Forget the institution’s name on your MBA. It doesn’t have nearly as much to do with your eventual success in business as whether people like you or not. Let’s call it the Likability Quotient, otherwise known as “no one prefers doing business with a jackass.” The difficulty in increasing a business’s bottom line through boosting the personal likability of the owner and employees is – no big surprise – they probably don’t even realize there’s a problem. Most obnoxious people don’t.
Why should likability matter anyway? Well, researchers tell us that it’s related to trust. In fact, trust is the final step before someone decides if they like you. The good news is that even if you don’t like or want to be nice to people, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to fake it enough to make a difference. Focus on the following areas.
Readily Admit Mistakes
No less a business expert than Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and Pixar, knew the value of owning up to miscues, going on to say, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” Stubbornness and rigidity occupy the opposite end of the likability spectrum. Think about your own life. Do your admissions of mistakes roughly align with the return of Halley’s comet? Not good, not good.
Keep in mind that confessing a mistake doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out ordeal. Say something like, “I was completely wrong about that. Thanks for pointing it out.” And don’t forget that admitting you’re wrong means you also have to be willing and able to accept the consequences without grumbling or whining. Voila – now you’ve demonstrated honesty and integrity, two other excellent traits when it comes to likability.
And the Humble Shall Inherit the Earth
Ever get tired of people who don’t brag about themselves enough? Yeah, we don’t either. This is not to say you can’t state accomplishments in a matter of fact tone during the natural course of a conversation, but please ditch the braggadocio. It does no good because people can detect a braggart a mile away, and their BS filter kicks in automatically. Trust us. When you’re good you don’t need to tell people about it. They’ll figure it out on their own.
Pay particular attention to censoring your self aggrandizement in the context of online marketing. This REALLY doesn’t work. A few tidbits related to your successes can safely be sprinkled throughout the text but tread lightly! Despite what the “gurus” would have you believe, online marketing should be less aggressive than traditional.
Be Generous with Compliments
We’re not suggesting you walk around dispensing false platitudes. People will see through that kind of stuff a mile away. The trick is to pay attention to legitimate opportunities to spread a little good will throughout the normal course of a day. This is powerful stuff. It lets people know (or at least feel like) you get them. Really get them. In other words, empathize and commiserate.
Find a Shared Belief or Value
According to the One Minute Sales Person, people don’t buy a product or service. Instead, they buy the person selling it because of the way that person makes them feel about the product or service. We buy from people we like. Makes sense. Think back to recent buying experiences you might have had which allowed you to choose between essentially similar products. Did you go with the person you liked better? Most of us do do.
Technology is supposed to bring us closer together, and in a sense it does, but there’s a good chance it also interferes with your likability. Think about it. Do you really connect with a potential business partner or client by email or telephone, or does it work better in person? Hopefully, you realize the benefit of up close and personal contact. Social psychologists claim we are more likely to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with someone we’re in close proximity with, and this makes sense.
We’ll leave you with this. Except in the cases of trust fund babies, it’s to your advantage to be liked. Likable people get elected, promoted, and rewarded. They earn more money, receive better service, and close the big deal more often. Like it or not, the bottom line is that being likable pays off in more ways than you can imagine. Don’t believe us? Give it a shot – an honest shot – and report back to us.
The Speaking of Wealth Team
Flickr / Dana Lookado – Yo! Yo! SEO