Long before the social media phenomenon of 'Like," journalist Hedrick Smith documented that likeability is a form of power. It's right up there with access to the brass, wealth, and title. That was all in his now-iconic late-1980s book "The Power Game."
Now that Facebook contemplates a "Dislike" button, we are also going to find a lot about the power of not-liking. But we don't have to wait for that, of course. We are seeing it played out in Campaign 2016 as the unlikeable Hillary Clinton flounders. The details of that downward trajectory are captured by Edwin Klein in the new book "Unlikeable: The Problem With Hillary." It will be released tomorrow.
According to Klein, Clinton had been given coaching on how to come across as more likeable. What every public speaking expert, as well as we speechwriters, knows is this: Likeability is an inside job. Practicing a laundry list of techniques won't do it. The buzzword for that inside job is learning to become "authentic."
There is no one version of likeability. Flighty Betty White is likeable. So is no-nonsense Queen Elizabeth II. Rascal Bill Clinton is likeable. So is straight arrow Pope Francis. Therefore, there is no option but to become authentic in who you are. Pull that off and you have a shot at being likeable. Those unable to become authentic will never be able to enter the zone of likeability.
We vote for politics we like. With all his weaknesses, George W. Bush was likeable. In the Rhode Island lead paint trial II, members of the jury, whom I interviewed, liked defense attorney, John Tarantino. They let his client off the hook, while finding guilty the other three. Employers hire those they like. No one wants to work with an unlikeable. That's added stress.
So, how do you find your authentic self? The first step is self-acceptance or loving who you are right not. That's a fundamental from wildly popular (and likeable) American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. That's the platform you will work with.
The next step is to develop a real interest in The Other out there. That's straight from Dale Carnegie, Dan Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, and, come to think about it, Jesus Christ. Once you do that, listening will be easy.
The third is identify ways to be helpful. No, you don't have to be a good-doer or want to change the world. In capitalism, that's called "The Favor Bank." You work from home and your neighbor's child care fell through. Offer to take over for that one day.
The beauty of likeability is that those who aren't trapped in themselves can achieve that state of being. It doesn't require pedigree, wealth, education, or even accomplishments. Dogs are inherently likeable. That's because they take a sincere interest in us.