07 September 2008|
Being likeable isn’t required in order to achieve the position or job of your dreams, but it helps. When other people are on your side providing you with encouragement, helpful tips, and even free resources, it can greatly increase the chances of success in your chosen field and in life. Many times, it is not what you know but who you know.
While the listing below may seem to be cursory and easy to implement, they are not. It is difficult to make real and permanent changes in your personality. The process of becoming an exceptionally likeable individual takes years. Do not let that intimidate you, however. Remember: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Likeability, like drawing, writing or golf, is something which must be practiced.
1. Be positive.
The single most common problem facing individuals who want to become more popular/successful/likeable is their own attitude. Attitude is everything. Attitude is the reason why you aren’t as popular now as you want to be. More specifically, it is a negative attitude which can poison your relationships with your coworkers, and indeed the world. Developing a more positive attitude does not mean ignoring hardships or failures. It is simply reframing those difficulties and negative emotions to healthier positive ones. The old cliche, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," has been around for a while because it is exactly the winning attitude which people are attracted to, and it is exactly the attitude which brings rewards.
Why do you complain? Why do you have pet-peeves? What is the point of harboring all of these negative emotions? Be big enough to let them go. Use your rational mind and refuse to be overcome by these negative emotions. My pet peeve used to be people who had poor pronunciation. Like 'nuclular' instead of 'nuclear' or 'basttitized' instead of 'bastardized'. However, I realized that it really didn't matter how the person pronounces the word as long as I can understand the point they are making. I can fix their errors mentally. I know now that even I, yes even the great I, is prone to mispronounce a word once in a while as well. Instead of highlighting failures and differences try to build commonalities and connect with your peers.
"Don't be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid." - John Keats
2. Control your insecurities.
Insecurities oftentimes come leaping out of a person's brain and mouth so quickly that the speaker has no idea what words he just blurted out. People that always have to be correct are insecure. People that constantly saying "just kidding!" after every single joke are insecure. People that respond to a joke at their expense with anger or insult are insecure. Insecurity beguiles confidence and weakens your Self. Becoming a better individual means accepting your Self, and not hiding it under the veil of insults, "just kiddings", or factoids.
Either you accept mediocrity about your personality completely and without shame, or you change it. Period. If you're fat, either go on a strict diet and exercise regime or accept it and even be willing to poke fun at yourself. If you have a high voice, buy some tapes to help you improve your tone or be willing to not only accept but love your squeaky vocals. Display your faults for all the world to see - mistakes are unifying characteristics which all humans can empathize with. Not only is perfection limiting, it's boring as well. The mark of a mistake-free life is one which has not been fulfilled.
"The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything." - Theodore Roosevelt
3. Provide value.
The only thing worse than an insecure person is one who is so completely and utterly shutdown from the world that they refuse to display any personality at all. If you work in an IT company like I do, you know exactly what I mean. There are developers there who display exceptional intellect and foresight on their projects but when it comes to simple human interaction they lack the social graces (or *gasp*, bravery) to wish you a good morning. In order to be around people with value you must be able to convey value. There is no alternative. If you are humorless, read books on comedy writing; if you are boring, go out and do something adventurous. Experience life and share your findings with your coworkers.
Have you ever noticed that successful people often flock together? I have heard countless stories of brilliant scientists or businessmen who were close friends with other successful individuals before they gained their notoriety. In parallel, have you noticed that drug addicts and criminals often associate with each other? This isn't coincidence. You are the sum of all of your friends and close associates. Choose your friends with care, just because you grew up with someone does not mean you are forced to be their friend for the rest of your life. Start surrounding yourself with people of value and it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
"The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be... Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others." - Wilfred Peterson
4. Eliminate all judgments.
Judgmental people are usually easy to spot because they are the ones eating alone in the lunch room. They think of themselves as 'too [flattering adjective]' to have lunch with those guys in shipping and 'too [unflattering adjective]' to eat with the guys in IT. No one is above you and no one is below you. We are all mammals - humans, more distinctly - just trying to get by the best way we know how. Do not believe for a second that there are unwritten 'leagues' or 'classes' which people must adhere to. All of these boundaries are artificial, put in place by people who are in desperate need for justifications of their own failures. No judgments means treating everyone with the respect you would give to a 120-year-old man and the understanding you would give toward your seven-year-old cousin.
"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster. Your life will never be the same again." - Og Mandino
5. Become a person of conviction.
In order to gain respect you must start respecting yourself first. You must set boundaries on behavior and let people know that you are not a pushover. Make no mistake, people will test you in order to find out exactly where your boundaries are. This means saying 'no' to disrespect and letting the offending party know that he or she crossed the line with their comment and you did not appreciate it. People will respect you more when they realize that you are not someone who is malleable or valueless.
Set your own personal unbreakable code of ethics. Make it as rigid as your morals will allow. When you are faced with an ethical dilemma, reference this code. If no precedent exists, create one. Let it be your ever-expanded guide which will provide you stability in an otherwise chaotic world. If your boss requests you to do something that is in incongruence with your core values, simply refuse and explain your reasoning. You may be surprised how understanding they might be.
"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." - Mahatma Gandhi