When it comes right down to it, whatever business you're in, you're in the people business. After all, people prefer to do business with people and companies they find likeable.
According to Rohit Bhargava, likability can even trump competence in a business situation. In his book, Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action, Rohit Bhargava (@RohitBhargava) offers up a range of research and stories about likeable business people and likeable companies -- and explains how we can all become more likeable ourselves.
Who is Bhargava? A marketing expert passionate about bringing more humanity back to business. He advises some of the world's largest global brands on communications strategy. He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Fast Company -- and spoken at TEDx
In his book Likeonomics,Bhargava focuses in on the five main principles for being a business which is highly liked -- which he lists in as easy to remember acronym called TRUST. These 5 principles are: Truth, Relevance, Unselfishness, Simplicity and Timing.
"Likability is a skill -- something we all universally can work on getting better at," Bhargava has said.
With this in mind, below is a quick summary of the main things to keep in mind within Bhargava's TRUST formula -- so you can work at increasing the important business skill of likeablility.
1. Likeability is not the same thing as niceness. Yep. The two are not interchangeable -- even though the words are commonly tossed back and forth as synonyms. However, nice people don't tell you the truth. They're afraid to hurt your feelings. Likeable people in contrast highly value telling the truth. The late Steve Jobs is a perfect example of the distinction between being likeable and being nice. Jobs was a tough-love truth-teller. Thanks to his bluntness and transparency, people trusted him -- and that ultimately led him to have a passionate following of devotees. Although Jobs wasn't "nice" per se, the people closest to him not only liked him -- they loved him. According Bhargava, trust and believability are at the foundation of being liked and at your most successful in relationships.
2. Likability is not just for extroverts. Nor is likability a personality contest. Basically, likeability is about being warm and approachable -- not outgoing and chatty. When you're warm and approachable you don't have to go up and talk non-stop to someone in a social situation. You just have to be open to the conversations you're already having -- and warm and receptive to the people you're meeting. In general, being likeable is more about being interested -- rather than interesting. Indeed, a good way to convince someone that you are an awesome conversationalist is to simply shut up and let the other person talk.
3. Likability is contagious. When you start to prioritize hiring likable people within your organization, these likable people will attract other likable people. Then once you have a company with a likeable team working together, you will create a happy, loving chemistry amongst your team -- and this happy, loving team spirit will be felt by your consumers -- which will then make your company far more likeable.
4. Likeability is about keeping things personal. Consumers today like to read personal stories -- rather than just hear regurgitated facts. They will remember a personal story spoken in a personal way far better than statistics, research studies or corporate sounding sales pitches.
5. Likeability is about being transparent. Be honest with your consumers about your company, services, product, and pricing. Remember, the internet has made it super easy for consumers to figure out the real behind the scenes story and true cost of products or services. By being transparent, you are setting the tone for wanting to engage in an open, trusting communication with consumers.
6. Likeability is about keeping things simple. If you want to be more likeable it helps if you use plain, simple language -- even conversational language - so you ensure your message is being understood. After all, in today's time scarce, hyper-busy world, consumers desperately seek ease and simplicity in their corporate messaging. They want to get what you have to say, without wondering if they understand the meaning of larger vocabulary words. If you use complicated words you will obfuscate your message. For example, I should probably not have used the clunky word "obfuscate" in that prior sentence. However, thankfully humor and transparency do make you more likeable -- and so I hope that my pointing this out in a feisty, self-deprecatory way has helped to redeem the likeability of this last paragraph!