13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People

Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few—the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented. It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, being likeable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ). In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top-rated adjectives had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top adjectives were sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding (another person). These adjectives, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence. TalentSmart research data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren’t just highly likeable, they outperform those who don’t by a large margin. We did some digging to uncover the key behaviors that emotionally intelligent people engage in that make them so likeable. Here are 13 of the best:

1. They Ask Questions

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to listening is they’re so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said. The words come through loud and clear, but the meaning is lost. A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows that not only are you listening, you also care about what they’re saying. You’ll be surprised how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking questions.

2. They Put Away Their Phones

Nothing will turn someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all of your energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.

3. They Are Genuine 

Being genuine and honest is essential to being likeable. No one likes a fake. People gravitate toward those who are genuine because they know they can trust them. It is difficult to like someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel. Likeable people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. By concentrating on what drives you and makes you happy as an individual, you become a much more interesting person than if you attempt to win people over by making choices that you think will make them like you.

4. They Don’t Pass Judgment 

If you want to be likeable you must be open-minded. Being open-minded makes you approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen. Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace where approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes. This doesn’t require you believe what they believe or condone their behavior, it simply means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick. Only then can you let them be who they are.

5. They Don’t Seek Attention

People are averse to those who are desperate for attention. You don’t need to develop a big, extroverted personality to be likeable. Simply being friendly and considerate is all you need to win people over. When you speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, you will notice that people are much more attentive and persuadable than if you try to show them you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what—or how many people—you know. When you’re being given attention, such as when you’re being recognized for an accomplishment, shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help you get there. This may sound cliché, but if it’s genuine, the fact that you pay attention to others and appreciate their help will show that you’re appreciative and humble—two adjectives that are closely tied to likeability.

6. They Are Consistent

Few things make you more unlikeable than when you’re all over the place. When people approach you, they like to know whom they’re dealing with and what sort of response they can expect. To be consistent you must be reliable, and you must ensure that even when your mood goes up and down it doesn’t affect how you treat other people.

7. They Use Positive Body Language

Becoming cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they’re positive) will draw people to you like ants to a picnic. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the person who’s speaking are all forms of positive body language that high-EQ people use to draw others in. Positive body language can make all the difference in a conversation. It’s true that how you say something can be more important than what you say.

8. They Leave a Strong First Impression

Research shows most people decide whether or not they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting you. They then spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction. This may sound terrifying, but by knowing this you can take advantage of it to make huge gains in your likeability. First impressions are tied intimately to positive body language. Strong posture, a firm handshake, smiling, and opening your shoulders to the person you are talking to will help ensure that your first impression is a good one.

9. They Greet People by Name

Your name is an essential part of your identity, and it feels terrific when people use it. Likeable people make certain they use others’ names every time they see them. You shouldn’t use someone’s name only when you greet him. Research shows that people feel validated when the person they’re speaking with refers to them by name during a conversation. If you’re great with faces but have trouble with names, have some fun with it and make remembering people’s names a brain exercise. When you meet someone, don’t be afraid to ask her name a second time if you forget it right after you hear it. You’ll need to keep her name handy if you’re going to remember it the next time you see her.

10. They Smile 

People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want people to like you, smile at them during a conversation and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.

11. They Know When To Open Up

Be careful to avoid sharing personal problems and confessions too quickly, as this will get you labeled a complainer. Likeable people let the other person guide when it’s the right time for them to open up.

12. They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them)

When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain, a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and a slew of other positive feelings. A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or a friendly handshake is all it takes to release oxytocin. Of course, you have to touch the right person in the right way to release oxytocin, as unwanted or inappropriate touching has the opposite effect. Just remember, relationships are built not just from words, but also from general feelings about each other. Touching someone appropriately is a great way to show you care.

13. They Balance Passion and Fun

People gravitate toward those who are passionate. That said, it’s easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likeable people balance their passion with the ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They still get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalize on valuable social moments. They minimize small talk and gossip and instead focus on having meaningful interactions with their coworkers. They remember what you said to them yesterday or last week, which shows that you’re just as important to them as their work.

Bringing It All Together

Likeable people are invaluable and unique. They network with ease, promote harmony in the workplace, bring out the best in everyone around them, and generally seem to have the most fun. Add these skills to your repertoire and watch your likeability soar! Source: Dr. Travis Bradberry, TalentSmart, the world’s #1 provider of emotional intelligence 

Want to Assess your Leaders Emotional Intelligence?

Several studies have shown that emotional intelligence predicts job performance over IQ, experience, or technical ability. Assessment Leaders offers several Talent Smart Emotional Intelligence Appraisals all found here.

