You Don’t Need Everyone To Like Your Personal Brand

Many moons ago, a boss told me, “Your problem is you need people to like you.” To which I replied, “You’re wrong. I don’t need people to like me, I just don’t want them to dislike me. There’s a difference.”

He saw me as a people pleaser, doing things to make others happy and, in turn, make them like me. But my actual motivator was doing things to do my job well and, in turn, make them respect me.

They didn’t have to like me for that to happen – although, if they disliked me, my ability to do my job well would be hampered, so I aimed to avoid that.

And that’s the perspective I’d like to offer anyone who wants others to buy into their personal brand:

It’s more important to be respected than to be liked

To understand why, let me explain what happens when someone is deciding whether to buy into you.

Step 1: They decide if they like you

This happens pretty much instantly: they come into contact with you (whether in-person or online), immediately start to form their impression of you and decide if they like you or not.

It’s worth noting that initial decision may not be set in stone – they could switch from liking to disliking and vice versa as the relationship progresses.

Step 2: They decide if they respect you

At some point in the relationship, after they’ve learnt more about you and what you’re all about, the person’s like for you might be joined by a respect for you.

I say ‘might’ because it’s perfectly feasible to really like someone and not respect them. (I can think of someone I know who’s great fun on a night out, but whose work ethic – or lack of it – means I don’t fully respect them.)

It’s also perfectly feasible to really respect someone and not like them. (I worked with a guy whose technical knowledge was exceptional and whose opinion I respected 100%, but who I disliked immensely due to his sexist, racist and homophobic comments.)

Step 3: They decide if they trust you

The final step of the buying process comes when someone decides they trust you. The time it takes will depend on how much interaction they have with you and how they tick. (Some people trust others quickly, some take a lot longer.)

Trust is the pinnacle of buy-in for your personal brand.

Respect trumps like

Obviously, the best case scenario is that all three steps fall into place and someone likes, respects and trusts you. But if you can’t get a full-house, being respected delivers more than being liked, if you want to do your job, sell your service or peddle your product.

Why? Because the all-important trust can be built when you respect someone, even if you don’t like them. But it’s a lot harder to build trust when you like someone, but don’t respect them.

And that’s why you don’t need everyone to like your personal brand.

What do you think? Is being respected in business more important than being liked? Or do you think pleasing people is the way to be successful? I’m always happy to hear others’ perspectives, so let me know yours with a comment below. Thanks!

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4 responses to “You Don’t Need Everyone To Like Your Personal Brand”

  1. Jeff says:

    I think you’re right, generally, but at one particular spot in London I found certain people took a dislike to me because trying to be efficient at what I did made it appear as though they were falling short and might be identified as doing so.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      That’s one of those situations where, no matter what you do, it’s all about how they seem themselves and then project that onto you. Passing the buck of their failings.

  2. Karen says:

    Agree with everything you’ve said Jennifer.

    I love this quote and try to remember it in my every day encounters:

    Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card and how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.

    I think I’ve been successful so far, as I was described to someone who didn’t know me yet as “she’ll be the one with a ready smile for you”.

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