4 Mistakes that Impact Your Likability

4 Mistakes that Impact Your Likability

Everyone wants to be liked and validated by others in some form or fashion. From a young leader all the way to a tenured executive, our actions and behaviors can be driven by the desire to be liked. 

In our quest for validation, we can sometimes make some common mistakes that work against us. Here are 4 common mistakes that impact your liability and how you can address them for your personal success. 

#1 You talk too much


Talking and listening can be an internal push and pull for people as they navigate conversations with others. People love to talk and share about themselves and a quick way to be more likable is to listen much more than you talk when you connect with others. 

That intentionality in listening can create tension in the brain. It’s simultaneously focusing energy on paying attention while also alerting you to spots in the conversation to add your story, perspective, or other items to the conversation. 

When you let the balance between listening and talking tip far into simply talking, you can quickly become less likable with others. They may see you as self-focused, uncaring, or not receptive to feedback. 

#2 You ask too many questions


“Why?” It’s the question that nearly every parent of an over-curious child tires of hearing. There is a reason why the root-cause exercise is called the “5 Whys Technique” and not the 30 Whys Technique. 

Asking questions and showing general interest in another person is great. It’s one of the secrets that we recommend to help make you more approachable and likable with others. Just like anything else in life, you can take the questioning too far and wear out your welcome in a hurry. 

I’ve known several well-intentioned people over the years that have sabotaged themselves to various degrees by asking too many questions. Think back to the parent and child example; The parent is usually happy and even excited to engage with a little one when they ask a question in order to learn. It’s the continued line of questions that ends up getting the best of a parent and causes them to lose their composure. 

Be aware of how much you are questioning others. If you see their engagement drop off as you further seek to understand, know that it is a sign to wrap it up. Continuing to ask questions further lowers your chance to get an authentic answer and adds to the impression that a person has about you. 

#3 Weak storytelling


There is power in a good story. (EP 124) If you’ve ever been to a conference or religious service, you have a higher likelihood of remembering a personal story that they told instead of all three points that they presented at the time. 

Storytelling that is not compelling serves the interest of the teller more than the audience or is overly canned can turn your audience off. 

The story is not good: A good story should be one that the person can relate to on a personal level, short enough that they could tell it to someone else, and include something memorable enough that they could recall it a day later. Hone your stories and try them out with people you trust to figure out if it’s good enough or if it should be tweaked or outright discarded. 

Serve the audience not yourself: Last year we did a show about Micheal Scott from the show the Office (EP 289). Later in the series, Micheal quits and goes back to tell his staff about it. They are super excited because Micheal finally has a story worth hearing and they are interested in how things went down. Instead of starting at the point that immediately leads up to the interaction, Michael starts out with every little mundane part of his day. He loved the attention, but his audience hated all the filler. Know what your audience wants the hear and cut the fat that only serves your own ego. 

Expand your story collection: No doubt, people love an awesome story. They may even like it a second time. If they hear it several times, it loses power and actually can hurt your likability with others. The story will start to come across as insincere and inauthentic. Remember where and when you have shared stories with you aren’t constantly repeating yourself. 

#4 Debating others


It seems we’ve come into a love/hate relationship with debating others. Think about the pandemic, vaccine, political and social issues that have rocked the world in the last 2 years and it feels likely everyone is debating each other. I love what Benjamin Franklin said about this topic over 200 years ago. 

Say whatever you will, they’ll be sure to contradict you; and if you give reasons for your opinion, however just they may be or modestly proposed, you throw the other person into rage and passion. Though they may be unacquainted with the topic, and you are a master of it, it doesn’t matter. The more ignorant they are, the more sure they are in their standpoint. 

Well doesn’t that just describe a social media post you ran across in the last couple of days? Be willing to lose the argument to win the person  (EP 116) and not hurt your reputation in the process. 

You can grow your charm and charisma (EP 227). Listen to what others have to say and don’t expose their shortcoming. Be mindful of these traps that can hurt your likability and help have more enjoyable conversations with others. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Alternatives to “How are you”

Alternatives to “How are you”

“How are you?” It’s a worn-out question that is part of a transactional greeting in many cultures. It’s even often said with no expectation for a real answer and when a real answer is given, it can often throw off the person that asked the question in the first place.

