Turning Mirrors Into Windows – Getting a Clue About Why People Like You

I like my brain. It works pretty well. I’ve had it all my life. Sometimes I and my brain get into arguments, but by and large, we get along really well.

That’s the problem. What we think is our strongest attribute may not be at all what other people like about us. Even worse, sometimes what people like about us the most is the very thing we struggle to accept about ourselves.

Case in point. A good friend of mine is looking to take his business to the next level and is wringing his brain around on its stem trying to think through a list of professional capabilities (largely a function of intellect) to gain the attention of new clients. I simply asked him why people do business with him today, why they come back, why they invite him to lunch or a golf outing. The real answer is that people trust him, they flat-out like being around him. It would have been the last thing he put on his list, but it was first on theirs.  Competence earns you respect, but likeability earns you trust.

I had a trusted friend head-slap me today at breakfast on the same issue. He had to work at it, but he made his point that my thinking (what I tend to value the most) is clutter in the way of what people really want from me – my ability to care about them, be vulnerable about my own life, share stories about struggle and reward, and get excited about whatever we’re talking about. All the stuff that I tend to think is indulgent or less important is the very heart of my best relationships.

They are the same for you.

We tend to distrust our emotions, our heart. It feels private, maybe even irrelevant, as if our personal story has no place. Especially in business, we want so much to bring rational definition around our relationships. However, in doing so we more likely erect boundaries around the thing of greatest value we have to offer and what people regard most highly in us.

Turn your mirror into a window. Look through the lens of others to see yourself as they see you. Ask. Observe. Listen. Sense. There is a good reason they like you.

Find it.

Follow it.


About paulheagen

I am an executive coach, advisor and confidant who helps leaders better understand, refresh or redirect their purpose in their business and personal lives. Over my 35-year career as a corporate executive, communications consultant and trusted advisor, I have guided executives through “defining moments” – those unique times when the decisions they make, the words they speak, and the qualities they exhibit can influence not only the destiny of their organization but also their own lives and careers. When it comes to my clients and my life work, I am ferociously passionate and restlessly inquisitive about uncovering the unique dreams, vision and purpose that lead to exceptional leadership.
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