We learn early on in life (in childhood and, if not, definitely when we enter the workplace after education) that a lot of our success boils down to how likeable we are.
The ‘likeability’ factor is often underestimated, with the majority of our attention given to the acquisition of new abilities and skills. Whilst there are important considerations, being likeable trumps them all because it works on a much deeper level. After all, life and business are social enterprises – in order to achieve our goals, we are going to need the help of others, and the help of others depends on them liking us.
When we are likeable, we have mastered the art of making people feel important and, as a result, feeling good about themselves. Consequently, these people enjoy spending time with us. They actively seek us out and invite us in to their lives, which then opens the door to countless opportunities you would not have been exposed to otherwise.
Do these people allow you a place in their lives because of how you look, or your skills? No. It is because they like you.
The same can be said about getting a promotion in a job. Often, the person the bosses like the most will be given the opportunities to move swiftly up the ladder.
If we know how important being likeable is, why don’t more of us practice it? The fact is, most of us think it is something you are born with, and not something you can learn.
This is fixed mindset thinking and, for all intents and purposes, totally wrong. You can learn how to be likeable. Here’s how:
Habits of likeable people #1: They smile a lot
Likeable people have the social and emotional intelligence to smile a lot. It may just be that they feel so good about themselves that they can’t stop smiling. There are a lot of studies out there to suggest that people who smile are perceive by others to be significantly more approachable, friendly and even competent. There is also evidence to suggest that smiling makes us more attractive, which might go some way to explaining the link between attractiveness and success. Smiling is also contagious, which can help alter the mood of the people around you in a positive manner, thereby raising your likeability factor.
Habits of likeable people #2: They are ‘hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise’
In Dale Carnegie’s now classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, he repeats over and over again that the most likeable people are ‘hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise’. What he means by this is that likeable people are not stingy with how they feel, or giving credit where credit is due. They naturally recognise that people want – in fact, crave – recognition and acknowledgement for their work, whether they are a work colleague or a partner. The likeable person gives these people the appreciation they want, sincerely and honestly. When people know you are appreciative of what they do and value them as a person, they will keep coming back.
Habits of likeable people #3: They serve and help others
Likeable people understand that the only way to achieve their own goals is to help other people achieve theirs. As a result, they go into every interaction with a desire to help and do something that will be of benefit to the other person. When we approach life from the direction of service, we see how simple it is and, once we get into the swing of it, how joyous it can be. Humility comes as a product of orienting ourselves to selfless service which, in turn, increase our own self-worth and our likeability factor to others.
Habits of likeable people #4: They listen
We all know someone who talks and never listens. This person can be irritating because, try as we might to hold a mutual conversation, we know in our hearts they are just waiting for us to pause so they can speak again. Likeable people don’t do this. For most part, they speak only for a fraction of the time they listen, and when they do speak they ask questions. Having somebody who listens and reacts to what we say makes us feel appreciated and validated, which in turn makes us like the person who is talking to us a lot. When we are listening we also have the opportunity to learn something new, whereas if we just talk all the time we are just repeating something we have already learnt.
Habits of likeable people #5: They take the time to get to know others
When a busy, successful person takes time out of their day to talk and get to know you, you can’t help but like them. The likeable person knows this. They take the time to get to know things about the people they are dealing with – what they enjoy, what makes them tick, and what they hold closest to their hearts. Then, when they converse again, they can ask about these things and show how much they were listening and how much they care. A simple five minutes of sincere conversation can be enough to plant the seed for a long-term friendship.
Habits of likeable people #6: They make everyone around them feel important
It was Mary Kay Ashe who said “no matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important”. This is likeability training 101. Everybody we meet wants to be made to feel important, in some way or another. Your partner wants to feel important. Your employees want to feel important. The person working the tills in the supermarket wants to feel important. It is a human-wide need. Most people are too busy or too self-interested in order to pay much attention to this. Their loss is your gain as, the moment you learn to make people feel important automatically is the moment your likeability is going to shoot upwards, bringing all of the resulting rewards with it.
Habits of likeable people #7: They are grateful for the opportunities that come their way
Being sincerely thankful for who you are, where you are and the people in your life is a sure-fire way to be a likeable person. The truth is, the faster our lives have become the less time we feel we have to be grateful. Now that we can have almost anything right now, we have actually become less grateful and more impatient if something doesn’t go to plan. Turn this trend on its head. Show people how grateful you are to them for being in your life, and for making a contribution. Send thank you notes. Send presents. Say thank you hundreds of times a day until it becomes natural. Gratitude is a superpower that leads to a bulletproof positive mental and emotional state. Find out for yourself and become the likeable, successful person you were born to be.