Generating Likeability Through The Mail

Thank You Note

You’ve Got Mail

I fully intended to sit down this morning and write an article on likeability when my day was interrupted by the mailman. Up until that time, everything was perfect. The article was titled and mind mapped (which is a right brained way to do an outline) and anxiously awaiting to be organized into an entertaining piece of classical literature. But as I mentioned above, the mailman interrupted my day.

Among the bills, marketing postcards and fan mail was a note addressed to me from Darbee Fisher. Darbee is a real estate agent for Keller Williams here on Maui. I met her for the first time ten days ago when my son Josh and I went to their office to teach the agents how to generate leads using advanced blogging techniques. Knowing that Josh was a full time Internet marketer and computer repair technician, Darbee hired him to repair her computer.

Here’s the note I received which was addressed to Bob and Susan Sommers Read more »

Win Friends By Asking For Directions

directionsThe Simplest Interactions

Sometimes it’s the simplest interactions that lead to likeability, and like many things, it’s hard to understand why until you go back to the root cause of what makes people likable. We like people who make us feel good about ourselves. Here’s a case in point.

Maui

Just yesterday I was walking along Wailea-Alanui Avenue in South Maui. It’s a beautiful stretch of beach road that hugs the ocean with five star hotels on one side and manicured golf courses on the other. Guests from all over the world vacation on this part of the island and use it as a jumping off spot for their excursions to all the wonderful sites Maui has to offer.

Not a day goes by that I’m not stopped by a visitor who pulls off to the side of the road to ask me for directions. “Excuse me. Are we going in the right direction to get to the top of the volcano?” “Is this the way to the bamboo forest?” “Pardon me sir! Can you show me on this map the quickest way to Twin Falls, or to the lava field or to the Io Valley or some other popular destination.”

But Wait, There’s More

And every time they ask, I’m delighted to help. I give directions to where they want to go and then I offer my insider tips on what to do when they get there, where to eat, where to go next, etc. I’ll share what I know until they decide to drive away, and even then I often find myself running after the car shouting, “Wait, there’s one more thing I forgot to tell you!”

I act this way and so do you, because we like how we feel about ourselves when we’re in a position to help people. Giving directions to strangers makes us feel smart and knowledgeable and special. It also causes us to like the person asking for directions because they’re the reason we’re able to show off what we know.

capitol

Our Nations Capitol

Years ago I was invited to Washington, D.C. to give a sales presentation to a potential customer on why Sommers Communication was the most qualified company to create a customer service training program for their company. I was the first of three people to give my presentation to the department head (who I knew to be the decision maker) along with her staff of six people. We were each given 20 minutes to discuss our plans for the video project while our competitors waited outside.

After I gave my presentation, the department head asked if I would come back in 40 minutes to meet with her and the other presenters to discuss the project further as a group. When I returned, she indicated in a very business like manner, that she and her staff were going to make their final decision in the next seven days.

Before I Go, I Have One Last Question

As we gathered our things and said our good-bys, I noticed that one of my competitors waited until everyone else had walked out of the room (except for me) when he asked the decision maker this question. “I brought my family with me to Washington and we were hoping to see some of the not-so-well-know sites before we return to Des Moines. My wife and I have two pre-teen girls and I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions on where to go and what to see before we fly home.”

touristOMG did she light up. All of a sudden the conversion went from a stoic business conversation to, “You’re girls are going to love this and your wife is going to love that and you’re going to really enjoy this, etc.” As it turned out, she was from D.C. and had a brother who owned a restaurant in Arlington. (Where do you think he had lunch that afternoon?) She wouldn’t let him leave until she was persuaded that he knew exactly how to get to each of the places she suggested.

My New Likeability Mentor

As things turned out, Sommers Communication did not win that contract. My new likeability mentor from Des Moines produced the video and he did a great job with it. His proposal was good, but his ability to win friends was better. And he did it by asking for directions.

So What Are You Going To Do About It?

The next time you find yourself in a position where you want to build a relationship with someone, ask for directions. In doing so you will give the person you ask the opportunity to show off what they know and feel good about themself for helping you.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, it’s the simplest interactions that lead to likeability, and what could be easier than asking for directions?

“Pardon me sir, can you tell me how to get to …?”

We Like Beautiful People

beautyThe link between likeability and beauty is no secret. We like beautiful people and we treat them differently, better.

The benefits of beauty begin at birth. Good looking infants are held more frequently and they are told by adults how attractive they are from the moment they’re born.

When attractive children are old enough to attend school, their beauty is further rewarded with better grades and more positive attention from the other students and their teachers. As young adults, good looking teenagers are asked out on more dates, they’re more popular in school and they generally have a much higher self esteem. And the benefits don’t stop there. Good looking adults are more likely to be elected to office, get a higher paying job and avoid jail time if they’re convicted of a crime.

Study after study shows that good looking people have a huge advantage over their average looking peers when it comes to social interaction.  Because we expect good looking people to be smarter, healthier and funnier than the general population, they tend to live up to our expectations. It’s known as the Pygmalion Effect.

The Pygmalion Effect

The Pygmalion Effect is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. When a person believes that he or she is smarter or more talented than the rest of the world, they tend to become smarter, and more talented. And since beautiful people are told throughout their lives that they are special, they tend to grow up believing that they are special, which has a very positive effect on everything they do.

But what if you were not blessed with great looks. Is there anything you can do to be seen as more attractive? Absolutely!child

There are certain things that all human beings find physically attractive. They include mood, symmetry, youth and health. You may not be able to turn back the hands of time, but you can accentuate the positive at any age. Here are three things you can do immediately to make yourself more attractive, more beautiful.

Smile

Nothing expresses happiness and beauty quicker than a genuine smile. A smile transcends time, age, culture, race, religion and politics. It is recognized worldwide and appreciated by everyone who receives one. When you smile, the whole world does smile at you.

There are people in this world who convey love and kindness and happiness with their natural, beautiful smile, and it has nothing to do with their teeth. My grandpa had one of those smiles and he was able to give it with and without his dentures. It was beautiful and so was he.

You don’t need teeth to project your likeability and beauty. Just offer a genuine, natural smile.

Clothing

styleMark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people don’t get a lot of respect in this world.” It’s as true today as it was 150 years ago. Clothes do make the man and woman.

What you wear and how you wear it has an enormous impact on how attractive you look to others. I’m not a style consultant nor do I pretend to be. I leave that to the expert, my wife. She has a keen eye for style and she’s not afraid to use it on me.

When you look good you feel good, and when you feel good you look good. This is the kind of vicious circle that’s fun to get caught up in.

It’s just as easy to put on fashionable clean clothes in the morning as it is to dress in clothes that don’t fit properly and are a few decades out of date. Make the right choice and feel good about yourself all day long.

Walk Like A Man … Or Woman

walkingHave you ever watched yourself walk from a perspective other than your own? The only way you can do that is by watching yourself in a mirror or on a video. The results may surprise you.

The way you walk says a lot about you. It can project confidence, health and pride or something far different.

A few years ago we had a couple visiting us from Scandinavia. Borg told me that one of the things he noticed about Americans was how we walked. He said that Americans tend to walk at a quicker pace than the rest of the world and that we walk with purpose. More importantly, our walk indicated that we were optimistic people and that we could overcome any obstacle that got in our way.

What I found interesting about Borg’s opinion of Americans was that is was based on his interpretation of how we walk. According to Borg, there is something very attractive about someone who walks like an American.

Make a point to watch people walk and pay attention to how you feel about them based on that criteria alone. Then, do your best to imitate the walk you like best until it becomes a part of your presence, your personality and your style.

Maybe you wern’t born beautiful, but you can become beautiful with a few simple adjustments. Pay attention to these three suggestions and see if you don’t feel better about yourself and about how others feel about you in return. You are beautiful!

