It all starts with being likeable; you are at the top of an organization (that you didn’t start yourself), chances are, you got there because someone took a chance on you. Someone, early in your career, decided to invest in you and grow you. They likely did that because you were talented, or smart, or even fierce–but rest assured, they also found you likeable.
People don’t invest in those they don’t like. They may continue to employ them because they produce results, but if someone is going to invest the time and effort into growing and mentoring you, they have to like you. I maintain that you wouldn’t be where you are today if you weren’t the least bit likeable.
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”
Awe-inspiring enchantment can occur in jungles, marketplaces, and the Internet. It causes a voluntary and lasting (at least until the guerillas leave your hut) change of heart and mind and therefore action. It does not simply manipulate people and help you to get your way.
Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. A magnificent cause can overcome a prickly personality, but your ability to enchant people increases if they like you, so you should aspire to both. You’ll know that you’re likeable when you can communicate freely, casually, and comfortably with people.
Let’s start with your attitude. If you don’t like people, people won’t like you. That’s simple enough. And to like people, you need to accept them. Then, if you accept them, they’ll accept you. This is what you need to understand about acceptance:
- People are not binary. People are not ones or zeros, smart or dumb, worthwhile or worthless. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, positives and negatives, competencies and deficiencies.
- Everyone is better than you at something. If you have a tough time accepting others, it’s probably because you think you’re superior to them. However, you’re not superior to every person in every way.
- People are more similar than they are different. At a basic level, almost everyone wants to raise a family, do something meaningful, and enjoy life. This is true across races, creeds, colors, and countries. You probably have lot in common with people you don’t like.
- People deserve a break. The stressed and unorganized person who doesn’t have the same priorities as you may be dealing with an autistic child, abusive spouse, fading parents, or cancer. Don’t judge people until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Give them a break instead.
- We all die equal. At the end of your life, you’re going to be a mass of tissue and bone that reduces to a pile of dust like everyone else, so get over yourself. Death is the great equalizer.
If you want to make a good first impression, smile at people. What does it cost to smile? Nothing. What does it cost not to smile? Everything, if not smiling prevents you from enchanting people. If you don’t believe that smiling is useful, answer these questions:
- Do you like to do business with grumpy people?
- Do you know anyone who does?
- Do you think that angry people get what they want?
The key to a great, George-Clooney-smile is to think pleasant thoughts. If you’re grumpy inside, it’s hard to have a smile that lights up a room, and the most you’ll accomplish is a “fake smile.”
Anatomically speaking, a fake smile only uses the zygomatic major muscle—the one that runs from your jaw to the corner of your mouth. It’s easy to control this muscle, so it leads to fake or “Pan American smiles” (called this because flight attendants on Pan American weren’t truly happy to see passengers).
A real smile uses the orbicularis oculi muscle too. This is the muscle that surrounds your eyes—it makes you squint and produces “crow’s feet.” A real smile is so special that it has its own name: the Duchenne smile in honor of Guillaume Duchene, a French neurologist.
So when you meet people, think pleasant thoughts, fire up the orbicularis oculi muscle, make crow’s feet so deep that they can hold water, and skip the Botox treatments and facelifts to increase your likeability.
Guy Kawasaki is the author of twelve books including. He’s the former chief evangelist of Apple and current advisor to Motorola. Guy shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, enchantment, social media, writing, self-publishing, innovation and venture capital.