Why Likability Matters for Your Success

For several years, I’ve studied Human Relations and taught it to students of all ages: from high school, to college, to working professionals.  Some Interesting comments I’ve heard during workshops include:

“I’m not at work to be liked, I’m there to get a job done.”

“I’m not on the team to be liked, I’m there to compete and win.”

From my experience observing others and consciously working on what I call my own Likability Factor, I have found the opposite to be true – that likability is actually a key contributor to your success. People gravitate toward and enjoy being around likeable people. They want them in partnership at work, in their group at school, and as a member of their athletic team.

In order to measure your own Likeability Factor, take the following Likability Self-Assessment:

Likability Self-assessment

Are you the kind of person others enjoy being around?  Find out by completing the following self-assessment.  Think of the typical settings you are in with other people.

If you are a student-athlete, think about times you are with your teammates and coaches, in school working on group projects or with teachers, and/or when you are at a part-time job.

If you are a sports-parent, think about times you are at your son or daughters’ sport events with other parents, coaches, and teammates.  This is also applicable at your work and volunteer organizations.


Select the number from 1 to 5 that best describes your use of the following behavior, and write the number on the line before each statement.

(5) Usually        (4) Frequently               (3) Occasionally             (2) Seldom        (1) Rarely

_____ 1.  I’m an optimist. I look for the good in people and situations rather than the negative.

_____ 2. I’m generally positive and avoid complaining about people, things, and situations.

_____ 3. I show a genuine interest in other people. I compliment them on their success.

_____ 4. I smile.

_____ 5. I have an easy sense of humor.  I can laugh at myself.

_____ 6. I can walk in others’ shoes to better understand their perspective.

_____ 7. I truly listen to others.

_____ 8. I help other people cheerfully.

_____ 9. I have high integrity and trust easily.

_____ 10. I am grateful for what I have.

_____ 11. If I were to ask all my teammates, classmates, teachers, coaches, or the people I work with to answer these 10 questions for me, they would select the same responses that I did.

To determine your likability, add the 10 numbers you selected as your answers.  The total will range from 10 to 50.  Place it here ______ and on the continuum below.

How did you do?  Whether you scored well or not as high as you would have liked, everyone has the opportunity to improve their likability and relationships with others around them. Select one item to concentrate on and start practicing it with everyone you meet. When that becomes second nature, choose another one. You may be surprised at how much your relationships improve!

Unlikable          10……………..….….20……………..….….30……………..….….40……………..….….50      Likable


Likability — it’s a key predictor to success in all areas of life. Your ability to come across as likable affects how you are sized up and treated by coaches and teammates, bosses and co-workers.

From getting invited to join your desired sports team, working better with your teammates, or scoring that job promotion, likability can get you where you want to go. Likability pulls people toward you and sets you up for more effective relationships. Likable people are also more apt to have their mistakes forgiven. So, a good way to maximize your success is to develop the skills that increase your Likability Factor.

10 key approaches were included in the self-assessment.  Let’s take a deeper dive into what Likability is and how you can increase your Likability Factor.

Likable people have a ready laugh and easy sense of humor.

E.E. Cummings wrote that “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” Humor provides joy, lightness, and a remembrance that everything in life isn’t so grave and dire (and that this too shall pass). People with a ready laugh and a keen sense of humor are easy to like because they lighten our moods and remind us to be more joyful and easy with what’s in front of us. This is especially true for busy high-school athletes.

Tip: How often do you laugh and smile, deep down to your toes? If it’s a rare occurrence, take some time to tap into what makes you laugh and smile, and bring that forward in your life any way you can.

They are able to walk in others’ shoes – Using Empathy

According to Psychology Today, “Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from his or her point of view, rather than from one’s own.” Being empathetic takes conscious effort. The work you put into using empathy pays dividends. Think about the people you know. Do you like and admire people who can empathize with others, and walk in others’ shoes? Or are you drawn to people who are snobby, condescending, and act as if they’ve never had a problem, flaw, or crisis? Likable people don’t separate themselves from others or hold themselves above them. They are fully able to step into another’s shoes with understanding of what that person is going through.

Tip: Be honest with yourself about your ability to empathize with others.  Are you able to walk in someone else’s shoes, and feel what they’re feeling? If not, what stops you from doing it? Before responding to others, pause and think about their perspective and where they are coming from. This will help you be more supportive to them and to increase your performance and the performance of others.

They are grateful for what they have and who they are.

Gratitude is a critical component to a happy, well-lived, and fulfilling life. People who are never satisfied in life are tough to like. No matter what happens, they seem to find fault in it, and can’t access gratitude and thankfulness for the blessings they do have in their lives. On the other hand, likable people acknowledge their blessings and bring gratitude to the forefront every day.

Tip: Start keeping a Gratitude Journal. Every day write down 2 – 3 things you are thankful for. Think about coaches, bosses, memberships, or experiences that enhance your life. This practice will re-shape your appreciation for what you have, diminish your focus on what you don’t have, and naturally draw people to a more likable you.

Next month, we’ll take the deeper dive into other Self-Assessment characteristics you can work on to increase your Likability Factor.



Likability Self-Assessment is adapted from Human Relations in Organizations by Robert N. Lussier, 2018.