Saturday, March 15, 2014

He is like me syndrome ….Liking Bias….

Mirroring is the common behaviour during meetings, public
forums etc. In this pic, two leaders seating here are mirroring
Mr. Obama.     
Recently, I was just spending my time at Shopping Mall in Shanghai.  People have lot of spending power. There is a craze of all Apple products which are very costly even in China. However now a days it is a status symbol to have the i-phone and i-pad, whatsoever cost may be. I was just doing the window shopping and observing the people behaviour  including of salespeople.  What is the consumer behaviour?

One of the interesting behaviour , I observed, is “mirroring”. Salesperson was trying to copy the gestures, language, and facial expression of his client. If the buyer speaks very slow and quietly, scratching his head,  salesperson also copies the same behaviour of the buyer. This behaviour makes him likeable in the eyes of the buyer and the deal is more likely. What advertisements do? They project the same behaviour of consumer to attract them.  This is a “Liking Bias”.

“Liking bias” is the trap for consumers by sellers and advertisers. In in the shopping mall salesman actually was creating the trap for consumer to buy the products.

Unknowingly we also fall prey to it in the organizational context.  Most of the deals get through due to this. And when I started to study, I came to know that every person in the organization is the victim of “liking bias”.  We were planning to establish the Shared Service Center in India few years back. I along with my global team was involved in the project. The Project Manager was Dutch national who was big fan of soccer. During one of the discussion, very smart consultant started the discussion on soccer and his interests. The discussion was with full of interesting facts like their organizational routes at Netherlands and interest areas of each other. When he left,  Project Manager was impressed.

How this can be happened? According to research, we view people as pleasant if they are attractive or they are similar to us in terms of origins, personality and interests. 

Who are in the list of Top Potential and High Potential in organizations? People who are outwardly attractive, energetic and outspoken get lot of opportunities. And also people who are like their bosses. This is a “Oh, he is like me” syndrome.

We should be very careful while dealing this “liking bias”. During interview, decisions are made within first few seconds. If the candidate is “like me”, most probably, interviewer will hire the candidate. Performance rating is based on the liking bias and if HR people are also victim of this, then the whole PMS system gets screwed.  During meetings, employee tend to mirror the superior.  The whole behaviour of the boss is copied at certain extent.   

Unfortunately, we don’t go in detail and logic. The whole advertising and marketing world is based on this liking bias.  Why Mr. Kejariwal received such huge response during Delhi elections? “Liking bias”.

As a buyer we should be careful so that we are not the victim of liking bias and as a seller, we should use this to realize the sales. But in organizations, if you are the boss and you are at another side, ensure not to fall prey of liking bias or “he is like me” syndrome. 

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