No matter what business you think you are in, you are in the people business. And the more people like you, the better and easier life becomes.
It's that simple. Likability can get you where you want to go — whether it's a promotion at work, election to a political office or building a wonderful circle of friends — it applies to nearly every facet of life.
Likability is critical in the sales game because people buy from people they like. People like people who are genuine, pleasant, sincere, easy to talk with and friendly.
You can't please everyone, as the saying goes, but you will do better on the job and in your life by being likable.
Since most of us spend more than a third of our lives at work, it's important to be likable, which will allow us to be more successful. "Likability is a skill — something we all universally can work on getting better at," wrote Rohit Bhargava in his book, "Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior and Inspiring Action."
Bhargava focuses on five main principles for businesses to be liked, and he uses the acronym TRUST: Truth, Relevance, Unselfishness, Simplicity and Timing.
Don't confuse likability with niceness. Nice people will try to make you feel better and protect your feelings, but likable people tell the truth.
A perfect example is Steve Jobs, a well-known tough-love truth-teller. He was blunt and transparent, which instilled trust among those who worked with him. And the people closest to him were passionately devoted to him because they knew he would be straight with them.
That holds true for co-workers and customers alike. Your customers have easy access to plenty of information about you, your products and services, comparative pricing and your reputation. Trust is fundamental to being likable.
Simplicity is critical to developing likability. Using plain language helps your message to be understood. Big words might sound impressive, but if they leave your audience wondering if they know what you were talking about — well, there's not much to like about that.
When co-workers and friends enjoy your conversation and companionship, they will be more eager to help you achieve your professional and personal goals. You can boost your overall "likability" by focusing on these areas:
• Listen to people. No one likes to be ignored. Pay attention when friends and co-workers are talking to show that you are interested in what they have to say. When you recognize and acknowledge other people's feelings, you are letting them know that you care about them.
• Give compliments. Tell people when you like something they have done. Honest praise and appreciation are music to everyone's ears. Even a simple "Good morning" can do wonders.
• Take an interest in your co-workers' and customers' lives. I always try to find out what drives people — family, hobbies, vacations, goals and so on. You can't talk business all the time. You might be amazed by the fascinating ways they spend their time.
• Participate in work-related activities. Even though you have already spent 40 hours or more at work, make an appearance at after-work activities or weekend events when possible. Getting to know your co-workers away from the office often enhances relationships at work.
• Use people's names. We all like the sound of our own name. Use names often to show that you know and value the person you are talking to.
• Ask for help. Most people want to help, and if you ask politely, they will enjoy knowing you respect their talents. By the same token, always help others when they ask you for assistance.
• Admit your weaknesses and mistakes. Don't be afraid to show some vulnerability. No one's perfect, and pretending to be will usually alienate people. Honesty is not only the best policy, it's likability insurance. People respect those who aren't afraid to acknowledge their limitations.
• Share your passions. Passion can be contagious. Friends and co-workers will respond to your goals if you express them sincerely and enthusiastically. You might discover that others have similar dreams.
• Show a sense of humor. You don't have to try to be a stand-up comedian, but be willing to laugh at yourself and your mistakes.
And if you need a little boost after you put all those strategies to the test, here's one last idea that I've heard works wonders: Clean out the office refrigerator! You will immediately move up the likability scale!
Mackay's Moral: Improve your likability, improve your life.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.