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3 ways your career gets better when you let go of being liked

Don't let your desire to be liked by everyone ruin your chances of achieving success.
By Katie Jansen |


It sucks when you hear someone doesn’t like you. Maybe you’ve experienced an old co-worker called a meeting with me because someone on his team didn’t like you and your work style or something like that. People just can’t help being a little offended and hurt. The pressure to be liked in the workplace can be overwhelming, especially for women.



But you should realize that if you went out of your way to make sure this person—and everyone else—liked you, you wouldn’t be as effective at your job. If you wasted time coddling everyone, you won’t be able to give 100% of your effort to what really matters at work; your job.


Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong about wanting to be liked, we all want that. But if you made being liked a priority at work, you wouldn’t get anything done.


You don’t need to be unnecessarily mean or harsh to get results—that’s often just as counter-productive as trying to be likeable. But if you let go of the idea that everyone at work (and life, really) will like you, you’ll find it has a positive impact on your work and the results you can drive.


Related: The 3% solution for personal development


Here’s what happens when you let go of being liked:


When you need to say no, it won’t bother you.

You empower yourself to express what you think without worry. It’s a lot easier to say “no,” “not now,” or “how about this idea instead” if you’re not hung up on whether or not you’ll please someone with what you think. More importantly, you won’t fall victim to doing something or agreeing to something just to keep everyone happy.


Steve Jobs was a model for prioritizing results over likability in this respect. He believed that beating around the bush in order to save people’s feelings was actually a form of selfishness. As Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive recently recounted in The New Yorker, Jobs helped him to see that a deep desire to be liked can undercut the need to give clear, unambiguous feedback. Being vague to spare someone’s feelings is actually an act of vanity.




You kill unfounded doubt and build confidence in even your toughest choices.

Placing your focus on results and getting things done over being a people pleaser builds confidence. It demonstrates that you stand for certain opinions and values, even if they’re not popular. And it also gives you and those around you more confidence in the decisions you make.  


Related: Where to start when you have to start over

In a previous position at another company, I led a technical integration project that required partnering with a competitor. Naturally, the partnership wasn’t a hit internally. However, it turned into a huge success because it infused the business with much-needed cash.


Ultimately, the very employees who complained about the partnership were able to keep their jobs because of it. I learned then from the CEO, who stuck to her guns, that an unpopular decision might just be what’s best for business. I know now to review the data and even others thoughts and feedback but ultimately that my focus needs to be on the business, not on whether or not my decision will be liked by everyone.




You stay focused.

If you’re worried too much about other people liking you, you are likely going to spread yourself too thin and not focus on the core things that matter. You worry about how your team member will be affected by the feedback you’re giving instead of worrying about getting the project done right. When you get caught up in what others think, you can easily get distracted from the overall goal you’re working toward.



Honestly , focusing on the things that matter—like how your work impacts the bottom line—in the end is better for your company's success and your career overall.


Being well-liked by colleagues isn’t wrong, but if you’re worried about everyone liking you, other aspects of your work will suffer. Even a CEO will tell you in your moments of frustration that if you’re doing your job well, you won’t be liked by everyone.


Some of the greatest CEOs, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Google’s Larry Page, Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, have all said they don’t care what people think. It might be tough to stop caring how others feel about you but when you start standing your ground, delivering unapologetic feedback where it’s warranted and focusing on your goals instead of other’s opinions of you, it’s ultimately better for you, your team and your business. 



Related: 5 ways to succeed at work by enjoying your life every day 


Copyright 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor.

Photos from Flickr ( Social Outlier and Noman Alam)

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