Raw talent, education or experience, and competency are no longer enough to thrive in today’s competitive economy. Nor is it enough to have the right product or service at the right time to court a client and land the contract.
Soft skills, including adaptability, a positive attitude and good communication skills, are a vital part of fostering a dynamic workforce and being an effective leader.
When most of us are faced with a choice to work with a Jerky Janet or a Friendly Fred, we almost always opt for the likability over ability. The reason? When people like each other they connect, and good things happen when people who feel connected collaborate on projects.
Here are some ways to improve your likability, personally and professionally.
1. Master the BLT factor.
In this case, BLT stands for believability, likability, and trustworthiness. Cultivate a reputation that embodies these three key traits. When clients decide with whom to do business, they ask themselves, “Is Mike capable of the work and will I enjoy working with him?”
Obviously both criteria matter, but when we need help getting a job done, we most likely choose a congenial person over a more capable but less cordial one.
2. Show empathy.
The struggles and triumphs of your life affect how you empathize with others. Empathy doesn’t require you to agree with someone else’s opinion. You can politely agree to disagree while you thoughtfully consider his or her feelings. Respect others and try to find common ground. A shared experience can form an instant bond.
3. Be reliable.
Entrepreneurs who are consistent and dependable will win contracts and develop long-term professional relationships. Your clients need to know they can count on you to deliver the work reliably. Do your job well and people will begin to see you as consistent and trustworthy.
4. Tell the truth.
It sounds easy until you’re late on a project and over-budget. When you’re faced with a choice, always choose honesty over deception. Integrity has become a rare trait in the business world. All relationships require honesty, but professionalism is rooted in your personal integrity. Always use your best judgment and be transparent with those with whom you interact.
5. Ask questions.
Show sincere curiosity in the lives of others. Ask open-ended questions that begin with “Tell me…” Then really listen to the answer. You’ll discover more about your clients, colleagues and friends through effective listening. Your genuine interest will earn you the respect and appreciation of those around you.
6. Have an open mind.
When you judge others harshly or gossip on a regular basis, you invite negativity into your life. Consider the opinions of others before you reject them based on your pre-conceived notions. Everyone is afraid of rejection. When you show others that you’re open, accepting and kind, you’ll attract more friends and opportunities.
7. Show engagement.
Your body language speaks louder than your words. Some gestures, such as crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets, can make you appear withdrawn from a situation. When you talk to someone, open up. Make consistent eye contact, smile and nod occasionally.
8. Master the first impression.
Everyone forms immediate judgments about the people they meet. To make a great first impression, exhibit your professionalism and character. What you wear matters. Dress to impress by wearing clothes that fit well and are in good condition. When you greet someone, introduce yourself and give a firm handshake.
9. Share the limelight.
It’s wonderful to be recognized for your achievements and hard work. However, don’t forget to thank those who helped you along the way. Publicly recognize employees and partners who have worked tirelessly next to you. Don’t monopolize the spotlight or try to give the impression that you’re more important. Instead, be friendly and considerate of others and give credit where credit is due.
10. Remember names.
There’s no better way to build a relationship with someone than to remember his name. This simple, yet powerful gesture, makes others feel valued and respected and can help you build a large professional network. Deliberately practice remembering names when you meet new connections. It takes a bit of time and effort, but remembering someone’s name can make a difference in how that person feels about you and your brand.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.
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