Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Likeability Factor

It’s a well-known effect and it happens everywhere, regularly. You surround yourself with those you like. Coming off the biggest election in history, political pundits everywhere were talking about the “likeability factor.” In fact, you may have heard in the New Hampshire primary debate, when Senator Clinton was asked, “What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire who…are hesitating on the likeability issue?” Rather than furthering a discussion on health care, the economy or the war in Iraq, the moderator chose to ask a question about likeability. Why?

According to Gallup’s “Personality Factor Poll,” it turns out that, in politics, the single best determination of electability is likeability (and height – but that is for another post entirely). Not knowledge, not experience, not the candidate’s position on a specific issue – likeability. The likeability factor is a topic that could and should be paralleled to the everyday world. If you are willing to elect the leader of a country based on whether you like them (or not), shouldn’t working for, with and around people you like, be equally as important. Many CEOs and senior management should be grateful they are not elected by their constituents as many would likely end up with Kerry or McCain, at the bottom on the likeability heap.

When a new client recently hired us to help them improve their communication style in the real estate world, the conversation quickly turned to likeability. In their words ‘our business is about being likeable. You get business because decision makers choose to work with those they like and people refer business to those they like.’

In simple terms, if you visit a restaurant and eat food you don’t like, do you return again? Likely – no. You’ll just eat dinner at the restaurant down the street and look for a better dining experience. Not surprisingly, research reveals that people respond positively to those they like. Some studies suggest that in more than 80% of buying situations, an individual’s likeability was responsible for the decision-maker’s determination of who earns their business.

Those who are likeable regularly smile, laugh, show authentic concern for others and utilize eye contact to help convey their message and research says they are rewarded for their efforts. Likeable people are more successful, get elected, promoted or rewarded more often, make more money and get better service from all service providers.

I want to hear from you. What is your most important factor when selecting your hairdresser, your doctor or your babysitter – the person’s likeability or their knowledge? Would you ever go to a hairdresser/barber or doctor if you didn’t like them? Have you ever hired someone you didn’t like? If so, what drove you to work with them rather than hiring someone equally qualified?

Kristin Fitzgerald has been a part of the communication consulting team at ZMF since 1999. In her ten years with ZMF, Kristin has worked in both the research and multimedia departments to provide persuasive techniques to improve communication. Kristin has worked closely with clients on the development of intranets, newsletters design and to provide flexible communication solutions oriented to their audience.

No comments: