Are We Politicians in Business, Too?

Like everyone else, after watching the initial presidential candidate debates, I had my favorites, my dislikes and other judgments. But I am always surprised at how people make their decisions on who they like for our next president as opposed to their policies and issues.

I was speaking to a client who told me he loved Ben Carson. When I asked why, he said, “I like Ben Carson because he’s real. He seems to think about what he is going to say before he blurts it out. He also has a good sense of humor.” (That was based on his final comment about operating on babies.) But when I asked what he liked about Carson’s policies and the way he feels about particular issues, I heard crickets.

This is not unusual – scary, but not unusual. People make decisions typically not based on the words someone uses, but the language in which they use them.

Warmth and Power

We tend to judge the leaders who address us by at least two key dimensions: their warmth and their power. We ask: “Do I like this person?” and “Do I respect this person?” Those questions relate to their trustworthiness and competence as indicated by the warmth and the power they project, respectively.


Likability is essentially the most important factor in deciding on a political leader, a new employee or a salesperson. Businesspeople often figure out early on that being liked is important, but they don’t always know how to create this likability. The way they bond with others is often how they assume everyone bonds, though this isn’t always the case.


Most of us look for confidence in the people we hire and with whom we do business. There are some common characteristics that most people identify with confidence:

” Eye contact: Trust is a big part of decision-making, and looking at someone in the eye creates trust. The ability to look at someone in the eye for at least a few seconds when an initial meeting happens is step one.

” A strong handshake: A strong handshake, man or woman, will make the receiver feel assured you know your stuff.

” A true smile: Smiling is extremely impactful. If you don’t smile while doing some of these other things, you may seem insincere.

” A sense of humor: Does it matter? It shouldn’t, but it tends to. People are judged as relatable when they can laugh at something; they become real.

Successful politicians and savvy businesspeople are well aware of these characteristics. We all know those “movers and shakers” in the community. They know everyone and everyone knows them. Is it popularity? Maybe.

When we were kids, didn’t we all want to be part of the popular crowd? Today isn’t all that different. We still want to be those people, it just may be judged differently. ?

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is a best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1,000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to

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