Warren Buffett is a man many admire for having one of the best investment track records in history. But, as much as the "Oracle of Omaha" may be able to teach you about becoming the next richest person in the world, he may be able to teach you just as much about becoming the most likable person in the office.
Best of all, there are two tactics he has mastered that are simple and, if you start doing them today, the results can be immediate.
First, a question: Who cares about likability?
Likability is a challenging phenomenon to gauge since it can be highly subjective. If this often overlooked superpower can be harnessed, however, it can make you very, very successful. To be clear, likability isn't being a doormat and it isn't incessantly seeking the approval of others. Instead, think of your own personal likability as a measure of how much (or how little) people enjoy working with you.
Be honest with yourself and evaluate where you fall on the spectrum of likability by answering this hard question: Do others look forward to working with me each day or do they dread it?
You can be firm in your beliefs, speak up as needed, be bold -- you can be all of these things, but in a way that makes others aspire to work with you in a synergistic way. When others enjoy seeing you, respect you for your integrity, and are warmed by your presence, you will achieve greater results in your career.
If you're won over to the belief that likability will help you build your business, your career, your sales, or anything else you are after, look to Warren Buffett for these two simple ways to instantly draw people in, put them at ease, and make them like you:
1. Smile while you talk (add a chuckle when appropriate).
Well-timed smiling and a light laugh can be tricky territory. We have all been met by the slick salesman flashing the Cheshire Cat ear-to-ear grin and instantly feel our skin tingle as our inner defenses raise.
Warren Buffett's smirk doesn't suggest a slick salesman feeling. Instead, he conveys a sense of humility in the recognition (and of the overt self-admission) that, like all of us, he too is human and can make mistakes. Very often, he appears to laugh at the folly of our collective seriousness. In our own work environments, a sense of confident humility goes a long way in warming others up to us.
Today, try this simple exercise: monitor your facial expressions while interacting with others. Then, begin deliberately welcoming members of your team with a warm smile.
Check yourself frequently to ensure you are sharing a facial expression that says "collaborate" instead of "intimidate." Notice how a warm smile and a light chuckle can relax the people in your office and ease them into working with you more productively.
2. Practice confident humility.
Warren Buffett is a master of this. Confident humility is the genuine assurance to others that we are competent in what we do, but that we recognize there is always room for improvement and that we may not always be right (even in our field of expertise).
It's being ambitious, enthusiastic, and the very best we can be, but balanced with a strong sense that we don't view ourselves as better than anyone else. Aside from becoming more likable, confident humility will also make you more productive in a team.
Being honestly open about your strengths and weaknesses can be disarming to others in a group. Coming to the table with an honest view of yourself and of your shortcomings puts others at ease and creates a richer, more productive working environment for all.
Smiling that sincerely exudes warmth while simultaneously demonstrating confident humility are two instant tactics to be more likable like Buffett. But, the long-term approach of being unshakably likable is in the formation of a solid reputation.
Bonus: This helps you build a better reputation.
Are you a person of great integrity? This is the hardest (and least "immediate") of achieving likability, but is an absolute powerhouse that can't be overlooked.
Smiling and confident humility can advance your likability quickly, but forging long-term likability in the office requires that you build a solid reputation in a foundation of honesty. You need a day-to-day demonstration of support to members in your team while avoiding (at all costs) any form of gossip or non-constructive talk of others.
If you prove yourself as untrustworthy or the type of person who talks negatively about others behind their back, all the smiling and confident humility in the world won't do much to advance your likability.