October 03, 2006
Stanley Marcus Jr. gave me one of the best pieces of business advice I’ve ever received. He and I were having lunch in Dallas, discussing the new economy and all of the opportunities it brought to the world. His acumen in retailing was incredible, yet his people skills were even better. I had just outlined my grand strategy to prepare myself for the next few years and the outline included education, experience and a bold move into the lucrative world of Internet advertising. Mr. Marcus sat there, with a bemused smile on his face; the kind you have when you are waiting for a young lad to stop talking, so you can give him some practical advise.
Stanley’s advice that day? “Don’t forget to make yourself (and your company) emotionally attractive. Good things happen to people who are attractive.” He went on to explain that the vendor with a good personality gets better information from her buyer, along with a bigger order. He asserted that if the retail customer likes you, you can do no wrong. Finally, he told me about the importance of having emotional benefits for your employees, and how that greatly impacts retention and customer “delight”.
From that day forward, I’ve been intrigued about the opportunities that emotional intelligence offers business people. I also understand that beyond emotional intelligence is emotional generosity – an outlook that can lead to highly likeable behavior.
In the course of writing my book (The Likeability Factor), I’ve done hundreds of thousands of pages of research and interviewed thousands of people just like you. We’ve hunted for the truth on why people like people and what a difference it makes in their behavior. Here’s the basic finding of the research: Your likeability factor reflects your personal capacity to consistently produce positive emotional experiences in other people. You have this capacity in good and bad times. You are natural and authentic, just smart when it comes to your emotions and more importantly, the emotions of other people.
We’ve learned that in the case of humans, you can make a bet on the “law of reciprocity”. This law states that people will reciprocate emotional experiences. Sometimes they reciprocate in a direct reflection (back at you) and other times they reciprocate in an indirect defection (at the next Customer, a coworker or family member). Emotions never pass through people good, bad or ugly. Research, such as Daniel Goleman’s Primal Leadership suggest that a positive mood state is directly related to business success through superior employee engagement and improved Customer satisfaction.
So the mood state counts. The mood state is a great predictor of future cash flow because it signals upcoming turnover and system break downs ahead. That is why leaders need to have a high likeability factor. That is why managers should learn to select their team players based on social skills, not just talent. We need to embrace the idea that the only path to Customer delight is a leadership/enterprise and business style of highly likeable behavior.
Consider these facts:
• A highly likeable sales person sells more than their neutral counterparts (the Customer gives her more information to win the sale, because she wants her to succeed).
• A highly likeable employee or executive is more likely to get a positive review (the boss is so comfortable with his report, that he gives him advice all year on how to exceed expectations).
• Likeable people do better in court. Likeable doctors are less likely to be sued for medical malpractice. Likeable plaintiffs win more often and get higher settlements. Likeable defendants are less likely to be convicted.
• Likeable patients get more time and follow up from doctors. Likeable parent’s kids get more time and follow up from doctors.
The list goes on and on, but here’s the point. You can do something about your likeability factor. Your consistency and capacity are the keys. All of you had a high likeability factor as a child (you were empty inside) and along the way, you lose capacity to absorb or understand emotions – even your own. My book gives you a system to approach your emotional attractiveness through four stages. Stay tuned for more.
Homework assignment. Download the L-factor self-assessment. If you are courageous, you can have someone that you work with answer the questions about you. Your score will range from a 1-9. The higher the better!