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8 Steps to Becoming More Likeable

by John Zettler

March 8, 2017

I’ve recently been introduced to the book Give and Take by Adam Grant – www.adamgrant.net. In it he talks about the three types of people that exist in our organizations: Givers, Takers and Matchers.  I’m going to take a moment to define the three people and then I’ll get to the point.

Givers the people in your organization who enter every interaction trying to figure out, “What can I contribute here?  How can I add value?  How can I help you?”  It shows up as looking for ways to be helpful, sharing knowledge, providing mentoring, making introductions and generally just helping out colleagues.

Takers – these are the people who view every interaction as a way of extracting value from other people and approach people with the mindset of, “How can I get as much as possible from this interaction?”  The good news is, while the rise of takers in an organization is often a quick one, their descent is often as quick. Grant talks about needing to remove as many of these people from your organization as possible.

Matchers – of a study of over 30,000 people, the most common person in organizations is described as the Matchers.  These are the people who live in the middle between giving and taking – where the instinct is to maintain a balance between give and take.  They try to keep fairness and a sense of quid pro quo in their interactions.  If I do something for you, I expect you’ll do something for me in return.
The fascinating part of the research that Grant presents is that, on the surface, the worst performers in an organization were Givers.  The good news is that Takers were not identified as the best performers.  In fact, what the research showed is that the best performers in organizations are also Givers.  They were over-represented at both the bottom and top of the performance scales.

What he says about the Givers that are at the bottom of the scale, is that they’re so focused on helping others that they do so at the detriment of their own work – in essence, they don’t have time to do their own work.

So, how can we maximize on the performance of Givers?giver taker

Grant suggests there are 3 main things we need to do.

  1. Prevent Burnout – knowing the Givers penchant for helping others at their own expense, we need to avoid burnout by having everyone and everything go to these people.  They likely won’t say no, so we need to help them.
  2. Create a Help-Seeking Culture – if your culture is seen to promote or accept Takers, it will impact others willingness to seek out and ask for help from the Givers.  In one example Grant talks about, 2 floors at a hospital, where on 1 floor there was a designated Giver and on the other floor there was not.  The difference in culture and performance on the floor where there was a designated Giver was remarkable.
  3. Ensure you have the right people on the bus – and more importantly he says, keep the wrong people (Takers) off the bus.

As I was reading Grant’s work and watching his TED Talk, I couldn’t help but think that there is a real parallel between the work that Dale Carnegie does with people and the types of people who, in my opinion, are more likely to be Givers.  Here’s my take on what we can do to be more likeable and in turn be Givers which will add value to your organization.

  1. The power of positivity – Every company has those people who crave negativity, in fact, they don’t even want you to solve their problem because then they wouldn’t be able to continue griping about it to everyone.  They crave the attention.  They can’t recognize that while they think everyone else is the problem, in fact, they are the problem.  Well, we all get to choose who to be when we wake up each morning.  Remove the negative self-talk from your life and you will be able to live a better and more fulfilling life.
  2. Be genuine in your interactions – What does being genuine mean.  Here are some ideas of how to be genuine in your communication: be vulnerable, let people know you’re human.  Share your opinion and thoughts, tell truths, be a good listener – focus on the interaction as if that’s the most important thing in the world, let your values shine through, and finally, give and receive appreciation.
  3. Think about and help others – As a society we are inherently focused on ourselves, and hey, sometimes that’s ok.  But, what would be possible if we just cared about other people a little more.  Cared about the challenges they might be experiencing, what’s going on in their life, what they might need help with.  It’s not easy, you might need some reminders for yourself, but find ways to think about others first.
  4. Be a good listener – I’ve already talked about this and it’s worth mentioning again – focus and be present in your interactions with people.  Truly listen to what they’re saying, and what they’re not saying, in order to help them.
  5. Smile and have fun – I always say to my boss, “If I can’t have fun, I don’t want to play”.  Have fun with what you do and make sure you smile.  It’s a subset of the attitude I talked about earlier and it will be contagious – people around you will change when you lead by example.
  6. Become interested in people and what they value – This one is a bit advanced because its foundation is that you care enough about them to get to know what they value.  It requires you to get past the superficial questions like: how is your day, what do you think about the weather, etc.  It will force you to go deeper and ask better questions to help you uncover who a person is and what is most important to them.
  7. Remember people’s names – In sessions I teach, I always ask people, “why don’t we remember names?”  Well, it goes back to one of the earlier pieces I mentioned.  We are so internally focused on our agenda that we don’t listen enough, or one could say care enough, about the person we’re meeting.  It’s not easy, I’ll admit that, and it requires effort.  Here’s a couple quick tips:  When you meet someone, repeat their name in your head several times.  Then, as you speak with them, interject their name back in the conversation (making sure not to be awkward) and then when the opportunity exists, find them on social media and create a lasting impression for yourself.
  8. Promote others – In many organizations propping others up, giving them credit or even working together towards a common goal just aren’t common practice.  I read a quote, it was when the Blue Jays were in the playoffs a couple years ago, but it’s really stuck with me.  It says – “It’s amazing what we can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit.”  Let’s think that way and change the conversation – let’s prop people up, treat people how you would want them to treat you in return, and share in the success that you will achieve.

A couple great concepts here today, one from Adam Grant and one from the works of Dale Carnegie.  It makes me think, almost everything we do in life, (whether personal or professional), has a people component to it.  What if we all just became a little more of the ‘Giving’ type of person and truly cared about others a little more.  What would be possible for you, what would be possible for your business? Now, if it were easy, we would all be doing it.  Sometimes we need a little support.  We’re here to help at Dale Carnegie.  Give us a call, we’re ready for you.

Best Success!

John Zettler
Director, Talent Strategy & Development
Dale Carnegie Business Group

905-826-7300 x 230