The 11 Laws of Likability
eBook - ePub

The 11 Laws of Likability

Michelle Tillis Lederman

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  1. 224 Seiten
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

The 11 Laws of Likability

Michelle Tillis Lederman

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Über dieses Buch

When establishing a relationship with someone, coming across as manipulative and self-serving is a bad move. That's why Michelle Tillis focuses on the power of deep and authentic connections to achieve business success.

As the founder and CEO of the management training organization Executive Essentials, Michelle Tillis coaches and trains leaders to experience continual growth and achieve results through the power of collaboration, communication, and relationships.

In this book, she presents activities, self-assessment quizzes, and real-life anecdotes from professional and social settings to show you how to identify what's likable in yourself and use those characteristics to build connections with other professionals.

In The 11 Laws of Likability, you will discover:

  • how to start conversations and keep them going with ease;
  • convert acquaintances into friends;
  • uncover people's preferences;
  • tweak your personal style to enable engaging, reciprocal interactions;
  • and leave a lasting impression on others after your initial meeting.

We all know that networking is important, and that forming relationships with others is a vital part of success. However, traditional forms of networking often remove emotions from the equation--focusing only on immediate goals.

The 11 Laws of Likability teaches you how to build the kind of deep relationships that have true staying power, bring genuine joy, and provide long-term support.

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Part A
Before the Conversation: Get Real

My dad always used to say to me and my sister, “The world is a mirror.” As a kid, I would repeat the phrase, but I never really thought about what he was trying to tell us. Then one day he stood me in front of a mirror and said, “Smile.” I did, and the person in the mirror smiled back at me. He said, “Look angry.” I gave the girl in the mirror a nasty look and got the same nasty look right back. He then sat me down and explained the lesson: What you show the world is what the world will show you. The energy you put out, the thoughts you share, are the energy that you will receive from the world, the thoughts you will hear. So true is this that I later realized there are a million sayings that express the same idea: “What you give is what you get,” “You reap what you sow,” “What goes around, comes around,” and my favorite, “Karma’s a bitch.”
Over the years this concept has crystallized for me. As I completed my education and began building my career, I saw more than ever how “the world is a mirror” plays itself out in life. I noticed that, whether I was working with a new client or an established colleague, the energy I brought to the situation deeply impacted it. If I was having a rough day, the encounter would be difficult. If I was feeling confident and on top of my game, the encounter would be positive and productive. My attitude at any given moment—how I thought, my assumptions about a situation, how I acted—influenced other people’s first impressions of me. It was how they formed their perceptions of me, and it influenced the connection between us. The more aware I became of my own mood, the more I was able to ensure that my authentic self came through during different situations, and I was able to adjust my behavior when necessary to communicate in the most effective ways.
What does it all boil down to? Some of the work of making meaningful connections and growing relationships happens before you even meet someone. Taken together, the four chapters in this section are about increasing our awareness of what is genuine and valuable—in short, likable —about us, and discovering how the energy we bring to a situation impacts other people’s perceptions of us and our ability to connect at a meaningful level. Understanding these things is the first step toward expressing our likability to others. Once we fully recognize this likability, we can harness it to create lasting, mutually positive connections with the people in our lives, whether we’ve known them for years or are just meeting them for the first time.

The Law of Authenticity

“Be your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be.”
—Dr. Phil McGraw (aka “Dr. Phil”), psychologist and TV-show host
Samuel was a mid-level manager at a prestigious New York City museum. He attended a day-long workshop I conducted on assertiveness, and during the program he barely spoke, though he did take copious notes. At the end of the day he hung back and waited for everyone else to leave, then approached me. He expressed his deep frustrations about feeling overwhelmed when navigating the dinners, conferences, and other business and social functions he was required to attend as a member of the museum’s development team, a position to which he had recently been promoted.
As he told me about his goals for the museum, his passion for his work was clear, so I was shocked when he admitted that he was thinking about quitting. He said that he thought his networking ineptitude would hurt the museum, and that therefore he was the wrong person for the job. I voiced my hunch that this networking apprehension was something he could overcome. He seemed encouraged by my words. In order to devise a plan to try to help him deal with the challenges, I needed to see him in action to better understand his unease. So he invited me to attend an upcoming fund-raising event at the museum, where I could assess his handling of the situation myself. I accepted the offer.
No sooner had I arrived at the event when I was suddenly jarred by a loud bark of laughter. I turned to find out who made the noise, and was startled to see that it was Samuel. I couldn’t believe that the harsh, off-putting sound I just heard had come from the same mild-mannered person I’d been speaking with just a few days earlier.
As the night continued, Samuel kept a brittle smile plastered on his face. Every now and then he caught my eye and raised his eyebrows to indicate he was “working the crowd.” But by the end of the night, he looked exhausted by the strain of the immense effort he had put forth. And that was just the problem—he had been “working it,” as in working at it, rather than just being, talking, listening, sharing.
When we spoke about the evening afterward, he was disheartened, if not surprised, to learn that I had seen through the smile. “But I was trying so hard to be engaging,” he explained, “to act as it seems a successful person in my position would.”
“I know,” I responded. “That’s the problem.”
When we come from an authentic, genuine place in ourselves, our efforts to connect with people work to their fullest. Our relationships develop more easily and last longer, and we feel better about the people we’ve brought into our lives and our work.
I’ve spent time coaching students on how to prepare for one of the most fundamental business interactions, the job interview. I remember watching again and again as one of my students, Raj, froze while tackling the task. He had a dry sense of humor and could chat easily in casual conversation, but as soon as we’d start doing a mock interview, his personality would disappear. I tried distracting him away from being self-conscious, but the second he realized I was posing an interview question he became stiff and formal and very, very serious. Even his word choices changed.
What I tried to impress upon him, and what he finally understood, is that there is no right or wrong way to interact with people; there is no one correct way to “be.” What feels right for one person may feel all wrong for another. What matters most is what feels right for you. As soon as Raj started being himself in our mock interviews, he was able to think more flexibly and respond more quickly and just generally become far more engaging. His likability was coming through.

