Lately, I’ve been exposed to some commercial coaching practices that push the idea of “likability”, they seem to imply that if you develop your likability you will become a better leader. In looking into this, I’ve found articles on Harvard Business Review going back about 10 years. I won’t link the articles, they’re easy to find if you really have to.
I have a problem with running a coaching practice on messaging like this, I think it’s backwards, and I think it encourages an audience to be dependent upon you.
When I was a child, I really wanted people around me to like me. Especially my family.
For a whole bunch of reasons, when I began puberty, I began to withdraw and give up on seeking approval from my peers, but it was still there, suppressed. I remember how much I wanted to broadcast to the world when I started dating my first girlfriend, after years of kids calling me gay, who I just ignored at the time, I felt like they would accept me if they could see that I wasn’t. Well, eventually I realized that I am, LOL, just not in the way that they thought.
Even when I came out to my parents as transgender in 2011, I wanted their approval so much I nearly troddled off to conversion therapy. Sadly, many faith communities reject science, and willfully believe that this is the correct course of action. Before you judge my parents, understand that they have no context around them that would encourage them to accept me. And they want to be liked too.
So here is the thing. Wanting to be liked is very human. As with all aspects of humanity, it does not make you lesser. Where it gets dangerous is that you are at the mercy of others. You cannot control whether they like you, all you can do is try to do things that you think might help them to like you.
When you want people to like you, you have no control over your destiny, and you are in a disempowered state.
So here’s the moral problem I have with a coaching organization whose materials use “likability” as a headline in their marketing campaigns. It preys upon people’s susceptibility to dependence and addiction.
What I want you to do is the things that make you a good leader. Do them because you are a good leader and want to get things done. Don’t confuse cause and effect. The moment you look backwards and stress on whether people like you, your power drops to the floor, imposter syndrome creeps in, you begin to doubt yourself.
And when you feel that, you will want that empowered feeling back, and reach for help, for only $99.95, a ready-made time proven research backed formula to fix your problems. It will be compelling. I’ve bought this product dozens of times, at different prices, with different names, from different people. It’s a commercial tactic that works, because hope is easy to sell.
Once you’ve entered their funnel, their drip campaign, they repeatedly push themselves into your consciousness. Nagging at you. Continually preying upon your fear that people may not like you, and that it’s your fault that they won’t like you because you didn’t take that 1-day webinar. It’s a cycle that feeds itself, the material can sometimes help you find your empowered self reinforcing the idea that “it works”, and then they drip against you again for the bigger better product, feeding on your disempowerment and self doubt.
So here’s the other thing. You don’t need it. You are already you, which intrinsically includes your empowered self. You don’t need to look anywhere else except your own heart to find it. Find yourself a forest, a quiet waterfall, a cliff face to climb, a trail to walk. Quiet the cacophony in the world around you. Get the heck off my blog. Your empowered self will be there, quietly awaiting your arrival.
And remember, it’s OK to talk to yourself.