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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

Getting Past The Gatekeeper


Robert Stevenson Blog - a thumbs up with the word likability

If you want to persuade, influence, direct, or motivate people, you need to be an effective communicator. There are three keys to being an effective communicator – trust, believability, and likeability. These keys unlock a very important door that allows you to have an emotional connection with anyone.

We are all the GATEKEEPER to everyone we meet. Our gate door is locked when we first encounter anyone and they must convince us to unlock the door and let them in. Our brain is processing a continuous stream of emotional information – Do we trust them? Are they honest? Are they boring, evasive, friendly, threatening, scary, interesting, warm, cold, pleasant, hateful, kind, confident, anxious, and/or insecure? Are they worth talking to, associating with, buying from, or being their friend?


Behavioral scientists have found that if we don’t connect with someone on an emotional level, little of what we have to say will get through. They will just tune us out, even if our facts are correct or content is interesting, because they simply don’t trust us. GATEKEEPERS are powerful because they grant access. If you don’t persuade your listener (The GATEKEEPER) that you are trustworthy, likeable, and safe … you are really just talking to yourself.


If you lack believability you are at an extreme risk of failure of being let in. The GATEKEEPER wants you to project confidence, so they are listening to your voice and watching your body language. If your voice is quivering and meek sounding, your posture is not erect, your hands are fidgety, and your eyes aren’t focused on their eyes … the door stays locked.


People have a tendency to trust people who smile, have a firm handshake, and look them straight in the eye. But, the key to it all is LIKEABILITY. If you are likeable, they will trust and believe you. The first and most important rule to being LIKEABLE is to SMILE. Not only does your smile affect them, it affects you as well; it affects the way you feel throughout your body and mind. If you want to advance your career, sell more products or services, get and keep more customers … work on being likeable. Likeability is the shortest and fastest path to believability and trust, and humor is a direct path to likeability; they work hand-in-hand.


Humor can defuse stressful situations, calm people, and win people over to your way of thinking. Humor can even eliminate an issue or problem all together. President Abraham Lincoln was called “two-faced” at a debate. Lincoln could have taken offense and challenged them, but instead, he used humor and calmly responded, “I’ll leave it to my audience – if I had another face, do you think I would wear this one.” Laughter filled the room, the insult was destroyed, and he won over more voters.

But, likeability is not just being easygoing and humorous. In a study conducted at UCLA, they rated over 500 adjectives on their significance to likeability. The top adjectives were sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding (another person). Likeable people ask questions and listen, are open-minded, they put down their phones, never seek to be the center of attention, are positive and confident, greet people by name, smile, are friendly and promote harmony (a by-product of humor and sincerity).


Likeability is powerful, so why not put it to work for you. It is an endearing characteristic that will get you past any GATEKEEPER.


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