Want Better Relationships? Be More Likeable

Buyers buy from people they like.

Now that might sound unfair. It may sound like the “good old boy” system at work.

I disagree. I believe it’s everyone’s right to do business with whomever they choose. It’s their money, and they can spend it wherever and with whomever they wish.

And as master sales trainer Bill Lee notes, “If 99.9% of buyers do business with people they like, then your skill level at getting your prospects to like you better than they like your competitor is certainly as important … if not more important … than all of the other skills a top producing salesperson must possess.”

He’s right. And I think Bill’s point could be applied to all your relationships … with prospects, customers, colleagues, and even your family members. The more they like you, the more profitable the relationship.

Unfortunately, not all men and women are very likeable. Mrs. Willencott felt that way about her husband. But she was also very frugal. When her husband died, she asked the newspaper how much it would cost for a death notice.

“Two dollars for five words.” she was told.

“Can I pay for just two words?” she asked, “Willencott dead.”

“No, five words is the minimum.”

Mrs. Willencott thought for a moment. “Okay then. How about this? ‘Willencott dead. Cadillac for sale’.”

Of course, to be fair, some men have felt the same way about their wives. Socrates commented on that thousands of years ago. He said, “By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” Or as Groucho Marx quipped, “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.”

With likability such a critical factor in all relationships, here are several things you can do to increase your likability.

=> 1. Be trustworthy.

Without trust, there can be no relationship. And the absolute bottom line on trust building is do what’s right. If you ever mess that up, say you’re sorry. And make amends.

=> 2. Commit to excellence.

People like those who do their best and give their best … not those who do just enough to get by. Don’t cut corners. Go the extra mile.

=> 3. Give without any expectation of a return.

Everyone … in every part of your life … is asking the same question. “Do you care about me?”

And the best way they have of gauging their answer is to see what you do for them … without expecting anything in return. You see … there’s so little unconditional giving in today’s world … that if you do that … you immediately stand out from the crowd. They’re bound to like you.

=> 4. Give genuine compliments.

One of the most universal traits of mankind … a trait so strong that it makes people do the things they do … is the desire to feel important and be recognized. As a good salesperson knows, the more important he/she makes people feel, the more they’ll respond to your goods and services. So applaud and compliment others when they deserve it.

The rule is … the compliment must be sincere. Study your customer’s business, for example, to find something they are doing better than similar companies you know about. You’ll come across as a genuine, astute observer at the same time you make him feel ten feet tall.

I did that a while ago. I was thinking about the people who had the biggest, most positive impact on my life, and Dale Krammes came to mind. He was my radio and television teacher in high school many decades ago, but he was more than my teacher. He was an encourager who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. So I wrote him a note to compliment him for going above and beyond the role of teacher and coach.

A few days later, I received a handwritten letter from Mr. Krammes … a rare thing in today’s world of e-mail. But he wrote, “It was a special treat to receive your note. Your kind words of appreciation were a delightful lift for a teacher who has become an old man of 87. I will treasure what you have written always.”

=> 5. Use the 4-to-1 ratio.

Dr. Ken Blanchard, the author of “The One-Minute Manager,” says it’s not good enough to balance your praise and criticism. In one corporate study where criticizing and praising were actually tabulated and the reactions measured … where there was one criticism for each praising … people felt as though they had a totally negative relationship with the boss. When the ratio was changed to two praisings for each reprimand, people still thought their boss was all over them. It wasn’t until they got to four praisings for each criticism that people began to feel as though they had good relationship with their boss.

As Blanchard concluded, “It’s clear that if you don’t start giving a lot of praise, the people you work around will begin to think of you as negative and unfair.” In other words, they won’t like you. So take a moment to be consciously aware of your ratio. Are you giving 4 times as many positive comments as negative ones?

=> 6. Use the smile factor.

Smile when you talk … even when you’re on the phone. It changes the whole vocal tone of your voice as well as the look of your face. And most people just plain feel better when you’re smiling at them.

Perhaps even more powerful than smiling at someone is to put a smile on his/her face. It increases your likability factor BIG time.

Shane Murphy talks about that in his book, “The Achievement Zone.” He said a colleague was traveling back to Colorado Springs on an evening when a snowstorm delayed flights everywhere. He was seated in the Denver airport at 11:00 p.m., waiting until midnight for the connecting flight to Colorado Springs.

He and his fellow passengers were tired, grumpy, and frustrated. Everyone was late; luggage was lost; plans were in shambles.

A man approached passengers asking for a favor. “Good evening, I’m Carl, and I’m flying to the Springs to meet my fiancée, Marlene. I wonder if you would help me wish her a happy birthday?”

“She turns 50 today, and I have 50 red roses here. Would you please give her this rose and say ‘Happy Birthday’ as you leave the plane? It will be a big surprise for her.”

People smiled and took a rose. They watched Carl repeat his request 50 times. By the time everyone had trooped aboard the plane, the atmosphere of fatigue and irritation had disappeared.

People were aware and interested. Before they had avoided eye contact, but now they spoke to each other and laughed about Carl’s surprise. Everyone looked forward to meeting Marlene.

The plane touched down. The passengers let Carl get off first, and as they came out each one gave Marlene a rose and offered her heartfelt birthday greetings. Many gave Carl and Marlene a hug.

She was amazed, laughing, and repeating, “I don’t believe this is happening!” The passengers left the airport with a warm glow, touched by Carl’s gesture.

What did Carl do to restore everyone’s energy and good mood? He gave them no energy pill, no money, no rousing speech.

Instead he gave them an inspiring and unifying reason to break out of their pattern of detachment and self-pity; he changed their mental focus from being disappointed to making someone happy.

Whether you’re in a business … or in a relationship … all things being equal, the big prizes go to the ones who are liked the most.

So how likeable are you? Do you even like the way you talk and act and treat others? Just remember, the more likeable you are, the better you’ll do in all parts of your life.

Action:  Pick 2 of 6 likability action to focus on this week.