are non-judgmental. They recognize that
everyone is trying to get by the best they know how, and they
treat everyone with respect and understanding.
Passing critical judgment
is a sign of inflexibility, a highly unlikable trait. The
opposite of that is what we call “openness.” The truly likeable
are open to new people, other ideas, and different ways of doing
things. They demonstrate openness in their behavior, the tone
of their voice and in their language.
Likeable people are,
“comfortable in their own skin.” They don’t feel the need to
talk over, correct, constantly make jokes or laugh nervously.
They don’t brag, talk incessantly or hide behind details or
One of the most likeable characteristics is vulnerability.
People who can say, “I don’t know,” who are able to admit
mistakes or show a sensitivity, are seen as more likeable.
6. Able to get outside the Self:
Those whose primary focus is on themselves rate low on the
likeability scale. Conversely, those who are secure in
themselves and able to turn their focus outward rate much
higher. It’s part empathy – our ability to recognize,
acknowledge and experience other people’s feelings, which is a
key attribute of likeability. This is more than the ability to
be empathetic. It is the exercise of this ability. It is about
becoming relevant. We become relevant in the lives of others
when we learn about their interests, wants and needs.
7. Like me:
We like people who like us. We also like people who are like
us. As humans we are constantly seeking points of similarity.
We look for and are attracted to people who are like us in terms
of values, interests and experiences. Studies suggest we are
also attracted to people who physically look like us.
More Exposure: Familiarity Breeds Likeability:
Recent studies have shown that
more exposure is sufficient to increase the likeability of a person
(or an object). In short, we are more attracted to and tend to like
people who are familiar to us. So, in a selling situation, if the
prospect likes you a little when you meet the first time, he may
like you even more the second time and so on. With that in mind,
your objective is to continue to increase the numbers of exposure to
How Likable Are You?
How well would you say you demonstrate those likeability
characteristics in your meetings with prospects? The key word here
is “demonstrate.” You can “feel” as though you are being open,
relevant or empathetic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how
you are being perceived by the prospects.
On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is
Extremely High, how would you rate your demonstration of:
Able to get outside of self
Whether we like it or not, likeability
makes a difference in all aspects of how we are perceived. Our
likeability follows us all at home, at work and in social settings.
The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t really matter
what we think of ourselves when it comes to others making decisions
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