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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Benefits of Being Likeable at Work

Generally when searching the headlines for a Quality NOW topic, I find stories about recalls, leadership, lean, and Six Sigma. This month, however, The Wall Street Journal published a story about a University of Massachusetts study of 133 managers. The topic of the study? Likeability.

Quality NOW has not shied away from soft-skill stories but this presented something unique to add to your toolbox. The UM study, stated The Wall Street Journal, suggests you could be making work a more difficult place to be, if you aren’t working to develop your likeability.

That’s right, “develop your likeability.” Likeability is a skill, although most of us think of it as innate ability or use the term interchangeably with charisma. People are born with charisma; likeability is learned.

As a member of the quality community, you have important information to dispense across the enterprise. Whether you begin with the product development department or processing plant, each item of information more often than not is essential to many, if not all, functions of the company.

The UM study found that likable people are more likely to receive help at work and obtain useful information from others. Wouldn’t this be an ideal situation for your quality process-related work—breaking down silos to improve a process? Moreover, the managers interviewed agreed that “if an auditor is likable and gives a well-organized argument, managers tend to comply with his suggestions, even if they disagree (with the auditor).” (“Why Likability Matters More Than Ever at Work,” The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2014.)

Careerealism.com posted “How To Be More Likeable at Work: 10 Things To Do Today,” by G.L. Hoffman. As would be expected, some of the 10 points have foundations in many interpersonal arenas—be positive, actively listen, and so on. However, in the quality profession, you will often meet resistance—sometimes hostility—when you’re just doing your job. The attitude from others can take its toll on you. Being positive isn’t enough, but when you enter every meeting with the attitude that everyone has good will, you come across not as an annoying ray of sunshine but as someone genuinely likeable.


Additionally, when you are placed in a position of conflict, it is easy (even for naturally likeable people) to either push a matter too hard or communicate in ways that may reveal your insecurities. There are ways to listen, show genuine humility, and be accommodating without appearing weak. Combining these attributes makes you more likeable and, ultimately, more valuable to your organization.

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