Apparently “likability” is a thing. I mean, I wouldn’t know from personal experience but from what I’ve gathered it’s important. For social reasons? Or work? Anyway, Forbes recently ran an article from contributor Travis Bradberry, who discussed research into likability that showed attributes such as sincerity and transparency make a person more likable — and that the social side of emotional intelligence can help people be more successful and outperform their colleagues.
Likability is so powerful that it can completely alter your performance. A University of Massachusetts study found that managers were willing to accept an argument with no supporting evidence if he or she was likable, and Jack Zenger found that just 1 in 2000 unlikable leaders are considered effective.
(*insert joke about Trump being so unlikeable and ineffectual he’s forced to take credit for the work of his predecessors or make shit up, blah blah easy target is easy and also depressing)
Bradberry then went on to detail nine key behaviors that are unlikeable, which frankly is more my speed. Humble-bragging, Being too serious, Not asking enough questions, Emotional hijackings, Whipping out your phone, Name-dropping, Gossiping, Having a closed mind, and Sharing too much too soon — all the things that put people off, or as I like to think of them, the “Signs That You’re An Asshole.” The point is that a little self-awareness can help you not annoy others, and by not annoying others you might get farther in life.
But in my opinion, Mr. Bradberry was thinking too small. Let’s face it: people can be so much worse than just off-putting. So I decided to come up with nine MORE asshole-indicative behaviors that should be avoided if you want people to like you. Or at least not actively wish you harm.
Backstabbing: Humble-bragging and name-dropping suck, but they’re also harmless. It’s when you take credit for someone else’s work or throw them under the bus at the first sign of trouble that’ll really make people hate you. In the short term it might keep you safe, but nobody is going to trust you — and longterm that can make work a whole lot harder.
Being too funny: Being too serious can be a downer, it’s true. But the flipside is also true: people who respond to everything with a witty one-liner are exhausting. Being funny is great, up until you’re cracking jokes about someone’s dead mother and they’re not into it. Know your audience, and know when to turn that shit off — because not everyone shares your humor. And also maybe don’t joke about people’s dead family members.
Being needlessly pedantic: Do typos or mispronunciations drive you nuts? That’s ok! Your grasp of the particulars of our language may be more acute than that of other people. But if the only thing you can contribute to the conversation is pointing out that someone said the wrong a word, save it until you can express it alongside an actual, substantive response. Because here’s the thing: most of the time, a typo or wrong word choice does not pose a serious roadblock to your understanding of what’s being said. Show that you can use your brain for comprehension by responding to the content… and then if you must, you can slip in a pointer about the error along with it. Grammar skills don’t impress anyone other than elementary school teachers anyway.
Not using your turn signal, or chilling in the passing lane when you’re not passing: This isn’t a work or social thing, but it fucking sucks and if you do it you’re an fucking asshole.
Lying: The thing about lying is that it works great until it doesn’t, and getting caught makes you look terrible. So use your judgement: is the benefit of the lie worth the corresponding risk? Little lies, maybe. Big lies? That depends. Like, I wouldn’t lie on my resume but I’ll occasionally fudge whether I’ve seen Downton Abbey during a water cooler chat. Related: there is an art to hedging your bets, and it’s possible to fib innocuously without going for the full lie. Start by considering how easy it’ll be to backtrack from if you’re caught. It’s the difference between saying “Oh yeah, I’ve seen a bit of Downton but I keep meaning to watch more” and “Oh, I LOVE that show!”
Honesty: I know, I know, “honesty is the best policy”… except when it isn’t. Like if you hear the phrase “give me your honest opinion” — STOP AND THINK. Is this person asking whether you think the font they’re using on their Powerpoint looks good, or are they asking whether you think they should go to their boss and demand a raise? Some people only think they want to hear the truth because they don’t actually know what that truth is. The art of hedging your bets works as well for honesty as it does for lying, by the way. Just look for the smaller dose of reality that’ll go down smoother than the full uncensored helping.
Bigotry: Sure, Bradberry covered closed-mindedness on the small scale, but there are bigger extrapolations of it than simply being unwilling to listen. Want to be likable? Don’t expect everyone to agree with you, or live like you, or BE like you. And don’t judge them if they’re not, because guess what: there are a whole lot more people in this world that don’t fit into your narrow little bucket than do. This includes racism, sexism, and all manners of phobias. Except the one about clowns. Or particularly large spiders.
Being a sex predator: There was a time (all of history) when you could get away with everything from lewd comments to actual rape and still be successful. But not anymore! Hopefully. Maybe. Fingers crossed. Point is, you’ll be more likable to at least half the population if you keep your hands and thoughts and sex organs to yourself.
Being a Nazi: You’d think this wouldn’t need to even be said, and yet here we are. So for the umpteenth time, DON’T BE A FUCKING NAZI. Even if you think swastikas are pretty or Hitler was misunderstood, don’t talk about it. “But Tori,” you may be thinking, “what about those lovely like-minded folks I met at that rally? They liked me!” Sure… but being liked by other Nazis will not get you anywhere. Except the White House — and we all know THAT GUY is actually miserable.
I hope these tips will guide you to success and popularity! And remember — if they do, that doesn’t give you permission to then become an asshole. This isn’t high school.