Do you remember having a teacher that you loved? Did you work extra hard in her class and do better as a result?
Let’s flip it around. What if you were that teacher?
Influence is a powerful tool of collaborative leaders. If you are someone who is likeable and admired, your influence will be turbo charged.
I’ve been writing lately about various valuable currencies beyond money and time. Relational currency needs to be added to that list. You know that if you need a favour, you’re much more likely to approach someone you know and trust. If you need a collaborator, you’ll choose someone you enjoy working with. Positive relationships are a powerful lubricant to getting things done.
I recently did a quick scan of the characteristics of persuasive people, and likeability consistently emerged at the top of the list. People listen carefully to people they like. Likeability has been shown to significantly influence a partner’s willingness to collaborate with you.*
Influence expert Dr. Karen Keller describes it this way: “What does likeability have to do with influence? Everything…When you don’t like someone, you don’t pay attention. You keep your distance, you don’t buy from them, and you don’t believe them. It’s human nature. We are attracted to what makes us safe and secure, keeps us happy and gives us a sense of ease and hope. We tend to believe and trust a person we like.”
We’re into tricky territory here though, because likeability cannot be about caring too much what others think of you. As Alicia Menendez writes in The Likeability Trap, “You cannot control how others feel about you. You cannot control if others like you. You can simply be the best version of yourself.” We know that women in particular have been trapped in a narrative of niceness that has not served our confidence or leadership well.
Likeability is more than being nice. In The Likeability Factor, Tim Sanders suggests that likeable people deliver emotional benefits in every interaction. He zeroes in on four qualities to enhance likeability: friendliness, relevance, empathy and authenticity. These are all within our control, and do not require us to be a doormat or to lose sleep over how others are responding to us.
I suspect you are already a likeable person. (The vast majority of my readers are!) As the title of her new book suggests, Vanessa Bohns argues that you have more influence than you think. Don’t underestimate it. When we forge positive emotional connections with people quickly and easily, we are well on the way to wiser decisions faster.
* Niels J. Pulles, Paul Hartman, Likeability and its effect on outcomes of interpersonal interaction, Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 66, 2017, Pages 56-63, ISSN 0019-8501.