- Executips


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Let’s accept it: bias is one of the things that make us human.

We often make decisions not based on facts. Instead “we follow our heart” or go by “gut feel.” Being partial has been important to the survival of humankind during the long period of evolution. It helped humans make speedy decisions and avoid potentially hostile strangers.

In the extensive studies by Paul Bloom, even 3-month-old babies preferred the faces of a race more familiar to them.

Today, I see predisposition working in some talent contests. When the judges instant like the personality of the contestant, it is obvious that said judges will have encouraging facial and body language. 

People who already like you tend to give you higher marks. Magician Allen Swift knew from many years of stage experience that “people who love you want you to win.” So, performers try to win the hearts of the audience before going into their boldest acts. 

Love is blind

Partiality happens in something as professional as a job interview. Lazlo Bock, formerly Google's SVP
for People Operations, cited in a Wired article a research collaboration by Tricia Prickett, Neha Gada-Jain, and Frank Bernieri of the University of Toledo. Their study revealed that many interviewers make 10-second decisions "based on existing beliefs and biases." They may instantly like an applicant and look for more reasons to like them instead of thoroughly appraising their objective qualifications.

Neuroscience professor David J. Linden contended in the book The Compass of Pleasure that love can affect the judgment center of the brain. He observed that people in love see their adored ones as better, smarter, and more good-looking than everybody else.

Being liked builds business

Every person in sales knows the importance of being liked by their clients and prospects. Clients may be rational buyers but as the world-famous salesman Bob Burg advised, “All things being equal people will…buy from a friend.”

To forge a friendship with clients, Burg recommends that we give more than we take from them. We may not give them more material things or we defeat the purpose of business, but we can be generous in giving helpful knowledge, assistance of any form, and even referrals for their own business. I have an entrepreneur friend whose clientele rapidly expanded owing to warm and mutually beneficial relationships with the customers.

A likable image is what brands invest in because they know that brand image is the consumers' shortcut in buying decisions. So, one brand tactic is to mimic the personality of the target. Nike, for example, appealed to dreamers who don’t always win. They far outnumber the champions! Even though Michael Jordan is the greatest of all, Nike capitalized on Jordan’s vulnerabilities.

Talent is not everything

Now, how to be liked as a person? I think we must first concede that talent is not everything. One may be the “best of breed” but people avoid working with people with a superiority complex. The workplace is stressful enough so people wouldn’t like to put up with another ego.

The CEO of a multimedia company who handpicked his executives used to say “We like to work with people we like.”

This may be a shocking truth: many of us root for the underdogs. These are people who are competent but not conceited. Those who appear talented but are willing to listen and learn more.  We are invested in underdogs’ potential success stories because we see ourselves in them. 

It is confirmed by motivational speaker and professional coach Michelle Tillis Lederman. In the book 11 Laws of Likability, Lederman said that people like people who are similar to them. Like the gifted but humble person, we also have our own struggles and Goliaths to conquer.

You may also read:

All Things Being Equal by Bob Burg on burg.com

Endless Brand Referrals by Bob Burg

Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Bad by Paul Bloom

The 11 Laws of Likability by Michelle Tillis Lederman

The Compass of Pleasure by David J. Linden

Why We Love Underdogs: The Science Behind Our Fascination by Akhil Mallepally on the Medium website


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