“How are you?” -You

“Honestly….not good” – The other person

“oh, ahhh… What’s going on?” – You (Meanwhile your mind is trying to grasp why the person answered you and what you are going to do next)

We can do better to have authentic greetings and conversation starters with others. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started in a few different circumstances depending on your level of relationship with the other person. 

Great for everyone


No matter the circumstance or the level of the relationship, here are some good starters that you can use in your greeting.

What’s been keeping you busy?
I love this one because it’s inquisitive, requires a response, opens a door to all kinds of other conversations and it is non-intrusive. 

What’s been the highlight of your day so far?
This kicks off the conversation in a positive way. It prompts the person to take a moment to reflect on how things have been going that day and the responses that are given are typically ways to connect with the person in a meaningful way. 

What’s something that you are excited about?
This is a great one for people that you are meeting for the first time because it truly allows for answers from all over the place. They may hit you back with something at work, their personal life, their favorite TV show going on right now, and even things coming up in the near future. 

For those that you already have a rapport with 
These are great conversation starters and greetings that work well when you have at least a little rapport with the other person. Maybe awkward for someone that you’ve never met, but not too intrusive for those you know. 

What have you been cooking?
We all love food. (And you can even find leadership in it PTB XXX) Sure food is about providing nutrition to our bodies, but it can also be a social event. 

How are your spirits today?
A twist on How’s it going. This one will likely throw the person off for a second because they aren’t used to hearing this question, but once they take in the question, they’ll likely respond with something true and real.

What’s been challenging lately?
While this one has a chance to be less positive than others, it does give the other person a chance to share how they’ve overcome something recently. If they do share a challenge that they are going through and it lands a little less optimistic, this gives you a chance to follow up with some encouragement, compassion, and care. 

Reconnecting with those you have a strong relationship with


There are lots of reasons we fall out of consistent touch with someone even without a years-long pandemic. These greetings and conversation starters dive right into an authentic and meaningful conversation

What have you learned lately?
For someone you are meeting for the first time, this may seem like an interview question. For the person that you’ve known a long time, it’s a question that shows your care and continued curiosity with the other person. 

Tell me about something exciting that’s happened to you since the last time we were together.
This one gives the other person a chance to brag about themselves or share some great news to accelerate the conversation. This one is wide open as well for responses from their professional or personal life. 

Tell me something that you’ve been grateful for lately. 
This one takes a more reflective approach and can touch on challenges that they may have faced that they normally wouldn’t just come out and say.  This goes straight for the heart of the other person. 

Elevate your greeting and conversation starter game by trying out different questions that get the conversation going in a memorable way. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Build Great Working Relationships

Build Great Working Relationships

As an adult, you spend the majority of your productive hours of the week working with and alongside other people. In order for you to be the most productive and carry a good sense of belonging, you need to have great working relationships with those that you interact with. 

With personality rubs, competing personal priorities, and an uneven amount of compassion and empathy, talking about the importance of great working relationships is easier said than done. Here are some simple approaches to implement to start building those relationships today.  

Communicate & stay in touch


One of my biggest hurdles when wanting to better a working relationship is the communication cadence. The relationship might not be where it needs to be simply because there isn’t a relationship in the first place. It’s hard to build a relationship with someone that you don’t talk to!

Be mindful to reach out regularly. It may feel a bit forced at first, but by approaching it with genuine care and curiosity, you can help smooth over any awkwardness. 

Be thoughtful in your communication approach as well. We all have our preferred vehicle for communication and it may not be the same for the person that you are trying to build a relationship with. 

Look for opportunities to connect


I like to show up to meetings early because then I have the opportunity to connect with others without an agenda attached to the time. The conversations can range anywhere from work-related to small talk to learning about others.

Before one meeting last week, we talked about Nashville and its wild people gatherings on Broad Street. From there I learned that someone on the team lived there, other people’s musical preferences, and what they have done in the city. All great info to have when building relationships with others.  (And none involving work!)

