To be heard, you have to make people like you. Whether you are a manager to your staff, a subordinate to your boss or a strategic partner to your customer, you need to create chemistry.
People tend to believe those they like. Great communicators have the "likeability factor", which is a mix of your personality and the chemistry you create between yourself and others.
Just as many roads lead to success in the workplace, different personalities attract followers. The following traits universally attract people:
1. Show your humanity
During speaker training, people are taught to tell failure stories before success stories. Generally, audiences have more in common with those who struggle than those who succeed in life.
If you worry about your teen getting involved with the wrong group or if your father-in-law drove you nuts during the weekend, it's okay to share it with your colleagues.
Or if you lose a customer, regret it rather than make an excuse for it. If you miss a deadline, repair the damage by catching up. If you make a mistake, own up and correct it. If you misjudge someone, apologise and make amends.
People respond to humans much more favourably than to machines. When you communicate with colleagues, never fear to let them see your humanity.
2. Be courteous
There are a variety of small incidents that kill people's spirits. These can include a colleague who irresponsibly leaves a paper jam in the printer or someone who cuts the line at the cafeteria.
Remember, the smallest polite gestures develop chemistry and build kinship. For instance, saying "hello" when you come into the office or letting others know you are going to be away for an extended period. Honouring policies about reserving rooms, spaces and equipment for activities and saying "please," "thank you" and "you're welcome" go a long way.
3. Share a sense of humour
Whether people agree or disagree with US president George W. Bush's political positions, they typically admire his self-deprecating humour. At one of the Washington correspondents' dinners, he showed that he was able to poke fun at himself which was one of the primary things the media responded to favourably.
On one occasion, Mr Bush said: "I always enjoy these events. But why couldn't I have dinner with the 36 percent of the people who like me?"
Self-deprecating humour can open hearts and minds to make people receptive to ideas in ways words alone cannot.
4. Show humility
An act of arrogance can destroy an otherwise credible communicator. These can include refusing to acknowledge people when they speak to you, intentionally ignoring people's suggestions or displaying haughty body language, giving an amused smirk in response to an idea expressed in a meeting, or rolling your eyes to discredit someone's comment.
Credible communicators show humility in innumerable ways. Here are some tips:
Let others deliver key messages.
Make others feel important by interpreting, passing on, and applying their goals and initiatives.
Get input from others and consider that input worthy of a response.
Excite others by asking for their help, cooperation and buy-in.
Share the limelight by telling stories about star performers.
Share leadership roles by telling success stories of other leaders.
Appreciate the efforts and results of other people.
Arrogance antagonises people and expertise tinged with a touch of humility goes down better.
Your demeanour, language and personality will have a huge impact on whether people accept what you say. If your message is not sinking in and you are not getting the action you want, you may want to take it personally.