five people rule

When I was managing a large number of salespeople I would often tell them the way to increase sales revolved around the understanding of a technique I called, the five people rule. Very briefly, it states that if you line up five people shoulder to shoulder and asked all five their opinion of you, one will hate you, one will love you, and three will be indifferent.

The person that hates you may have any number of reasons for doing so. Perhaps they don’t like the way you look, the way you dress, or the way you talk. Maybe it’s the way you assert yourself publicly. Perhaps you’ve wronged them at some point or wronged a member of their family or their organization. Maybe their mother didn’t like your mother. Perhaps you did absolutely nothing! And this person simply doesn’t like you!

The person that loves you may do so for number of reasons. Perhaps the both of you are two suits, or two dresses, cut from the same cloth. (Your behaviors mirror each other!) You just get along famously with each other and like being in each other’s company. Perhaps you’ve done them a favor in the past; or got them or a member of their family a job. Perhaps, in this case, you made no overt attempts to be liked by this person, but they do like you anyway; it’s just you!

“If people like you, they’ll listen to you but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar

In either case it really doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is as we go about in our lives some people will naturally like us, and some people will naturally dislike us. The real goal here is to look at the three people that are indifferent to you. Because if you can get just one of them on the “love you” side, then you have doubled the proportion of people who like you versus dislike you.

Obviously, in sales this is very important, since people buy from people that they know, like, and trust. But, in everyday life this is important also not just because we can increase your circle of influence but it’s always nice to have people like you instead of disliking you.

So, the question becomes how can we gain enough of an understanding of our own behavior to tip the scales in our favor of other people’s opinions of us?

Here are a few ideas that I shared with salespeople and clients over the years, and I hope you can use them also in general interpersonal communication skills:

  1. Analyze why the individual that doesn’t like you feels that way – There’s a very good possibility that you don’t like them either. Throw those feelings into the mix, and answer the question, “Based on this information what can I change about my behavior?” Please note, it’s not about the other person changing, it’s about you changing! The goal here is that if you change perhaps you can get the other person to change.
  2. Analyze why the individual that likes you feels that wayHow do you act and behave that endears you to this person? Is it possible to duplicate those behaviors with a different person?
  3. Of the three individuals that are indifferent, which person do you think you would have an easier time behaving in such a way that they start to like you?That’s the one you want to attract to you first. Since you feel that they are the most favorable to you, it’s like picking a piece of low hanging fruit! Based upon the knowledge you got from answering questions one and two you should be able to alter your behavior in such a way that would allow that one individual to come over to your way of thinking.
  4. Forgive the individual that doesn’t like youIt really doesn’t matter why they don’t like you, just forgive them. There are no justified resentments! By forgiving that individual you remove all of the psyche rust that is keeping you from having other people like you (and you liking them). When you begin to understand that every word that comes from someone’s mouth is truly a prayer about themselves, regardless of who the subject is, the person that doesn’t like you is really showing an outward manifestation of their internal reflection. It’s not you! Forgive them.
  5. If by chance, you behave in such a way that wronged that person who was holding something against you, forgive yourselfIt is impossible to forgive someone else until you have allowed yourself the same privilege and honor. The past cannot be retraced. And the past does not necessarily have to be trajectory toward the future. If you can make it up to them, do so. If not forgive them and you and move on.
  6. Have a mindset of always expecting the best in any interpersonal situationLike everyone; and expect everyone to like you. That will begin to set up imperceptible behaviors, all fueled by your self-conscious mind that will attract others to you in a likable manner.

Think about other strategies you can incorporate to make the five people rule work for you. Share them! We want to hear what you have to say. Write your comments below.

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Biagio Sciacca, known to his friends as Bill, was a lifelong resident of Pittston, PA. He is the owner of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. a global consulting and training firm specializing in management and leadership training as well as psychological assessment for hiring and staff development. He is the author of several books relating to goal setting, and his third book, Provocative Leadership, is publishing soon. Now residing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, he divides his time between his international coaching and training clients, writing his next book and wandering aimlessly on the beach. Feel free to contact Bill at or schedule a call with him by going to and clicking on the “set up a call” tab.



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