Dale Carnegie’s timeless classic How to Win Friends and Influence, originally published in 1936, still has much to teach us about how to influence others. There is a section of the book called “Ways to Make People Like You” which makes me wince a little because it sounds as though you need to manipulate others into liking you. It’s not at all what the book espouses, but there is some intention that goes into being likeable. The most important advice Carnegie gives is to show a genuine interest in others. This is hard because our human nature is to think and talk about ourselves despite our best intentions. It can show up in subtle ways we miss but others pick up. Ever catch yourself daydreaming or thinking about how you want to respond while someone else is talking? Do you cross any part of your body or look down or away while listening or responding to someone else? What about your tone of voice, speed of response or facial expression? Attentiveness and warmth are key elements of likeability which is considered a “gateway” trait, as it is what others notice first about you.

Likeability Factor and Influence

Those who score high in the Likeability trait (Keller et al, 2014):

  • Cause others to feel inspired and positive around them
  • Are approachable and put others at ease
  • Have a positive mental attitude
  • Are empathetic to others
  • Are authentic and value that “realness” in others

Likeable people sometimes fall into the trap of wanting to please everyone. It is possible and advisable to learn how to say “no” and remain likeable. Rejection and being ignored can be challenges for the likeable person who may take it personally. It is important to consider the relevance of the connection, which is higher when what you offer connects with another person’s wants and needs. It is also critically important that you aren’t trying too hard to be what someone else perceives as likeable. Remember, likeability means authenticity.

How do you demonstrate your likeability? Are there some aspects you need to tweak to open the “gateway” a little wider to allow others to experience and appreciate what you bring to the table? What opportunity do you have this week to be intentional about demonstrating your likeability to achieve a positive outcome?

About Jeannie Phillips

Jeannie Phillips, PhD, ACC, is a Senior Affiliate Coach for Core Impact Coaching specializing in leadership development with over twenty years of corporate experience leading projects, people and the development and execution of strategy. She is also owner of J. R. Phillips Leadership Coaching focused on transforming technical experts into influential leaders.

Jeannie is a coach for Women for Change Coaching Community (W4C3), a nonprofit organization with a mission to make coaching accessible to all women.