Are you friendly and likeable?

I bet when you saw the picture, you said to yourself, aw how cute, or how sweet, or something to that effect. This picture screams friendliness and likeability to me, they just like each other. (I am interchanging friendliness and likeability in this article).

Isn’t friendliness just basic good manners and civility?

Yes it is, and common sense. You have probably heard someone say, common sense isn’t so common; some people have it, some people don’t, and some people have it some of the time.

Friendliness and likeability are more than basic communication skills. They are common everyday niceties and good manners that grease the wheels of civilized living.

Being friendly and likeable are soft skills that are in high demand for leadership inside or outside of work settings. Managers in organizations are on the lookout for people with a grasp of soft skills. In other words, people skills- your attitude and how you interact with others.

If managers and organizations are on the lookout for these soft skills, it means that not everyone has them. These are the intangibles that make for good to great leadership – and leadership is about getting people to buy into your why; why should we follow you, why should we do this, why should we buy this product?

Outside of the work realm, friendliness and likeability make for better relationships and for a better quality of life. Who wants to be around someone who has poor interpersonal skills?

I have had good friends and family call me out on rude or inconsiderate behaviour and how my behaviour hurt them. It’s been an opportunity for growth, because it is a chance to adjust my mindset to improve the course of relationships. It took courage for others to talk to me about my behaviour, and it was a bitter pill to swallow to admit that I was wrong and hurtful. But you can’t change what you can’t see is wrong.

Sometimes we don’t know how we come across to others. I mean the whole package: setting the context for discussions, using words appropriately  –  do your words build up or destroy, what is your body language saying to others? Do you like being around you?

If you are experiencing poor relationships with people, or not getting noticed at work, or not being recognized for leadership qualities; it’s time to reflect on what your behaviour looks like to others. If you don’t know, ask. Hopefully, someone will have the courage to give you honest feedback. If you ask though, be prepared to hear the answer.

Why is friendliness and likeability in the communication bucket of leadership?

  • Friendliness and likeability are soft skills and non verbal forms of communication. In fact, teaching manners, etiquette, and civility in the workplace is a booming business; it is teaching people simple things like how to be civil; for example, saying hello and smiling.
  • Friendliness and likeability go hand – in – hand. When you are friendly to others, it encourages them to be friendly back. When you are friendly, you are also more likeable. Those who are more friendly and likeable, are more likely to experience success in life than those who are not. We increase the chance that others will support our cause, if we are both friendly and likeable.
  • When you are friendly, it encourages others to be less wary of us -this goes back to ancient times and whether you were seen as friend or foe.
  • Friendly people are natural facilitators and help smooth out awkward or difficult situations and conversations.
  • People respond more openly and positively to friendliness and likeable people, because it makes us feel happy.When you are happier, you are able to communicate better, and it bonds you with others in ways that anger, coercion, intimidation can’t.

Studies on likeability

At work

Likeable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others, and have mistakes forgiven.

  • 133 managers participated in a University of Massachusetts study that looked at the role internal auditors played in influencing managers’ judgements, and the role of likeability. The study found that managers were more likely to follow the auditor’s suggestions, if the auditor was well organized and likeable.  
  • Northwestern University study looked at hiring practices in elite professional service firms. In the study, 120 candidates were interviewed for a job. Hired candidates were those that most closely matched the employers, in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. These qualities were seen as more important than productivity

In your personal life

The University of California measured if likeability and competence are important to the physician – patient relationship. The study found that likeable – competent patients were more likely to be encouraged to call or return for a follow – up than likeable – incompetent, and unlikeable –  competent patients. Additionally, likeable patients were more likely to be educated by staff than unlikeable patients. So, likeability in your personal life will also advance your efforts.

Gender bias- the struggle is real

There is a phenomenon known the likability penalty. Generally, the more competent a woman is, the less likable she is. The more likable a woman is, the less competent she is seen to be. Women leaders who are assertive are often seen as pushy, while the same traits in men are seen as leadership qualities. 

Women are rewarded for being nurturing, deferent, kind and warm. Men, in contrast, are valued for being confident, in control, and outspoken. However, in a work environment, to be a successful leader, assertiveness and directness are needed, but are not necessarily valued in women. As a result, women leaders may be penalized. They may be disliked by their colleagues, or their communication style critiqued. They may be fired or miss out on important promotions or assignments.  As a result, successful women leaders have had to find a different way to lead in the workplace.

How to improve your friendliness and likeability

  • Smile
  • Smile and say hello.
  • Make eye contact-look people in the eye.
  • Remember the person’s name and use it.
  • Treat everyone with respect.
  • Become an active listener. This means you don’t interrupt, change the subject mid – sentence, look around to see who else is around, look at your phone, etc.
  • Be relaxed, natural and comfortable.
  • Ask questions and show interest in the person you are talking to, ask their opinion, don’t be self-absorbed.
  • Don’t speak in a monotone voice; vary your voice and tone, show enthusiasm.
  • Be open, flexible and non judgemental.
  • Make a connection with the person you are talking to.
  • Show empathy. Pay attention to what others may be feeling or thinking.


Likeability and friendliness is about considerate behaviour and making people feel comfortable around you.  It makes you a natural leader in your own environment.

Being likeable and friendly will make life smoother and easier for yourself and others. Let’s face it, we want to be around friendly people rather than unfriendly people.

Take an inventory of yourself. 

Do you want to be around you?

We shall never know all the good a simple smile can do

Mother Theresa

Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash

Published by Diane Allen

Hi there, my name is Diane and welcome to my blog site! Leadership mindset is the mindset that embraces, vision, courage and action.

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