Likability matters, whether you like it or not. Likable people tend to do better in business. People listen to them more, let them get away with more, even trust them more. That little bit of extra freedom can be the difference between getting the go-ahead for a big project and having your options limited.
The problem is, being likable can come down to the smallest things. You may be doing things that make people dislike like you. Once or twice may not matter, but if it’s a habit, it could cost you valuable opportunities. Here are a few behaviors you have to tamp down if you want people to like you.
1. Being Too Intense
Intensity and passion are important in business, because people gravitate toward strong personalities. This could be the difference between being an effective leader and people talking over you in conversations. Unfortunately, it’s easy to take things too far. Being too intense or serious can drive people away.
Being passionate doesn’t mean being hyper-focused to the point of being un-fun. People turn to passionate individuals because of the energy they exude. They make things fun and exciting. When you’re too serious, you can bring the room down.
2. Constantly Humble-Bragging
There’s a practice called “humble-bragging,” it’s when people self-deprecate, but are actually showing off or bragging. For example, you could call yourself weak after going to the gym, but you’re actually trying to call attention to your fitness. It seems clever, but a lot of people can see through it. Used on occasion, it’s funny. Used constantly, it’s aggravating.
What makes this practice irritating is not just the bragging, but that it’s an attempt at deception. Whether you meant to or not, you’re indicating that you think you can trick someone. Being proud of your accomplishments is OK—trying to make yourself the center of attention through trickery is not.
3. Using Your Phone During a Conversation
When you’re in a business meeting, it’s important to give the participants your full attention. Nothing changes the tone of a meeting or conversation faster than checking your phone. Even a quick glance can make other parties feel unimportant or ignored. All of a sudden, what could’ve been a smooth conversation becomes awkward, even impossible. If you must check your phone, inform participants of this ahead of time. Let them know why you’re checking it and stress its importance.
4. Being Closed-Minded
Open and clear communication is part of the foundation of a successful business. Productive conversations require an open mind. You’re going to be wrong a lot, and that’s OK—there’s always something new to learn. You have to be open to that, because nothing shuts down a conversation faster than a closed mind.
Closed minds aren’t willing to accept new ideas, which by nature means a conversation can’t happen. Being closed off makes you inflexible and unable to adapt to new changes in the industry. Remember that this doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does mean you need to change. Try viewing things from other people’s perspectives. Remember that understanding another person’s viewpoint or valuing his or her opinion doesn’t mean you have to believe the same thing or even condone it. It just means you have to make an effort to understand him or her.
5. Dropping Names Left and Right
In business, who you know is as important as what you know. However, problems can come up when all you do is drop names. Using every interaction as an opportunity to call out names is not only pretentious but annoying, and people can and will easily interpret it as insecurity. It also cheapens the conversation as a whole and can keep people from listening to the rest of what you have to say.
Ironically, people shy away from those who demand or are desperate for attention. More often than not, all you need is to be considerate and friendly. They’ll be more interested in who you are and what you do instead of who you know.
Becoming more likable demands an understanding of how you appear to people. What others think of you isn’t necessarily the most important thing in the world, but it does count in business. These are far from the only things that can negatively impact people’s impressions of you, but getting rid of these habits should be a good start.
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