Seven ways to smile your way to the top

Smiling when we brand ourselves digitally is de rigueur. Just look at the photos we post on our social networks or the intranet, our professional profiles on LinkedIn and the company website. Personal branding is a necessity in today’s connected talent market, but is it a true reflection of our capability and does it help us to build quality personal and business relationships?

As a recruitment consultant I meet new people every day. Someone with a weak handshake who doesn’t look you in the eye, doesn’t make a good impression. They may still be very capable, and it’s my job to uncover that, but I’ll also be coaching them to better present themself in person.

How about the last time you were introduced to someone who was warm and engaging, smiled and called you by name? It’s highly likely you’ve since built on the relationship, and may even be working with them now. Studies show a pleasing personality and a positive attitude goes a long way towards being successful. In Why Likability Matters More at Work, The Wall Street Journal reports, “Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others and have mistakes forgiven.”

I work with CEOs and company directors on a day-to-day basis. People at that level depend on their staff to represent them well to colleagues, clients and other stakeholders. So when I’m hiring, I’m certainly looking for someone who is likeable (with the skills, competencies and required experience for the role).

Richard Feloni has identified 14 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People. Here are my pick – seven of the most important:

  1. They develop a positive mental attitude
  2. They pay close attention to someone speaking to them
  3. They are able to maintain their composure
  4. They are patient
  5. They keep an open mind
  6. They smile when speaking with others
  7. They know that not all their thoughts need to be expressed

Organisations that successfully retain their top talent do so with a management style that reflects positively on their employees; incentive and retention programs notwithstanding. All the stats show staff leave managers, not companies. Let’s face it, we spend more time with our work colleagues than friends and family, so who would you rather work with?

Is it important for you to work with likeable people? Do you think likeability makes a difference in your workplace?

Shaunagh McEvoy

Shaunagh has been involved in recruitment and team leadership for the last 20 years of her professional career. She has worked across multiple sectors including professional services, start-up companies, the entertainment and hospitality industries. With experience in Australia, UK, USA and South Africa, Shaunagh has worked in both administration and management positions. As Practice Lead of the Slade Business Support permanent division, Shaunagh develops working relationships with highly capably professional talent and as a result is trusted to secure key support people for senior executives in a range of organisations.

Shaunagh McEvoy
Practice Lead - Business Support
Slade Group
Level 7, 15 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100

Posted in Professional Support, The world @work
2 comments on “Seven ways to smile your way to the top
  1. Patti McCarthy says:

    Many valid points Shaunagh and a persuasive argument for the need for cross cultural training! You rightly point out that (In Australia at least) “Someone with a weak handshake who doesn’t look you in the eye, doesn’t make a good impression” and you personally are able to look beyond that, but what if someone isn’t? What if someone only knows their way and thinks anything else is rude, frustrating or iritating? For a multi-cultural nation we can be surprisingly one-eyed, so thanks for raising the issue.
    Kind regards Patti

    • Thanks Patti. You are absolutely right. Working around the world I have experienced quite a number of differences in communicating and doing business, which have broadened my perspective and given me a richer understanding of different cultures and people.

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