Show to meetings early and/or be the last to leave. Also, consider other opportunities like shared work breaks and lunches together. It shows others that you have a genuine interest in them and it’s a natural way to have more connections with others. 

Show respect


Great working relationships are grounded in trust and a level of mutual respect. You can show respect to others by:

  • Meeting and exceeding your commitments to them and the team.
  • Being on time (or early) to meetings and communicating early when a situation prevents you from attending. 
  • Honor people’s time. Don’t keep them too long if they need to be moving on to the next thing.
  • Listen more than you talk in meetings. 
  • Stay away from office politics and gossip. Even if it’s not involving the other person, they will see that you are participating in the gossip and may wonder what you are saying about them when they are not around. 
  • Be accountable for any missteps that happen as you build the relationship. We all make mistakes. It’s important to own them so the other person sees and understands that you recognize your growth opportunities. 

Lean into the positive


There is a time and place for venting and sharing frustration, but the time you are investing in relationship building is not the proper time. 

Keep away from complaining about others because it doesn’t help as you try to build trust and respect with others. Look for positive solutions to problems that people take for granted. Keeping a positive focus will naturally draw others to you and accelerate those relationships to want to strengthen. 

Stay in touch with the people you are building relationships with and look for natural points to build rapport and add value. Show respect and communicate in a way that meets their personal preference.  Stepping out of your comfort zone a little in order to grow relationships will be a valuable step of faith. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How to handle excuses

How to handle excuses

“Sorry, I got swamped with some other stuff.” 

“I thought Scott was going to take care of it.”

We’ve all had to deal with excuses and we’ve all given excuses to others in both our personal and professional lives. Life happens. There are times when you run across someone who consistently uses excuses and it can be extremely frustrating for you as a leader, friend, or family member. Today we’ll dive into excuses and how you handle them in a positive way. 

Where excuses come from


As you begin to work with someone who excessively uses excuses, it is important to know where excuses come from so you can address them properly. 

  • They were never interested in doing what was asked of them. There are plenty of people that just won’t say no to anyone no matter how much they don’t want to do what’s being asked of them. For others, they just agree to do something to get you to move on or they don’t think that you are truly invested in the topic and think that you won’t follow up on the item. 
  • The situation was out of their control, either real or perceived. This is the classic, “The dog ate my homework.” These excuses are based on outside factors that influenced and impacted the expected result. Sometimes these changes are quite real, and other times they are only real in the person’s mind. An example of this would be when a person doesn’t feel empowered to handle the situation. In their mind, the situation was out of their control, when in reality they had the power the whole time and didn’t use it.
  • They weren’t told what to do. This excuse sits on the leader or the person who made the request’s shoulders. The person with the excuse couldn’t complete the task because there weren’t clear explanations and instructions. We see this all the time in businesses. A leader may say “Do a better job in hiring.” and then come back frustrated when turnover rates are the same. How does the person do better in hiring? 

Tips to handle honestly missed expectations and excuses

  • Make sure that the excuse is real. The person may try to throw you or someone else under the bus with their excuse. “You didn’t tell me to…” Think back to understand if you did in fact give the instructions. Sometimes we mean to and then distracted and forget to actually have the conversation. If you did have the conversation, were you clear in your instructions?
  • Understand where the excuse is coming from. Understanding the type of excuse helps you address it the right way. How you handle an excuse because the person simply isn’t motivated to participate should be different from how you address someone who just needs some better direction. 
  • Be tolerant up to a point. Remember that we all make excuses from time to time. If the person doesn’t habitually use excuses, help them save face by redirecting and coaching instead of spending too much time discussing the excuse itself. 

Tips to deal with a person who consistently makes excuses


Let’s be real. There are people that make excuses for almost everything. These people probably hold very little of your trust and/or respect because of their failed accountability in themselves to get things done. 

