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GUEST ARTICLE
The Secret to "Likeability"
September 2007

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:
1. They are more successful in business and in life.
2. They get elected, promoted, and rewarded more often than those less likable.
3. They close more sales and make more money.
4. 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 studies.

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 4:
1. Friendliness: your ability to communicate liking and openness to others.
2. Relevance: your capacity to connect with others’ interests, wants, and needs.
3. Empathy: your ability to recognize, acknowledge, and experience other people’s feelings.
4. Realness: the integrity that stands behind your likeability and guarantees its authenticity.

7 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.

2. Non-judgmental
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.

3. Open
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.

4. Secure
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 humor.

5. Vulnerable
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 your prospects.

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:
–Positive Mental Attitude
–Being Non-judgmental
–Openness
–Feeling Secure
–Vulnerability
–Able to get outside of self
–Own likeability

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 about us.

About the Author

Pam Holloway is a business psychologist and co-founder of AboutPeople, a unique training and consulting firm that helps companies maximize the people side of business. She is a program designer, author and teacher specializing in Market Psychology and Organizational Dynamics. Pam also delivers keynotes and workshops throughout the United States and Europe. For more information on her speaking and consulting, please contact: pam@aboutpeople.com.


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