When People Say Stupid Things

meanPeople are going to let you down. They’re going to do and say hurtful things. Sometimes they’re going to say these things because they intentionally want to hurt you. Shame on them. Other times they’re going to say hurtful things to protect themselves. This is where things get a little weird and that’s the situation I want to address in this article.

The Ben Franklin Effect

There is an effect known as the Ben Franklin Effect, here’s how it works. When we do a favor for someone, we are more likely to like them and do additional favors for them in the future. We justify our liking by telling ourselves that we would not have done this favor unless we liked the person we helped.

It’s known as the Ben Franklin Effect because he was quoted as saying, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” And although there were many colonials who understood this principle, Ben was given credit because well, he owned the printing press.

The Inverse Ben Franklin Effect

The opposite is also true. When we hurt someone, we’re more likely to dislike them and even come to hate them. We justify our disliking them by telling ourselves that we would not have harmed them unless they deserved it. As time goes on, there is a very good chance we will even come to hate them because of how they made us feel about ourselves. Weird isn’t it?

Teenagersaccident

A few years ago, my son was in a car with a group of his friends. They pulled up to a stop sign when one of the girls sitting in the back seat asked the driver if she could get out of the car. When she opened the door and attempted to leave, the driver accidentally took her foot off the break causing the car to lunge forward and run over her foot.

The scene at the time was a car full of friends concerned about the girl with the hurt foot. The driver immediately apologized and drove her to the hospital. Everyone in the car knew that it was an accident including the driver, the passengers and the girl with hurt her foot.

Oh! How The Story Changes

The very next day, the driver told her other school friends what happened the day before. What she did not tell them however was that she told the girl it was OK to exit the car and that her foot accidentally slipped from the break causing the car to jump forward. She so badly did not want to be seen as someone capable of causing injury to another human being, (even if it was an accident) that she fabricated a story to position her soon to be X-friend as the antagonist.

This story is not unique. Something similar happens every day and I’m sure it’s happened to you. Truth is, you’ve been on both sides of the fence. You’ve lost friends because they’ve hurt you and turned on you. And, as you recall, it was a very painful experience. There were also times when you hurt others and did the same thing to them. It’s not right and it’s not fair, but it’s human nature.

flowerWhat I’m about to share with you is an advanced likeability skill that only a handful of people are capable of pulling off. If you think you’re one of these people, keep reading.

Start Here

You must fully understand that if you want people to like you, promote you and help you succeed, they can not feel as if they’ve hurt you, even if they did hurt you. There are no exceptions to this rule.

And When You Don’t Give A Hoot

If someone does hurt you and you don’t care how they feel about you or how they treat you, let ’em have it. Lay on the guilt and use every trick you have to make them feel bad about themselves. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when they start avoiding you and treating you badly in return. If this is what you want, you now know what to do. Here’s another example.

Years ago I met a financial service salesman though a mutual friend. He called me at my office to follow up on a conversation we had a few days earlier. At the time of the call, I was involved in a conversation with our office manager and couldn’t talk to him. He left his telephone number and asked that I call him back when I get a break in my day.

As things turned out, I did not call him back, so he called me again the next day and the next day and the next day for a week. Each time he left a message with his telephone number asking me to call him back.

Could You Make Me Feel Any Worse About Myself?

By this time I was feeling pretty bad about myself for not calling him back. It got to the point where I had avoided taking his calls for so long that I was embarrassed to talk to him. I started justifying why I didn’t want his service and how he was rude for interrupting my time at work. In reality, he had done nothing wrong. I was trying to justify feeling bad about my avoidance behavior by blaming him for something he did not do.

1146563_old_phoneFinally, I gathered the courage to take his phone call and listen to his proposal. Here’s what happened.

Not Like This

“Hi Dave.” I said. “I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you last week. What’s up?”

