The Likability Formula


It is a world full of “likes.”  We like posts on social media.  We like products on Amazon.  We like our friend’s latest profile pic.

We strive to BE liked.  Because being liked is powerful.   A likable person can more easily land a job, make a sale, or get a promotion.

Just what makes someone likable?  Is likability something that can improve?  Is there some kind of formula for likability?

Likability Formula: Listen with Intent

Likable people know how to listen.  Sure. Listen.  You’ve heard that before, but have you ever tried to listen to someone so that you remember everything THEY say?  It’s not easy.  Your thoughts might wander. You may have to swallow your brimming advice.  Author Steven Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

To increase your likability, demonstrate active listening through eye contact and targeted follow-up questions.  Show you understand by repeating back some of what you heard.  Put your phone away.

If you do it right, you will feel an emotional connection form.  The other person, being heard, is more likely to trust you.  “Effective listening helps to resolve conflicts, build trust, inspire people, and strengthen teams,” says Life Coach Jan Johnston Osburn. “That’s especially important to leadership.”

Likability Formula: Be Selfless

Likable people are often very generous– with their time, talents, and fortune.  Active listening is a perfect example of being selfless with time.  Instead of focusing the conversation on how they might benefit, likable people will think of how to help the other person.

Likable people care about others and are often involved in social causes or campaigns.  Marcel Schwantes, in Inc, states, “(Likable people) express their joy in making a positive difference in the lives of others.  They visit nursing homes, share meals with lonely people, learn to surf, volunteer at homeless shelters, teach CPR classes, eat exotic foods, and pick up a new skill quickly.”

Even within the world of social media, there is opportunity for selflessness.  Think about the wording of posts and consider giving back through group causes.  Even taking the time to endorsing someone else on LinkedIn is something selfless that can be of mutual benefit.

Proactive thinking can elevate your career. 

Likability Formula: Add in a Sense of Humor

While this may not come naturally to everyone, likable people are able to use humor.  Laugh at yourself, send a meme, or surprise coworkers with a funny Zoom background.  Using humor might mean sharing a personal story or even just smiling. Hendrie Weisinger, Ph. D of Psychology Today explains: “Laughing, for example, triggers the release of endorphins-hormones and enzymes that serve as natural painkillers for your body. When we laugh, we feel good, and when we feel good, we are more productive in our work, are better partners, and more loving parents. Humor’s evolutionary function is to make both ourselves and the people around us feel good.”

Humor in the workplace is NO joke.

Being Likable in a Remote Workspace

The formula for likability can and should translate to the remote workplace, especially as hiring and onboarding move to Skype and Zoom.  Many companies also use programs like Hirevue to narrow a pool of candidates.  According to a 2008 study in Management Science, people watching a speaker on a videoconference were more influenced by how much they liked the speaker than by the quality of the speaker’s arguments (Sud Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal).”

How you present on camera matters. Practice recording a video of yourself to post on LinkedIn where your personality shines through.  Be aware of your non-verbal cues.  A great tip is to watch a video of yourself without sound and notice whether you are smiling, using your hands, and sitting up straight.

On LinkedIn, you can consider posting recorded video messages in addition to articles.  This can increase your likability.  Look directly into the camera, be warm, and speak slowly.

The bottom line is that likability matters.  “Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others, and have mistakes forgiven,” says Sue Shellenbarger of The Wall Street Journal.  And that is something everyone likes.

Since 2005, Artemis has been recruiting likable professionals for specialized hiring needs in areas of sales & marketing, product, analytics, general management and executive leadership.

We can also offer coaching services to help candidates and hiring managers build likability.  Please visit our website for more information and please “like” this article.

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