My mother turned 95 last week and I would like to focus on her in this final email on the topic of ‘being likeable’. Mum continues to be a likeable person. Sadly, many older people are affected by illnesses such as dementia which can have a negative impact on the way that they relate to others.Thankfully, mum has avoided any of these and is really healthy for her age.
The staff at the retirement village where she lives love her, lots of people visit her and she is held in very high regard. What are her secrets to likeability?
She remains positive
She genuinely cares for others
She advocates for the needs of others
She asks questions rather than always talking about herself
She sees her time as an opportunity to help others
She is generous
I guess that as I get older I need to be sure that I will be an older person who others will like and want to be around rather and not someone who they visit reluctantly out of obligation. I must be careful that I don’t become a grumpy old man.
Will you be someone who others will want to visit and spend time with in the retirement home?
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
Likeable people are generally easy to get along with and we feel better after having spent time with them. This does not mean that they never get angry or say things that they later regret; it just means that, in general they aren’t prickly. Prickly people, on the other hand, are difficult to be around and we generally feel worse after having spent time with them. Here are some characteristics of prickly people.
Prickly people are defensive and suspicious
Prickly people are hurtful with their words and actions
Prickly people are hard to hug
Attention Prickly People!
Likeable people realise that life is not all about them as they listen and show genuine interest in the lives of those around them. I often meet people at work or in social situations who not only don’t listen; they don’t even stop talking about themselves for one moment.
I wonder, with people like this, whether it is their ego that is driving this self focus or whether they have not been taught the basics of healthy human interactions. Perhaps it is that they are genuinely not interested in me or my thoughts on anything. I am not sure what causes this, but I know that it makes them less likeable to me.
Conversations should be a two way street with sharing, listening and showing interest in others. When we show interest in others it means that we value them and their opinions and care about the things happening in their lives.
To be likeable, you will need to listen to others. This means more than simply not talking. Many people while seemingly listening, are actually thinking about the next thing that they going to say. Listening means really paying attention and trying to understand what the other person is talking about. The focus is placed on the other person and not yourself.
To be likeable, you will need to be interested in others. I am not talking about the fake smile and well timed nods; I mean genuinely interested in the other person. Some people feign interest in us until they realise that we aren’t the person they want to talk with. Have you ever been at a function where people are in networking mode? Have you had someone begin to talk with you and as they quickly realise that you aren’t going to buy anything, you can see their eyes start to move around to others in the room and soon they are off?
Are you a good listener?
Do people sense that you are interested in them?
“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say” Zeno of Citium
I believe that a key factor of leadership effectiveness is likeability. If people don’t like you, or warm to you, it will make leading others more difficult for you and it will make it more difficult for others to accept your leadership.
It is true that some people are just easier to like than others. However, if you are in leadership it is important to stop and think about whether people actually like you. If people like you, then they will find it much easier to work with you. If I was choosing between two candidates for a role that were similar in qualifications and experience, but one was a little hard to be around and the other was likeable, guess who I would choose? I would make the same decision, even if the “difficult to be around” person was more qualified and experienced, as they could potentially negatively impact the wellbeing of the team..
Sometimes people get bitter about not being promoted or getting the great opportunities, but they don’t stop to think that it may be their difficult nature that is preventing them from moving ahead.
A note for those who think that it doesn’t matter whether people like us or not
Do people like you?
What does it mean to be likeable? See you next time for more on this.
“people like people who like them” Kare Anderson
I love my job. One of the main things that I do is work with individuals and teams to help them to understand and utilise their strengths and work more effectively together. It is so rewarding helping people really understand how their core strengths can enable them to be more effective and fulfilled in their work. I also love seeing those “lightbulb” moments when team members come to understand each other in a deeper way.
I can help you to “play to your strengths”
I use the strengthsfinder© online survey which is a very accurate way of understanding your top strengths. Once you have your results we can chat in person or through skype about how your strengths can help you to be more effective, what things you might need to watch out for and how your strengths impact your leadership style.
I can help your team to “play to their strengths”
In my consulting work I take teams from the corporate and not for profit sectors through a team building exercise which focuses on strengths. What I have found works really well is this 4 step process in which:
1 Each team member does the online survey to highlight their top strengths.
2 I take each person through a feedback/coaching session on site or through skype.
3 I prepare a team report which also looks at the combined strengths of the team and creates a team profile and meet with the team leader to overview the results.
4 Then, in a team workshop, we discuss each person’s strengths, encourage them and look at ways that the team can function more effectively together.
A growing number of organisations around the world are seeing the benefits of a strengths based approach to team building. If you are interested in finding out more about how I can help your team to grow, please do not hesitate to contact me.