Every motivational speaker on the planet who talks about leadership has cited studies that confirm that we do business with people we like. So when I was reading this fascinating article on Why Leaders Need to Be Likeable Rather Than Dominating, I was tripped up by a reference to the fact that being nice has nothing really to do with being likable.
I actually heard some distant voice in the back of my brain that warned, "Yes, but little girls are sugar and spice and everything nice." And while I know that isn't applicable in today's world, make no mistake, as a woman, I find myself striving to be nice a LOT. So I'd love to share with you a distinction that works for me to help me understand the difference between being nice – and being likable.
As a nice person, I want to say yes. I want to give people what they are asking for. I tend to compromise my own needs for what they need. And the result? I'm not really likable. I'm a bit more of an unselfconfident wimp. And believe me, "unselfconfident wimp" comes screaming through my pores. People get it. They may SAY they like me – but they really like what they can GET from me.
A likable person is one who can say no – with kindness and respect. Someone who, with a greater good in mind, can decline requests and still leave the other person feeling validated. A likable person holds themself in just as high regard as they do others.
I know we are thin-slicing word definitions – but what do you think? I'd love to hear from you.