I just came across what’s got to be the hundredth article this year alone on why you should be likable. The author, yet another leadership coach (don’t even get me started), cited politics as the basis for her position, leading with this quote by former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, “Do you ever remember a person not likeable winning? Be likeable.”
Um … Bill Gates, Andy Grove, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg … shall I go on? I should point out that the piece was in a business publication. Also Emmanuel is currently the mayor of the murder capital of the U.S., Chicago. It seems a bit out of sync to quote the guy in a piece about likability. I’m just saying.
“People vote for people they like,” she says, “the likability factor has been proven time and time again as being a ticket to entry.” Really? Then how the hell did Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump end up as presidential nominees for 2016? Their likability ratings are about as low as you can get.
She goes on to say that “life is a series of popularity contests.” Um, no, it isn’t. The real world is not pageantry.
The coup de grace was that her number one tip for being likable was, “Be real. No one likes a phony.”
This is the part where I come unhinged, folks. Being liked is, by definition, in the eyes of others. By shaping your behavior to meet your perception of what others find likable, you’re conforming to cultural norms, the status quo, political correctness, etc.
In other words, by striving to be liked, you’re not being real. You’re being phony. Simple as that.
Being real is not something you can strive to do. Being real is just being you. And that means you’ll be liked by some, disliked by others, and everything in between. Go with that. Be the genuine you. Everything will work out fine.
If, on the other hand, you’re miserable, life is not working out for you, and you want to change, fine. Do that. But don’t do it to be liked by others. Do it to be happy with yourself. Doing anything else is disingenuous. And it’s dumb. Period.
Image credit madelineyoki Flickr