Today’s Morning Buzz is by Jackie Wehmeyer, Senior Director of Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs for the City of Parkland, Florida. Parkland was named one of the Best Places to Work in Local Government in 2021 by ELGL and a Top Workplace in 2022.
Connect with Jackie on LinkedIn.
What I’m Reading: Brat: An 80’s Story by Andrew McCarthy
What I’m Watching: Not So Pretty on HBO Max
What I’m Listening To: Our new baby Blue Crowned Conure screeching
You’re nice. You say good morning. You hold doors open for people. You remember the names of your employees’ kids. You even publicly gave back that Amazon gift card you won at the office Holiday Party so someone else could win. So how can it be that one of your coworkers doesn’t (gulp) like you?
Especially in leadership, we are told that not everyone will like us, and that’s okay. It’s true, and it’s an important thing to acknowledge. But don’t we tend to work better on teams, and get more accomplished, when we can find things we like about each other?
Some people boldly claim that they don’t care if people like them or not, saying, “As long as they respect me, I don’t care if they like me.” Is that really true, or is it a cover?
A few times in my career, I knew someone I worked with didn’t like me. The “nice them to death” approach actually worked once. But when I tried to connect with others, and nothing worked, I just kept going, knowing full well that nothing would change. Did it change me or how I reacted to them? No. Did I care? Deep down, sure I did. But I just accepted it as the way it was and kept moving.
I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not that people don’t like you, but it’s your answer or your role they don’t like. A career in Human Resources taught me that. You could be perfectly likeable, but not everyone wants the policy interpretation you make, your presence in a disciplinary meeting, or the fact that you are sitting on the management side of the union negotiation table. And that’s easy to take personally.
Here are a few of my thoughts on being liked at work:
- Check yourself. This is always my first step, and probably the hardest one. Did you wrong your coworker, or say or do something to trigger it? Honestly assess whether you may be at fault for something, and if you discover that you are, make it right.
- Follow through. Be good at what you do, and always do what you promise.
- Give credit. Don’t ever falsely do this, but give everyone credit for what they’ve done and done well.
- Look to collaborate. It is more critical for coworkers to want to work with you than like you. If there is a respect for what you bring to the table, and that is acknowledged, you can accomplish a lot.
- No, but. Also an HR experience. There are a lot of times you need to say “no,” but follow it with, “but here’s what you can do.”
- Deflection. Sometimes someone might seem not to like you because of their own insecurities. You may think, “it’s their problem, not mine,” but if you can understand where your coworker’s insecurity lies and find a way to show you value him genuinely, it could turn the tables.
- People-pleasing. Do you feel the need to please people? If you’re accomplishing follow-through in #2, then no one should be left disappointed.
No doubt about it, being liked at work helps get things done. We all want the warmth of being accepted. It feels good! But if you’re still left wondering how someone could not like you, keep focusing on the value in what you do at work and the people you enjoy. And in time, your coworker may find that there’s really no reason not to like you after all.