Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Popular... It's All About Popular

I recently went and saw (again) my favourite musical Wicked - based on the story of the witches in the Wizard of Oz.

One of my favourite songs in the musical is called Popular.

Glinda (the one you might know as the good witch) is teaching Elphaba (the green/wicked witch) how to be popular in the song. It's light hearted and witty and all together one of the most fun moments in the musical but as I sat listening to it in my car this morning (for the umpteenth time) I giggled with recognition at the following part:

When I see depressing creatures with unprepossessing features I remind them on their own behalf to think of celebrated heads of state or specially great communicators did they have brains or knowledge? don't make me laugh! They were popular! please-- it's all about popular! it's not about aptitude it's the way you're viewed so it's very shrewd to be very very popular like me!

Having worked in real estate for 16 odd years now I know it's a strange industry indeed and one where "great communicators" thrive. Where else do you walk into a stranger's home and within an hour or so get to a point where they feel so comfortable with you that they give you a key?! Now while you might not instantly think to call this "popular" I say it's a version of popular called "likeable". In real estate - as in so many other industries, if you can't be likeable you won't win the business.

It's why the most successful real estate agents don't all look the same, but all have a way of becoming likeable/popular with enough of their target demographic to earn a substantial income. Take the real estate agent I know who towers over most people at 6 foot and too many inches and is about 2 metres wide (well - almost). He compensates for this somewhat scary outer appearance by being so softly spoken and unimposing that little old ladies feel completely at ease. Take the amazing sales woman I know who could have been a model in a previous life. Rather than amplify her overtly gorgeous presentation - she dresses in a super professional manner never veering towards obvious sexiness and therefore doesn't alienate / terrify half her target demographic.

So how do you work on popular? For me - it was about working on becoming more outgoing and talkative. Naturally I'm a massive introvert. I have waitressing while I was just out of high school to thank for my take on "popular". I worked in a restaurant and quickly learned that being a wallflower wasn't going to work. As months went by I found techniques and ways to come more out of my shell and by the time I went back into real estate again at age 19 I'd learned how to put on my likeable/personable/popular/more extroverted face at work.

You'll struggle to find a course in popular - but if you're in an industry where you're trying to win business (and isn't that almost all of us?), it's an essential skill. Three ways to give yourself a home course in it:

- Study "popular" people - what makes them so likeable? how do they put people at ease? why do you and everyone else like them and want to be around them so much?
- Ask people what your most annoying habits are (ask honest people and brace yourself for the answers)
- Find a way to be likeable in your own way - ask your friends what makes you likeable and amplify that (generosity, kindness, compassion, remembering little details, being a good listener etc)

And remember... "You will be popular, just not quite as popular as .... Glinda".

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments


    • Popular
    • Categories
    • Archives