Have you ever wondered why some people are so darn likable?
You know the type . . . you are at a party meeting new people, everyone is a little uptight, and along comes someone who you immediately relate to, who makes you and others relax, who you walk away and later say to your husband/wife/date . . . “I really liked that Bob. He was really nice.”
What’s going on here? It could obviously be very helpful to us as salespeople to understand as much as we can about this phenomenon. So let’s see what makes someone so likable.
Likeable People Diffuse Competitive Situations
These kinds of people usually do a very good job of diffusing what can potentially be a competitive situation. Human beings are built for defense and when we meet new people our guard is up. But these folks send out signals that they are not competing . . . they are happy, confident and much more interested in generating good feelings than stirring competitive vibes.
How Do They Do That?
They usually do not start by asking personal questions too soon nor do they start off by talking about their stature or accomplishments. If anything, they pick a story that is self-deprecating and funny.
“We are so late . . . we had to drop all the kids off . . . I swear they dictate our whole schedule. I might as well buy a limousine and a chauffeur’s cap.”
Now, the inevitable response will be, “It’s exactly that way in our house.”
Do You See What’s Happening Here?
Instead of the usual, potentially competitive exchange (“What do you do?”/ “Where do you live?”), you and your likable new friend are starting off on a much less personal and more collaborative exchange. The other stuff will soon follow, but that’s ok because you already like this guy . . . no matter what his stature, he is a normal person JUST LIKE YOU.”
That is why we like character actors like Tom Hanks. Make no mistake about it, he is hugely talented and carries a movie better than most so called leading men. But the leading men are icons . . . Hanks is kind of like us . . . he is not perfect, he laughs at himself, he seems happy and approachable. As salespeople, these are some great attributes. Being likable is about being non-threatening, a bit self-deprecating and human. Yes, we have supreme confidence in our products and services, when the time comes to talk about them, but it is so much easier if our prospects and customers happen to like us first.