Do people like you?

A number of years ago our family took ownership of a business after a family member who owned it passed away. Several months passed and we were asked to bid on a job for a business. My salesman came back to the office to tell me the sales manager of that company said we would not get the job no matter what we bid. It seemed that our family member had promised him that our company would do business with him the next time we needed a product they sold. I was not away of that and had purchased the product from a competitor of this other organization.

The situation frustrated me so I wrote a letter to the salesman and to the owner of the business. I explained that I was unaware of the promises my relative might have made to others and suggested that it might have been good if the sales manager had come to my office after I assumed ownership and talked with me about that previous commitment. A few days later I received a phone call from the owner of the business who asked if he could come over. He did and apologized for what his sales manager had said and assured me the sales manager would call me within the next couple of days to apologize too. The owner said he had told his sales manager more than once that people do business with people they like. The next day the sales manager did apologize, and from that time I purchased the products they sold when I needed new ones.

A Harvard study found that only 15 percent of the reason that people advance in their job is related to their skills and knowledge. The other 85 percent had to do with people skills. People do like to do business with people they like, and those are the people who will do well in their careers.

When I hired employees I looked first for people who had relational skills. Secondly, I looked at their skill levels. You can teach skills, but it’s much harder to teach personality. I wanted to hire people I felt comfortable with because I assumed our customers would probably feel comfortable with them as well.

Sometimes people complain that they work as hard as anyone else in the company but never seem to get ahead. Such people often complain about the “politics” of the company. It may be the reason that people struggle to get ahead is because they are not well liked by their team members and supervisors. Yes, they may do their jobs, but if people do not enjoy working with them it will be hard for them to advance.

There is a reason that the media is focusing on the likability index of the people running for President. People with a poor likability index will find it more difficult to get elected. They may be more qualified for the office and may have the best ideas for how to lead this country forward, but if people don’t like them they won’t vote for them. If they aren’t elected it really doesn’t matter how great their ideas are.

Our likability index is also important for our own success in whatever field we are in. If people like us, they will follow us. If they don’t like us or feel they can’t trust us, they will never follow us. Do people like you?

If you want to learn more about the importance of being liked and to learn about more soft skills that will help you succeed I would recommend reading Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success by Dan Schawbel. I found it to be an excellent read.

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