The Impact of Likeability

People do business with people they like. Managers hire likeable candidates. Co-workers prefer to work with people whose company they enjoy. Even the most objective individual has an unconscious likeability bias. Of course, what makes one person more likeable than another in any given situation depends a lot on what the people, managers and co-workers in that situation are like themselves!

Likeable? by Patrick Haney, Flickr

While it’s never a good idea to change or hide who you are, there are definitely certain approaches and habits that will increase your likeability factor. In fact, author Tim Sanders has written a book called The Likeability Factor to help people better understand the impact of likeability on their lives and to work toward greater success by cultivating their own likeability factor.

The Likeability Factor

Over many years, Sanders’ research reinforced his belief that other people’s response to us, the conclusions they draw about us, and the choices they make concerning us all have a significant impact on our success and happiness. As the evidence mounted in support of this hypotheses, he was forced to conclude that the more we are liked, the happier our lives will be.

In response to this conclusion, Sanders set out to define what makes a person likeable and whether likeability can be cultivated. In his book, he proposes that it can and that a person’s “likeability factor” can be greatly increased by developing the following four personality traits and characteristics[1]:

  1. Friendliness: the ability to communicate liking and openness to others.
  2. Relevance: the capacity to connect with others’ interests, wants, and needs.
  3. Empathy: the ability to recognize, acknowledge, and experience other people’s feelings.
  4. Realness: the integrity that stands behind your likeability and guarantees its authenticity.

The 11 Laws of Likeability

More recently, Michelle Tillis Lederman has expanded on the idea of likeability and what makes people likeable in her book, The 11 Laws of Likeability. Lederman agrees with Sanders’ premise that success and happiness have a lot to do with likeability and our natural preference to help, support and promote people we like. While her approach focuses on networking and building relationships in a business setting, her 11 Laws are broadly applicable and echo many of the points made by Sanders in the Likeability Factor. Here are Lederman’s 11 Laws of Likeability:

  1. The law of authenticity: the real you is the best you.
  2. The law of self-image: before others will like you, you have to like yourself.
  3. The law of perception: how you perceive others is your reality about them and the same is true for them of you.
  4. The law of energy: energy is contagious – what we project, we receive.
  5. The law of curiosity: curiosity leads to connections.
  6. The law of listening: others won’t understand you until they feel heard and understood.
  7. The law of similarity: people like people like them.
  8. The law of mood memory: people are more likely to remember how you made them feel than what you said.
  9. The law of familiarity: people feel comfortable with who and what they know.
  10. The law of giving: give first – do because you can.
  11. The law of patience: with time, things happen

7 Ways of Being

One final perspective on this topic comes from a team of sales coaches who write as “Coach Nick” and suggest that likeability springs from embracing and living 7 Ways of Being, described as:

  1. Being outwardly focused: it’s all about THEM, not you.
  2. Being authentic: be your real self. Be the same person in every single circumstance
  3. Being trustworthy:  do what you say you are going to do. Tell the truth.
  4. Being connected: find common interests and common ground.
  5. Being generous: seek out the ways you can improve your character by doing someone a good turn.
  6. Being committed: show up for life. Don’t duck out of obligations.
  7. Being positive: whether you think you can, or can’t – you’re right. Stay positive.

Without compromising who we are at the core (since authenticity and “realness” are identified in all three examples), we can increase our likeability factor by deliberately cultivating the traits, characteristics and ways of being described above. And it’s definitely worth making the effort since the evidence is overwhelming: the more you’re liked, the happier and more successful your life will be!


TribeHR’s social and interactive platform can help your people ratchet up their likeability factor at work! Try it free today!

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