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What ‘Likeability’ Really Means In The Workplace

4 Mins read

The urge to be liked is a powerful force in this world: It can force you to rethink behavior, appearances, even relationships. But despite even the very best efforts, no one has a say in how much other people like them. Who we like is a deeply subjective thing. But what does ‘likeability’ really means in the workplace? […]

NOTES: What ‘Likeability’ Really Means In The Workplace

Any time you, as a woman, advocate for yourself in the workplace, you are asking yourself, ‘Is the thing that I am potentially getting worth the potential trade-off in likeability?’ Because likeability isn’t just who sits next to you at lunch. It’s also about who is seen as a person who is on a path to success. And so those trade-offs are very real.

When someone says, “I don’t like you,” very often what they are saying is, “You did not meet my expectation of how a person like you is supposed to show up in the world.”


Can you walk us through some of the likability traps you found women often get stuck in?

The biggest one that women run into is what I call the Goldilocks conundrum — you know, too warm, too cold. A woman, it seems, is never just right. As a woman, you will either get feedback that you are too warm: “Everyone likes you — just people don’t think you have what it takes.” And very often no one can tell you exactly what that is, but what they’re most often talking about is a perception of strength. And then a woman who is what we would perceive as strong, who asserts herself, who lobbies for things, will often be told that while she has what it takes to lead, she needs to tone it down lest she ruffle too many feathers. 

Facing The Workplace ‘Likeability’ Challenge

“Who I like” and “who I don’t like,” flies beneath the radar, we cannot call it out as bias, and it is not HR-able.

What are some concrete steps that we can take in the workplace to combat these traps at work?

We can do a few things. We can push for more subjective, concrete feedback.

“Andee, you’re just too loud.” Andee takes in a deep breath and ask, “Compared to whom? Can you point someone else out in the office to me that you would give that same piece of feedback to. Or someone who you think that I should be modeling?”

I think you need to know when the place that you work doesn’t align with your values and doesn’t see the potential that you bring in. I think there are a lot of us who believe that if we just work hard enough, then we can make it fit. And sometimes that fit isn’t there.

Go to NPR to read more, so much more …

Alicia Menendez is a journalist, podcast creator and the author of The Likeability Trap. You can listen to Menendez’s full interview here.

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Recommended: How Employers Can Keep 2021 From Being The Year of ‘I Quit’


How to Create the Life and Career You Want With Self-Love

Self-love is the process of knowing yourself, connecting with your inner self, overcoming self-limiting beliefs, letting go of everything that doesn’t serve you, and falling in love with yourself.

Self-love helps silence the fear of rejection, our inner critic, and instead befriend it to serve us rather than taunt us. And we develop confidence in what we stand for, when we know who we are from within. With self-love, we are able to let go of self-judgment, negative thoughts, opinions, and people who are not aligned with us.

When we accept ourselves wholly for who we are, people around us also start seeing us in the same light. Likewise, when we love what we do and do what we love, we are alive and soaring in all that we do. This further draws others with positive energy to us. Ultimately, that power of love for yourself, will not only elevate your relationship with yourself, but enhance and deepen your relationship with work, family, life, and everything around you.

No One Wants To Work Too Much. So Why Do We Do It?

Many people have an inaccurate beliefs about their workload. Here are a few pointers to address this.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Get more done in the same amount of time by learning to work more efficiently. Better manage distractions and attention seeking activities. Learning a comprehensive workflow management system is another way to get more done in less time. 

Ultimately your own work-life balance is completely up to you. No one can “give you” better balance. You have to take it.

Question Assumptions

Stop thinking that other people expect you to be available all the time. Also, trying to conform to the expectations that other people have for you is exhausting and ultimately futile.

You Have a Habit of Distraction

Your most important resources are not your time or your money or even your attention. Your most important resources are your body and your mind.

Manage checking your communication channels during workday every 1-3 minutes. Else, you get conditioned and wont be able to “shut it off,” workday, work week or at your personal time.

You Have Control

Studies show that a boss’s work-life balance is an important factor in the work-life balance of their employees, and that if all better utilize downtimes, everyone will likely to be physically and emotionally healthier.

Recommended: The Third Space according to Adam Fraser is the transitional gap in between what we do. It’s not what we do, it’s what we do in between what we do that is most important.


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