At the End of the Day, Likability Still Wins in Politics and Business

Posted on by in Branding/Differentiation, Business, Character, Communication, Customer Service, Leadership, Managing Talent, Marketing, Personal Development, Relationships, Remarkability

Regardless of which political party you’re in, or which presidential election you pick out of the past fifty years, the winner has almost always been the most likable of the two candidates (for example, Kennedy over Nixon, Carter over Ford, Reagan over Carter, Bush I over Dukakis, Clinton over Bush I, Bush II over Gore, etc.). And once again, in the Obama vs. Clinton race or the McCain vs. Romney race, we’re seeing it played out again. Interestingly, as of this moment, McCain wins over Clinton, but loses to Obama.

Now, this isn’t meant to be a final predictor of who’ll win in the fall. Who knows how the race will shape up and who will come off being the more likable (for example, who would have thought six months ago that McCain would be more likable then Romney), but the track record of likability is pretty consistent. Why? Because at the end of the day, we all like to do "business" with people we like.

In fact, just recently I was interviewing a lawyer for a speaking engagement I’m doing in May. During our interview he mentioned to me that he has to train the lawyers he’s hired to learn that most people will decide within four seconds if they’re going to do business with a lawyer. Four seconds! And what can someone decide in four seconds? "Do I think I’m going to like this person?"

Now, lest you be tempted to think that likabilty isn’t relevant to business growth, just review the people you do business with. Yes, you may endure a cranky business owner from time to time, but most of the time, you choose to do business with people you like. Now, occasionally you get stuck in a place where there isn’t much of a choice and neither option is likable. But whenever there is a choice between doing business with someone who’s likable vs. someone who’s not, likable wins every time (and in most case, you’re willing to pay a premium for the likable option–which is another good reason for taking likability seriously.

But it’s not just about you being likable, it’s every person in your business who has contact with any customer being likable. That means that the front desk person has to be likable. The bookkeeper or accounts receivable person has to be likable. Your VP of Marketing has to be likable. The cashier has to be likable. Etc. You pick the position. But whatever the position, the person in that position better be likable. Why? Because if they aren’t I can almost guarantee you that you’re not making as much money as you could.

So as you look through your business, grade your people on the L-Factor (as Tim Sanders calls it in his book, The Likability Factor). Who are your A players when it comes to likability? Your B players? And then your C and D players? Next, make a game plan for ensuring that you (and they) are all moving toward being A players when it comes to the L Factor. And finally, talk about likability frequently–especially with your managers and leaders. Why? Because you (and they) only have four seconds to win a customer over–and most people, when given the choice, prefer to do business with people they like.

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