Why Being Likable At Work Matters

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Product Minting

Who would you like on your team or choose to work with—someone who’s highly competent but unpleasant and difficult to work with or someone with decent skills but an amazing attitude?

Likability changes everything. When you’re likable, others will do anything for you. When you’re not, they turn their back on you.

Likability also plays a crucial role in your success at work. Because after all, everyone likes to work with people they like. Competence, knowledge and skills are important to get the right opportunities and additional responsibilities at work, but those things alike, likability gives people an additional reason to choose you over others.

When you’re likable:

  1. You’re most likely to get the help you need.
  2. Others find you relatable which makes you easy to work with.
  3. Better opportunities land your way.
  4. You end up making some long lasting work relationships.

Many people confuse likability with popularity, bias and favoritism. They’re not the same. Likability is not people pleasing or going out of your way to charm others. It isn’t about refusing to take a stand or avoiding actions that might upset others. Likability is difficult to define, but you know what it feels when you actually like someone.

Here’s everything I have learned about likability that helped me connect with people and do some incredible things together:

Don’t be fake

When you meet someone for the first time, do you try very hard to impress them? You may say and do things that make you appear easy going, agreeable and charming to win them over.

But faking who you are or what you believe just to be liked never really works. Others can see when you’re genuine and when you’re just putting on a show.

It’s natural to want to be liked. But faking it is not the way. Hiding your true emotions and feelings and pretending to be someone you’re not often backfires. The more you try to charm others, the more they resist you.

You can make a good impression on others by being authentic. Being authentic requires expressing who you are and what you stand for. It requires behaving in a way that feels natural and comfortable. When what you say verbally matches how it shows up in your body language, others find it easy to trust you. And trust is the first most crucial element of likability.

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist says that when we meet someone new, we quickly answer two questions:

  • Can I trust this person?
  • Can I respect this person?

This is important according to Amy because “Occasionally we see people as incompetent and cold—foolish jerks—or as warm and competent—lovable stars. The latter is the golden quadrant, because receiving trust and respect from other people allows you to interact well and get things done.”

To be more likable, instead of faking it, just be yourself. Spread positive vibes and positivity will come back to you.

When we come from an authentic, genuine place in ourselves, our efforts to connect with people work to their fullest. Our relationships develop more easily and last longer, and we feel better about the people.

— Michelle Tillis Lederman

Instill a sense of belonging and connection

When you talk to others, how much of the conversation is about you, what you want and how much is it about others? Do you take the opportunity to get to know them or to tell amazing things about you with the assumption that knowing wonderful things about you will make you more likable?

Talking about yourself makes you feel good but it puts other people off. They listen to you for a while and then check out from the conversation. You need to get their attention and engage them. You need to make them feel good.

How can you do it?

By simply asking questions that get the other person talking. Don’t engage in superficial chit chat. Show genuine curiosity to ask something meaningful and important about their life. Make the conversation about them, not you. When you ask questions that invites them to share about their life, experience, or anything else that might be meaningful to them, it instantly creates a connection.

Research shows that when people talk about themselves, it triggers the same pleasure sensation in their brain as money or food which leaves a warm and fuzzy feeling, draws people to you and makes you more likable.

Bringing up happy memories also improves people’s mood. They start associating these positive feelings with you which subconsciously makes them want to spend more time around you.

To be more likable, show an interest in getting to know others—discover shared goals, interests or other activities that can spark a deeper conversation.

Acknowledge the importance of what they're saying. This means that what is important to them has an emotional impact on you. Remember, people are always looking to be acknowledged, appreciated and respected.

— Patrick King

Be present

How often do you check your smartphone when you’re around others?

If you ask people, they’ll say I don’t and yet they do it every few minutes. Being distracted has become such a habit that most people don’t even realize it.

This is the biggest challenge of being present. When you’re constantly distracted by your watch, phone or other things in your environment, you fail to pay attention to the person in front of you. You appear physically present, but mentally checked out.

Others can’t like you when you’re lost. To be likable, you need to give your undivided attention. You need to show that you value their time and their presence. Doing this makes them feel valued and respected. They respond to your presence with kindness and affection, which at an unconscious level sows the seed of likability.

As Mokokoma Mokhonoana says -

“Truly paying attention to something or someone makes it or them seem as big as the universe.”

To be likable, silence your distractions and remain fully present in the moment. Don’t look at your phone or divert your attention to anything that takes you away from the conversation.

Another aspect of being present is learning to listen well. When you’re stuck in your own head, you don’t listen or observe at all. Your mind is busy thinking what to say next. Instead of waiting for your turn to speak, connect with the other person by paying attention to their words. Better your listening skills, the better will be your likability.

Effective listening is the single most powerful thing you can do to build and maintain a climate of trust and collaboration. Strong listening skills are the foundation for all solid relationships.

— Michelle Tillis Lederman

Control your mood

How do you come across to others—are you consistent in your behavior or unpredictable to others?

Everyone has good and bad moods, but your mood can’t be a predictor of how you treat others. No one likes to deal with someone who’s unpredictable and random. Unpredictability leads to a lot of unnecessary emotions, adds complexity to conversations and makes it hard to reach a common decision.

So if you’re known to be moody, people will find all sorts of excuses to avoid you. They don’t want to think about how you’ll react. They don’t want to deal with your tantrums. It’s easier for them to cut you off than bringing you into the picture and having to deal with your moods.

If you want to be likable, be in charge of your mood. Don’t let it get swayed by the ups and downs at work. Most importantly, be consistent when you’re around others. It’s human nature to appreciate those who are consistent in their behaviors and actions.

Being consistent in your behavior is a great way to build trust.

— Germany Kent

Leave your judgments at the door

How do you react when you disagree or have a difference of opinion? Do you stick to your point of view or show openness in listening to others?

When you’re strongly opinionated or show unwillingness to hear others who disagree with your point of view, you become unapproachable. No one can like you when you shut them down or stick to your beliefs without appreciating that others can think differently and might be right too.

When you’re judgmental, irrespective of what you say, your body language radiates the true picture. Your tone of voice, hand movements, and facial expressions will show contempt even if you try hard to hide how you think and feel.

Building likability isn’t about nodding yes even when you disagree or listening silently to everything others have to say without saying a word. It only requires openness to accept different points of view and curiosity to understand others.

Don’t hesitate to share your opinion, but do it in a considerate and respectful way.

In order to have important conversations, you will sometimes have to check your opinions at the door. There is no belief so strong that it cannot be set aside temporarily in order to learn from someone who disagrees. Don’t worry; your beliefs will still be there when you’re done.

— Celeste Headlee

Likability isn’t a one time thing. It’s a lifetime process. Unless you make these practices as part of your life, you may be likable today and not so much tomorrow. Consistent liking requires consistency in how you act and come across to others.


  1. You may have all the competence and skills in the world, but if you’re not likable, less opportunities will land your way.
  2. To build likability, you don’t have to be extra nice or go out of your way to please others. Liability is built by staying authentic, not faking it.
  3. Talking about yourself feels good to you, but it puts other people off. To be likable, genuinely show an interest in understanding others—their life, experience, interests and passions.
  4. Talking to a person while being distracted makes them feel less valuable and disrespected. To be likable, stay away from distractions and consciously pay attention to the person in front of you. Be present.
  5. Don’t let your mood decide how you come across to others. Being consistent and predictable may be boring, but it also builds likability.
  6. Appreciate different points of view even if you disagree. Curiosity builds likability, not being judgmental.

This story was previously published here. Follow me on LinkedIn or here for more stories.

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