What Does Likability Mean These Days?

I have done a lot of research on likability when it comes to selling. Well, not just selling, but also life in general. Why is being likeable so important? What has it caused a lot of us to get the status of being the “likeable person”. Are we affected when we are told that we are not “likeable”? What does being likeable even mean? Do we need to smile all the time? Act friendly? Be less serious? What?

I can understand why many people chase after the likeable persona. We are bombarded with all these personal branding, social networking and such, it’s a no brainer why this pursuit is the number one concern before we build relationships with just about anyone.

But of course, not every succesful person has the likeable character.

So what does it mean to be liked by your employees, stakeholders, customers and bosses? How significant is being likeable in business? Or the corporate world?

Is there a more effective way in strengthening or building successful relationship other than altering our behaviour and make it likeable?

I spoke to a very good friend of mine over coffee yesterday. We discussed this topic and we both have different ideas and opinion on what it means to be likeable. She said that being likeable is important because people want to work with someone they feel comfortable with, surely almost everyone has the same capabilities especially when they are applying for a certain position, but likability determines or increases the chances of the candidate being picked.

Now, while I did not completely agree with this, I didn’t disregard it either. True, being likeable is important, but it is not the main reason why people want to work with us. If anything, employees are looking for someone who can contribute growth for the organisation. I strongly stand by this.

I am grateful to have worked with so many entrepreneurs and executives and the issue of likability almost never shows up. One of the many reasons is human diversity.

Today, people want to work with someone who takes charge. Someone who is willing to go first, take action. Lead the pack.  Ultimately, someone who is confident enough to voice out opinions, or pointing out what is wrong and coming up with solutions.

We don’t work with people we like but we like working with people we can rely on to get the tasks done and someone who constantly has new ideas. We are living in the world of innovation, hence people who usually are innovative often at the opposite end of the likability spectrum. Just take a look at all the big business players. Andry Grove, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page.

Instead, in order to build relationships and strengthening them, you need to first of all, be genuine. Get your intention right. Once you get that right, focus on your curiosity.

Ask questions. Be interested. Don’t be focused on what you should ask for the next question. It should be a follow up of what the person is saying based on your last question. You will be surprised how respect is earned this way.

Stay consistent. We all have our ups and downs. Our moods should not dictate how we speak to people. People should know what to expect when they speak to you. Always maintain the same level of respect whenever you talk to people even when you don’t feel like it.

Do NOT expect people to like you. If anything, likability is an effect, it is NOT A CAUSE. Don’t fall prey into the misconception that likability should come naturally, or that it is the single most important trait when going for job interviews, or it belongs to a few lucky people; the attractive looking ones, or the social butterflies, or the talented.


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