"…here is the essential truth about meaningful connections: It’s not about you – it’s about the relationship."
Picture the people you chose to do business with; your hairstylist or your car dealer for example. Why do you choose that person over and over again? There are likely many people offering similar services at comparable quality and competitive prices. Michelle Lederman, author of The 11 Laws of Likability, believes the answer boils down to the fact that people do business with people they like.
She said that people used to ask her all the time how she was so successful getting clients and building her business. She struggled knowing exactly how to answer them until she uncovered one universal truth: likability is the key to the whole process of developing meaningful relationships.
Her book, The 11 Laws of Likability, is her attempt to answer the question of how to be successful. In it, she shows you how to uncover what is inherently likable within you. It doesn’t mean making everything all perky and bright and constantly being happy. It is about uncovering what is authentically likable – in you, in the other person and in your connection. She helps you create honest, enjoyable interactions that become “wins” for everyone involved.
"What makes each of us likable is distinct to us. But the basic drivers of likability are the same for us all."
What makes you likable is different than what makes me likable. But the basic drivers of likability, Lederman says, are the same for all of us. She calls them the 11 laws of likability and breaks them down into 3 categories. She then takes an in depth look at each of the laws and how you can enhance them both personally and professionally. As you read their brief summaries below, think about which ones you’ve mastered and which ones need more attention.
A. Before the Conversation: Get Real
1. The law of authenticity – the real you is the best you
2. The law of self-image – before others will like you, you have to like yourself
3. The law of perception – how you perceive others is your reality about them and the same is true for them of you
4. The law of energy – energy is contagious – what we project, we receive
B. The Conversation: Always Have It
1. The law of curiosity – curiosity leads to connections
2. The law of listening – others won’t understand you until they feel heard and understood
3. The law of similarity – people like people like them
4. The law of mood memory – people are more likely to remember how you made them feel than what you said
C. After the Conversation: Build a Relationship
1. The law of familiarity – people feel comfortable with who and what they know
2. The law of giving: give first – do because you can
3. The law of patience – with time, things happen
Start by being curious
"Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I can tell you it never killed a conversation."
Each law has valuable lessons. But since I must condense my learnings, I am picking just two to summarize. The law of giving, for example, is one which can transform your life. Since I have written about the virtues and hazards of giving in my summary of Give and Take, I will focus in this summary on the law of curiosity and the law of energy.
Let’s start with the law of curiosity. Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you wonder “What in the world will we talk about?” In general, people love to talk. You just need to know how to get them going. Showing genuine curiosity about a person’s job, life, interests, opinions, or needs is a great way to build a conversation and create connections. It also helps you achieve the law of giving. In order to find ways to help others, you need to know more about them and their needs. Curiosity is your path.
Another benefit of genuine curiosity is that it brings out the best in us. Things like maintaining good eye contact, appropriate head nods, interesting follow-up questions are all likable traits that are natural by-products of curiosity. Your curiosity will remove distractions and allow you to focus on connecting. Without even thinking about how to connect, your curiosity will do it for you!
Energy is contagious
"When we understand that energy is something we create, we can work on driving the energy rather than having it drive us."
Before we talk about how to improve your energy, let’s first look at what it is and why it is important. Energy is derived from your personality and your actual mood in that moment. People subconsciously read your energy through cues you give them from your body, your face, your stance, even in the way you are breathing. Some people pick up on it better than others. But the signals are there for the taking. My daughters, for example, have an uncanny ability to sense and mirror my energy.
And that leads to why it is so important that we are aware of and manage our energy. Energy is contagious. With your energy you can energize or deflate other people. You can contribute to productivity or add to confusion. It affects your ability to connect and interact with others.
To put it bluntly, with energy, like other things, you get what you give.
How often do you stop to think about what kind of energy you are projecting? Before you walk in the front door at the end of a long day, or before you enter your boss’s office or your client’s office, it is worth your effort to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Where is my energy?
2. Where is the other person’s energy?
3. What energy knowledge do I have about me and about the energy expectations that exist between me and the other person?
Instead of settling on just getting what you get from the person, choreograph it a bit by altering your energy state. You will be amazed at how that energy comes back. As a professional speaker I am very aware that my audience’s energy will never rise above mine; raise my energy and they magically mirror it!
Caveat: Don’t worry. Projecting positive energy does not mean you have to carry Pom Pom’s around! No cheerleading is required! Authentic positive energy is far more likable than trying to be the peppiest in the room.
When you meet a new person, do you ever catch yourself thinking “What good would this connection be for me?” Building successful relationships starts with abandoning this conventional me-based thought. (Admit it, that’s how most people operate.) Instead of “What can this person do for me?”, reverse your thinking and ask “What can I do for this person?”
Being likable is not just a ‘nice to have’ trait, it is an approach to your life and your business relationships. Practicing the laws will help you create meaningful connections that strengthen relationships, improve your self-awareness, productivity and ultimately your results.
Think about where you are in your career and life right now. Which law(s) will be most impactful to your relationships? Choose just one and work on incorporating it into your interactions with others. Once it becomes something you do without thinking about it, choose another one. Apply the laws with authenticity and openness and watch how your relationships change. And remember, people do business with people they like.