The 11 Laws of Likability

Relationship Networking . . . Because People Do Business with People They Like

The 11 Laws of Likability

Author: Michelle Tillis Lederman
Pub Date: September 2011
Print Edition: $16.95
Print ISBN: 9780814416372
Page Count: 240
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814416389

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Living the Law of Curiosity

How to Work Your Genuine Curiosity to Create Powerful Business (and Personal) Connections

“Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I can tell you it never killed a conversation,” attests communications expert Michelle Tillis Lederman. “In fact, showing genuine curiosity about a person’s job, life, interests, opinions, or needs is a great way to start a conversation, keep it going, and create connections.” In her new book, THE 11 LAWS OF LIKABILITY: Relationship Networking…Because People Do Business with People They Like (AMACOM Books), Lederman offers the following tips for putting that natural curiosity to work for networking and relationship-building:

• Spark interest by being curious. What would you genuinely like to know about the person? If you’re wondering about the smash hit project she led or his stellar racquetball game, why not ask? If you don’t know anything at all about the person, ask general questions about the types of things you like to discover about people you meet. “Often picking one topic to pursue is all you need to get the dialogue rolling,” Lederman notes.

• Open up by asking questions. Ask open-ended questions to start a conversation and keep it flowing. If possible, make your opening person- and situation-dependent. Do you work in the same industry? Then ask industry-specific questions. If you are meeting someone for the first time in an unfamiliar place, rely on the tried and true, “What do you do?” Or tweak it slightly by asking, “What field are you in?” or “What do you do when you’re not working?” or even, “What do you want to do next?” “Your goal,” Lederman stresses, “is to uncover what you might have in common and what value you might bring to that person.”

• Ask their opinion. Asking someone’s opinion of something is a surefire conversation starter. Choose whatever topic you’d like—politics, the latest news from Wall Street—just make sure it’s something you want to talk about, too. “If you are not genuinely curious about it you won’t be fully engaged in the exchange,” Lederman cautions, “and your chance of forging a real connection diminishes.”

• Follow the other person’s lead. Even the most curious people, full of probing questions, sometimes find themselves in conversations where they suddenly hit a brick wall. When that happens, change the course of the conversation by following the lead of the person you’re talking to. “If you hit a topic and the other person’s energy flags, move on to a new topic until you land on one that helps the dialogue flow again,” Lederman suggests. “The more energetic responses you get, the better your chances for continuing to probe in ways that build connection.”

• Learn the art of the probe. “Probes are excellent conversation continuers once the initial spark of dialogue has been lit,” Lederman observes. There are three main types of probes. A clarifying probe effectively demonstrates that you are paying attention. Rephrase or summarize what you’ve heard and ask if you’ve understood it correctly. A rational probe seeks to understand the reasoning behind a stated choice or action; in other words, it asks “How come?” A better choice than “Why?” since it is less likely to put someone on the defensive. An expansion probe delves for more information about a given response, epitomized in the classic phrase, “Tell me more.”

• Don’t interrogate. Be careful not to let your curiosity tip over into a machine-gun questioning style. Bombarding people with rapid queries, regardless of your enthusiasm, will make them feel as if they need to protect themselves, and they’ll stay guarded. “Conversations are two-sided dialogues,” Lederman reminds the curious. “Sprinkling in information about yourself is important, making you more likable, increasing your chances of discovering commonalities, and making whomever you’re talking to feel comfortable enough to share.”

• Google with restraint. Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to search every bit of information you can before meeting a person. Yet, how genuinely curious can you be if you already know all the answers? What’s more, knowing so much about a person in advance might make the actual encounter feel awkward and forced. Lederman’s advice: “Do enough research that you have a solid base of background knowledge, but don’t go overboard. You want there still to be plenty you want to know because, after all, this is the essence of curiosity.”

Adapted from THE 11 LAWS OF LIKABILITY: Relationship Networking…Because People Do Business with People They Like by Michelle Tillis Lederman (AMACOM Books).

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