Have you noticed how people today are usually much more cautious when greeting someone that they are meeting for the first time? Even in business, we find that many folks are surrounded by a great wall of skepticism, ready to dismiss anyone who is not in their inner circle, or who comes to them without a proper introduction.
For most of us this caution starts early in life when our parents, looking to protect us from potential harm, warn us about speaking with strangers. Yes, in 2023, we live in a rather skeptical world and many of us are finding that even our circle of friends may in-fact be getting smaller. It is very difficult in today’s busy world to nurture long-term relationships as life and the daily grind tend to get in the way.
I, for one, find these trends very disturbing. I am always seeking positive people who can lift my spirits in the middle of chaos and I also make it a priority to faithfully stay in touch with my trusted colleagues.
One of my guru’s is Harvey Mackay. Harvey has a talent for finding the good things to focus on. He is more than a business coach. Harvey is a life coach.
In one of his recent newsletters, he says that competence in business is not enough. Before you can espouse your expertise to anyone, you need to first be likeable. That’s right, likable! Before competence, and even before trust, people want to do business with folks that they like.
Here are some ways Harvey says you can improve your likeability:
• Make a strong first impression. Experts say it takes between five and 15 seconds for someone to form a first impression about a person. First impressions are lasting. If the first impression is less than great, it takes a long time to change it.
• Talk nicely about other people. Don’t gossip. The tongue is just three inches long, but it can kill a person six feet tall.
• Improve your listening skills. For some people, good listening means, “I talk, you listen.” Good listeners steer conversations toward other people’s interests. This is what separates a good talker from a good conversationalist. And remember, you can’t learn anything when you are doing the talking.
• Ask questions. Be inquisitive. This also shows you are listening. Ask about their lives and learn as much as you can about the other person. People love to talk about themselves.
• Watch your body language. Be aware of your gestures, expressions and tone of voice. Look people in the eye and let them know you have their full attention by nodding appropriately. Smile. Pay attention to the other person’s body language.
• Don’t be judgmental .Eliminate preconceived notions and judgment. Be approachable and open-minded, which will make you interesting to others.
• Stay positive. People much prefer being around happy, positive people.
• Be kind. Offer sincere compliments. We all love to receive compliments. They make everyone feel better. Mark Twain once said, “I could live for two months on one good compliment.”
• Use people’s names. We all like the sound of our own name. Using names shows that you know and value the person to whom you are talking.
• Use humor. Making people laugh is a likeable trait. You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian but be willing to laugh at yourself.
• Make others feel important. Treat people the way you like to be treated.