Two Questions to Ask Before Any Performance Assessment

I recently had a conversation with an L&D manager who told me that he was being asked to assess all of the Directors in his organization. It struck me at that moment how broad a request that was, and I began to ask him questions to uncover just what his leadership team needed from the assessment. It turns out they needed to assess the Directors’ performance. Again, I had more questions.

It was unclear whether the intent was to assess the Directors’ performance in their current position or to assess them for their readiness to be promoted to a Vice President position within the organization. If the Directors’ were to be assessed in their current role, the L&D manager would need to develop and administer an assessment that focused on the specific competencies required for Directors within the organization. On the other hand, if the Directors were to be assessed for their readiness for a VP position, the assessment should focus on the competencies required for that VP position. In the case of this organization, those are fairly divergent competency sets.

This conversation got me thinking about what kinds of critical questions need to be asked before engaging in a performance assessment. There are many, but here are two that must be asked every time at the outset:

1) What is the purpose?

Defining the purpose drives the content and intent of a performance assessment. Assessing the performance of a leader or contributor may be part of a normal performance management process, but may also serve other purposes. It may serve as an informal tool for an employee to gauge his or her own strengths and performance gaps, or for continuous organizational improvement. Although not ideal, it may be used for making decisions for RIFs (Reductions in Force). No matter the purpose, it needs to be clearly understood by leadership, the assessor, and those being assessed to ensure the best results.

2) What are you going to do with the results?

Understandably, the answer to this question flows in large part from the purpose, but the answer needs to be articulated clearly to all parties involved. Having a clear answer to this question allows the assessor the best chance at developing and delivering a performance assessment that achieves the purpose while mitigating factors that could bias the results (e.g. social desirability, fear, etc.). In addition, it is important to let your assessee know up front why you’re collecting the data and how you plan to use it.  Assessments can create anxiety for people at all levels within the organization. To help reduce anxiety and increase willing participation in the performance assessment process, leadership should commit to and communicate up front the level of investment they are willing to make in resources for training and development so that the assessee knows that a growth path has been established.

There is much thought and work that go into effective performance assessment development and delivery. Asking good questions is a critical part of the process.

What other questions would you ask when developing a performance assessment?

CEO, Cathy Light, gets hacked at a famous coffeehouse in New York

While on a recent business trip in New York, I took a break to visit my daughter, who lives in Manhattan. I hadn’t seen her in several months and was excited to hear about her work at PWC and other mother/daughter catch-up talk. To begin our day, we met at a trendy (highly rated by Zagat) coffeehouse just around the corner from her apartment. As we made our order at the counter, we were laughing and chatting to one another. The clerk must have taken our preoccupation with one another as a sign that I wasn’t paying attention. Wrong. Watch the video to see what happened.

As the CEO of Assessment Leaders, an organization that provides best-in-class talent assessments, background checks and surveys to hire, promote and retain the best employees, I couldn’t help but take this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to talk to this Coffeehouse’s leadership about the power of our tools… and what could be fixed in their hiring process. Come to find out, they do use background checks as part of their hiring process. That’s great news but, unfortunately, background checks just aren’t enough to filter out the bad eggs…as this situation clearly illustrates. Not just a bad hire, but one that commits fraud! Assessment Leaders Spot the Bad Eggs There are three things a hiring manager can do to increase their chances of a good hire, beyond a strong background check.

  1. Ask the candidate to take a low-cost (as little as $30), highly effective and validated pre-hire assessment to measure their personal integrity, attitude towards substance abuse, reliability and work ethic. This assessment also includes an interview guide based on the results of the individual assessment. To learn more about this best selling pre-hire assessment and view a sample report click here. Another pre-hire assessment that is popular is the Job Fit, which ensures the applicant has the necessary basic experience and possess the core traits and attitudes that you have found to be predictive of success in that job. To learn more about the Job Fit and view a sample report, click here.

Pre-hire assessments aren’t 100% foolproof, but they will compliment a background check and aide in the hiring process.  It’s worth every penny! If anything good can come of this story, I sincerely hope hiring managers will make a small investment in ensuring new hires not only pass all the required background checks but also possess the core traits and attitudes that they found to be predictive of success in that job.

  1. Gauge the candidates’ problem solving skills and past performance by using behavioral-based interviewing. Ask situational questions on how she/he would handle (or would handle) certain circumstances that reflect the position and company specifically. For example, an upset customer, team assistance, honesty, or good vs. bad decisions.
  1. Ensure that the hiring manager covers the core values of the company and ask the candidate to respond on how they would model each value. You are trying to ascertain whether the candidate is aligned with the company’s values.

