Three Little-Known Ways to Make
People Like You …
While I probably don't know you personally, chances are you're a likable person. (I've found most copywriters are.)
This, of course, is a very good thing.
According to Richard Wiseman in his book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute, likable people are 50 percent less likely to get divorced. Plus, they are likely to be healthier. Doctors tend to urge people they like to come in for regular visits.
For freelance writers, the more likeable you are, not only are you more likely to be hired for a new job, but also the better chance you have of your client referring you to their friends and business associates.
So how do people become likeable anyway?
It may surprise you, but it does take some conscious effort to be likeable.
Dale Carnegie says one way is to express a genuine interest in others. He says you'll win more friends in two months this way than in two years of trying to make others interested in you.
You can increase your likability by complimenting others, demonstrating modesty, and being generous with your time, resources, and skills. They all work.
But there are three less common ways to be more likeable that I'd like to share, borrowed from 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:
Ask a small favor – Founding father Benjamin Franklin wanted to gain the cooperation of a difficult and apathetic Pennsylvania state legislature member. Rather than "bowing and scraping" to the man, Franklin decided to go a different route. Franklin was aware that the man was in possession of a rare book. Franklin asked him if he might be able to borrow it for a couple of days. The man said yes.
According to Franklin, thereafter "when we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions."
Wiseman writes that Franklin attributed the success of his "book-borrowing technique" to the simple principle: "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged." In other words, to increase the likelihood of someone liking you, get that person to do a favor for you.
As a freelancer, you could use this technique to meet new people online. If you come across a LinkedIn profile indicating its owner works at a company you are targeting, send them a quick note. Ask them if they know if their company uses freelance writers. This might start a conversation going where you end up with the name of the person you should contact and even what projects are on their to-do list.
A word of caution: the "Franklin Effect" (as it is commonly referred to) only works for small favors. If the request is too big (you ask someone to help you move … borrow their car … cut your lawn, etc.), it will most likely backfire, and they will most likely refuse your request.
Admit your mistakes – In 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy authorized an invasion of Cuba. The ensuing operation turned into a huge failure known as The Bay of Pigs.
You'd think, because of this military blunder, Kennedy's popularity would take a hit, right? But just the opposite happened. A national survey taken after the failed invasion showed that the public actually liked Kennedy more than before his disastrous decision.
Two factors attributed to this seemingly strange finding.
First, Kennedy didn't try to make excuses or pass the buck. He immediately took full responsibility for the calamity.
Second, up to that point, Kennedy had been seen as somewhat of a superhero. A charming, handsome, and powerful man who could do no wrong. The Bay of Pigs disaster made him appear more human and thus more likable.
Wiseman references studies that backed up that likeability goes up when a mistake is made.
A word of caution: Wiseman found likeability only increases when people view you as being "too perfect." In other words, if a person is viewed as a “loser” making (another) mistake, it will have no impact on their likeability scale.
For freelancers, the lesson here is always to take ownership of your work. For instance, if you write a headline and lead that targets the wrong audience, admit you made a mistake and then put a plan together to make things right.
Withhold negative comments – The third technique actually involves not doing something. As Wiseman writes, John Skowronski from the University of Ohio (and his colleagues) investigated the downside of spreading malicious gossip.
In the study, participants watched a video of actors talking about friends and acquaintances. Some of the actors' comments were very negative. They'd say things like, "He hates animals. Today, he was walking to the store and he saw this puppy. So he kicked it out of his way."
They then had the participants rate the personality of the speaker. What they found was that even though the actor was speaking about somebody else, participants associated their negative comments with who was speaking them. This is known as "spontaneous trait transference."
For freelancers, the tip here is to never speak ill of a former client to an existing client. For starters, your existing client will wonder what you are saying behind their back. And as Wiseman points out, they will associate your negative comments with the feelings they have towards you.
On the flipside, when you say positive and pleasant things about people, you are seen as a nice person. So that famous line our parents told us, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," was pretty darn good advice.
Being liked is very important. It's something most everyone strives for in life. And while being nice to other people is the number one way to get people to like you, these three techniques could make the difference between forming a solid working/personal friendship with someone and a friendship that never gets off the ground.
What do you think of the three "likability techniques" above? Have you used any of them and found them to be effective? If so, I'd love to hear from you. You can post your comment below.
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