The Principle of Liking

The Liking Principle is obvious to most of us – people like to do business with people they like. Or, as Jeffrey Gitomer says, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things not being so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.”

For that matter, almost anything we do in life we prefer doing with people we like and enjoy being around. What’s not so obvious is how we get people to like us more. Actually, it may surprise you to learn that the key to the liking principle isn’t so much about getting others to like us; it’s really about us coming to like them. Too often people are concerned with doing whatever it takes to get people to like them, failing to realize if they genuinely like the person they’re with, that person will sense it and naturally reciprocate.

What can you do to bring this about? There are three specific things: focus on similarities, give compliments and look for cooperative efforts. We’ll take a quick look at each of these.

Ever notice how people who like the same sports teams have a natural connection? Or people who own the same car? The same could be said of so many things and so many interests. What you need to do is keep an eye out for those things you have in common with the person you’re with. Raise those commonalities to the surface and you’ll begin to form a liking connection.

Let’s be honest, we all enjoy a compliment…even when we see it as pure flattery. But, you don’t have to give a dishonest compliment because there’s always something sincere you can compliment someone about (an outfit, a tie, an award, their office, etc.). By looking for the good in someone you will naturally tend to like them a little more. They’ll appreciate the compliment and in turn come to like you more as well.

Working together toward a goal, a cooperative effort, helps people set aside their differences because of the task at hand. Even if we felt like we didn’t like the other person we’re with, quite often we start finding out “they’re not so bad after all” as we get to know them when we work together. As our walls come down so do theirs and liking happens.

So, if you want to get more done at work, or in life overall, then try liking the people with whom you associate more. You can’t necessarily make them like you but you can choose to focus on what you have in common rather than your differences. You can make a conscious effort to look for the good in them rather than their flaws. And lastly, you can try to work in harmony with them. Do those simple things and you’ll like that other person a little more. Will everyone respond in kind? No, but many will and that will make your life a little easier and make you a bit more successful.


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Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer at Influence People, LLC
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence People, LLC. A dynamic keynote speaker, trainer, coach, and consultant, he specializes in applying the science of influence and persuasion in business and personal situations. He is one of only 20 individuals in the world who currently holds the Cialdini Method Certified Trainer® (CMCT®) designation. This specialization in the psychology of persuasion was earned directly from Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. – the most cited living social psychologist in the world when it comes to the science of ethical persuasion. Brian’s passion is helping people achieve greater professional success and enjoy more personal happiness. He does this by teaching people how to ethically move others to action through the science of persuasion.
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  1. […] You’ve probably heard this one before, “People like to do business with people they like.” Sales trainer/author Jeffrey Gitomer puts it this way in the Sales Bible, “All things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they like. All things being not so equal, people still prefer to do business with people they like.” Both of those describe the psychological principle of persuasion known as “liking.” […]

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