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By Sandy Dumont
The Image Architect

We are hardwired from birth to want to be liked. And why not? It makes us feel good, because we like ourselves better when we think other people like us. When we are rejected or dismissed by another person, we often think something is wrong with us. According to the experts, it is difficult or unlikable people who are most often dismissed or ignored.  

When you are likeable, you are praised. You are acknowledged. And you are likely to feel very good about yourself. According to Professor Mark Leary at Wake Forest University, likeable people have been shown to enjoy higher self esteem. He says that the attributes on which people's self esteem are based are precisely the characteristics that determine the degree to which they are accepted and liked by others.

William Heyman, CEO of Heyman Associates, a leading executive search firm, spent three years measuring the essence of leadership against personality. He states that a leader's success is measured in part by how well he or she gets along with others. He determined that likeability was a key factor to leadership success.

Likeability helps create what is known as a positive feedback loop. The positive feelings you in evoke in other people are returned to you, resulting in constant encouragement. This makes for less stress and strain in life. An indirect result is better health for people who are likeable.  

Likeability brings greater success for managers, because employees look much harder for solutions and don't need to be micromanaged because they want to see the manager succeed. Likeable bosses inspire employees, and this results in greater productivity on the part of employees. Indeed, Fortune magazines studies found that organizations with positive employee relationships have 15 to 25% more productivity.  

Likeability is hardwired to the human survival instinct. Since our cave days, we have needed to tell whether another person was friend or foe, because sometimes it meant the difference between life and death. And we were more likely to do battle for a likeable caveman than an unlikable one.  

Likeability is also a factor in getting elected to public office. Gallup's personality factor poll, conducted prior to every presidential election sincere 1960, has found that only one of three factors (issues, party affiliation and likeability) has been a consistent prognosticator of the final election result. That factor is likeability.  

If we look at the lineup of presidential candidates from both political parties, it is obvious that there are different levels of likeability. In the political arena, likeability and charisma may go hand in hand. Some candidates are liked more because their belief systems match yours, while other candidates are favored simply because they are more charismatic than others. When the final two candidates are at long last chosen, my 30 years experience suggests that the candidate with the most charisma will win.

There are a number of things that cause people to like us:

•They dress in a similar manner. You are not as likely to sign a petition when the person asking you is dressed in a manner that is highly dissimilar to your way of dressing.
•They are physically attractive. Social psychologists have shown that attractive people are judged to be kinder and more honest.
•They have a pleasant voice. Claims made in the "smile voice" are highly effective and believed.
•You share mutual interests – the same hobby or political beliefs, for example.
•They tell you that they like you – directly or indirectly. We have all heard that we buy from people we like; but the other side of the coin is that we buy from people who like us. Indirect ways of telling people we like them is by being smiling and friendly. Behaving as if we are too busy or too important to acknowledge another person is the fastest way to be categorized as unlikable.
•Familiarity – the more we have encountered a person or even a person's name, the more comfortable we feel with him or her. That is why networking is a process that must be done over time. "Rape and pillage" networking rarely works. Familiarity is particularly vital in improving race relations, and research has shown that race relations improve when there is more exposure to each other as equals; team-oriented learning, for example, where everyone is working toward a common goal.
•Likeability is increased when another person has the power to help you advance in life.
•Ideas presented while engaging in a pleasant activity are more favorably received. For example, when taking a prospective client to lunch, your proposal will be better received if given during the meal.  

Sandy Dumont is an image consultant with 30 years experience. She presents keynotes and breakout workshops throughout the country. Sandy is also the author of the 10-part electronic "Image System for Professional Women" and "Power Dressing Image System For Men" which are available on her website:


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