The Likeability Factor

The Likeability Factor is a book about gut instincts. Author Tim Sanders uses the first half of his simple, yet engaging book to examine the impact of “likeability” (how well you are liked by those around you) on our day to day lives. Through an interesting and diverse set of examples, Sanders systematically shows how being well received by those around you can create a higher level of success in your family life, social life, and even in the workplace. After showing the value of having a high likeability factor (or L-factor, as he refers to it), Sanders uses the second half of the book to instruct. In its naked form, the second half of the book is a practical “how-to” guide for any of us who would like to learn how to make a more positive impact on those around us.

Refreshing. That’s the one word I would use to describe Tim Sanders’ book The Likeability Factor. In the simplest explanation I can offer, it’s just different. As Sanders himself states, there are “books on how to make two people like you in sixty seconds, or how to make sixty people like you in two seconds“, (p. 20) but there are few, if any, like this.

One part philosophy, one part social commentary with a healthy dose of practical exercises and suggestions, Sanders’ book systematically breaks down the mystery behind ‘likeability’, teaching his readers the power it can have in their lives, if maximized to its fullest potential. Unlike many books on the subject of “winning friends”, Sanders does not offer a list of ‘quick fixes’ or little tricks to increase popularity, but focuses instead on four core arenas in which to grow and develop.

Friendliness (1) is the easiest to exude, but also completely necessary before people will stop to wonder whether you will be of benefit to their life (relevance – 2). Empathy (3) is a determinant in raising your L-factor as well. What do you do when someone is discussing a problem or dilemma with you? Do you try to understand their position, or are you simply waiting for your turn to speak?

Ultimately though, a truly high L-factor is determined by realness (4). How genuine do people around you think you to be? One of the popular misconceptions about likeability is that it has something to do with popularity. True, popular people are usually highly likeable as well, but you don’t need to be popular to be liked. You do need to be real.

“Are you real? This is the fourth question someone may ask about you after determining whether you’re friendly, relevant, and empathetic. It will also be the fourteenth question they ask, as well as the fortieth and the four hundredth, because it will be a nagging, recurring theme in all your relationships.”

The Likeability Factor, page 190

The Big Idea

Be Real.

Sanders’ take on what he terms “realness” is that no matter how friendly, relevant or empathic you are, you’re never going to experience a high L-factor unless you’re real. Real meaning – genuine. Real meaning – honest. Real meaning friendly not because you feel you should be, but because you want to be. Find a reason to be friendly! What if every person you met had the solution for a problem you’d been having? What if you could solve a problem for them, and make their day? Is that enough to coax a smile? If the person you want to increase your L-factor with has a particular hobby, don’t pretend to be interested in it for the sake of relevance. Instead make the effort to find a common interest, or to gain a better understanding of why they may be excited about that particular subject. In short, roll up your sleeves and jump into that relationship.

Insight #1

Be There

“Where ever you are, be there.”

Lee Stang

First step to being real? Be really present. As Sanders states, “the internet blurs those key social boundaries that once organized our physical spaces – intermingling work and home, learning and play, producing and consuming.” (page 45) As a result we can easily find ourselves in a permanent state of flux – thinking about one thing, while doing another. Worse yet, thinking about one thing while having a conversation about another. How engaged can you be if your mind is in two places at once? Make the commitment – be present.

Insight #2

Face Time

“.. Dr. Mehrabian concluded that 55 percent of the like/dislike cues people give are visual, mostly facial. Thirty-eight percent of the cues are transmitted via tone of voice. And the remaining 7 percent are verbal (the actual words used).”

The Likeability Factor, page 148

Get in front of people. Think about it – if 93% of likeability is based on physical cues and tone of voice, e–mail, instant messaging and faxes aren’t going to get the job done. Phone is better than e-mail, but face to face beats both. Apply the concept to your own life – think of the people you mostly communicate with through the internet and try to give them a call this week. And for those you discuss matters with over the phone, try to get together for a lunch. Once you get there, focus on being there, and ask interested questions about their life. You’ll be amazed how warm a response you’ll receive.

The Likeability Factor is as much a ‘how to’ book as it is an example of its own teachings. As Sanders says, likeability comes down to friendliness, relevance, empathy and realness. As open and easy to read as the book is, it also focuses on the here and now, life in the 21st century, and the unprecedented social norms and anomalies that we face. With a healthy level of candor, Sanders educates as he instructs, and you can tell the book was written with a great deal of enthusiasm and belief. Because this is the type of book you’ll want to reference again and again, I recommend adding a copy to your collection today.

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Chris Taylor

ABOUT Chris Taylor

Founder of Actionable Books, Chris Taylor is a writer, entrepreneur and speaker. He spends his daylight hours helping consultants and employees alike find meaning in their work and discover rich team relationships through his company, Actionablebooks...
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