“The way to get someone to like you immediately is to find a commonality. Almost any commonality, no matter how trivial – a shared alma mater, an interest in running, a love of dogs – will get the ball rolling,” Influence author, Robert Cialdini told Reinventing You author, Dorie Clark, notes Judy Robinett in her new book, How to be a Power Connector.
Sure people like people who are like them. That’s the Familiarity Effect. Some of the most enduringly popular entertainers, for example, have what’s call high Q scores, including Tom Hanks, Ellen Degeneres and Steve Martin. Some plummet.
The One-Two Path Towards Greater Popularity
And being likeable leads to being trusted, because one is exhibiting warmth before demonstrating competence, not the reverse. Yet we can enjoy a more satisfying and accomplished life with others when we reach deeper. As Robinett advocates: “Discover what is important to them professionally and, more important, personally.”
Picture a four-way mental diagram for seeking what most matters to the other person so you can:
• Find strong sweet spots of mutual interest to accomplish greater things together and for each other.
1. Biggest opportunity on their mind right now
2. Biggest problem on their mind right now
3. Passions: Strongest enduring interests
4. Hot Buttons: Strongest dislikes, weaknesses, and situations and tasks they want to avoid
Mind you, taking this approach means being fully focused on the other person, listening for what’s not said, as much as what it. Ask follow-up questions that are related to the most passionately stated things that person shares. These two habits may appear obvious yet notice how rarely they actually happen.
“Being fully present with a person is one of the most effective ways to show that we care.” ~ Matt Tenney
Hint: Some of your most valuable allies won’t act right like you. Your first instinct may be to get irritated or suggest, in some way, that they change. Because they have different a temperament, talents, worldview, and/or experience they can offer a different view of a situation that matters to you. They probably know different people than you – and may even be able to do what you can’t or don’t want to do on a task that you need to have done. “A good leader knows what he or she is not good at,” former New York University president, John Sexton told Anne-Marie Slaughter.
Over time, as you get to know someone better you can use Porter Gale’s Funnel Test and Robinett’s 5+50+100 Rule to more concretely recognize the individuals with whom you can grow the strongest, most mutually beneficial friendships over time. Here’s just one more tip, from my heavily underlined copy of Robinett’s book that you, too, may want to practice:
Triangulate to Multiply Value For All Involved
Through a friend in Robinett’s inner “power circle” she was introduced to South Korean “high-powered consultant at Accenture” who was moving to the U.S. and needed to establish business relationships in the country. Right after meeting her, Robinett called an apt contact within her power circle, sent a LinkedIn request, made introductions to others via email, then sent an email to this consultant, summarizing what she had done.
Action to Take: Upon meeting someone with whom you found strong shared interests: Immediately reconnect: Take an action in support of the other person’s expressed need, and send a message to that person, explaining what you have done, and how you will follow-up.
The consultant replied immediately. Robinett discovered, when researching her new acquaintance online, that she grew up so poor in Korea that “her parents couldn’t even afford to buy her gum, so she used to look for wads of gum on the street, dust them off then chew them.” That convinced Robinett that she wanted to get to know this woman better, who had risen so high, “from very humble beginnings.” Note the power of strongly-felt shared values.
Action to Take: Assess the connection and activate your system: Notice how rapidly and well the other person responded to your help. That doesn’t mean you are seeking a quid pro quo, acting as what Adam Grant dubs a “matcher” but rather whether that person values your effort enough to respond appropriately. Worst case is when someone asks for more, without expressing appreciation. When you get a swift, appreciative response, research more.
Robinett became motivated to learn more about her new friend, suggested another conversation, and discovered that two of her top goals were to write a book, and do more public speaking. Robinett again reached out to relevant contacts, including her literary agent, and to experienced speakers.
Action to Take: Multiply and deepen the relationship by learning more about their immediate and longer-term goals. See how you and/or your circle of contacts can be helpful.
I’d add a two-pronged, fourth step, as Robinett suggests elsewhere:
1. Ask for specific help that is relevant to the other person’s interests and connections.
2. Say how you’d appreciate any resources or suggestions that your new acquaintance might have or come across later, that might be helpful for you.
For some of us asking is hard, but giving feels natural. Yet a healthy relationship, over time, is where both feel strengthened by the mutual support they experience together.
When you give enough other people what they need you are more likely to get what you need, sometimes even before you know you need it and from individuals you did not know could provide it.