Be You, Be Real, Be Authentic

What does it mean to be authentic? The particulars are different for each of us, of course, because we all have different attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, skill sets, knowledge, goals, and values. In a general sense, though, authenticity is the same for everyone: It is about being your true self. This is the law of authenticity: The real you is the best you.
Being your authentic self feels natural, so much so that when you experience it you probably don’t even notice it. On the flip side, we all know it when we’re not being our natural selves. We feel uncomfortable, awkward even, perhaps unconfident and stressed, and more often than not, after being in a situation where we don’t feel as if we are being our true selves, we’ll feel drained. There is a difference between tired and drained. Tired is a physical state. But that drained, emptied-out feeling comes from the mental effort of forcing yourself to act in a way that is not natural for you, when you are doing something that doesn’t feel quite right, something that feels inauthentic.
What is it that goes through our minds when we are not being ourselves? Over the years I have asked many people this question and the most frequent answers are:
• I don’t like this situation, but I’m trying to be polite about it.
• I don’t like this person, but I’m trying to act in an appropriate way.
• I need to act more like a successful person does.
• If people don’t respond positively to me, at least I’ll have an excuse if I don’t act like myself.
• I am uncomfortable and don’t know what to do about it.
And what is consistent about all these responses? They either represent things we feel we should do or a general fear of feeling vulnerable. We put on a false face when, for whatever reasons, we dread a situation or feel we are not up to it.
Authenticity is not just the subject of this first chapter, it is the guiding principle of the book. As you read through the other chapters you will discover that authenticity is woven into all the other laws. It is the keystone to likability, because it gets at its essence: The real you is the best you, and it’s the most powerful tool for forming real connections.

Why Authenticity Matters

Let’s go back to Samuel for a minute. When he first spoke to me about the museum’s fund-raising efforts and the expansion plans behind them, he conveyed his excitement in a genuine, forthright way. His sincerity truly moved me. But a few days later, when I saw him at an actual museum event, it was clear from his plastered-on smile and barking laugh that something about the situation made him deeply uncomfortable. As a result, his real passion for his job and his commitment to the museum were not being conveyed to the very people—the potential donors—he needed to reach.
Authenticity is who you are—your honest reactions, your natural energy. Sharing what is real about you is the key to building real relationships with others. When you show your authentic self, people will respond in kind, laying the bedrock for mutual understanding, connections, and growth.

How Do You Do It?

The beauty of the law of authenticity is in its simplicity: Don’t try, just be. Of course, embracing this simple truth can be easier said than done. In our fast-paced lives, we tend to tear through situations without giving them much thought, and so we might not even be aware of when we are and aren’t being authentic. Even when we realize we are not genuinely being ourselves—when we are faking an attitude that we think is “better” than the one we truly feel, or sleepwalking through a situation because we think we don’t have time to slow down and be fully present—it can be difficult to stop these behaviors. But the secret is to just stop trying to be who you think you “should” be, whether that’s the too-busy-for-the-small-stuff boss or the acquiescent new hire who doesn’t feel quite comfortable giving opinions. Quit monitoring or premeditating your actions. Don’t think, just be.
In my rare downtime, my guilty pleasure is watching reality TV shows. So many of them are such primal struggles between personality types, and I find it fascinating to see the dramas play out. When I think about why I root for certain contestants and not others, the answer is always the same: The characters I’m drawn to are being real. On one show, there was the contestant who spoke a mile a minute, a trait that could sometimes be annoying. She knew she had this trait and tried to manage it, but she inevitably wound up babbling rapidly and excitedly in the end. Even though some of the other contestants were irritated by her chattering, because this quality was a natural part of her, and because she accepted it and had a sense of humor about it, it was part of her authentic charm. On another show there was a pretty girl who at first seemed like she’d be the stuck-up ice queen, the obvious target of envy and attention who’d polarize the whole group. It turned out, though, that she was a total goofball. She let her goofiness come out naturally and was completely okay with it, and on top of it, she was not self-conscious about her good looks. This combination made her entirely likable.
After I debriefed Samuel about his inauthentic behavior at the museum event, I continued coaching him on how to identify his weaknesses and harness his strengths when faced with similar situations. During one of our most useful exercises, we reflected on how children often don’t censor their behavior, and their authentic selves naturally shine through. I shared a story about a friend of mine who had been a principal at an elementary school and who sported a rather shockingly unnatural head of red hair. She could always tell what the children thought of her hairdos because they would just blurt it right out. “I like your new hair color, it matches my raincoat!” they’d say, or “Why did you do that to your hair?” Any time she told these stories she beamed in awe at the kids’ raw honesty.
Granted, Samuel and I weren’t aiming for such childlike honesty that he’d be howling in laughter at the sight of a museum patron’s kooky hat, but we were trying to reconnect with that unfettered experience of being a child, before the adult in us started modifying itself based on what it thought the bigger world wanted. We were trying to think back on a time that preceded grown-up responsibilities and concerns, to a time when our emotions, intentions, and behaviors were largely unfiltered.
Once Samuel was able to reconnect with what naturally made him feel at ease, he realized that although he dreaded being in a large crowd and feeling the need to be the life of the party, he was completely comfortable talking one-on-one or in very small groups, and under these conditions he could easily engage patrons and potential patrons in meaningful discussions about the museum.