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Jan 3, 2015

How High is Your LQ (Likeability Quotient)?

Most people think about professional development as acquiring and developing skills and capabilities to increase our capacity to do our work efficiently. This also means understanding ourselves and others so we can work together in teams more effectively. As a result we are used to analising our personalitiy types and measuring our IQ and EQ. Some people are even talking about developing their SQ (Spiritual quotient). But it looks like it might be worth adding LQ as an important line of development because, judging by recent research, likeability is fast becoming recognised as the number one qualitiy if you want to achieve career success.


Why does likeability matter?

Writing on likeability in the Wall Street Journal Sue Shellenberg highlights a study of 133 managers by researchers at the University of Massachusetts that found  ‘if an auditor is likable and gives a well-organized argument, managers tend to comply with his suggestions, even if they disagree and the auditor lacks supporting evidence.’


Another study of over 10,000 work place relationships by Tiziana Casciaro at Rotman School of Management and Miguel Sousa Lobo of Duke University North Carolina suggested that there are two key criteria for a person to be likeable at work:


Competence – The person knows what they’re doing.


Likeability – The person is enjoyable to work with.


They created four categories to help them evaluate the data and develop a narrative for their findings.


Their data revealed that people who were likeable and competent came out tops closely followed by likeable but incompetent. The researchers said:


"People don’t like to admit it but we found that if someone is strongly disliked, it’s almost irrelevant whether or not they are competent; people won’t want to work with them anyway. By contrast, if someone is liked, their colleagues will seek out every little bit of competence he or she has to offer. And this tendency didn’t exist only in extreme cases; it was true across the board. Generally speaking, a little extra likability goes a longer way than a little extra competence in making someone desirable to work with."


People who were competent but unlikable were tolerated as long as their skills were required but these people would rarely be considered first for career opportunities. Of course Incompetent and unlikeable individuals remained at the bottom of the scale in terms of being considered for new opportunities.


According to a study cited in the online magazine Management Science:


“people in videoconferences tend to be more influenced by how likeable they perceive the speaker to be than by the quality of the arguments presented by the speaker. This is due to the higher cognitive demands that videoconferencing places on participants."


Wainhouse Research, a Boston market-research firm discovered that the use of personal videoconferencing is expected to grow 47% annually through 2017 so developing your on screen LQ will be crucial for career success.


However, the key to increasing your LQ on screen is paradoxical as you have to be conscious of your facial expressions and raise your vocal energy and dynamics, all while looking and sounding relaxed and natural. This takes practice and a little media coaching can be helpful.


So what is likeability?


While it’s mostly a matter of personal preference there are some general traits that we can all agree will make someone more likeable. For example, familiarity can increase a person’s likeability. The more we spend time with someone the more we notice about them. If they have some naturally likeable traits, we will be more open to noticing them if they are around us frequently. The main qualities we seem to like are:


  • Good Listening skills
  • Approachability
  • Humility
  • Trustworthiness
  • Having things in common with us.


So, if you want to increase your LQ you might want to move around the office and become more visible.

The Likeability Factor by Tim Sanders suggests that likeability may actually come down to 4 key factors:

  • Friendliness: Your ability to communicate liking and openness to others.
  • Relevance: Your capacity to connect with others' interests, wants, and needs.
  • Empathy: Your ability to recognize, acknowledge, and experience other people's feelings.
  • Realness: The integrity that stands behind your likeability and guarantees its authenticity

How high is your LQ?

The best way to determine your LQ is to think in terms of your likeability in 4 dimensions

  1. Physically – How you look, sound and show up at work.
  2. Emotionally – How you make people feel when they are around you.
  3. Intellectually – Your competence around problem solving and ability to understand and communicate with other people.
  4. Intentionality – The reason why you do the things you do. Are you selfish or selfless?

Here are some things to be aware of in each dimension if you want to up your LQ score.



# 1 - The Physical Dimension

Some of these will be obvious but it’s always worth reminding yourself. 

Are you Smiling enough?

 Smiling (when appropriate) is the universal welcome signal. Raised eyebrows while smiling signals that you’re friendly and approachable.

Do you make good Eye contact?

In a one-to-one situation, switch focus slowly from the left to the right eye of the person you are addressing. This gives a sense that you are curious about them and interested in what is being said.  But keep your eyes from flitting around and over blinking as this undermines your LQ as it can make people suspicious of you. Excessive blinking is sometimes a good indication that some one is nervous or even lying (see Clinton’s address to the nation, post the Lewinsky affair).

