The 11 Laws of Likability
Relationship Networking . . . Because People Do Business with People They Like
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
Buy the book:
I used to believe I knew most of what there was to know
about connecting with people and building relationships.
But one day my belief got completely upended. It happened
while I was teaching one of my classes at New York University.
The course was about organizational communication, and it
was for business school sophomores. The students were
there to learn strategic tactics for communicating effectively.
Even though we covered a wide range of topics during the
semester—from understanding the audience to constructing
oral and written presentations—my overarching message was
always the same: You must have a purpose for every commu-
nication. If you haven’t established your intent, I told my stu-
dents, you are wasting your time and your listener’s patience.
I pounded home that message at every opportunity.
Then one day I asked my class, ‘‘What do you think my
objective is this semester? What is my intent?’’ A young man
sitting in the front row eagerly raised his hand. With a big
smile he said, ‘‘You want us to like you!’’
I was startled by his comment, and my answer was swift
and seemingly nonchalant. ‘‘No, that’s not my intent,’’ I
scoffed. ‘‘I don’t really care whether you like me or not.’’ Re-
flecting on the incident later, though, I realized that my re-
sponse had been a smokescreen. I did want them to like me;
of course I wanted to be liked. Who doesn’t?
What bothered me the most was that my response to the
student’s comment had been so harsh and abrupt, and it was
because I was uncomfortable with the accuracy of his assess-
ment. Even if I was willing to admit that I wanted to be liked, of
course I didn’t want my class to know it. In my mind, someone
who wanted to be liked was needy and weak and wasn’t very
To this day I’m not sure if the student’s comment was intended
to be smart-alecky or sincere, but regardless, it had a
profound impact on me. It got me thinking about likability, and
not just why we want to be liked but why we should want to be
liked. That classroom incident changed the course of my
work, my approach to teaching and coaching, and my own
methods of networking and relationship building. Now I focus
on the importance of likability—being likable, liking ourselves,
and in turn, liking the people we meet.
Many networking experts urge people to be strategic and delib-
erate to a fault, focusing on how to work a room and get in front of
key people. The act of meeting people and seeking connections
begins to feel like a dreaded chore, and when it feels like some-
thing you have to do rather than want to do, it’s hard to motivate
yourself to do it at all, let alone do it well.
Contrary to what many networking experts counsel (and what
I, too, used to believe), every interaction does not need to have an
intent or a specific objective.We do not need to focus with laserlike
precision on what our takeaway from a conversation will be, because
building relationships is not about transactions—it’s about
connections. It is about creating opportunities for honest and auth-
entic interactions, and making them advantageous for all parties
involved. It’s about liking and being liked.
Tapping into likability doesn’t mean making everything all
perky and bright and constantly being happy. In some ways it’s
just the opposite. Harnessing likability is about uncovering what
is authentically likable—in you, in the other person, in your con-
nection. It is through the strength of what is genuine that meaning-
ful connections build into relationships. The term networking is
simply another way to think about how to start a relationship. Our
relationships are our network. Whether they stem from business
or personal situations, our relationships are what support us, con-
nect us, and allow us to progress in all aspects of our lives.
To fully engage the power of likability, we need to understand
what it is and how it works. We are all, obviously, different, and
that’s a fact to be celebrated and embraced. What makes each of
us likable is distinct to us. But the basic drivers of likability are the
same for us all. I call them the 11 laws of likability. This book takes
an in-depth look at each of these ‘‘laws,’’ breaking them down to
find out how they function in both business and social settings,
and how to fully incorporate them into our lives.
This new likability-based paradigm for networking and building
relationships minimizes moments of inauthenticity and missed
opportunities. Instead, I’ll show you how to uncover what is inher-
ently likable about yourself, and how to share those qualities with
the people you meet to create relationships that are honest and
real, and that lead to win-win situations for everyone involved. By
approaching your interactions through the lens of likability, you
can expect to be happier, more comfortable, and more successful
in establishing meaningful relationships.
Even those of you who are comfortable approaching new people,
generating a conversation, or asking for what you want will
benefit from shifting your traditional thinking about how to make
connections. Expanding your perspectives on networking and em-
bracing the tenets of likability can open up whole new paths to
connecting with people and nurturing strong relationships.
Building fruitful and lasting relationships starts with abandoning
the conventional ‘‘me’’-based thoughts that are so prevalent in
the business world and so easy to slip into in our personal lives.
‘‘What can this person do for me?’’ becomes ‘‘What can I do for
this person?’’ Likewise, ‘‘What can I get out of this situation?’’
becomes ‘‘How does this situation benefit us all?’’
You must shift your thinking:
• From Me to Them
• From Work to Any Topic
• From Now to Long Term
Because here is the essential truth about meaningful connections:
It’s not about you—it’s about the relationship.
Search the full text of this book
Search Full Text of
For single copy purchases of any AMACOM title, you can connect directly to the online retailer of your choice, from the list below, to buy the title you have selected. Most of our links will take you directly to that title on the site, making your shopping experience easier. You can also visit your local retailer, and if the book is not on their shelves they can special order it for you.
Retailers: Please contact us to change or add a listing.
Buying in Bulk?
We have very competitive discounts starting at 5 copies, as well as personal service, for bulk orders. Simply contact our Special Sales Department. Call 800-250-5308 or 212-903-8420 and ask for Special Sales. You can also email: SpecSlsWeb@amanet.org