If you are in business and want to do well, it sure helps if people like you. You are much more likely to be successful if you are likable. It seems obvious, and few people would disagree with the statement. But the real question is, “What can you do that will make people like you?”
Here are my thoughts.
- Let them get to know you. As my friend Matt Lewis likes to say, “They can’t like you unless they know you.” That means you have to share some information about yourself. Be careful, though. Don’t share too much, and don’t talk so much the other person can’t get a word in.
- Ask a lot of questions about them — and listen to their responses. Everyone likes those who show an interest in them. Your challenge is to talk less and listen more. The way to do that is to keep asking questions.
- Be kind. Hold the door open. Volunteer your seat to the older person. Rescue the lost dog. Treat restaurant servers like the humans they are. Say “hi” to the building janitor everyone else ignores. People will notice.
- Be humble and self-deprecating. One of the best ways to get someone to like you is to make fun of yourself. And a little humility goes a long way. No one likes a braggart. I have erred on this one in the past.
- Say “please” and “thank you.” Good manners are always appreciated, whether at the table or in an email. People like other people who have good manners.
- Be responsive. Return all phone calls promptly and apologize for not taking it when they called. Respond to emails as soon as possible, even if to say you will get back to someone later. Then get back to them. That applies to employees, clients, customers, suppliers and even people who are just friends. Responsiveness shows you care.
Don’t be late or fail to keep appointments. Being on time and not missing appointments shows respect for the other person. One more thing: Constant rescheduling at your end because of one crisis or higher priority after another tells the other person they aren’t necessary. That makes you less likable.
- Be thoughtful. Bringing a coffee to a friend in the morning or cleaning up the mess in the company kitchen created by other people is nice. Buying a Christmas present for someone you don’t need to is nice. Remembering birthdays or employment anniversaries is nice. All of these things show you can be thoughtful.
- Do extra. This is crucial when it comes to clients and customers. If someone is unhappy with their meal, give it to them for free. Wash their car when someone spends $1,000 at your repair shop. Do the extra research you didn’t have to do as a part of that consulting project. Sew the button on the shirt that needs it on a shirt brought to you for cleaning. Wash the windows at the end of the exterior paint job you just did on someone’s house. Throw in the extra ranch dressing at no charge with the large pizza to go. These things make people like you.
- Pay your bills promptly. Nothing makes suppliers and service providers like you more than a prompt payment. No one likes having to chase people down who owe them money. The quicker you pay, the better service you will get because those people will like you.
- Make an effort to stay in touch. Be the one who calls someone you haven’t talked to in some time. Be the one who initiates the contact when the other person is silent. Send the holiday card even if they don’t send one to you. Be a good friend by showing you care even if the other person isn’t reciprocating.
You could do other things to make people like you, but doing these things will be a good start. And if you worry it’s too late, it never is. Start now and win some of those people back. Your success in business — and life — depends on it.
Mark Zweig is the founder of two Fayetteville-based Inc. 500/5000 companies. He is also an executive in-residence teaching entrepreneurship in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. The opinions expressed are those of the author.