The Likability Trap
"Your silence will not protect you". Audre Lorde
This quote keeps coming up a lot lately.
I recently got some feedback that some "perceptions" about me have shifted to the positive and "good job" for working things out with my naysayers.
This so called "positive feedback" was utterly meaningless to me. For one, I didn't do a damn thing to change anyone's opinion of me. The whole idea that I would do anything to change the perceptions of people who are inclined to not like me in the first place is repellant and insulting.
By nature I'm a crusty, disobedient outsider. In work environments, this has been an advantage because I've been willing to say hard things and embrace conflict. That isn't to say I don't make friends, but I go towards being truthful over politics. I'm not a great balm to egos.
The side effect is that, in some cases, my directness isn't embraced.
An organization determined to stay the same counts on people not making waves and getting along. Being likable is a recipe for sameness.
There comes a point when doing things to keep people liking you comes in direct conflict with using your own judgement and doing what is right. Being liked cannot make up for not being able to recognize yourself in your own words or actions.
If you find yourself smoothing the waters because you fear losing approval, take a moment and stop. Ask yourself these questions:
- What reward do you believe being liked is going to get you?
- What are you tolerating in exchange for being liked?
- Are you willing for things to keep going on forever as they are if you get to be liked?
- Are you secretly hoping someone else will do the hard work of telling the truth so you don't have to?
- Who do you think you are being when you are being liked?
- Who do you fear becoming by not being liked?
- What will your future self think of the choice you are making now?
- What does your present self really think?
- What would you do if you didn't have to worry about being liked?
That's enough for this blog post! I need to get my harpy wings groomed for the "Dangerous Crone Ball". Hope I'll see you there!