Likability Research
Learn what you can do to be much more likable

by Jeff Haden / © 2020, Mansueto Ventures, LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


When I worked on the manufacturing shop floor, we rarely saw [plant managers].

  Except for one. He often walked through the plant. He checked out product quality. He stopped for a brief word—usually no more than a “hello.” He wasn’t outgoing. He didn’t display any of the traits typically associated with [a] “leader.” Yet we liked him.

  Where leadership is concerned, respect and authority are all-important. But likability is crucial to building and maintaining great relationships. Likability is crucial in influencing the people around you. Likability is crucial in helping people feel better about themselves.

  If those reasons aren’t sufficient: Likable people [also] tend to be more successful in sales, more able to enlist the help of others, more likely to get hired and promoted.

  Likability is a huge driver of success.

  That’s great for extroverted, outgoing or naturally gregarious people. But [what] if you tend to be uncomfortable initiating conversations, mingling with unfamiliar people and sparking new connections and friendships?

  [Well], research shows a major factor in likability is [just] frequent, consistent presence.


The power of showing up

  In [a] 1992 University of Pittsburgh study, researchers had the same four women attend a number of different classes. Their attendance varied: In some cases, one woman might attend every class; in others, a different woman might attend only a few. What didn’t vary was their behavior. None of the women spoke in class or spoke to other students.

  At the end of the semester, students were shown pictures of the women and asked which one they liked best. Who “won”?

  Women who attended the highest number of each respondent’s classes. The women who only attended a few classes? They were seen as least likable.

  According to the researchers, “Mere exposure had weak effects on familiarity, but strong effects on attraction and similarity.” Or in non-researcher-speak: If I see you frequently, I instinctively like you more.

  That’s the power of showing up.


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