Experts estimate that the cost of a bad hiring decision—measured in high turnover, lost opportunity, damaged reputation, and more—can range from 20 to 200 percent of a year’s salary (depending upon the position). The stakes are simply too high to rely on gut decisions or traditional methods alone. Use Assessment Leaders’ scientifically developed and validated assessments to:

  • Reduce the risks associated with hiring
  • Weed out poor candidates before the interview process
  • Reduce turnover and absenteeism
  • Minimize employee theft and dishonesty
  • Reduce training costs
  • Achieve higher productivity
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Improve teamwork

To learn more about why and how to utilize assessment tools to attract, retain, advance and develop employees at all levels, click on the link below to view the slides. Assessment Leaders – Measure the Total Person  

How Assessments Drive Decisions

Do people make better choices with more information?  Absolutely. “Gut” feelings are important, but making decisions without actual data to support them can lead to costly mistakes. Assessment tools provide the objective information you need to make key hiring decisions. Taking the time to gather, evaluate, and compare and contrast assessment data can dramatically increase your hiring success rate—and decrease turnover costs. In today’s leaner business climate, budgets are tighter, and there’s less room for error. But companies still don’t invest enough time, thought or resources in their hiring processes to avoid wrong hires. Assessment tools are nothing new. Since the 1940s, there have been processes to objectively identify and describe individuals’ job-related characteristics, skills, and abilities. These tools have evolved significantly over the years, but many people still don’t realize how powerful they can be. The proper use and implementation of assessment tools can provide data to assist managers in making better decisions, thus yielding better organizational results in the following areas:
  • Sourcing Talent
  • Managing/Coaching
  • Promotions
  • Building High-Achieving Teams
  • Sales Optimization
  • Learning Development
  • Succession Planning
  A well-designed assessment process identifies qualities in potential hires—as well as current employees—that can make a difference to the organization:  
  1. Are they the right person (with the right skills and talents) for the job?
  2. Do they fit into the environment (culture) of the company?
  3. Do they have the potential to grow?
  Henry Ford reportedly once complained that all he wanted from a worker was a pair of hands, but that he had to deal with the whole person instead. Given that we all need to hire “whole people,” we might as well learn as much as we can about their attitudes, personalities, and abilities ahead of time. Assessments give us the information we need to make smarter decisions.  

The DISC® Profile: It’s All About YOU!

In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s hard to keep up with all the latest trends, newest tools, and most current buzzwords. But newer isn’t always better. And in the world of assessment tools, it’s hard to match the lasting legacy and usefulness of the long-respected “DISC®” personality profile. The foundation for the DISC® assessment tool was established way back in 1928, when psychologist William Moulton Marston described four basic personality styles in his book, Emotions of Normal People. (You’ve got to love that title!) Over time, the terminology has evolved into the styles we know today: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Using today’s technology, it’s easy to quickly assess an individual’s profile and determine where they fall on the DISC® grid. People with high “D” (Dominant) scores are direct and assertive, and tend to try and fix, change, or control things. High “I” (Influence) individuals are enthusiastic and sociable and are more likely to try to persuade or influence others. The high “S” (Steadiness) person is generally soft-spoken, calm, and cooperative. A high “C” (Conscientiousness) score indicates that an individual is analytical and focused on accurate, high-quality results. Of course, it’s always interesting to take the test and see well how your “score” matches your own perception of yourself. It’s often quite illuminating when the test results suggest you might not be exactly the person you think you are! At Assessment Leaders, when we implement the DISC® tool with our clients, we always encourage them to spend time reflecting on their own primary and secondary DISC® styles. Sometimes we have to remind them that there are no “good” or “bad” styles: each one has strengths that can add value to a company. Better understanding your own strengths can help you learn how to use them – and how to avoid overusing them. For example, a high “D” individual might overuse his strength of confidence and become boastful and vain, which makes him less effective in the workplace. This kind of self-DISC®overy is very important, and the quantitative results from the DISC® tool really do help people focus on what they do best. The DISC® profile also helps team leaders and managers better understand and manage their employees. A full DISC® assessment includes a number of valuable reports for management. For each individual employee, the General Characteristics Report provides the following information:
  • A quick overview of the individual’s basic behavioral strengths
  • A graph of the DISC® profile results
  • A narrative overview of the person’s behavioral style
  • Detailed descriptions of the person’s tendencies
    • Motivating factors
    • Preferred environment
    • Strategies for increased effectiveness
    • Demotivating factors
    • Behavior in conflict situations
  • A graphical representation of the “behavioral tendency continuum,” showing the respondent’s range of intensity for certain behaviors
  • Worksheets to prompt DISC®ussion and determine which action strategies would be most effective
As if all that weren’t enough, you can get even more Supplemental Reports that look not just at individual profiles but at the distribution and combination of personality styles on the whole team. That’s where it really starts to get interesting! So yes, it’s true: the DISC® assessment tool is an oldie but a goodie. But it’s still a fantastic first step for employees, managers, and companies toward better understanding the strengths and personalities of the unique individuals that make up their workforce.