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Stop Trying to Be Liked and Start Being You

Stop Trying to Be Liked and Start Being You

    I don’t like you.

    Four words we hate to hear. For some reason, we all like to be liked. No revelation there. It’s how we’re wired. We hate it when people don’t like us – even people we don’t really know. Some of us will do almost anything to be liked. We love to please, even at the expense of our own happiness, values, beliefs and standards. We compromise ourselves a hundred ways and turn ourselves inside-out trying to make others like us, but in that approval-seeking process we often forget who we are and wind up being disliked by the one person whose opinion should matter the most; us.

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    Newsflash 1: Some people aren’t gonna like you.

    Newsflash 2: That’s okay.

    That’s right – life ain’t fair and even though you may very well be a fantastic human being, some people will find a reason to dislike you no matter what you do or how fabulous you are. Chances are it’s more about their issues than anything you have or haven’t done. There are people who don’t like me who have never actually met me or had a conversation with me. That’s fine with me. I won’t invest emotional energy into things I can’t change. I will endeavour to be the best Craig Harper I can be and if my best still generates critics and people who find reason to dislike me (which it will), that’s okay. The only person I can change is me, so I’ll focus on improving, educating and developing myself rather than trying to create a fan club or convince people to like me.

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    While it’s normal and very human to have the desire to be needed, liked, loved and important to others, it’s also crucial for our development to get clear about who we are and what we stand for, and to live a life consistent with those values – to like ourselves. Otherwise we simply become frustrated People Pleasers.

    Newsflash 3: It’s okay to disagree with people. Even people you like and respect.

    Newsflash 4: Some people’s overwhelming need to be liked is the very thing that makes them hard to like (there’s some irony for you).

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    Newsflash 5: For many people, their need to be liked is actually a significant barrier to their personal and professional growth.

    When it comes to this issue, you might want to ask yourself these questions:

    1. Do I speak the truth (while still exercising care, wisdom and understanding) even if it’s not popular to do so?
    2. Do I live a life which is consistent with my core values?
    3. Do I operate with integrity?
    4. Do I believe that my motives are good?
    5. Is it my goal to be a positive influence in the lives of others?
    6. Am I happy to disagree with people I like?
    7. Do I (really) like me?

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    If you answered yes to all of the above then you’re doing pretty well. If there were more crosses than ticks then you may want to make a few changes. Soon. Some short-term pain for some long-term gain.

    If you really want to be liked, then stop trying to be liked and start being you.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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