I've been thinking about the concept of being a likeable person lately. In fact, last week I gave a short presentation to the Chamber of Commerce Mountain View, CA about how being a likeable person can translate into big bucks in the business world.
One of the things that struck me the most is that being likeable is very much like being a good flirt. Don't believe me? Hopefully I can explain this is a way which is easily understandable.
Being a likeable person (like flirting) is a skill that can absolutely be developed. Also, being likeable (like flirting) assumes or requires a certain amount of engagement with others.
Before I get too ahead of myself, I want to make one thing clear. Being likeable and being nice aren't the same thing. I've also never ever been someone who has been thought of (or even wanted to be described) as nice.
What's so bad about being nice? Think about niceness in a work setting. Nice people get more worked dumped on them because they don't say "no", tend to not get their opinions heard because being nice usually means being quite and letting others make decisions. Nice people also lack the ability to set clear boundaries in both work and life.
One of the worst managers I ever had was when I was working in Colorado. She wanted to make everyone happy, and in the long run, made no one happy. Incidentally, I just found out that she is still holding the same job she had when I left almost 12 years ago. Not only do I think it's kind of sad she is still working the same job, I bet she would have either moved up or on if she had been able to make the break from being "nice".
So what's so fricken great about being likeable? Likeable people are seen as being more successful in both business and life. Likeable people also get promoted and rewarded more often in the workplace. A study by Columbia University concluded that business success is more tied to NOT who you know, but how popular you are. In business, likeable people close more sales and therefore tend to make more money.
Likeable people are often nice, but nice people are not always very likeable.
Likeable people tend to get better service from service providers. Ok, so getting upgrades and freebies is nice, but this can make a huge difference when it comes to your health. Sometimes we tend to forget that our doctors and physicians are, in fact, service providers. Studies have shown that doctors admit that they 1) spend more time with patients they find likeable and 2) recommend follow up visits to patients they like. So being likeable can actually make you live longer!
What are the secrets of being likeable? I've found that it comes down to 3 main factors:
- Friendliness: ability to communicate openness to others
- Relevance: ability to connect with others' interest, wants, needs
- Empathy: ability to recognize, acknowledge, and identify with other people's feelings
Other components of likeability are:
- positive mental attitude
- non judgmental
- ability to move outside yourself
- like me / familiarity
The bottom line when it comes to likeability is that it is not something you can fake. People really want to do business with others who are likeable (we "like" people who are "like" us).
A great place to start is making yourself available and approachable. You can be the most likeable person in the world, but if I can't get in touch with you (or you make me jump through hoops to get in contact with you), I will never do business with you. As a client, I have fired service providers because they were difficult to get in contact with and let's face it, in today's economy, you absolutely have to be reachable and responsive when it comes to your clients.
If you feel like your head is about to explode because being likeable "sounds like a lot of freaking work", don't fret. Remember that every day is a new day to become more likeable.