Decades of research prove that people choose who they like. They buy from them, vote for them, and promote them. Not only do people choose who they like, but being likeable gives us several additional advantages in the workplace. Being likeable helps us accomplish things through people, resolve conflicts with grace, get promoted faster and be seen more positively among colleagues and clients.
In the digital age, where much of our communication is over email and text, you can significantly improve your likeability factor and standout by focusing on 3 key elements: Bringing back the art of handwritten notes, putting your smartphone away when talking to colleagues and ditching email when it comes to delivering bad news.
Get in the habit of sending out handwritten thank you cards
Every Friday afternoon I sit down and I handwrite 3 thank you notes. I thank clients, colleagues, vendors and anyone I feel gratitude towards. I write the thank you notes by hand because in the digital world, the art of handwritten notes is all but forgotten and I know my handwritten notes stand out.
Commit to writing handwritten notes to 3 people this week. Take the time to write out a heartfelt thank you. You’ll make someone’s day and you’ll position yourself has highly likeable and memorable. Then, consider this as a weekly practice.
Put your devices away and focus squarely on the other person
It’s very common to see people check their smartphones several times during business meetings and even take calls or send texts. It’s the world we live in today. When I’m delivering a keynote, my cellphone is on Airplane Mode. I don’t want any vibrations or alerts during a keynote for any reason. My attention is fiercely focused on my audience, as it should be. When you’re meeting one on one with an employee or coworker, or having lunch with a colleague, consider putting your phone on silent or, even better, put your phone away. Focus your attention completely on the other person. When you remove the distraction of your phone and choose to squarely face the other person, make eye contact and truly listen, you’ll send a powerful message that will result in a stronger business relationship.
Don’t Use Email to Give Bad News
Tim Sanders, best-selling author and former Yahoo! Executive, said in a keynote address: “At Yahoo!, I always told my folks, ‘Email is for saying yes and for exchanging information. If you want to say no, criticize or get into an emotionally charged issue, pick up the phone or do it in person’. Email fails to communicate your intentions, so it usually looks pretty insensitive.”
Certainly, it’s going to make more time and effort on your part to pick up the phone and call a customer or colleague to communicate bad news, but you really need to take the sacrifice. Speaking to employees and clients by phone in the wake of problems gives you the opportunity to establish rapport, re-build trust, offer alternatives, or to offer a sincere and unreserved apology. Email communication is so vulnerable to miscommunication. Make life easier and be perceived as friendlier by picking up the phone when you need to deliver bad news.
Make the effort to make personal connections with people through handwritten notes, putting your devices away and not relying on email for sensitive communication. When you do, you’ll strengthen work relationships and increase your likeability factor.
Tim Sanders, keynote address, “The Likeability Factor,” Society of Consumer Affairs Annual Conference, Miami Beach Hotel, Miami, FL, October 13, 2003.