Likeability is a skill and it can be learned. It begins by realizing that each day as you interact with others, you are presenting yourself in either a positive or negative frame. The hundreds of presentations you make every day are either attracting people to you and strengthening relationships, or repelling people from you, and thereby weakening essential connections. In fact, your entire life has been and will be a series of presentations.
This understanding that your likeability is directly linked to your self-presentations is vitally important because when you strip away the complexities and layers that surround happiness, success or significance, at the core you find healthy relationships, all of which begin and are maintained by attractive self-presentations. This is as true for professional fulfillment as it is for personal success. Studies confirm that the #1 predictor of job satisfaction and team success is how the members feel about one another. Presenting a magnetic version of yourself to others is vital to sustaining, not just healthy relationships, but a healthy mindset and overall well-being.
Although you do not have to be a bff with your coworkers, taking responsibility for healthy relationships is vital for morale, unity, fulfillment and sustained success. In fact, those who take ownership for building relationships become the heart and soul of the organization, regardless of title or position. Allow me to be clear that taking responsibility for building relationships and presenting an attractive version of yourself do not mean being disingenuous or never letting your hair down. In fact, authenticity is one of the most highly attractive traits. Self-presentations require authenticity AND intentionality. As you plug into each day with responsibilities, leisure and interactions, be self-aware enough to know that your energy and body language leave people wanting to partner with you or part from you.
The list below is not an exhaustive list of traits and behaviors that are responsible for making great self-presentations, but I think it does contain the most salient.
1. Body Talk. You have at one time or another had the experience of walking into a room and feeling a cold, tense vibe, even though no words were spoken. You knew right away something was off. Instantly and helplessly, you too became stressed and uncomfortable. On other occasions, you may have entered a room and felt a warm, enthusiastic feeling that was contagious enough to lift your spirits. This is the power of energy. Within 10 -20 feet of you, people feel your energy. People enjoy being around people who give off good energy.
The #1 error most make in not generating attractive energy is they rely on external circumstances to make them feel great. Then, through little or no action of their own, they inherit the good feelings. But what if you realized you can generate any kind of energy at any given time, if you try? What if prior to entering a room or group, you decided on an appropriate and attractive energy you wanted to exude and then produced that specific energy? Such personal mastery places you in control of your own emotional state.
Note these few pointers that will assist you in generating good energy: Since the mind and the body influence each other, what you are thinking about at any given moment affects your breathing, facial expressions and feelings. A life mastery breakthrough occurs when you referee your thoughts so that you can change a feeling by changing a thought. Once your feelings are relaxed, your energy automatically becomes brighter and more appealing. Also remember to check your smile (using your eyes), straighten your posture, relax your brow, uncross your arms, make soft eye contact (not in a creepy sort of way), speak slowly and clearly and avoid walking hurriedly. Gain control of this skill by checking yourself at various points throughout the day and ask yourself if someone snapped a photo of me right now, what message would I be portraying. Since you are always looking outward, it is difficult to “hear” your own body language. Ask a confident or trusted co-worker about your body language.
2. Birds of a Feather. As humans, we like, trust and want to spend time with people who are similar to us. The key problem here is that we all possess a negativity bias and often first notice people’s glaring dissimilarities from us and their weaknesses. Once we have engraved on our mental billboards a negative image of the person, we treat them accordingly and without intention, give them some negative vibes. To take responsibility for relationship building, train yourself to see the best in people. How you view them … the first three qualities about them that pop in your mind … determines how you will treat them. But, as Wayne Dyer once said, “ When you change the way you look at people ( things) the people( things) you look at change.” With some practice and intentionality, you can train yourself to focus on people’s strengths and favorable traits. This does not mean you accept their undesirable ways, but rather it permits you to focus on what will produce the best self-presentation to this person. This is extremely important to those within your inner circle, directly contributing to your immediate and long-term success and happiness.
3. PEP. Humanity craves appreciation as our emotional bellies rumble with hunger pangs of discouragement. Those who cross your path today, have a life narrative running at full speed. They do not show up in your presence with a neutral state of mind. Their emotional soup is already brewing from past and ongoing struggles. Many will be tired and defeated from being told or having convinced themselves they are a failure, have underachieved, messed up and are less than anyone else. Singlehandedly, encouragement can re-energize a weary spirit and transform a working culture, while at the same time allowing you to offer a magnetic self-presentation. You have the potential to not just be the best part of someone’s day, but to be a world class encourager and make a positive difference. A sure fire way to do this is to learn to enrich conversations with positivity, seek out opportunities to sincerely encourage and praise those around you. ( This is what I refer to as a PEP interaction – P = Praise; E = Encouragement and P = Positivity) Praise, recognition and validation are currencies that invest in healthy relationships and powerful self-presentations. They become fuel for performance and are foundational for thriving relationships.
4. All For One & One For All. If you have ever been the last kid chosen at the school yard pick, the only person going to a prom without a date or the single employee not invited to the staff social, you can relate to the lonely, empty feeling of exclusion. Feeling excluded comes in more subtle but equally hurtful, flavors. When a person fails to ask you to weigh in on a topic around the lunch room table, forgets to acknowledge your personal achievement, fails to make eye contact with you in a group conversation, leaves you in the dark about a briefing, does not inform you of a potential opportunity or doesn’t respond to your question, not only does he make an awful self-presentation, but the team chemistry is instantly soured. To make a positive impact through a self-presentation be ever cautious not to exclude anyone from a group. Many times the exclusion is not intentional but this does not mean it isn’t damaging. Great self-presenters consider everyone, not just a chosen few.
5. Be Emotionally Present. We are all aware of the importance of authentic actions in relationship health but often overlook the value and importance of conversations. Dialogue between two people is more than an exchange of words. It ignites and fuels feelings that attract or repel us from the speaker or listener. Although we leave a conversation with a message or idea, more importantly, we take away a feeling. Feelings serve to strengthen or weaken the relationship because it signals the emotional component of us that concludes something about the person. The best conversationalists are great listeners. They listen for feelings behind the spoken words and listen to understand first before replying. They never steal the conversation by deflecting to their own story and are masters at encouraging, validating and recognizing. If you want to assess a relationship, assess the nature of the conversations. If you want to present yourself positively, master the art of listening. The best gift you can give another is to be fully present in all conversations. Put away the phone, make eye contact, listen for feelings, seek to understand rather than judge or counsel and above all, realize the person’s value, even when their opinion or viewpoint differs from yours.
Every interaction is more than a transaction. It is an opportunity to be a positive part of someone’s day and strengthen the relationship. Steve Covey reminded us that relationships are like bank accounts and daily we invest in or withdraw from them. This realization, along with an understanding that success, happiness and even health are directly connected to relationships, alert us to treat each interaction with intentionality. Each conversation and interaction ignite feelings in the other. Words, body language and communicative style determine that feeling. Let’s resolve to be more likeable – to strengthen our relationships by sincerely encouraging validating, recognizing and appreciating. Invest in yourself and invest in relationships through powerful self-presentations.