Managers hire people who could be potential friends, according to an article published by the American Sociological Review. There’s a reason a study was needed. There’s a common misconception taught to young people. I think it may originate from well-meaning parents and guidance counselors, hoping to console someone who isn’t too well-liked. These adults say things like, “High school is a popularity contest. But don't worry – it gets better.” And yes, high school can be brutal. The importance of popularity is much more apparent during those years than in college or beyond.
But the popularity contest doesn’t end after graduation.
And why would it? At the end of the day, we all want to be happy. What better way to be happy than to surround yourself with people who you like – and more importantly, who like you?
There’s a saying that you may be familiar with: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And you’ll only get to know people if you’re likable. I began to realize late in college that good grades only open doors a crack. You need people skills to get those doors to fully open.
After college, I worked for a Fortune 500 company. In a place like that, likability was key to getting things done. There was a guy who brought homemade baked goods every Thursday. Smart. It would be difficult for anyone to dislike or (gasp) fire the food guy. I’m pretty sure that would trigger an office revolt.
I finally realized emotions, as well as logic, play into success. For example, I can’t simply be proficient at SQL (used for managing databases). To really excel, I have to be good at both.
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Warren Buffett learned this as well. He was struggling to make money in his early 20s – he couldn’t close a sale.
He knew he had to become good with people. Once he learned how, he was on his way to becoming a billionaire.
I’ve gone to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting – aka the Woodstock of capitalism. He’s perhaps the most remarkable business personality out there. He speaks and interacts with people in a magical way.
People skills are something that we should enjoy perfecting. Robots will soon become better than us at logic. If you’re only logical, what job will you have? You must be in touch with relationships and feelings. That is what will differentiate you from robots. I’m not joking as much as you may think. It’s already starting to happen. Here’s a list of 20 jobs that robots are eyeing with no envy, as these jobs require emotional skills.
If you improve your people skills, you can learn just like Warren did. He attended public speaking classes, and he still reads five to six hours every day. So do you want to do the same? Here are the methods for improving your social skills and what each will cost (though don’t worry too much about cost – it’s an investment in your career):
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- Blogs/YouTube Channels (Free)
- Google certain skills you desire.
- Find someone you enjoy to be a mentor.
- Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Courses (cost varies widely from $0 to thousands)
- Toastmasters ($36 every six months)
- Books (less than $20 apiece)
- The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life's Dreams by Tim Sanders
- The 5 Essential People Skills by Dale Carnegie
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie