Consider This

Robert Stevenson’s Thoughts on the Pursuit of Excellence

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

August 18, 2019

by Robert Stevenson

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.

"Your only true security in life
is your ability to perform."

About the Author

Robert Stevenson is an expert at building a high-performance business culture, improving efficiency, and accelerating growth. He is one of the most widely sought-after speakers in the world today, as well as a best-selling author. He has owned five companies, sold internationally in over 20 countries. Robert has spoken to over 2,500 companies throughout the world and his research in the area of corporate and entrepreneurial success is extensive. Over 2 million people have benefitted from his powerful, practical, and thought-provoking programs. He is a true master at blending facts, inspiration, conviction, and humor into all his programs.

Companies like FedEx, Prudential, Lockheed Martin, Anheuser-Busch, Chevron, American Express, and Berkshire Hathaway continue to rely on him for a fresh, unique perspective on businesses’ most crucial issues. To learn more about Robert and what he can do for your team visit his website at

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