Love Me -> Believe Me -> Understand Me

Does the title sound a little trite? If you hang in there, I promise it will start to make sense. When we meet someone for the first time, one of the first ice-breaker openers goes ‘So what do you do’ and the response goes something of like ‘I work’ or ‘I manage’. In reality, the conversationalists, by trying to establish mutual understanding each other’s livelihood are seeking to build rapport. But we are missing something here. And that ‘Aha’ moment hit me at the last ‘Recognized Experts’ webinar hosted by @Dorie Clark where she mentioned two words that precede ‘Understanding’ — ‘Likeability’ and ‘Trustworthiness’!

Let me start with a story. A Jane Doe (she is real I assure you) an ex-colleague in a previous company was extremely articulate, polished, credible and she was the ‘recognized expert’ in technology Foo. And yet, I felt a strange sort of uneasiness and mild revulsion whenever I interacted with her. I never quite understood why. Until the answer dawned on me at @Dorie’s webinar. While Jane had established credibility on what she did and there was ‘comprehension’ of her ‘What’ — the two critical qualities that she needed to transcend as a true leader were missing — ‘likeability’ and ‘trustworthiness’. The smile was always fake and she would routinely masquerade her team members’ work as hers!

Another ex-colleague — John Doe — was always flitting from project to project and never quite finishing what he started. He always found someone to hand his unfinished project to as he moved on. Yet strangely, he had few detractors and in fact had a rabid following. He did not command a title or a corner office. The answer dawned on me after the webinar. He had ‘likeability’ and ‘trustworthiness’ going for him, even as comprehension of what he did was always fleeting — it never seemed to bother folks! An infectious smile and a ‘how can I help’ attitude’ were his weapons.

This has really got me thinking. So, if we establish true rapport with people in order of priority — Likeability -> Trustworthiness -> Comprehension, life would be a breeze. Maybe not — read on

1. Likability — This is taken for granted in our family and social lives — we seek the company of folks we like. But increasingly, it is proven that even in business, we gravitate towards people that we like and shun those we don’t — sometimes unconsciously even! And even with perfect strangers, our primate instinct makes the determination for us. So, this is the first hill to climb but not the only one. Read on.

2. Trustworthiness — Now it gets interesting. Let’s say I am immensely likable (humor me for a moment!). In fact, I go out of my way to keep people around me happy. I share stories, listen to them, help them. But, in my relentless quest for being liked I peddle personal information — Oh No! This makes me untrustworthy even as my friendliness and simplistic nature may endear me to some . On the flip side, I could be quite obnoxious, rude and appear uncaring but I know how to carry a secret to my grave and can be a confidant in times of need. That establishes trust.

3. Comprehension — This is where most of us excel — telling others what we do. Demonstrating superior command of the domain, college degrees to boot, social standing. In short — we are eager to show everyone around us that we have arrived and they should be grateful to be associated with us. But we also need to answer the question of ‘Why we do what we do’! That gets us into rarefied territory.

So, if we were to put all these three qualities together — let’s see how the potent combination could jumpstart our overall image. And no rocket science here. Three simple house rules in order of priority

1. Likeability without groveling and indulging in #SecretExchange

2. Enveloping trustworthiness by being a vault but doing it with warmth and character

3. Articulating succinctly not just what you do but why you do it

There is only one downside if you do all three above with gumption. Curating and maintaining your exploding fan base! That’s a nice problem to have, isn’t it? I think so, don’t you?