Dubai: A lot of research shows that people who are likable tend to outperform those who aren’t. If you remember the film, The Devil Wears Prada you’ll understand what a nightmare boss is. Yes people respected Miranda Priestly, but not many were able to last long at Runway (the fictional magazine) because there was no fostering of an inclusive or warm environment.
These 6 UAE CEO’s revealed the little things you can do to be likable, connect with others, and get what you want:
1. Respect and listen to your people
Well I don’t think you can “get” people to like you. There is no forcing involved here, you just do what you do as long as you respect people. You respect everybody for who they are and what they believe and don’t try to force your own beliefs on anyone. That being said, I think one of the main points of advice I would give here is “just listen”. A lot of us listen to “respond.” For a lot of us, we’re listening to the person in front of us, waiting for them to finish only so that we can say what we already have in mind to say – we zone out of listening to what they’re actually saying. I think a key element to success here is “listening to understand.”
You can apply this into your personal life, in your relationships, your professional life, etc. But under a business setup, the key is to listen to the people you’re working with, whether they are your bosses, your employees, your clients, or even prospects. Just listen to them, because that's where they reveal what they’re looking for. It might not be the exact words they use, it could be something that they’re not aware of. But the fact that they’re putting out “a problem” helps you understand what it is that you can do and for them. The key point here is, listening to understand and not listening, because you want to respond in return.
- Mazen Aloul, Founder of WebQuest SEO
2. Show people that you are approachable
In my line of business it’s very important to be approachable, trusting and be a good listener. This quality in me makes me likeable with my clients and get me maximum repeat business.
- Mitun De Sarkar, Clinical Dietitian and CEO Simply Healthy
3. Work with people on every level
What has helped my agency reach success over the years is focusing on the inside as much as the outside. Winning new business and keeping clients happy is one of, but not only, objectives. I encourage business leaders to actively engage with their team, solving problems together. My team is proud to be a close-knit team, sharing our wins and losses with each other. The CEO should not be above anyone on the team.
-Rosa Bullock, Founder and PR Guru of SOCIATE
4. Recognise every single person in your company, especially the juniors
While structure is important in any business, I am a big believer in fostering an inclusive environment where every employee or team member feels empowered to make a valuable contribution to the organization. Often the case, many CEOs refrain from asking their employees for help as they see this as a sign of weakness, when it reality, it is the team that will have the answers they are looking for.
If your business runs into a problem, instead of trying to fix it yourself, why not get some perspective on the matter from your team? Chances are they will have the expertise that you didn't have to solve it. This type of approach poses a win-win situation where people feel valued for the job they are doing, while you are also building trust and becoming more appreciated as a leader.
A big part of our culture are our brainstorming meetings where everyone is encouraged to pitch new ideas collaborate and teach the rest of the team something. With every meeting comes new insights and feedback that makes our startup even better, in addition to some of the best ideas and concepts for our workshops. In my experience, communication is key to keeping the business on track and maintaining a competitive edge. We also have the belief that what we do, we do for the community and not for personal gain and these kind of values really resonate with our team and customers.
In addition, I make it a point to celebrate our success as a team and recognize team members and give credit where credit is due. Several studies have shown that recognition matters a lot more than money for millennials today. A little "thank you" or "job well done" can go a long way in motivating people and keeping them engaged and loyal for the long term.
- Deenah Al Hashimi founder and CEO of Sxill
5. Keep your promises
Being honest, transparent and delivering on commitments is key to gaining the respect of your peers. You need to have integrity in your decision making whether to your team or to a client. Don’t go back on on promises or commitments however I would expect the same back from my team or clients to continue a working relationship. We have recently been contacted for work from a client I done work for over 10 years ago, that would never have happened if we hadn’t delivered with integrity on services, and it doesn’t matter whether your CEO or Junior Employee the same core skills apply.
- Garry Murray, CEO of PLACE Community Managers
6. Go the extra mile and pay attention to people
Simple things like calling them by their names, listening to their complaints or asking about their family. We work with a lot of people who don’t speak English, so we have to be patient using nonverbal communication and treat them like a part of the YallaBaby family. Tomas (my partner) and I know that if we reward our team with simple things like coffee or give them a bonus when they achieve a goal, they start following you as a true leader when you demonstrate humility, transparency and stick to your true values. They believe in your words when whatever you fulfill what you say. With our senior employees, we try to listen to them as they are our eyes in the business, avoid conflict and be empathetic.
- Francisco Pellegrini, CEO of Yalla Baby Box
7. Always imagine yourself in other people's shoes
Actively and genuinely listening is a skill that not only needs practice to do well but is also a lot harder than most people think. Our natural impulses as humans are set to react in order to survive when we feel threatened. But if you can maintain composure, and express empathy through imagining yourself in the other party’s shoes, you are ahead of the game! It’s such a simple concept, but when employees, clients, family and friends know they’ve been heard without interruption or judgement, they intrinsically know their concerns and issues will be sincerely considered by you and a strong bond of trust is formed. Asking thoughtful questions in addition to listening ensures a person will feel acknowledged and their concerns are classified as valid. Not only does this result in people wanting to be more co-operative and pleasant with you and your own objectives, but it also sets the tone for respect and politeness within that relationship regardless of age or social status. With those traits, when challenges do arise, you can be sure you will overcome them with a level headed approach to a solution - all the while maintaining a reputation for being a wonderful listener.
-Carla Conte, Founder and Creative Director at Brand Creative
8. Ask people a ton of questions about themselves
I have always been able to get on with others, people seem to naturally warm to me. This doesn’t mean I don’t change the way I speak and interact with people when I meet them. Everyone wants to be liked and everyone likes to talk about themselves. These two things can help you to build relationships with the people you meet. If you genuinely ask people about who they are and what they do, not their jobs or where they work, they will happily tell you. Business, like life, is based on relationships. People want to work with people and not businesses.
James Mathew, CEO of Silver Lining
9. Don't focus too much on being liked
Getting people to 'like' you, it is probably not as valuable as one might think. To put too much focus on being liked breeds insincerity - which can have a contra result. I have been in banking all my life with the attendant consequence of making decisions that won’t please everybody. If one started with the objective of people/customers/staff liking you, you would most likely (and often) make a different decision - with potential cost consequences. The same applies to so many businesses (including sales) decisions every day in the corporate world.
What I think is more important is that you take the time to clearly explain your decision to those impacted. This communication helps soften any negative impact of such decisions. I have also found that the 'victim' of any such decision (i.e. one that could initially cause you to be disliked = failure in being liked) will 'like you' for taking the time to explain (you have to work on making the decision reasonable or understandable to those impacted) and will deal with you again in the future. It also helps your business branding in that when some decisions you make are not liked the can be converted to being liked through this process.
There will also be your decisions that are 'liked' but the starting and analytical stages of such decisions such not have 'being liked' as a central objective.
-David McGee, CEO and Chairman of Pretty Polly Cleaning Services LLC.