  • Open up with curiosity. It’s tempting to open the conversation in an accusatory way, but just maybe the excuse is really this time. It also starts the conversation in a way that the other person isn’t immediately shut down to feedback and conversation. Ask questions to get an understanding of why things happened the way that they did. 
  • Acknowledge the bigger picture. If there is a pattern for the same type of excuse all the time. It’s fine to step back and acknowledge that with the person. “This is the third time you’ve had this reason for not getting the task done this month. What’s really going on here and how can I help?”
  • Be clear on the why and the impact. To drive home the point of a needed change in behavior, you should tie the miss to why it’s important to meet the set expectation. “The next shift needs this to be done so that they can work on other things.”We lose some of the reimbursement when charting isn’t turned in on time.”
  • Reestablish expectations and follow-up. Be sure to reinforce what the expectations are as you begin to close out the conversation. Check for any resources, knowledge, or support that the person needs to get the task done and affirm their commitment to the expectation. Close in the time periods that you normally follow up so that they are more frequent and informal. 

People often respond back with an excuse when confronted with falling short of an expectation. Your job as a leader is not to prove yourself right or look for “I told you” moments. Instead, understand the reasoning, equip them to be successful going forward, and reestablish expectations, especially for those that have a tendency to use excuses as a crutch. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Feedback in the right setting

Feedback in the right setting

Feedback in life and in work is essential for our personal growth. It’s important for you as a leader, friend, and family member to share feedback that adds value to the person that you are giving it to. 

Equally important to the actual feedback that you give is the setting in which you give it. I know I have been guilty of mentally shutting down in the past when the feedback was given at the worst time and delivered without much thought put into it. I’ve also mishandled giving feedback because I was more concerned with the delivery instead of how it was delivered. 

When to give feedback in a group setting


There are times when giving feedback in a group setting is your ideal option

  • More than one person on the team was involved in the problem or issue that the feedback is about. 
  • The issue involves the majority of the team. 

People want to hear feedback from the source and not 2nd or 3rd hand from someone else. Do your best to give feedback directly to the group that is involved so that they can hear it straight from you and seek any further clarifications. 

When the team falls short, a coach huddles the team up and talks through the play. In the military, your squad or platoon is often given feedback together because of how close they work together towards a goal. At home, maybe the kids collectively didn’t meet your expectations. When the group is involved, share it with them as a whole. 

When to give feedback one-on-one


There are other times when giving individual feedback is the appropriate setting. 

  • The feedback is meant for an individual
  • The feedback is of personal nature

People hate it when their time is wasted. When you pull in a whole team to give feedback in a general way that was caused by one person, you aren’t being effective with anyone. The ones not involved will see this as a waste of their time and it will hurt your credibility. The person that actually needs the feedback, may either be embarrassed, which hurts your trust level, or they feel anonymous and don’t take your feedback to heart. You lose all-around in this scenario!

Have the managerial courage to have a one-on-one conversation with the person and address them directly. If the feedback is personal in nature, always take time to address it directly instead of using someone else to give the feedback. 

Be sure to give one-on-one feedback in a setting that is quiet and non-distracting if possible and away from other curious ears. 

When not to give feedback


Some of the best feedback I have ever given was not actually giving it to the other person. Counterintuitive? It may sound that way, but you need to check the reason behind the need for feedback. 

You don’t want to let your emotions fully drive feedback. You’ll only offer feedback that pushes the person away, potentially damaging a relationship and giving your feedback a 0% chance of acceptance.  Think about all the viral videos of people in full rage mode yelling at someone in public. Obviously, emotions have gotten the best of the person, and without a doubt, whatever they say is not going to change the situation for the better. Perhaps you are not going to go viral in fits of anger, but your emotions are clouding your thoughts on feedback. Take time to settle down, reflect and then determine if the feedback is worth giving. 

We have said before that it’s important to give coaching and feedback as close to the issues or occurrence as possible. There will be times where you’ll want to give instant feedback, but maybe you take a step back and see the fuller picture and consider what else is going on. Feedback given from a very narrow perspective is rarely taken well and actioned on even less than that. 

Reflect on the why behind your feedback. Are you giving it to make the person better or because it makes you feel better? If it’s for yourself, it may be best to not give it at all. 

Think about your feedback and the setting that you are giving it to the other person.  Maximize your gift to others by giving it in a thoughtful and caring way in the right setting. They will be more likely to appreciate it and take it to heart. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH