Think you can’t make people like you? Think again.
Do people like you? Why? And if some of them don’t, why don’t they? Are you the kind of person other people are consistently drawn to? Do you attract the best clients, co-workers and friends? If you want to increase your likeability factor, ask yourself these five important questions.
- How much time do I spend talking about myself?
- Do I ask for and accept feedback?
- What kind of feedback do I give to others?
- Do I speak positively about myself and others?
- If other people could change one thing about me, what would it be?
1. How much time do I spend talking about myself? Business coaches and self-help gurus often advise people to toot their own horns, let others know about their accomplishments so they will get the credit they deserve and be perceived as successful. And there is certainly nothing wrong with a little well placed self-promotion. But if you track your conversations for a day, or even an hour, how much time do you spend talking about yourself vs. listening to others? Just for one day, make a conscious effort to ask your co-worker about his day before you tell him about yours. Talk about how his kids are doing in school before you brag about your Sally’s A in math. Ask about the listing he’s been trying to land and listen to him tell his story without offering any unsolicited advice. If he asks your opinion, share your ideas briefly, and then redirect the conversation back to him.
When the day is over, think about the conversations you’ve had. Were they more satisfying than usual? Did you feel more of a connection with others?
2. Do I ask for and accept feedback? A lot of us operate on the principle that “No news is good news.” If my boss isn’t criticizing my work, then I must be doing great, right? Not necessarily. Asking for feedback and advice is one of the best ways to get others to engage with you. What’s the best way to reach out to a co-worker, a client, or even a complete stranger? You have to ask the right questions and you have to ask the questions right. Assume that the person you’re talking to wants to help but she’s probably super busy and preoccupied with her own issues. Keep your question short, focused, and specific.
For example, if you’re asking your boss for feedback, don’t generalize. “How am I doing, Marsha?” is far too vague. “Marsha, how could I improve my video on the Gibson property?” gives Marsha an opportunity to give you some specific advice about a specific client—something you can implement immediately. Do that, of course, and don’t forget to thank her.
3. What kind of feedback do I give to others? Now the shoe is on the other foot. If a co-worker or subordinate asks you for feedback, respond with a question. Example: Jason says, “How do you think I’m doing?” You respond, “Good question. Tell me what you thought about your listing meeting yesterday.” This makes Jason feel as though you value his work and his opinion. And it gives you a kick-off point for giving him some feedback he can really use. You’re having a collaborative discussion rather than a critique.
4. Do I speak positively about myself and others? Gossip is good, but only if it’s done in a positive context. Skip the mundane chatter in the coffee room about who’s dating whom or how much Andrew spent on his new motorcycle. Instead, share some good news about a co-worker. “Did you hear that Cindy’s presentation really wowed that new client yesterday?” Spreading good news about a colleague or the company as a whole reflects positive light on both them and you. And on the flip side, if you are constantly spreading negative news about others, you’re not seen as trustworthy. If you tell me something negative about Cindy, what will you say about me when I’m out of the room?
5. If other people could change one thing about me, what would it be? This question calls for some honest introspection, and it might be a bit uncomfortable. It demands that you spend a little time seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes, and that’s not easy. Think about how you dress and how you talk. Are you willing to help a co-worker who’s in trouble with a client? Are you supportive when a client is having trouble with a buying decision? Are you on time for meetings? Do you complain about the traffic or the weather the minute you come in the door, or do you find something positive to say?
Likeability is a quality that must be constantly cultivated. Being negative, critical, or indifferent is the easy way out. It doesn’t take any effort at all. You don’t even have to think about it. Tomorrow, just for one day, keep the five questions we’ve outlined above on a card next to your phone or tape them to the visor in your car. And see what a difference a day makes.