Unfortunately, Dave did not understand the Inverse Ben Franklin Effect. He lost the sale because he did not know how to make me feel OK about myself and my poor behavior. Here’s what he said.

“Hi Bob. It feels like you’ve been avoiding me?”

I went on to lie and told him I was not avoiding him, which made me feel even worse about myself for lying. He didn’t make me lie, but I blamed him for putting me in an awkward position where I felt like I had to lie. And because I lied, I felt worse about myself. And because I felt worse about myself, I felt worse about him. I told you it was weird.

More Like This

This story could have had a very different outcome had Dave understood and applied the Inverse Ben Franklin Effect. Imagine how I would have felt if the conversation had taken a different turn.

“Hi Dave. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you last week. What’s up?”

“Don’t worry about it Bob. I know you’re busy. If anything let me apologize for being so persistent. Is this a good time to talk for a few minutes?”

I worried about this call for a week and Dave let me off the hook in less than six seconds. No guilt, no lying and no bad feelings about myself or Dave. I was ready to listen to his proposal and actively look for a way to purchase his service. He made me feel OK about myself instead of feeling like a jerk.

How Big Of A Person Are You?

In order to use this technique effectively, you have to be bigger than the person who caused you harm. You can not, you must not allow someone to feel bad about themselves or they will do everything in their power to justify their bad behavior.

If you care about your relationship with someone who has accidentally harmed you, let them off the hook. Once you’ve forgiven them in your head and in your heart, they will feel better about themselves and better about you too.

Lead With Your Strengths

1085908_eye_of_the_carEveryone has a different set of strengths when it comes to projecting themselves to the world. Some are amazingly good looking, while others have a warm and compassionate telephone voice. Some are dynamic speakers and presenters while others express themselves through their writing and one-on-one conversations. If you want to create the most favorable first impression with a new customer, lead with your strength.

Telemarketers

Recently I received an unsolicited telephone call from Jill, a salesperson for a large insurance company. I didn’t actually speak with her, but I returned her call immediately based on the message she left on my answering machine. Her message was uplifting and friendly and I found that I was looking forward to speaking with her about the insurance she was offering. Her message went something like this.

“Hello, I’m sorry I missed you. My name is Jill and I’m calling about your auto insurance. I know we can help you save money on your insurance and we would be delighted to talk to you about it. If you have a moment, please call us at this number. Otherwise, we will try to contact you later. Thank you.”

It’s how you say what you say

It’s important to note that it was not what Jill said, but how she said it that prompted me to call her back. She gave the impression that I would enjoy our conversation.

1134440_phone_keyWhen I called the number she left on my answering machine and asked for Jill, the receptionist told me that Jill was not available, and asked if I would like to speak to another sales agent.

“I’d rather speak with Jill.” I said. “Will you please let her know that I called and ask her to call me back?”

There was silence on the other end of the line.

“Are you still there?” I asked.

After another few seconds of silence, the receptionist explained to me that Jill was a voice on a telemarketing machine that the company was using to leave messages when people were not immediately available. Then she asked again if I would like to speak to another agent, which of course I did not.

Tricked and Manipulated

I felt tricked and manipulated. My perception of the company went from being willing to listen to their presentation to wanting to warn everyone I knew about their manipulative sales methods.

Imagine how much more effective that call would have been if the company had hired actual salespeople who were capable of leaving a compelling messages?

First impressions are instantaneous and powerful. Jill’s message was so uplifting and positive that I was encouraged to call her back and give her the opportunity to sell me insurance.

On the other hand, if the impression you leave is less than positive, you will have a very hard time changing that perception. Which was the case with the insurance company. Let me give you another example.

Public Speakers are Commodities Too

When I sold customers service seminars for a living, I ran across an interesting phenomenon. Prospects would call to inquire about a program and ask to speak with the person who would be presenting the workshop. I understood their request completely. They wanted to make sure the speaker was knowledgeable, witty and a good choice for their meeting. But I also knew that many of the speakers who worked for us were magnificent in front of an audience, but weak communicators on the telephone.

