THERE IS VIRTUE IN LIKEABILITY AND HONESTY
September 28, 2015
It appears that we are already in the 2016 Presidential election campaign mode. What role does the candidates' likeability, competence, and honesty play in this election dynamic? Time will tell. But, in my view, they are key.
Unquestionable competence is essential. Likeability is a treasure. And honesty is a component of likeability. In this article I will deal primarily with the "likeability" factor. I will address "competence" in a forthcoming article. Caring, engaging, speaking little about self, and showing much greater interest in others...these are all characteristics of people who are likeable. Have you ever noticed that most successful people appear to rank high on the "likeability" meter? In fact, likeability and success seem to be symbiotic of one another. Some may say "they go hand-in-hand." To be sure, likeability is a treasure in all walks of life, including those running for elective office.
For as long as I can remember, I have followed with avid interest election returns on election night. Well do I remember in 1944 the Presidential race of between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Thomas E. Dewey. The election results were heard on our family radio. I kept track with pad and pencil in hand, as the results were being reported. There were few early 'guess' projections given and no exit polling data being reported. As the numbers came in, I kept a running tabulation on paper. It was not until the following day, that we had the definitive results: "FDR the Winner." The same was true in the 1948 race between Harry S. Truman and Thomas Dewey. We cannot forget The Chicago Tribune... wanting to be the first to announce the results... ran the headline: "Dewey Defeats Truman." But the final tabulated results proved otherwise, and Truman was the victor. Every Presidential election raises considerable interest and likeability of the candidate seemed to be an important factor. And in local elections, likeability seems to be an even greater factor.
On the national scene, party affiliations and issues play a major role along with likeability. But at the local level, likeability seems to be am even greater component. Based upon research, from winning elections to receiving a promotion in the work place, likeability seems to be a determining factor. In fact, likeability impacts one's mental and physical health, material wealth, and personal happiness. People choose people whom they like. They hire them, vote for them, buy from them, and spend more time with them. Research even shows that professional and business service personnel seem to spend more time with constituents who appear to be more friendly and likeable. And honesty is a component of likeability. That just seems to be the way it is.
You know, we are all like transmitting broadcast towers. We transmit signals that are decoded by others in order for them to determine whether they want us as a friend or one from which to shy away. As we appear to others, is what others see in us. They frame a fairly accurate picture, from their perceptions, as to whom we really are. In other words, they define us as to what degree we are likeable, honest, and approachable. And most act on the basis of the perceptions they hold.
Basically, likeability comes down to creating positive emotional experiences in others. When you make others feel good about themselves, they tend to gravitate to you. When you are genuine, honest, and approachable, people begin to trust you. Positive genuineness provides a positive feedback loop, in which the warmth of feelings you invoke to others are reciprocated and are returned to you, creating constant encouraging feedback. In short, a key component to likeability is empathy...the ability to recognize, acknowledge, and experience other people's feelings. It is about being a good listener and genuinely interested in someone's feelings and what they think and have to say. Ah yes, being truly responsive, honest, and sensitive to others is so key to being likeable.
People are most discerning and, indeed, quite perceptive. They can clearly see the difference between likeability and charm. Charm is transparent, temporary, superficial, and possibly, an artificial "put on." By contrast, genuine likeability is a far deeper quality.This is true in all of life including political candidates and office holders. Mark Shields, a political columnist and commentator said about political elections "Before they vote for you, people must like you. People often vote for the likeable." And, if the voter discovers that they made a mistake in judgment, they will soon correct their error. We are beginning to see this played out today quite graphically on the national scene.
To be sure, likeability, honesty, and success go hand in hand. No one really is an island unto oneself. Dale Carnegie once said, "For better or worse, you must play your own instrument in the orchestra of life." No one can make another individual likeable; that attribute must come from the honesty of heart of the individual. The individual plays a unique role in his or her own success, by being genuinely honest and likeable as perceived by others and, in so doing, being truly honest with oneself. For it was Henry David Thoreau who said so wisely "It is what man thinks of himself in relation to others that really determines his fate." Ah yes, likeability and success go hand-in-hand; it all emanates from the genuine truthfulness of one's words, and the honesty of one's heart And that is how I see it FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE.