Confidence... part four - is it better to be liked or respected?

So far we have looked at the traits of confident people, how to fake it if necessary, and how to confidently approach difficult situations.  All of this is great, but how does it reflect on you?  Is it better to be liked or respected?  Can you be both?


When you meet new people or join a new company most people you meet will start with a neutral viewpoint and then your actions and habits will determine whether they will like and/or respect you. If actions and habits point to a flake likeability and respectability go out of the window. Yes, there are those that take an immediate dislike to anyone who they perceive as a "threat", but that’s a whole other topic!  The more responsibility that you take on, particularly if you are managing people, you will need to detach from being liked all the time.  You can’t make everyone happy at the same time.

Throughout my career I have worked with those I like, but do not respect, those that I respect, but do not like, and those that I both like and respect.  The most difficult of the three for me to work with was the like, but not respect.   There have been a few of these: generally a nice person, might even be very good at their job, but due to their own insecurities they have been manipulative, argumentative, or even spineless.  There have unfortunately been a couple that I neither liked nor respected. More on this another time.

I always find it interesting in an informational meeting, such as announcing a change in a process, to see how people react.  Many people forget that business isn’t personal, decisions will be made that are best for the business, whether rightly or wrongly.  Some people embrace change, and some people are just argumentative.  We argue because we want to persuade others to our way of thinking. I know a few people who rarely have arguments because they are confident enough in themselves to stand up for their own beliefs and also accepting others are entitled to theirs.

Unfortunately it seems we are not meant to get along with everyone.  There are plenty of people I am not keen on, and plenty more who are not keen on me.  Over the years I have realised that there is only one person that I do need to like and respect - me.  To have respect from others you need to respect yourself first – if you don’t believe in yourself, don’t have confidence in your decisions, or stand by your own values, no one else will either.  I have found that it’s easier to be liked at work once people respect me for my choices and decisions, and once they realize or I can reassure them that I’m just doing my job and that I'm not intentionally setting out to disadvantage anyone. Key factors for an assistant are to be personable, approachable and helpful, which make for a great combination for being respected and liked, even in a role that requires strong boundaries from others.

Being respected can set you on the path to being considered as a great leader, and you don't need to be in a management position to lead.

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