Is being likable more important than standing for something?

Or perhaps, more importantly – can you be likable while standing for something?

In our desire to make things easily understandable, people often pitch themselves as one of these two poles: they are either ultra-likable, or they stand for something. When reality, the people that we tend to like the most are people who stand for something. And we know what they stand for.

In all aspects of life, we make decisions.  Many decisions.  All the time.  Most of our decisions in a day are micro decisions.

Did I acknowledge that acquaintance as they walked by? Did I talk to that person who I haven’t seen in a while? Was I genuinely curious about what they had to say?  Did I stand up for my values in that meeting? Did I correct that error I made, even though it hurts my pride a little?  Did I congratulate my colleague on a job well done?

If we add up all of those micro-decisions after a few years, all of a sudden, they add up to something. They add up to who we are.  If you’re lucky and you’ve done some planning, those decisions may add up to the person you want to be, and the journey you want to be on.

I’ve had an internal struggle on likability and standing up for my values. It’s important for me to be likable because I want people to like me, and I genuinely want to like them too.  I want to give people the benefit of the doubt.  One of my mentors recently said to me that people take one of two approaches to trust in relationships: they either give trust freely until violated, or, trust must be earned.  I definitely fall in the former category.

So, while I want to be likable, it’s also very important for me to stand for my values. Over the last few years, I’ve been practicing.  At first, it was scary to stand up.  What would be the ramifications of speaking up be? What if I lost my job?  What if people laughed? What if my voice was a little shaky?

Until I realized that the ramifications of NOT speaking up were much worse.  Both for me, and the people I work with.

I’ve had the incredible opportunity to make some really hard decisions.  I’ve lost some sleep, and gained a few extra white hairs in the process.  But I believe I’m a better person for it.  And I’ve come to realize that people respect you when you stand up for what you believe in.  Not everyone.  But the people that will matter to you do.  And the others?  Well, you can’t lose too much sleep over it. I’ve come to learn that old adage is true – ‘there will always be people who just don’t like you’.  And that’s okay.  You have to be honest with yourself first.  Trust me, people will notice.

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