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The Like Switch

This book is near the top of my recommendations. It played a big part in helping reshape my personality for me to be able to communicate well with others. It really clarified for me what makes a person likeable and helped with being able to read other people (with a lot of real world practice, of course). This book was written by a retired FBI agent, Jack Schafer, and a professor at the University of South Florida, Marvin Karlins. Jack was an agent who worked counter intelligence. In the beginning of the book, he talks about how he converted a Russian asset and the methods that he used. Throughout the book, he uses multiple examples of how he was able to use these methods to great effect.

Jack also mentioned how the FBI started to change the people on the hiring panel in order to change who was being hired into the agency, as the FBI learned that we prefer to be around and work with those who are most like us. This was an example he gave of how “like attracts like.” This was an instance of where the FBI was able to pick up a broader pool of people with different backgrounds and ways of thinking. Things like this are extremely important in a business setting where the strengths of one person can fill in for the weaknesses of another.

It was a really important book that taught me about why likeability is critical to making it in the world. One thing I’ll note though is that likeability is very subjective. Just because one person likes you doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same. There’s a lot of value in being someone who is likeable though, and I also don’t mean in a brown noser sort of way. Being liked by some means you won’t be liked by others and that’s okay.

I’ve noticed that one of the things that people seem to like the most is authenticity. When you act like the person that you really are (provided you aren’t overly abrasive or a yesman), you’ll be received well by quite a few people. There are so many fake people with fake intentions these days that I believe a lot of people are stating to place more of a preference in someone who speaks their mind.

A heavy portion of this book is dedicated to non verbal cues. Something that most have probably heard is that non verbal communication is about 55% of a conversation. Jack covers this quite a lot in the book. This book is very much applied psychology. If you really want to get the most of it, you’ll need to practice what Jack talks about in the book. The reason I was able to cement so much of what was taught was because I would read a couple chapters and then work on applying the knowledge to in person interactions. You’ll won’t get much out of this book if you don’t apply it somewhat soon after learning it. If you do apply it though, this book could have a huge impact for you.