Episode 145: February 23, 2012
by Lisa. B. Marshall
Tom is my friend who knows everyone. You may know someone like him. He’s always there to help and if he can’t, he knows someone who can. He’s the kind of guy that you meet and in the first 10 minutes you’re already talking like you’ve been friends for years. Tom is interested in everything and can talk about anything to anybody. He’s smart, funny, and extremely successful. Most of all, he’s very, very likable.
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It’s a fact of life that likable people are more successful in business and life. They get elected, promoted, and rewarded more often. They make more money, get better service wherever they go, and close more deals. Thankfully, it’s a skill that can be developed. In this two-part series I’ll cover 6 tips to become more likable:
Tip #1: Reveal a Shared Value or Belief
According to The One Minute Sales Person by Spencer Johnson, people do not simply buy a product or service; they buy “you” because of how you make them feel when selling that product or service. We buy from people we like.
And make no mistake, regardless of your profession, you’re selling something. Whether it’s physical products, access to information, or a certain self-image, you want people to have positive feelings associated with you. You want them to like you. But getting people to like you doesn't always happen naturally, like it does for Tom.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help others know you, like you, and trust you. One of these is developing camaraderie, a very powerful tool. The key is to allow people to get to know you beyond just the surface level. Reveal a shared value or belief. Meaningful connections are established by letting others see the ways in which you're similar to them.
For example, one day I struck up a conversation with a woman while I was waiting for the train. In the course of our brief conversation, she mentioned that her husband was seriously ill. So I shared with her that I had lost a husband to terminal illness. Our conversation continued for a few more minutes; each of us sharing our personal experiences of loss. When the train arrived a few minutes later, she gave me a huge natural smile. We had connected.
At work you might not feel comfortable sharing something so personal, but it’s still possible to share something deeper than simply surface observations. For example, when a work colleague mentions she needs to leave early to take her son to the doctor, you might respond by saying, “Don’t worry about anything here. Family is most important. I hope he recovers quickly.”
Tip #2: Empathize and Commiserate
Say you just met someone and established an initial rapport. Good start. Now, the next step is to shift the focus from you to them. Empathize, commiserate and reveal shared beliefs. Here’s a basic example:
You: “How was your trip?
Work acquaintance: “We didn’t get in until after midnight because our flight was delayed.”
You: “It’s frustrating and tiring to get in late, especially after a day of long meetings. Maybe Joe will let you leave work a little early today. I’m sure he’d understand. He’s been in your shoes many times.”
Or it could be a simple as hearing someone sigh and you respond by saying, “Sounds like you’re having a tough day. Anything I can do to help?”
When you give someone the space to be heard—unconditionally—you increase your likability. There's a lot that people don't get to talk about during their day because of time and work constraints. Whenever possible, give people the opportunity to vent to you without the fear of being judged. They will not only be grateful, but perhaps curious (and more favorable) about the person who consistently offers this type of gift.
Next week we’ll pick up from here with 4 more tips for increasing your likability. This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker, passionate about communication, your success is my business.
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