 Here are a few eye contact styles to be aware of:


  • Steely gaze: Between the subject’s eyebrows. Avoid this if you want to be liked as it can be very disconcerting for the person receiving this type of gaze.


  • Social: Slowly flitting from eye to eye and very occasionally looking away is considered normal eye contact and will put you higher on the likeability scale.


  • Seductive: Easy does it with this one! Focus shifting between mouth to chin to neck to hair, occasionally flicking and lingering back to the eyes. Slightly closing your lids can add an extra sensuality.


  • Hostile: A sideways glance that becomes a fixed stare with eyebrows relaxed and down. Definitely not for building your likeability quotient.


  • Questioning: - Raise eyebrows and stare directly into the person’s eyes. This will encourage them to talk. Remember to smile though as you may looklike you’re trying to interrogate them.


  • Disinterested: Talking t someone with your eyes closed for long periods. A definite no, no.


  • Trust me stare: A quick look directly at the person’s face then gently
lower your eyes, and flick back up as you speak. If you are genuine you will do this naturally.

Are you aware of your Personal space?

Be sure to respect people’s personal space. The distance an individual creates between him/herself and another is crucial. There are four zones commonly observed:

  • INTIMATE: 3–20 inches
  • PERSONAL: 20–36 inches (Handshake distance)
  • SOCIAL: 4–6 feet.
  • PUBLIC: over 6 feet.

Obviously physical proximity is culturally specific so be prepared to adapt if you want to up your LQ around the world.

Are you aware of your gestures?

In 1999, Chartrand and Bargh - two professors of Psychology at New York University conducted experiments to find out whether people automatically copied each other when interacting and if so, did that increase their likeability? The experiment involved 78 individuals who were asked to have a one-on-one talk with one of the experimenters. Apparently gestures did indeed increase the experimenter's likeability. In fact the experimenter's likeability was rated at 6.62 when their gestures were copied by the participant. In conclusion Chartrand said:

"Those who pay more attention mimic (gestures) more and make more friends in the process.”

There are four categories of gestures to be aware of:

1. ICONIC: These represent shapes of objects or people and movements of objects and people in space. For example, tracing a square in the air with an index finger while saying, “Have you seen a box anywhere around here?” Or, making a walking motion with two fingers while saying, “I’m just going for a walk”

2.METAPHORIC: These are gestures made while explaining something. For example, while answering a mathematical problem an individual may make an arcing or pulsing motion with the hand as they describe the numerical route to an answer. Metaphoric gestures are a visual depiction of a process.

3. DEICTIC: Pointing at objects, places and people indicating temporal or spatial references. You may even point at something or someone not visible to the listener, for example, pointing behind you while saying “My mother lives in the next street.”

4. BEAT: Literally gestures that beat the rhythm of speech.

The comedian Peter Kay has a lovely bit in his act where he demonstrates the different types of gesture using humour. Well worth a watch.

# 2 - The Emotional Dimension

Research into emotions at work has revealed that our emotional state is highly contagious. So to increase your LQ in the emotional dimension check the following:


  • Do you focus on the positive side of life and work whenever realistic and appropriate?
  • Do you avoid gossiping or ‘bad mouthing’ about others?
  • Do you focus on being empathetic?
  • Do you acknowledge and highlight the positive aspects of the person you are engaging with?


# 3- The Intellectual Dimension

This is all about how you think and the ways in which you communicate information and knowledge.


  • Do you do more listening than talking and ask open questions to encourage people to tell you about themselves?  
  • Do you repeat back information to ensure you’ve heard and understood what the person has said to you?
  • Do you listen for clues as to how the person processes information so you can adapt the content of your message? For example- Do they like lots of detail or do they prefer to talk in general terms? Or do they think and speak spontaneously sharing lots of ideas and flitting from subject to subject or are they more logical, factual and organized in their thinking?
  • Do you share information and ideas you know will benefit others?
  • Do you seek people’s opinions on matters that are important to you. It will make people feel their knowledge, thoughts and ideas are valued?


# 4 - The Intentional dimension

This dimension is about your values, drives and intentions. To increase your LQ intentionally ask yourself this question each day – How am I uniquely placed to help others? If you act in service of your unique gifts to everyone you meet your LQ levels will begin to soar.