27 September 2023

Silly habits that make you less likeable

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Travis Bradberry says being likeable is far more important than many people realise — and there are actions to avoid if you don’t want to be thought of as a phoney.

Too many people succumb to the belief that being likeable comes from natural traits that belong 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 likeable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).

In a study conducted by the University of California, subjects rated more than 500 descriptions of people based on their perceived significance to likeability.

The top-rated descriptors had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive.

Instead it was sincerity, transparency, and capable of understanding (another person) that topped the list.

These adjectives, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence.

Likeability is powerful, and it can completely alter your performance.

A University of Massachusetts study found that managers were willing to accept an auditor’s argument with no supporting evidence if he or she was likeable.

I did some digging to uncover some behaviour that holds people back when it comes to likeability.

Humble-bragging: 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 she’s smart.

Or the guy who makes fun of himself for having a strict diet when he really wants you to know he’s healthy and fit.

While many people think that self-deprecation masks their bragging, everyone sees through it.

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.

Likeable people balance passion for their work with their ability to have fun.

They get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalise on valuable social moments.

They focus on having meaningful interactions with their co-workers, which shows people they are just as important as their work.

Not asking enough questions: The biggest mistake people make in conversation is being so focused on what they’re going to say next, 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 not only are you listening, but you also care about what they’re saying.

Emotional hijackings: My company comes across far too many instances of people throwing things, screaming, making people cry.

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.

Controlling your emotions keeps you in the driver’s seat. When you’re able to control your emotions around someone who wrongs you, they end up looking bad instead of you.

Whipping out your phone: Nothing turns someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone.

You’ll find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.

Name-dropping It’s great to know important and interesting people, but using every conversation as an opportunity to name-drop is pretentious and silly.

Just like humble-bragging, people see right through it.

Instead of making you look interesting, it makes people feel as though you’re insecure and overly concerned with having them like you.

When you connect everything you know with who you know (instead of what you know or what you think), conversations lose their colour.

When you speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, people are much more attentive and persuadable than if you try to show them you’re important.

Gossiping: People make themselves look terrible when they get carried away with gossiping.

Wallowing in talk of other people’s misdeeds or misfortunes may end up hurting their feelings if the gossip ever finds its way to them.

Gossiping is guaranteed to make you look negative and spiteful.

Having a closed mind: If you want to be likeable, you must be open-minded, which makes you approachable and interesting to others.

No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is unwilling to listen.

Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace, where approachability means access to new ideas and help.

To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes.

This doesn’t require that you believe what they believe or condone their behaviour; it means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick.

Sharing too much, too early: While getting to know people requires a healthy amount of sharing, sharing too much about yourself right off is wrong.

Likeable people let the other person guide them as to when it’s the right time for them to open up.

Over-sharing comes across as self-obsessed and insensitive to the balance of the conversation.

Sharing too much on social media: Studies have shown that people who over-share on social media do so because they crave acceptance.

However, the Pew Research Centre has revealed that this over-sharing works against them by making people dislike them.

Letting everyone know what you ate for breakfast, along with how many times you walked your dog, will do much more harm than good when it comes to likeability.

When you build awareness of how your actions are received by other people, you pave the way to becoming more likeable.

* Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart. His books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. He can be contacted at TalentSmart.com.

This article first appeared on the TalentSmart website.

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