The Hidden Truth Behind “People Do Business with People They Like”

You’ve heard it, I’m sure.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”There is a hidden truth in ‘people do business with people they like’ that is commonly overlooked but critically important.” quote=”There is a hidden meaning in ‘people do business with people they like’ that is commonly overlooked but critically important.” theme=”style3″]

What is this phrase telling us?  What’s the message we’re supposed to take from this?

Do People Like You?

If you are in business and people do business with people they like then the message seems fairly clear…

You need to be liked for people to do business with you.

Simple, straightforward, direct.  Right?

Well, not quite!

Being Liked

Everyone wants to be liked.

And I believe that is exactly the problem with the interpretation of this phrase.

Since we all have the innate desire to be liked and the phrase is telling us that people will work with us if they like us we focus on being likeable.

Being Likeable

What are the common traits of someone who is likeable?

  • Charismatic
  • Charming
  • Empathetic
  • Engaging
  • Friendly
  • Outgoing
  • Sweet
  • Sympathetic

This is where I get a bit frustrated with this phrase.  Maybe you’ve seen posts on Facebook or websites sharing the top traits of successful people.  Yeah, well, those annoy me too.

Let’s look a few examples:

Likeable Bill ClintonBill Clinton – Bill Clinton is said to be one of the most charismatic people.  He tilts his head in just the right way, has a smooth speech pattern, smiles with the perfect curl of his lips.  It is just what comes natural to him.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs – Steve Jobs is arguably one of the most successful business people who has ever lived.  Yet many would say he was not very likeable, yet admired at the same time.  There were stories of him not being too nice to those that worked with or around him.

Larry Page

Larry Page – Larry Page is the founder and CEO of Google is known to be “personally reserved, unabashedly geeky, and said to be introverted.”

All of these men are ultra-successful yet would we all agree they are “likeable”?  I’m not so sure.

Likeable vs Attractive

Attractive vs likeable

Understanding this distinction makes all the difference in how we interpret the phrase, “people do business with people they like.”

You see, it is not about being likeable.  Instead it is about being attractive.

Not attractive like super-model attractive.

Google defines “attractive” as “having beneficial qualities or features that induce someone to accept what is being offered.”

Sounds very similar to how we might define “likeability” yet I believe there is a very big difference.

Outward vs Inward

Placing your focus on being likeable is putting your focus outward.  On others.  Trying to figure out what people want from you.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Attraction is created by focusing inward.  On yourself.  Not worrying about what others may think and being true to your own personality and beliefs.” quote=”Attraction is created by focusing inward.  On yourself.  Not worrying about what others may think and being true to your own personality and beliefs.” theme=”style3″]

Have you noticed some of the most “attractive” people are those that have a bit of a swagger or confidence about them.  Another common phrase you may have heard before is that, “the sexiest quality to possess is confidence.”

How to Be Attractive

If the focus should be on being attractive rather than likeable the next obvious question is, how?

Sure, the simple advice of being true to yourself and having self-confidence seems easy until you try to put it into action.  And I like tactics, how-to’s.  So let me help you out here…

[click_to_tweet tweet=”There are three things you can do to instantly increase your attractiveness.” quote=”There are three things you can do to instantly increase your attractiveness.” theme=”style3″]

focus on your strengthsFocus on Your Strengths

Stop worrying about what the world “values”.  I will tell you right here and right now that the moment you stop caring about what you think people want and start focusing on what you do well the world will adapt.

I am an introvert.  I do not like cocktail parties.  I do not like networking events.  I do not like being in social situations.  Sure, I can carry on a conversation and get to know other people and they would likely not know any different.  BUT…it is draining and uncomfortable for me.  I would rather be in a situation where I am delivering information such as a blog post like this or speaking in front of a crowd on a topic I know well.

But, I would say that the world “values” extroverts.  Those that are the life of the party.  Those that make people laugh.  I am simply not that person and if I tried would repel, rather than attract people.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”The best way to stop worrying about what the world wants is to focus on what you do well.  What makes you feel comfortable.  What you enjoy.” quote=”The best way to stop worrying about what the world wants is to focus on what you do well.  What makes you feel comfortable.  What you enjoy.” theme=”style3″]

If you don’t like speaking in front of a group, don’t do it.  If you don’t like networking events, don’t go.

wear sexy underwearWear Sexy Underwear

Ok, so you don’t have to wear sexy underwear but the idea is the same – wear clothes that make you feel good.

Do you like dressing up?  Or maybe you enjoy the casual look.  Jeans?  Slacks?  Skirts?

When you are feeling your best what are you wearing?

I’ve got a couple of looks I go for depending upon the situation I am in.

When I am in a professional setting, meeting with a client or speaking in front of a crowd I love the vest and tie look.  But I like it with jeans.  And different types of shoes ranging from casual Vans to dress boots…whatever I think looks the best with the vest.  Walking on stage dressed up like this I feel unbeatable.

When I am casual I enjoy flip-flops, shorts and simple t-shirts.  And if someone doesn’t like what I’m wearing…that’s their problem, not mine.

So, what do you like to wear?  It could be a particular pair of underwear.  Maybe a style of shoes.  Possibly a hat.  Or an overall look.  Whatever it is, own it and watch how people respond.  You’ll get comments (even if they can’t see the underwear), I promise.  And those comments will prove you are showing off your confidence.

The Real Life vs The Reel Life

social media highlight reel
Icons made by Nhor Phai from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

Social media is a confidence killer!!

We all compare ourselves to what we see on social media.  We look in the mirror on a bad hair day and think about all the gorgeous people we see on Instagram.  We get frustrated when our kids aren’t doing what we ask and see the video of all the amazingly perfect kids on Facebook.

Social media is not real life…its reel life.  Think about it…it is the highlight reel of everyone’s lives.  The best of their lives.  What they want everyone to see.  Most share only the “best of” and leave out the rest, skewing the way their lives are portrayed.

Understanding this allows you to use social media in a different way.  Rather than looking at social media as real life we can see it as a way to inspire us, motivate us, stay in touch with friends and family.  But we have to keep it in perspective and realize that we are only seeing the best of the best moments and not every moment.

People Do Business with People They Like

Let’s revisit this phrase.

Sure, people will do business with people they like.  And you could choose to do what most people do which is try to be likeable.  But it doesn’t work.  It might work for a short period of time but eventually people will catch on, you’ll be exhausted and the house of cards will crumble.

Instead be you.  Be confident and attract those that like you for you.  It can be a bit slow going at first, but stick with it.  Because when you do life will be more enjoyable, business will be with those that you enjoy working with and your clients will refer you more often.

Are you willing to stop trying to be likeable to attract the people who like you for you?  If so, comment below and let us know!

This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Scott Wynn

      Thank you, Mary.

  1. Deb Stephenson

    Well done! Thank you always for your inspiration, motivation and the occasional irritation ( with love naturally)

    1. Scott Wynn

      Irritation? I guess that’s just part of being authentic…sometimes you might create some irritation. 🙂

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