Likeability and Politics ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: May 24, 2007 11:45 AM

Mary Katharine hits the nail on the head regarding McCain vs. Rudy -- and the "likeability" factor. 

Ultimately, the question is: What criteria do you use to decide for whom to vote?

If you subscribe the "Blink" theory of decision-making, then you probably go with your gut.  But if you believe (as many conservatives would, at least, claim to) in making decisions based on reason -- then you probably try to keep personality from entering into your decision.

(In fairness, one could argue that, to be effective, a president must have the ability to be liked.  Reagan's likeability may have contributed to our winning the cold war, after all...)

In any event, if you're interested in reading a little something I put together for conservative candidates on the topic of "Likeability", click "Read More" ...[# More #]

Likeability is probably the most important quality a political candidate or leader can have.

Sure, voters care about issues. But (as was the case with Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton), average Americans often make up their minds based on a "gut" reaction. They either say, "He seems like a good guy," or "He seems like a phony." Often, that visceral reaction determines who wins or loses an
election.

Likeability is hard to quantify, but in his book The Likeability Factor, author Tim Sanders does just
that. According to Sanders, four qualities equal likeability:

Friendliness (showing you like somebody), Relevance (having something in common with a person), Empathy (putting yourself in someone else's shoes), and Realness (being true to yourself and
others).

... Okay, I know what you're thinking: Some people are naturally likeable. I agree. Some people have it easy. For them, being likeable is like breathing; they don't think about it -- they just do it. But, according to Sanders, you and I can actually learn to be more likeable. Here's how:

1. Friendliness: Demonstrate that you like people. Here's how:

a. Make eye contact and have a genuine smile.
b. Use including verbal language and body language.
c. Delay anger gratification.

2. Relevance: Compliment someone else's life by sharing a common passion or mutual interest. Here's how:

a. Have hobbies or non-political things you can talk about (all work and no play makes Jack a dull candidate).
b. Be well-read. It's important you can talk to people about what interests them. If someone is wearing a Dale Earnhardt shirt, can you talk NASCAR? If they are walking their dog, can you talk intelligently about beagles?
c. Keep up with the latest news, movies, etc.

3. Empathy: Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Feel their pain. Here's how:

a. Pay attention to others' facial expressions. Are they bored, sad, or happy?
b. Work on being a better listener. Ask questions, but resist the temptation to give too much advice. Let them do most of the talking.
c. Use your imagination to imagine what it is like to be in their situation. Also, try to remember times in your life when you went through a similar situation.

Note: Empathy has to be sincere. You can't fake it. Otherwise, you violate the next rule ...

4. Realness: Be true to yourself and others. Don't be a fake. Here's how:

a. Have core beliefs and core values. Write them down.
b. Remind yourself of your roots. Don't forget where you came from.
c. Learn from role models, but don't try to "copy" them. Learn from others, but always be yourself.

... Admittedly, this is a crash-course in likeability. But I truly believe that if you work on these four qualities, you will become more likeable. And as I stated earlier, when it comes to garnering voters, likeability is, perhaps, the most important factor there is.