How to Overcome The Need To Be Liked

We all want to be liked. We love being acknowledged and validated. Why? Because we want to feel that we belong in the environment we’re in.

So what’s wrong with wanting to be liked? The answer is nothing. The problem lies when we need to be liked vs want to be liked. Needing to be liked is driven by wanting to be good enough in someone else’s eyes so that we can be good enough in our own eyes.

Have you ever found yourself fearing not being liked by others?

Here are some tell-tale signs that your need to be liked matters more than it should:

  • You don’t speak up because you’re afraid of how you’ll be perceived
  • You avoid conflict by not saying what needs to be said
  • You don’t give the feedback because you’re not sure how someone will take it
  • You don’t like to say no, so you take on more work and spread yourself too thin
  • You continually think about how others might judge you (which means you criticise yourself)
  • You take everything to heart. For example, you over-analyse things in a way that makes it about you
  • You tolerate the attitudes and behaviours of others when you know it’s not right (that is, you ignore your values)

What price are you paying for wanting to be liked?

A client of mine Maria was a Senior Change Manager. Her need to be liked meant she too easily made excuses for not getting traction across key projects. Maria accepted other people’s reasons why things weren’t getting done. She was a pushover and she knew it. Her performance rating and her personal brand were at stake. Maria began to see her behaviour patterns were a reflection of her fear of not being good enough. She realised she needed to change her relationship with herself before she could engage, influence and inspire others into positive change.

When you’re able to accept yourself just the way you are, it doesn’t matter if other people really like you, like you a bit, or not like you at all.

Being effective is more important than being liked

Leadership isn’t a popularity contest. Trying to please others all the time isn’t a resourceful strategy. Good working relationships are built on trust, respect, communication and shared goals. Your decisions will sometimes not be liked, but that’s got nothing to do with you being liked. Being liked is not required when you are being effective.

Here’s how to overcome the need to be liked:

1.Stop making it about you

Take the focus off you. Instead, discern what is actually important: what needs to happen to get to the next step; the criteria for making decisions; and the markers for progress along the way.

2. Remember that you don’t have control over what others think of you. But you can take charge of what you think about yourself.

90% of leadership is self-leadership. How you respond and what you take responsibility for will drive what you achieve. Focus on becoming the next best version of you rather than being well liked.

3. Be the example

Decide to show up in a way that will builds connection with others. Be yourself and know what’s important to you.

“Being open, honest and inclusive is the key to spreading your leadership message” Vijaya Vaidyanath, CEO, Yarra City Council

Bringing it all together

The need to be liked was a common thread across many of my middle management 1-1 clients this year. If you believe this need underpins some your behaviour patterns, then how about overcoming it in 2017? You’re committing to discovering more about what makes you tick, becoming more effective and having even greater impact and influence. I reckon that’s a great development goal to kick off 2017. What do you think?

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