What Am I Going To Do When I Grow Up?

Archive for November 2009

All of us want to be liked, but most of us feel it’s a bit of a random process of who likes us and who doesn’t.  We worry and obsess about whether or not someone might like us or not, but we often feel that it’s not something we can control.  That’s totally normal and understandable.

So, let me share a secret with you…and this is the honest truth: I was voted class introvert in high school.  Painfully shy and insecure, most days I felt like nobody liked me.   What I discovered over time was that feeling came from not fundamentally liking myself very much.  In that I discovered a bigger secret that can benefit us all.

So, want to know how to make people like you?  It works almost every single time…with all people and all situtations.  And, if it doesn’t, you will know that it wasn’t you.  That you’ve done everything you can do.  It’s a powerful tool and it’s very simple.

There are two ways to make people like you:

  1. Like them first
  2. Be helpful

There it is.  So, whether it’s a social gathering, a job interview, or first date….if you want someone to like you (and that is completely up to YOU) then start by just liking them first.

Find something about them that you can genuinely like. For some people that might be that you like their shoes, for others it may be that you have a shared interest in a cause or field of study, and for still others it may be that you like what they do.   The like has to be genuine for it to work or you will do more damage than good by being fake.

Then, if you want to build on that initial sense of like and create a solid relationship, focus on being helpful.

And, by helpful, I don’t necessarily mean you need to go tromping though someone’s life doing stuff for them.  Often there are things people do because they mean to be helpful, but aren’t because they are intrusive, bossy, or irritating.  That’s not what I’m suggesting at all.  Rather, adopting a spirit of helpfulness or an openness to being asked for help is more on target.

For example, after chatting with someone,  a simple “it was so very nice to talk with you today.  If there is ever any way I can be helpful to you, let me know”  can do wonders in building long term relationships.  It doesn’t matter who the other person is or who you are.   This offer of help resonates with people as deeply likable.   You don’t commit to anything in particular and of course reserve the right to say no if what they ask isn’t something you can do, but you hold out an openness to helping them but don’t assume you know what might be helpful.

All of that communicated very simply, honestly, and directly.  Likably.

So, just try it to see.  Smile at a stranger.  Talk with someone sitting by you at a meeting or in class.   Take a leap of faith and know that you are deeply likable and there is absolutely no reason why someone wouldn’t like you if you like them first and radiate helpfulness.   Life’s so much more fun when you like people. …  Starting with yourself.

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What is the power of like?

Well, any guesses on the number one reason why people get hired?   I’ve been part of countless hire situations and the conversations about hiring always begins on things like degrees, experience, and skills.  But, it ends on like.

It’s not that degrees, experience, and skills aren’t important.  They are.  They put you in the pipeline as a qualified applicant.  The thing that will move you to “you’re hired” is the degree to which you are perceived as a “good fit” for the organization.

There always comes a moment in the hire process when the manager, recruiter, committee, or whomever is making the decision…and they decide who they like.  It can happen as they talk through the process or it can happen because they know the person who referred the candidate or because the candidate was already known by the company, but even when that’s not the case, there is moment when someone finally says, “I really liked her” or “He really connected with those on the team.”  It’s the moment when of all the candidates it could be, there is one that really is the one you can imagine sitting next to… imagine giving the keys or password to… imagine letting loose with clients … or even just sitting in a meeting and not wanting to smack!  🙂

And, ultimately, that is the candidate who will get the job…. and that is a very good thing.   Liking those we work with is really key to productivity, profit, and tapping potential.   Not liking those we work with is costly, draining, and rife with turf wars.  Not liking can destroy departments and whole organizations from the inside out.   None of us need more of that!

So, recognize and celebrate the power of like!  It not only will drive your career but also enrich your life.