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Headlines & Between the Lines

Likeability: Obama, Romney and YOU

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The author of this entry is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or
June 6, 2012 | 2,231 views | 4 comments

By Laurie Schloff

Perhaps we thought popularity contests ended in high school, but recent polls are showing that “likeability” could very well determine who wins the presidency in November. Though Romney scores higher in polls on economic know-how, Obama currently polls at about 29 percentage points higher on likeability. (Gallup)

If we cast votes based on a candidate’s personal appeal, imagine how likeability can help you beat the competition at the job interview, get the sale, and even be the guy or gal with appeal to the opposite sex at your friend’s barbecue.

We all have the power to enhance our LI-Q (it means Likeability Quotient, and it rhymes with IQ). Fortunately, the factors which enhance others’ comfort and ease in your presence are definable and attainable.

Here are the five top behaviors which will help you (and our presidential contenders) score a higher LI-Q:

1. Smile to help others feel comfortable.
The fastest route to a friendly impression is to greet others with a smile and to maintain a pleasant expression (slightly upturned mouth and widened eyes) throughout the conversation. A smile signals that you aren’t judgmental or threatening-- you want your listener to be at ease around you. As we get older, our expression may appear dourer, making it even more important to give yourself a bit of smile therapy as those birthday candles multiply.

2. Initiate conversation.
Likeable folks don’t wait for others to be friendly. They have the confidence to muster up the courage to introduce themselves to a newcomer at the church picnic or company meeting. One executive recruiter commiserated about her allergies with a woman she met at the restroom sink. Not only did her new acquaintance appreciate the allergy advice--she ended up bringing new business to the friendly recruiter. At the beginning of his political career, President Bill Clinton worked a room until he had initiated conversation with every single person attending. He was known as the last to leave any event.

3. Show interest with questions.
Individuals with a high likeability quotient know that the best way to bring out the best in others is to ask questions which are interesting, but not too intrusive. The best questions pick up on others’ passion buttons--what they like talking about. “I’d love to hear about your kids' soccer games” or “What are your thoughts about the new spreadsheet?” are examples of well phrased queries. Remember, everyone is wearing a sign that says “Make me feel special.”

4. Listen as much as, or more than, you talk.
That’s why we were given two ears and one mouth, right? Likeable people understand that it’s human nature to appreciate attention. They always turn the conversation to the favorite topic of most people --themselves. Top business people and wise politicians go on what are called “listening tours,” finding out what’s on their customers’ or voters’ minds.

5. Dress and groom yourself with care.
Perhaps it is superficial, but most of us take a person’s appearance into account when we are judging our feelings toward him or her. The key to a likeable look is not fashion, but wearing what is neat, well fit and suited to the situation. Investing in a few “go-to” outfits as well as nail and hair care will ensure a positive first impression.

Political pundits never underestimate the importance of likeability in winning an election. That is why you’ll find President Obama on entertainment and talk shows where he can show the full range of facial expression and conversational skills. Governor Romney is making gains in likability as he is pictured shaking hands, smiling, and conversing with local folks at diners and community meetings in target states.

Both candidates score high on appearance. Both have been spotted in well fit jeans if it suits the occasion.

Focus on enhancing your personal Li-Q. A higher Likeability Quotient will help you win friendships and career success as well.

Laurie Schloff is a Senior Coaching Partner with Brookline, Massachusetts-based The Speech Improvement Company. Visit her online at
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Your Opinions and Comments

The Marcelina Muse  
Dry Tank, TX  
June 6, 2012 1:50pm
Grouch don't you know the rule. The worse the product the bigger the smile. Just look how big Obama's smile can be. Although he hasn't been smiling too much lately come to think of it.

June 6, 2012 9:41am
Most salesmen are very likeable but I don't necessarily care for them. This dislike is magnified when they are peddling a bogus product.

Kenneth Mills  
Round Rock, TX  
June 6, 2012 9:02am
Not sure how anyone could respect and like someone who is extremely condescending to average everyday Joes and says many things just for the pleasure of saying them (damn lies) when he knows the words he says means nothing...just ... More ›

Elaine K.  
June 6, 2012 8:31am
New post.

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