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Somebody Doesn’t Like You, and That’s Good

Angry businessman shoutingEverybody wants to be liked, to some extent. Being disliked by others feels like a deficiency, a shortcoming in oneself that must be fixed. It feels like a failure that you’ve let someone down, or even worse, it can make you feel like you’re somehow broken or deficient.

I would argue the opposite: It’s only a dysfunction if nobody dislikes you.

Take a minute and think of someone you know whom, by all appearances, everybody likes. This person is most likely polite and personable, and appears to have no conflict with anyone. However, appearances deceive. Someone (probably several someones) dislikes this person. Perhaps there’s even a full-blown feud or two. At some point in the past, this person has done things and made decisions that alienated him or her from at least a few associates, in spite of the apparent lack of adversaries. That’s part of the reason most everybody likes this person; when they do have a conflict with someone, they don’t wear it on their sleeve. They recognize that having someone dislike you isn’t the end of the world, and isn’t worth broadcasting to everyone else. In spite of this person’s likeability and apparent lack of enemies, there are others who, for their own reasons, don’t like this person.

Having a few people who dislike you can be a sign of success. Here’s why: The only people who don’t have any adversaries are those who don’t make decisions. They don’t take a stand on things that matter, out of fear of upsetting someone. They are fence-sitters, anchored into ambivalence in an attempt to avoid conflict. Their personal relationships and professional contributions will have limited value, because fear, not the desire to make progress, motivates them. Attempting to achieve a state in which no one dislikes this person means that they are sacrificing everything else in the interest of being liked. And, in spite of that, it’s a strategy that is likely doomed anyway, because people will find something to dislike in even the least objectionable among us.

Perhaps the person who doesn’t like you is a coworker, with whom you fundamentally disagree on technical architecture. It might be a family member who strongly disapproves of your parenting style. It could be a professional contact who dislikes your use of the Oxford comma. Simply having someone dislike you doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong, or that you need to change to make that person happy. Rather, it’s evidence that you’ve made a stand, you’ve shared what you feel is right, or you’ve pointed out a way to do something better.

Don’t try to be the person everyone likes. Be the person who boldly does your best, knowing that you’ll create a few adversaries along the way.

The post Somebody Doesn’t Like You, and That’s Good appeared first on Tim Mitchell.

Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell is a business intelligence consultant, author, trainer, and Microsoft Data Platform MVP with over thirteen years of data management experience. He is the founder and principal of Tyleris Data Solutions.

Tim has spoken at international and local events including the SQL PASS Summit, SQLBits, SQL Connections, along with dozens of tech fests, code camps, and SQL Saturday events. He is coauthor of the book SSIS Design Patterns, and is a contributing author on MVP Deep Dives 2.

You can visit his website and blog at TimMitchell.net or follow him on Twitter at @Tim_Mitchell.


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