Week 11: Stop trying to be liked by everybody

It is that period of time in the term when all assignments are due, exams are looming, and you’re up for class presentations… you suddenly find group discussions become more heated, people (depending on their internal preferences) either start lashing out or stop responding at all.

I received unsolicited “advice” from a person with more work experience than me this week. Without going into details, it was something along the lines of “If you insist on doing everything your way, you might need to consider others’ feelings.” “Sorry but I’m just direct that way.” “I could have kept everything to myself, but I’m telling you this so that it will be helpful in your career, especially when you move into managerial positions.”

It took me the whole day to recover from the shock of 1) this sudden lash out, and 2) knowing that something I did offended someone else so badly they needed to send passive aggressive texts. But as I was defending myself in my head, I got reminded of this quote we would probably have seen at some point —

“Stop trying to be liked by everybody. You don’t even like everybody.”

Source: Facebook

Well, fair enough.

I think we all have a tendency to want to be liked, some more than others. And it feels terrible when things go the other way. But for this week, I’d like to remind myself that:

  1. Like a Rorschach test, how you are perceived will differ from individual to individual. The characteristics that make some like you, may also make you unlikeable to others.
  2. More often than not, others’ perceptions of you are a reflection of their inner selves; perhaps something about you triggered something they wish they could change about themselves. The reverse holds true too, when you find yourself getting annoyed about something someone did — look inside, and you are likely to find the reason.
  3. There is more to what someone is going through than what is visible on the surface; personal circumstances differ. Maybe the other person is drawing on past experiences in their valuation of you as a person, perhaps they’ve had a bad day or are under immense stress. Once you see through the fact that it’s not all about you, you start to take things a lot more lightly.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

That said, perhaps unsolicited feedback like these may also be an opportunity for you to look within yourself, to see if you can indeed do better. In this case, maybe I was at fault for running too fast and too far ahead, maybe I could have slowed down and communicated better — things to take note of for next time.

This week’s note to self is this — you may not need to be liked by all, but you can use the opportunity to become a better person, both to yourself and to others.

Week 10: Build your community, build your career experience

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