You’ve heard it said that people do business with people they like. But they also believe people they like, help people they like, hire people they like, promote people they like, get on committees with people they like, vote for people they like. Few would argue that likability is a good thing.
If you’d like to increase your likability factor, here’s how to make the effort tangible.
Smile—with your eyes as well as your mouth. Others can tell a fake smile from a genuine one. As people show up for work in the morning, you can sort out those who woke up on the wrong side of the bed by their facial expressions.
Somebody in the relationship has to take a risk. It might as well be you. So when you meet people on the street or in the hallway, speak, nod, make a comment. If they respond, you’ve connected. If they don’t, nothing lost.
Listen actively. Don’t be a robot, nodding, grunting, or otherwise taking in information. Demonstrate to the other person that you’ve heard them by acknowledging their message.
Sarah: I’ve been having to work late every night this week.
You: So you’ve had a rough week. And I bet your family’s not happy about that.
Sarah: You got that right! Dinner’s late. And they’ve got places to be.
You: So you’re in the dog-house at home—after working like a dog at the office.
Such listening opens you up to much deeper conversations and connections.
Questions prove two things: That you’ve been listening to what others say and that you’re interested in others. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. All you need to do to be considered a great conversationalist is to toss out a topic, ask the other person for their opinion, listen to what they say, and then ask questions about their answers. The other person will walk away from your conversation thinking you’re fascinating simply for having the good sense to probe deeper in an intelligent way with your questions!
Consider how special you feel standing in line at a retail store when the customer service agent looks up from a transaction and yells, “Next!” Not exactly a warm connection, right? On the other hand, think of your last hotel stay when you phoned the front desk and the operator answered, “Yes, Ms/Mr. Grayson, what can I do for you this morning? By the way, how did you like the Italian restaurant that our Concierge recommended last evening? Any trouble finding it?” An entirely different feeling. Never mind that your name flashed on the screen to remind the front desk who was calling.
Hearing your name, along with the personal details, makes a strong connection. Just imagine how much stronger the connection when someone not obligated remembers your name and mentions important details.
Everyone likes sincere compliments. When such praise is offered in front of family, friends, or teammates, the comment becomes even more enjoyable. People who offer such praise are the source of great pleasure.
Although a state of mind, humility shows up in your actions toward others. Humble people let others shine. They don’t have to be the smartest person in the room on every topic or the center of attention. They aren’t afraid to ask questions about things they don’t understand. They share the credit for successes. They ask for help when they need it. They ask for favors. They express gratitude.
Few people enjoy hanging around with those people who are always critical and see the glass half-empty. Whiners and complainers drain your energy. Positive people, on the other hand, attract like a magnet.
Your stories can be dramatic, comical, whimsical, bizarre, hair-raising, or pedantic. But you’ll be popular if you can tell a story or anecdote that engages others both emotionally and logically. How do you know if you’re any good? Watch their eyes, their expressions, their body language. Are they anticipating your next move? Do they laugh with you? Cry with you? Sigh with you? Toss out their own call-back lines? Recall your stories the next day or the next week?
Storytellers are stars.
In the end, likable people show up. They’re genuine. What they say and do matches who they are. When there’s a crisis, you can count on them.
Learn more about how to improve your communication skills in Communicate with Confidence: How to Say it Right the First Time and Every Time. Find it at your preferred book seller.