(Source: www.forbes.com)

Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few—the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented. It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, being likable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).

In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 descriptions of people based on their perceived significance to likability. The top-rated descriptors had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top descriptors were sincerity, transparency, and capable of understanding (another person).

These adjectives, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence. TalentSmart research data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren’t just highly likable; they outperform those who don’t by a large margin.

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Likability is so powerful that it can completely alter your performance. A University of Massachusetts study found that managers were willing to accept an argument with no supporting evidence if he or she was likable, and Jack Zenger found that just 1 in 2000 unlikable leaders are considered effective.

I did some digging to uncover the key behaviors that hold people back when it comes to likability. Make certain these behaviors don’t catch you by surprise.

1. Humble-bragging. We all know those people who like to brag about themselves behind the mask of self-deprecation. For example, the gal who makes fun of herself for being a nerd when she really wants to draw attention to the fact that she’s smart or the guy who makes fun of himself for having a strict diet when he really wants you to know how healthy and fit he is. While many people think that self-deprecation masks their bragging, everyone sees right through it. This makes the bragging all the more frustrating, because it isn’t just bragging; it’s also an attempt to deceive.

2. Being too serious. People gravitate toward those who are passionate. That said, it’s easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested, because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likable people balance their passion for their work with their ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They still get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalize on valuable social moments. They focus on having meaningful interactions with their coworkers, remembering what people said to them yesterday or last week, which shows people that they are just as important to them as their work is.

3. Not asking enough questions. The biggest mistake people make in conversation is being so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said. The words come through loud and clear, but the meaning is lost. A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows that not only are you listening but that you also care about what they’re saying. You’ll be surprised how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking questions.

4. Emotional hijackings. My company provides 360° feedback assessments, and we come across far too many instances of people throwing things, screaming, making people cry, and other telltale signs of an emotional hijacking. An emotional hijacking demonstrates low emotional intelligence. As soon as you show that level of instability, people will question whether or not you’re trustworthy and capable of keeping it together when it counts.

More Info: www.forbes.com

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