My mother used to say the only way to have everyone like you would be to sit in a white-walled room by yourself and never leave. It’s one of the greatest truths of my Southern upbringing. Raised to always be pleasing, as nice Southern girls are, the truth seemed to contradict her day-to-day lessons of how to behave. Now that I’m only partly the lady my mother intended, ruined by the directness of Yankees, the informality of California, and the reality of work where not everyone is in for what they can do unto others, I understand the nuance in between her words and life lessons.
She’s right; you can’t expect everyone to like you. Just living unravels the chance. And though you can’t control what others think of you, you can control your own behavior – what you say, how you comport yourself, and how you respond to those that don’t think highly in your favor. Her life lessons on how to be a lady translated well into how to be a professional, and no one ever became successful sitting in a white-walled room by themselves.
The nature of work brings disagreements, which bring egos, which bring a host of behaviors and feelings my mother would have labeled “unbecoming”; no more so than when you achieve real success. As the purview of your decision-making power widens, so does the crowd ready to judge.
Give up the idea of being liked. Take responsibility for what you can control. Your success depends on it.