Although your primary goal may not be to gain approval, as a leader you understand that likeability increases your ability to influence others. With that in mind, consider the tangibles involved:
Put others at ease
Your stock rises as the anxiety of those around you declines. When someone asks a question and mispronounces a word, never embarrass them by correcting them in front of others. When a client or colleague breaches some rule of etiquette, never call attention to their mistake by trying to correct them. No one likes to feel inadequate, ill-prepared, incapable, or uninformed. Whatever you can do to lessen someone's discomfort and help them feel accepted, smart, and capable will increase their perception of your own leadership and wisdom.
Most people will not have opportunity to follow you home and see how you act away from the job. They'll see only the "on stage" demeanor. So primarily they spot pretentious people-particularly, presenters--three ways:
-- An affected tone
-- Overly formal, complex language
-- Choreographed movement and gestures
To be authentic, speak in a natural tone with simple words-and leave choreography for dance class.
Find something in common
We like people who are like us. Give people a chance to know you personally. That may mean revealing a favorite vacation spot or sports team, telling about a life lesson learned, or simply mentioning the struggle you have in organizing the email in your inbox. People identify with your humanity and your struggles more than with your successes.
Don't be a prima donna
Serving on a committee for my organization not too long ago, I had occasion to work the green room for an event. Others in the room were hustling around trying to find a Coke with caffeine-not the sugar-free, caffeine-free kind that seemed to be only variety stocked in the refrigerator. "I'll need to go to the supermarket ASAP and grab one for Ken," the host said.
"You don't have time. He'll be coming off the stage in 10 minutes."
"He has to have one. He goes berserk unless we have one waiting." The host grabbed her keys and dashed out the door.
From the wild look in the host's eyes, I believed her. Sure enough, the keynoter came backstage with hand extended, "The Coke? Where's my Coke?"
When he learned he'd have to wait a few minutes for his drink, he left his backstage visitors waiting to meet him while he pouted in hiding until his host, with Coke in hand, reappeared.
Use humor to open hearts and minds
In our presentation skills workshops, our consultants often get this question: "When is it okay to use humor in a business or technical presentation?" Answer: "Almost always." Humor, whether in a presentation or a conversation, doesn't necessarily mean a joke or one-liner. Having a sense of humor simply means the ability to see life in a lighthearted way. Those who see everything as a matter of life-and-death wear a permanent frown and make those around them ill at ease. Your willingness and ability to "lighten up" can be invaluable in positioning yourself as confident and comfortable in unscripted situations.
Whether leading a project or a team of coworkers or needing quick credibility with an audience you'll never see again, put the likeability factor to work for you-not against you.
Dianna Booher is the bestselling author of more than 46 books, published in 26 languages, with nearly 4 million copies sold. Her personal development topics include communication, leadership, personal presence, productivity, life balance, and faith. Her latest books include Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader and Communicate With Confidence, Revised and Expanded Edition. National media such as Good Morning America, USAToday, the Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily, Bloomberg, Forbes.com, CNN International, NPR, Success, and Entrepreneur have interviewed her for opinions on critical workplace communication issues. For more information, visit http://www.BooherResearch.com.© 2016 Dianna Booher
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