Think You're Likeable? Take The Test To Know For Sure

by Diane Berenbaum

I always thought I was fairly likeable. After all, I was voted “Most School Spirit” in high school. And, I couldn't have become an officer in my college sorority if I wasn't likeable, right? My first boss liked me (he gave me the top priority project) and my next door neighbor really likes me too (she takes care of my dog when I am in a bind).

But then again, I have a clear memory of being the last picked for games (I'd like to think that this has more to do with my athletic ability than my like-ability).

So, am I as likeable as I could be? According to Tim Sanders, former staff leadership coach at Yahoo! and author of the new book, The Likeability Factor: How to Boost your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life's Dreams, “Every person alive has an L-Factor, which is the indicator of how likeable you are. Every one of us is either likeable or unlikeable.”

What Is Likeability?

Likeability is the “ability to create positive attitudes in other people through the delivery of emotional and physical benefits.” If you are highly likeable, you are apt to bring people joy, put them at ease and give them what Sanders calls, “a big psychological hug.”

George Foreman has sold over 55 million grills. How does he do it – he is just plain likeable! Looking to be the next big pop star? “Beyond raw talent, the Likeability Factor is huge,” says Simon Cowell of American Idol. And, clearly, some politicians' likeability factors have helped them win (Bill Clinton and JFK) or lose (John Kerry and Bob Dole).

But, aren't we born with a certain dose of likeability? Some people are just naturally likeable, right? Are the rest of us stuck with the same Likeability Factor for life? Fortunately not. Sanders suggests that it is a practical skill that you can improve over time. It takes work, but you can enhance your likeability, and by doing so, become more successful in every area of life.

Why Be Likeable?

Think this is just another one of those “fad” books on the market? I did, until I read the research that supported Sanders' findings. He found that people who are likeable tend to land jobs more easily, find friends more quickly and have happier relationships. They also have lower blood pressure, fewer divorces and are less likely to lose their jobs. Here are just a few of the studies he references:

A University of California study showed that physicians give more time to patients they like and less to those they don't.

How Likeable Are You?

Take Sanders' L-Factor Self Assessment (click here to download a PDF of the assessment) and see just how likeable you are on a one to ten point scale. If you score three or below, Sanders suggests that you need vast improvement. Four to six is average while seven and above is good. Few people attain a ten.

I have taken the test and realize that I have some room for improvement and have not yet reached my full likeability potential.  

This is no surprise to me—I am well aware of my lapses. My husband recalls one of our very first dates at a movie theater. We were having a lovely conversation when I spotted someone in the front row lighting up a cigarette. Without thinking, I stood up, pointed at him and said, “Hey you, with the cigarette! No smoking!” and then quietly sat down to continue the conversation. My husband was shocked at my “evil twin” but apparently found me likeable enough to continue the courtship. Although I have no recollection of this event, my husband remembers it like it was yesterday. Apparently, it was not one of my most likeable moments.

Your Likeability Factor can change from one day to the next. The good news is that you can significantly boost your L-Factor. You can't turn an Osama Bin Laden into a Mother Teresa, but you can increase your L-Factor by a few points, which may make the difference in getting another date or even a new job.

How Do You Improve Your Likeability Factor—With MAGIC®, Of Course!

Interestingly enough, the four things necessary to improve one's likeability are all MAGIC behaviors:

Be Friendly: Sanders suggests that we fill our conversations with positive words, rather than negative ones because words like, “wonderful,” “great,” and “I'd be glad to help” exude friendliness. Sounds like MAGIC and tragic phrases to me. (MAGIC Points 16 and 20)

Stay Relevant: Focus on what you can do for people, rather than what they can do for you. Take initiative, be proactive and offer ideas, suggestions and options that will serve their needs. (MAGIC Point 23)

Show Empathy: Show that you are interested and care about others. Recognize and acknowledge the significance of their issues through your words and tone. (MAGIC Points 5 and 6)

Keep it Real: You can't fake likeability and you can't fake MAGIC. Once people see that your actions and words are sincere, they will not only like you, but they will also listen to you, value your opinions and respect you.

Think about it—don't we go the extra mile for people we like and give them the benefit of the doubt in questionable situations? When you are MAGIC on a consistent basis, you become more likeable, bring out the best in others, survive life's challenges, and are happier overall.

Research by Yale University and the Center for Socialization and Development concluded that “the most successful leaders, from CEOs to PTA presidents, all treated their subordinates with respect and made genuine attempts to be liked.”

Success in the workplace is guaranteed not by what or whom you know but by your popularity, according to a Columbia University study.

In the legal world, Dulin Kelly found that the client's likeability will affect the outcome of the case and the amount of compensation awarded.
Diane Berenbaum is a long-time contributor and former editor of the MAGIC Service Newsletter. She has more than twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, coach, and facilitator. Diane is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® .
Before and After
Before and After
Just one "tragic" contact can influence your customers' perception of your company (and their buying decisions). Listen to the difference MAGIC® can make.