Joe Girard was an American car salesman from Michigan. However, he was not your average salesman Joe. Having sold 13,001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership between 1963 and 1978, Girard has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s greatest salesman. How did he do it?

  • Best in class sales process?
  • A perfect pitch?
  • Freebies for his customers?

No. Every single month, he sent each of his 13,000 customers a holiday card. A rather short one:

“I like you” – that’s the only thing the text on the card said.

OK. Not entirely true. To be specific, he also signed it…

Why Do We Like Each other

Have you ever wondered why people like each other? Of course you did. Everyone wants to be liked. You do. Me too.

That’s why I will tell you right now – I like you very much. Very much.

What? Read on to understand…

I am sure you have heard the saying that people buy from people they like. In short, you like the salesman, so you buy from him, not from the other one (given the offer is economically sound and you actually need/want the product).

In social contexts that means that we want to be around and enjoy the company of people who we like. Makes sense, right? However it is not entirely true.

In reality, we like people who we think that like us. 

I like you very, very much

Robert Cialdini knows a thing or two about the science of influence and persuasion. Apart from the story of Joe Girard, in his classic book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion he tackles the concept of why people say yes, and how to apply these understandings.

When it comes to liking, it turns out we fall to influence of people who like us. But how do we know, if they really do?

We don’t have to. Simply thinking that someone likes us (not necessarily being true…) has an effect on our decision-making towards that person. A more favorable one. We like that person.

So how can you apply that to your next presentation?

How to nail your next presentation

Show people that you like them. When the audience feels the speaker has positive feelings towards them, they will reply with the same. Isn’t it nice when you feel liked by the people you speak to? It sure is. Because speaking to people who like you has several clear advantages:

  • Your confidence increases. You are among friends after all, why worry?
  • They are more receptive to your message. They like you, so they trust you more and open up to your suggestions.

So what can you do to make them like you? Cialidni mentions several factors that will influence if people like you. Let’s talk about 3 (hey look, it’s this number again) of them:

1. Physical Attractiveness

Don’t worry. It’s not a beauty contest. However, research clearly shows that we the associate other favorable traits with good-looking people. What does it mean? Simply, if you find someone physically attractive you are much more prone to also give them the benefits of talent, kindness or intelligence. This is called the halo effect (to be discussed on the blog soon).

It is simple, really. Take care of yourself and dress appropriately. 

2. Similarity

We like people who are similar to us. Don’t believe me? Think of your closest friends. What do you have in common? I bet that you have a lot. Similar background? Childhood you spent together? You have the same hobby? You went through certain difficult events together? You are similar, one way or another.

Your take away? Make sure to mention, casually of course (don’t make it too obvious!), several similarities you share with the audience.

In my case it is quite easy. I often speak about the importance of developing… good speaking skills. And I often talk to people slightly younger than me. We share a lot in common: ups and downs of our generation, educational track, work experience. It always breaks the ice and provides basis for great relationships. They too, like those who are similar to them.

You can always find similarities with your audience. It’s a powerful weapon.

3. Association

Imagine you have just received a call. You have won a lot of money. You are ecstatic. 30 seconds later, you hear a door bell.

It’s me.

Will you like me? I guarantee that you will love me. How come? I will be automatically associated with that awesome feeling, in this case, of winning.

This principle can often be observed in the development of romantic relationships. Have you ever seen a couple and had the impression that one person is much more attractive than the other? And yes, it can be both ways!

Ask them how did they meet. Chances are it all started during a highly emotional, positive, feel-good event or situation. Best music concert in their life? Outstanding vacation? A very happy moment that they shared?

That’s association.

How to use that in speaking? For starters, make people feel good about themselves in your presence. Be funny. Be entertaining. Cheer them up a little. Going further, put them in a positive spotlight during your speech. Commend them for their contribution, a good question they asked, or how they answered your’s.

Again, it’s simple. But knowing is one, using the other. Now you know. Use it.

Wrapping it up

Remember. It is very difficult to not like someone who (we feel) has good intentions towards us and knows how to converse and speak well. Such person will always make us feel liked and appreciated.

We all crave to be liked, validated and appreciated. Give it to them and they will remember you forever.

Now tell me:

  • Do you have these people in your life, who always make you feel liked and appreciated? How do you feel about them?
  • How can you apply liking principle in your next presentation?

Leave a comment now.

Wojciech is a trainer, teacher and life-long learner on the topic of effective communication. He believes that speaking clearly, effectively and with confidence is essential to our success and taking advantage of all life’s opportunities. READ MORE
  • AK Hombre

    Wow mate, I see some fresh and content rich blogging in here! And the free ebook?! Who else gives that much love these days? 🙂

    One question: this association thing, how can I use to that my advantage when speaking with somebody face to face? Can you give an example? Is this the anchoring idea from NLP?


    • Wojciech Mendyka

      Hi Hombre, thanks for the kind words and your questions! When you wan’t to use association to your advantage, for starters, don’t use it your disadvantage. Since we are prone to associate feelings with people, make sure you don’t end up in a situation that evokes these bad feelings when you are around that important person. For example, if you know the other is not feeling good today (headache, personal issues), postpone the meeting or they may be projected on you – “My head always hurts when this guy is around”.

      How to use it for advantage? The reverse. Take care of the setting. Ever wondered why big business is often carried over a dinner in a restaurant? There is more to that than just good food. Pleasurable eating makes us feel great, and we will associate this feeling with someone we share it with. This is also the reason why eating together has been rooted into human societies since caveman times. Good feelings shared together form a strong bond. It does not have to be eating. Try personal achievements, hobbies, success at work etc.

      To your third question. Association and Anchoring are not quite the same. Association is about evoking certain feelings by referring to what the receiver already knows. Anchoring is about presenting them with something they did not know to create a favorable context for a decision in the future. Good that you mentioned it thought – I made a note to cover Anchoring in a separate post 🙂