Welcome Back Kotter (Likeability)!
Bill Cottringer

“Welcome back, Your dreams were your ticket out. Welcome back, To that same old place that you laughed about…”~John Sebastian, Lov’n Spoonful.

One of the most popular TV programs of my generation was “Welcome Back Kotter.” I can still hear the theme song written by “Lovin’ Spoonful” playful songwriter and singer John Sebastian, clearly in my mind as the day I watched the first show. So what made this program so popular and successful? In a word--“Likeability.”

In my less humble pie days, I actually thought I invented that concept (likeability) when I began 40 years of research with my psychology students, trying to find out exactly why people perceive some as likeable and others as unlikeable. But then one day I was reminded of the Bible’s Be Attitudes and it pretty well matched up with my scientifically proven variables of what “causes” likeability and “results” in success. The connection between likeability and success is no secret, gimmick or new discovery.

Over the years I have become a little less rigid in my scientific approach to studying and understanding the most important things in life. I follow Mark Twain’s common sense—“Seeing something the way it is.” Such is the case of the idea of likeability and its impact on popularity and success. Having recently watching the latest Geico commercials with the cute little Gecko from down-under (they won’t specify where) and his white-haired boss, I came to a startling conclusion—anyone and anything can cultivate the power of likeability. Both the little star and his boss have thier own brand of likeability, just like all the characters in “Welcome Back Kotter,” even the theme song, which is just as likeable as a Mini Cooper’s front end. Likeable people and things are everywhere and can come from anywhere.

Obviously some of the variables I found to be related to likeability still hold true today—honesty, humility, humor, positivism, politeness, good listener and such—But, and this is a big but…these things can have there own customized, tailor-made flavor of being expressed though anyone’s unique personality without a complete brain or personality makeover or in any particular or prescribed way. If you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t think you are truly likeable by what you see and hear, here are a few suggestions to change that wrong, unproductive self-perception:

1. You are who you are and good luck trying to change that. When you accept more of yourself for who you are as opposed to who you think you would like to be, something important happens. You become more real and realness is very likeable, and fortunately for us, in an infinite variety of forms. This realness comes with better timing and being a little more patient in where you are going and recognizing when you have gotten there or are close enough.

2. Look at yourself very closely and notice all the imperfections and asymmetries of your face, body, voice and general physical appearance. For years science has assumed the universe is well-ordered with an underlying unity of perfection and symmetry. Well, that particular paradigm is now beginning to become obsolete thanks to getting beyond particle and quantum physics (in books like “A Tear In The Edge of Creation”), and it is these imperfections that are the real beauty of life. So, enjoy them so others can too and give up the illusion of perfection.

3. You really can’t take life that seriously and the more you try to do so, the more unlikeable you become. At some point, you have to ask yourself why? And without any reasonable answer coming, you have to begin to laugh and see God’s grand sense of humor in this world of ours. One glance at a wombat, hippopotamus or giraffe and that reality will tickle your funny bone, never to be questioned again.

4. I have always been a big fan of the “Golden Rule.” Now I ask you, is there any quicker or easier way to bring about an atmosphere of likeability reciprocity than treating other people (and things) the way you want to be treated yourself. I think not. This rule is free to adopt at any time and the payoffs are much higher than any present day bank interest rates.

5. It is easy to be full of yourself today, but guess what? Who likes people who can’t control their egos? Nobody, not even the ego maniacs themselves, so again, why even bother? If you take a more humble approach by being more interested in other people’s accomplishments, then your humble ego will be getting all the things the egomaniac really wants but can’t have. Make sense? You get what you want without even trying. Certainly that makes good sense.

6. Everyone likes an approachable person who is a good listener. The only way to convey that likeable characteristic is to be one. By the way, the Golden Rule is highly contagious.

7. When you feel good inside you project your inner likeability to the outside where it can be easier seen, and matching the physical clues of happiness, it is that much stronger. Unfortunately the opposite is true and makes feeling bad inside that much harder to change. But who controls your moods—feeling good or bad about what happens and what you do or don’t do. Most often bad feelings can come about by adding untrue thoughts about what is going on and that is certainly under your control, once you slow down and catch yourself doing that.

8. Attractiveness and intelligence sure help in likeability, but they really aren’t necessary. Very average or even behind the curve individuals can easily make up ground by practicing the above hints or even inventing some new ones of their own.

I never met a baby who wasn’t likeable without any effort. What happened? Welcome back Kotter!

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including his latest book “Reality Repair” coming shortly from Global Vision Press. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or ckuretdoc@comcast.net