I hope that today’s post finds everyone happy and healthy. Today’s title is a misquote of a line from Sally Field’s Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actress in her role in the 1985 movie “Places in the Heart.” Obviously this reference is way too old for the majority of readers to be familiar with, but the phrase touches on an inborn desire that we all share: to be liked by our peers.
It is human nature to have a desire to be liked, and almost everyone in the world feels better when they know that they are liked and revered. We are hard-wired to be drawn to other people who make us feel good about ourselves, who are pleasant to be around and who have shown through their actions that they like us.
This natural propensity to gravitate toward people who like us has an important evolutionary component, as it allows us to form friendships, groups, cultures and societies. As individuals, we typically tend to congregate with other individuals who share something in common with us: a trait, an interest, a goal, a sense of community or a shared admiration between individuals. Being able to like others has helped us to evolve into our current society. As individuals, we are limited in what we can achieve, but when we work together with other people that we like, we are able to achieve much more than when working alone.
This property also applies in the business world, as most businesses enjoy increased success when they are working with other people and businesses that they like. Your popularity, and by extension your businesses popularity, will in large part determine your success. When given a choice, people tend to do business with people that they like. This bears out in our personal lives as well, as I will often travel a little farther and pay a little more to spend my hard-earned money with someone that I like. I am sure that every one of us can relate to this, as we will often avoid a certain business simply because one of their employees did or said something to us that we didn’t like, or we will patronize a business with an average product simply because someone working there has complimented or been nice to us, making us feel good about ourselves.
As I often volunteer my time to help our state board work on various items affecting home inspectors, I follow the businesses of many of the inspectors in my state. This knowledge of the successes and failures of our state home inspection companies affords me the opportunity to perform an (entirely informal) study of the effect of personality on the success of an individual’s business. Maybe one day I will write my doctoral thesis, quantifying my research and reporting the results in the Professional Journal of Home Inspectors, if I ever finish my schooling and someone eventually starts producing that journal publication…
The results of my informal study have shown me that, on average and regardless of perceived knowledge and experience, nice and happy individuals tend to have success in business, while irritable and unhappy individuals tend to have less success. This seems to lend credence to the old axiom that no one cares about your qualifications, they just want to do business with someone they like.
There are some home inspectors in our state whose qualifications far exceed mine, and hold more licenses and certifications than could reasonably be expected to fit on the average business card, and they are consistently on the verge of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, they are often railing against the system, convinced that outside forces are conspiring against them and their business. They profess that if the system were not rigged against them, that if they could only change how business is normally done, then they would have success. They fail to realize that the problem may reside much closer to home.
By being someone who is easy to like, and having a persona that lends itself to popularity rather than contempt, you can easily give yourself a leg up on your competition. Remember this quote from English essayist, parodist and caricaturist “Max” Beerbohm: “The delicate balance between modesty and conceit is popularity.”
Make it easy on yourself by making it easy for others to like you.
I welcome all feedback (positive and negative) about my take on this subject. Please leave your comments below. Thank you!
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