Do Business People Like You?

Sally Field has been lampooned for her acceptance speech at the Oscars when she said (paraphrased), “You like me. You really, really like me!” But all kidding aside, virtually everyone likes to be liked and appreciates it when somebody else recognizes their efforts, including the people who work for you or with whom you work.

There is some disagreement in business circles about the importance of “being liked.” One school of thought is that it really does not matter, as long as you produce high-quality work and treat others fairly and consistently. But it is hard to deny that “likeability” or other related aspects, such as “admiration” or “respect,” can strengthen existing business relationships over time and help you create new ones. The bottom line is that people often choose to do business with people they like, admire or respect, and often quit doing business with those they do not.

So how do you cultivate positive feelings in your business dealings? Start in-house with your employees by remembering the importance of two simple words: thank you. You may not say them as often as you used to, or hardly ever, but they can still carry weight. In fact, those two small words convey the message that you value and appreciate the other person. They can lift that person’s spirits when he or she is down. And they may help instill loyalty among workers.

The same principle also translates to business contacts, clients or customers, and other associates. Just by saying thanks, you are showing that you care.

On the other hand, you must be sincere. If the words ring hollow, or they seem perfunctory, the effort can backfire. A good approach is to be specific about what you are being thankful for. It takes a little more time and effort on your part, but can be well worth it. For example, you might compliment an employee on a job well done by remarking, “Thanks for completing that last assignment on time and efficiently. We really appreciate your dedication and commitment.” As a result, that employee is more likely to keep going the extra mile for the company.

It also is beneficial to know what motivates workers to do a better job. Is it purely about the money, or would other “rewards” like team spirit events or special workplace freedoms also build rapport? Similarly, you must learn the right buttons to push when you are dealing with clients or other business people. It might even come back full circle to being likeable.

Every business owner and manager has his or her own style. We are not suggesting that you change yours if it is successful. But the points raised in this article should, at the very least, merit your attention.