[December 29, 2019] Ending the year on a “more likable” article is not what I had in mind this morning when I sat down at my computer. Last night, I was watching an old episode of Seinfeld, the one about the character George Costanza faked being disabled to get a job.1 For fans of Seinfeld, George is not a likable person.
Likability is helpful for success in life. For example, psychologists have noted that likable children are well adjusted and exhibit low-risk behaviors over time. These studies are a powerful lesson for those of us who wish to improve upon our leadership skills. Learning to be more likable – as opposed to popular – will allow our journey to leadership to be easier.2
Self-help books are full of suggestions on how to be more likable. Some tell us to have a positive attitude, be confident, have empathy, be honest, and always have something interesting to say. Others say that it’s essential to be respectful and polite, be gently honest, listen carefully, make people laugh, and always remember to smile.
Before we go on, the question “Why should we even bother improving ourselves?” must be answered. I believe the answer is that we should improve ourselves and be more likable so that we don’t have to suffer unnecessarily or bring suffering upon others who are important to us. Likability helps prevent such occurrences. But how do we do that?
- Fix things that need fixing. Look around for something that is broken and take action to fix it. Make things better. Start things where you can start. Create a little more order. Fixing things involves the trivial as well as important things in life.
- Have some humility. Recognize that you are not that important, that you cannot be everything for everybody, and that you can only work within your domain of competence.
- Be genuine about your goals. Do not lie to yourself (or to others). Tell the truth about what you want to do and then go about conducting yourself in such a way that fulfills your goals. Remember that you “see” what you aim at. This means that your goal(s) must be arrived at thoughtfully and with deliberation.
- Recognize your potential malevolence. You are prone to evil deeds and thoughts. We all are. Be aware that this part of you and that evil can surface and destroy relationships and your goals.
There are more, of course, but I think this is a good start. When you do these things I’ve listed, people will gravitate to you. They will be attracted to you as a person who is worthy of friendship and relationships. These are ways to be more likable.
- See it on this YouTube video, 32 seconds – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g_xmQhe-Fg