Likeability and ListeningIn his book Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki devotes many pages to the concept of achieving likeability. “For people to like you they have to accept you, and you have to accept them,” he says. You should use the right words to communicate your attitudes, personality, and perspective. Don’t impose your values. He says that finding a shared passion is a great tool for developing relationships.

I believe that rather than focusing on telling clients/customers why your company is so great—on your website, in your marketing collateral, or in your social media postings—let them tell you their stories. Spend time listening to them. This will allow you to connect with your clients through your shared passions and their experiences and help you build lasting relationships with them.

The following excerpts from the book Letters to My Son, by Kent Nerburn, which I’ve adapted slightly, provide strong insight into the power of listening to people. These principles can be applied in business by both emerging entrepreneurs and seasoned business leaders: listening to your clients and letting them tell their stories, and then responding to them, will help you build an emotional connection with your clients, enable you to achieve likeability among them, and build their loyalty to your business and your brand.

Craig…was one of those people who brought energy and life into any room he entered. He had an uncanny ability to focus his entire attention on you while you were talking, so you suddenly felt more important and more responsible than you had before he started listening. [I learned a lot from Craig from these words he said to me:] “People like people who like them.”

From that day forward…each encounter became an adventure, each person a lesson in life. Each [person] had a unique story to tell, if only I had the ears to listen. If you are the one who reaches out, if you are the one who dares to like other people, the walls around you will fall away. Those whose attention you crave will turn toward you because you are turning you attention toward them. You [and your business] will find yourself more valued and respected than you ever could be by parading your accomplishments and sense of importance before other people, because you will have given other people a chance to shine. And far from being lost in their shadows, you will be reflected in the light of their happiness and increased sense of self-worth.

Craig…brought people alive because he cared about them more than he cared about their opinions of him. He took a chance and liked people…he generated the good feeling that filled the space that separates people.

Being a person like Craig takes courage. People may accuse you of manipulations and false motivations. They will question your associations and take advantage of your openness. But nothing they can do or say will take away the sense of adventure that comes from enlarging your interest in the people around you. Your life [and your business] is made richer by every person you meet—every person whose story you listen to.

What can you do to listen and let people tell their stories? Some suggestions: build a client community on your website to encourage and enable exchange of stories and ideas from your customers; use social media channels to listen and respond to your clients; or let clients’ stories help guide innovation or product/service development for your business. Listen to them. Include them. Let them know you care about their personal stories and how they can be applied to improving your business and your brand.

As an entrepreneur or business leader, what story would you like to share about how listening and responding to clients/customers has changed your business or your approach to client interactions?