If the customer had not seen the presenter perform on stage, it was unlikely they would hire them based on a telephone conversation. That being the case, I made sure they saw the speaker perform either by inviting them to a presentation or immediately sending them a video of the speaker in front of a group before connecting them on the telephone.

Once the customer saw the speaker in action, they were sold. The fact that the speaker was less than stellar on the telephone had no impact on their decision to hire them after they saw their performance.

Primacy Effect

One of the reasons for this behavior is know as the Primacy Effect. People tend to remember what they see and hear first. This is why it was so important that our customers had their first exposure to our speakers when they were speaking. That was their strength.

1046097_imprintsIn order to make a positive first impression, you must lead with your strength. If you have a fantastic telephone voice, make a telephone call. If you’re a dynamite speaker, make sure they see you perform. If you’re an entertaining writer, send them your book, email them or direct them to your blog. If you’re charming and good-looking, meet them in person.  Lead with your strength.

Being Likeable By Keeping Your Mouth Shut

1056153_creepy_creatures_5Behavioral psychologists have been bantering around the idea of what they call Repulsion Hypothesis for years. It states that people find people who have beliefs and attitudes that are extremely different from their own as repulsive.

Repulsive Hypothesis

Repulsive is a very strong word. It’s the word that comes to mind when I have to repair or maintain our septic system. It’s not the kind of feeling you want your customers and prospects to have about you or your company.

Most everyone is passionate about something. It could be as innocuous as running, photography or scrap booking. These are subjects that are generally not going to offend anyone. On the other hand there are passions of peril, which include hunting, politics, animal rights, religion, sex and more.

Sex, Guns and Rock and Roll

There is certainly nothing wrong with being passionate about any of these activities, but be forewarned, they will cause a heightened level of either positive or negative emotion when discussed in conversation. Let me give you an example.

1159273_city_imagesYears ago I hired a professional speaker to teach customer service skills to my clients.  He was an expert on the subject; he was funny and extremely effective. He was also very passionate about his religious belief and he didn’t mind sharing his views openly in his presentation.

Please don’t suppose that I think there is anything wrong with being passionate about what one believes, I applauded it, but I do think there is an appropriate time and place for expressing those beliefs.

At the conclusion of each seminar the audience filled out an evaluation and the comments ranged from outstanding to offensive. For every person who commented on how much they enjoyed his religious references, there was another who found them offensive. For every person he was attracting with his beliefs, he was repelling another who possessed a different set of beliefs.

Turn Off Or Turn On?

When I showed him the evaluations and suggested ways he could still talk about his beliefs without offending anyone, he wanted nothing to do with it. He was so blinded by his passion for what he believed that he was willing to offend half the people in his audience.

You may feel my friend had every right to do and say what he did. You might even be a little offended by my suggesting he change his presentation. If so, it’s because you and my friend have a similar belief system. But, would your opinion of his behavior change if I told you he was a Hare Krishna or a Moslem or a Wicca or a Jew or a Christian or an Atheist?

Are You Stupid Or Something?

If so, why? Could it be because when someone disagrees with you they are implying that you’re somehow flawed? That you’re stupid? That you’re uneducated? That you’re lower on the totem pole of life?

This lesson is not about being moderate with your passion, far from it; it’s about helping people feel good about themselves through restraint. There is a time and place for certain conversations and there is a time and a place to avoid those same conversations.

1144456_bullets_1

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein once defined success in this way. Success=X+Y+Z where “X” equals Work, “Y” equals Play, and “Z” equals “Keep your mouth shut.”

Far too many salespeople and business owners fail to succeed because they just can’t keep their mouth shut when it comes to sharing their views on potentially perilous conversational topics. So what’s a passionate person to do?

