What should be more important in a person’s life? Should they be someone with a focus on being the most liked person or should they strive to be a respected member of society? To give this question some clarity, I will create two thought experiments; one for liked person and one for a respected person. The setting for both experiments will be in an office situation involving two employee’s of equal job title & equal age.
Thought Experiment 1: John
John is a well known & popular employee and is considered an “office butterfly” by other employees as he is constantly interacting with anyone he sees in the office hallways. He is in good standing with the office management team due to his accommodating approach in getting his assigned work done in a timely manner. By many standards, John could be considered a stellar employee due to his ability in getting the job done exactly as management asks and never questioning their decision making. Because of his great track record at the office, he is slated for a promotion in the next few months. However, among his fellow colleagues, he is not a respected team member as he’s known to be a little bit of a “chameleon” in the sense that he usually acts in a way that pleases the person he’s talking to rather than really letting them know his true opinion. In John’s own mind, he’s convinced that his approach is effective as it has lead him to great success in his career. Additionally, he is confident that his adaptive approach in communicating with people always leaves them feeling good as he generally agrees with their opinion.
Thought Experiment 2: Michael
Michael is a fairly well known employee in the office who is considered to have a reserved personality and generally keeps to himself. When it comes to his work ethic, he is recognized to be an excellent worker, but is considered to be a little bit opinionated. Because of this, he has a tendency to sometimes question management’s decision making in completing certain tasks. Sometimes his approach is correct for the situation, and other times he might be incorrect. In management’s eyes, they are not considering promoting Michael as they generally prefer the “yes man” rather than someone who offers their honest viewpoint. When other team members talk about Michael, they usually speak highly of him as he is known to be a “stand-up” kind of guy that always gives his honest opinion to people. From Michael’s perspective, he is completely okay with his style as he would rather be someone who is respected for who he is rather than someone who is successful for what he is not.
So who do you think takes the right approach at the office? Is it John with his adaptive chameleon approach or is it Michael with his honest & straight forward method? Would you rather be someone who goes through life constantly trying to please other people to be liked or do you let people know what you truly think about their ideas & let your own ideas be known, even though they might not like what you have to say?
From my viewpoint, I don’t think there is a right answer to this question as both methods have their own specific benefits & drawbacks. If we look at a person that is constantly striving to be the most liked person, they might reap benefits such as having greater popularity, quicker movement within an organization and someone that is known to be highly approachable. Drawbacks could be that this person has an internal identity crisis as they are being dishonest to themselves in addition to putting up a facade when speaking with other people. Also, they might be someone who has a low standing among the general population as they are known to be someone who changes their viewpoint on a subject depending on who they’re talking to. On the other hand, if we look at a person who always strives to be a respected member of society, they will likely benefit from having a calmer mind as they are true to themselves in the public & in private. People are more likely to listen to their opinion as they always provide their honest answer, rather than the “crowd pleasing” answer. Drawbacks might include the chance that this person could be viewed as abrasive as they are usually giving their own viewpoint on a subject rather than just agreeing to what other people say. Additionally, they might have problems within an organization as they aren’t able to put up a false image of themselves in order to move up with an company.
I realize that it’s a little bit unrealistic in trying to place people into these two categories of like & respect as people are much more complicated than just being either one or the other. Having said that, I think that if we really focus in on this idea, it’ll help us identify what kind of people we want to be around, and what kind of people we truly want to see succeed & lead in our world.