According to the Wall Street Journal:
The ability to come across as likable is shaping how people are sized up and treated by bosses and co-workers.
Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others and have mistakes forgiven.
More employers track employees’ likability on in-house social networks and chat services. They recruit those who are trusted and well-liked to spread information or push through changes. Some companies take these employees’ social clout into account when handing out raises and promotions.
Is this news? It’s always been the case, but maybe we’re not as cognizant of it as we could or should be. The middle and high school teachers-to-be that I work with sometimes talk about what makes them most anxious when they think about finally having their own classrooms. Most often it’s not knowing enough. When they toss and turn at night it’s because they’re worried about super intelligent students posing difficult, anxiety inducing questions. Inevitably, they find out that “students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
When teaching, it’s far better to know one’s subject matter inside and out than not, but classroom success most often hinges on one’s ability to create a rapport with students. More simply, to be likable, which you should never confuse with being a pushover.
Here’s how to be more likable according to the WSJ’s workplace experts:
• Be authentic—To be more likable, behave in a way that feels natural and comfortable, rather than stiff or self-absorbed.
• Be curious—Show interest in others, make eye contact and ask questions about others’ opinions and activities.
• Be expressive—Vary tones of voice and smile, and show enthusiasm about what you’re saying.
• Listen—Focus on what others are saying and show that you are listening carefully, rather than getting distracted.
• Mimic others—Mirror the expressions or posture of the person you are talking to, in order to create a sense of familiarity.
• Find similarities—Actively try to find topics of interest you share with a listener, rather than talking only about what interests you.
The experts contend that likability is learned, but I can’t help but wonder, when a work coach of sorts advises an employee to act more naturally, wouldn’t being conscious of that notion make it even more difficult? I’d be skeptical of any stiff or self-absorbed person were to suddenly say, “Okay, watch this, now I’m going to act more naturally.” I want to believe teachers in training and others can learn these skills, I’m just not sure how best to teach them.
What say you?