Most of us want to be liked at work.
And whether we care to admit it, sometimes we say or do things just to keep the peace, even if they’re not conducive to our end goals.
Consider last week, for example … What did you do (or not do), say (or not say) to avoid conflict and remain ‘liked’ at work?
Perhaps you faked approval for an idea you later mocked, signed off on something you weren’t sure about because you didn’t want to offend, or chose not to voice your concerns because it wasn’t within the status quo.
Most are guilty of it from time-to-time, some more often than others. But this yearning to be liked means we’re less effective, according to Todd Henry, productivity expert and Author of The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice.
“Some people don’t want to speak truth because they don’t want to deliver what’s relationaly uncomfortable,” he explained in a 2017 episode of his Accidental Creative podcast.
“So even when they see something is awry; something that should be said, they don’t say it because they’re afraid of being disliked, but obviously that’s at the expense of progress.
“The goal is not to be disliked, but you cannot chase being effective and being liked at the same time, one of them has to take precedence,” he adds.
But don’t worry, becoming more effective, doesn’t mean you have to become, as Mr Henry puts it, “a dislikeable SOB”. Striking the balance between effective and respected is as simple as these three steps:
1. Speak truth, but with empathy
“Whenever you have to deliver a difficult truth to someone, consider the context, the timing and how the other person is likely to receive your words in a positive light,” said Mr Henry.
“Don’t assault someone with truth … engage with empathy, but the important thing is [to] speak truth … even if it is personally uncomfortable.”
2. Avoid gossip circles
“When others are gossiping about someone in the office, it’s tempting to jump into that conversation to be included,” said Mr Henry.
But just being present, even if you don’t speak, means you’re giving “unspoken consent of what’s being said in that conversation,” he added.
“Each time you jump in, you’re creating a little breach in trust, not just with the person who’s [the] topic of conversation but with everyone else, because people start to wonder … ‘Are they saying the same thing about me behind the scenes?’”
3. Maintain your edge
When you first started your job, you may have expressed numerous ideas and opinions, but over time started to stay quiet. It’s a common phenomenon, according to Mr Henry.
“Over time it’s easy to allow organisations to smooth your individual edge; to mould you to fit in. But doing so causes you to lose your strong competitive, creative advantage,” he said.
He recommended asking yourself “where are you compromising your perspective or softening your edge in order to fit in?
“Don’t feel the need to soften your perspective to fit in. People may scoff on it now but will celebrate that edge in the future.”