Before I go further, it’s critically important that you understand what I’m about to tell you. It is OK not to disclose certain things about yourself. In fact, in certain situations, it’s praiseworthy not to disclose certain things about yourself. People who share their opposing view and opinions repel people, while people who share similar views and opinions attract them.

Friends And Family

I’m not suggesting you withhold critical information from your friends or your mate. If you want to build a friendship or long term personal relationship with someone, you’re eventually going to have to have those conversations and you’ll either work your way through them or not. But there is no good reason to have these more intimate and potentially explosive conversations with a customer?

Rules Of The Road

Here are some basic rules about conversation that will make you more likable and more attractive.

  1. Never initiate a conversation with a customer or a prospect that challenges their views on sex, religion, politics etc. Don’t do it.
  2. If a customer or prospect wants to talk about their opinion on one of these subjects, let them talk.
  3. If you do not agree with their opinion, listen without disagreeing with them. Silence does not mean you agree. You might even learn something about the subject that you didn’t know before.
  4. If you do agree with their opinion, let them know that you agree. This will make them feel validated while simultaneously drawing them closer to you. We like people like us.
  5. If you’re in a group setting composed of people with different opinions, refer to rules number 1,2 and 3 unless you agree with the person who has the final buying decision in the group, then refer to rule number 4 but do it in private. If you share your opinions openly in public, you will be seen as attractive and likable to some, while repelling others.

Conclusion

I saw a funny skit on television recently where a young man was lost in a small European hamlet on a moonlit night. He heard a wolf howling in the distance so he started knocking on all the doors looking for safety yelling, “Please let me in, I’m an American.” No one responded. Then, just as the wolf was almost upon him, he knocked on the last door in town and begged, “Please let me in, I’m a Canadian.” Where upon a woman opened the door and saved him from certain death.

You will find many of the zealous beliefs and actions people demonstrate to be repulsive. You will find others to be attractive depending on what you value. If you want to win people over, agree when you can, and keep your mouth when you can’t.

I’m Your Customer And I Want To Say Thank You

fountainpenI’m your customer and I want to you to know that I like you and I like doing business with you.

Some of my reasons may sound a little odd, and to tell you the truth I don’t fully understand them myself, but I assure you my comments are sincere.

  1. I like you because you like me. You are the only supplier who has ever taken the time to send me a personal note stating how you feel.
  2. I like you because you are like me in so many ways. We share common beliefs and experiences. Because of this I know you understand me better than any other supplier.
  3. I like you because you are an expert at what you do. I know I can count on you to provide me with accurate information saving me time and money.
  4. I like you because you don’t take yourself to seriously. You can laugh at yourself and that makes me comfortable to be around you.
  5. I like you because I feel happy when I’m with you. I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you because you make me feel joyful when I’m with you. You make me laugh.
  6. I like you because you pay attention to how you present yourself. You take care of yourself and it gives me confidence that you are taking care of my business at the same time.
  7. I like you because you are genuine. I never feel like you are putting on airs or trying to be someone you’re not. I trust you.
  8. I like you because you associate with others that I admire. I do judge people by the company they keep, and you keep good company.
  9. I like you because I like to associate with people other people admire. I feel special when I am in your presence.
  10. I like you because you are attentive to my needs. You take the time to ask pertinent questions before offering a solution. You care.
  11. I like you because you’re courteous. You respect my time and space and you always let me know how much you appreciate my business.
  12. I like you because I know you’re on my team. I can count on you to be there when I need you.
  13. I like you because you give me the opportunity to do things for you too. You’ve done so much for me. It makes me feel good about myself when you allow me to do something as simple as buy your lunch.
  14. Most importantly, I like you because I like me best when I’m with you. You make me feel smart and interesting and funny and wise. This is your greatest gift.

And because I like you, I want to see you succeed. I want to buy what you’re selling and refer you to everyone I know. I’m delighted to go out of my way to add to your success.

Thank you for making it so easy for me to like you and to do business with you.

Signed, Your customer

Author: Bob Sommers

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