What’s More Important? Being Liked? Or Being Respected?
Dear Young Professional,
Years ago, I was at a manager’s retreat with a company I had joined a couple months earlier. It was a beautiful setting in the mountains and after the first day our facilitator, my boss and me took a glass of wine and sat down on our deck of our cabin to look at the view and debrief the day.
The eight weeks I had spent at the company had given me many interactions with co-workers who I assessed many of whom did not share some of my work ethic and values. While I was friendly, I wasn’t interested in making friends and risking my brand image. You have heard the saying “birds of a feather flock together”, right?
As the three of us talked about the behaviors and actions we witnessed we highlighted actions that would make it difficult for this team to achieve the stated goals presented to us by the President when we prepared for this meeting a month earlier.
About thirty minutes after we started our conversation, we heard the president make his way up the stairs to our deck. Debriefing the day with him, I shared some of my insights. He was not argumentative, rather challenging the “root cause” of the issue. He felt that some of the resistance was due to a fact that people didn’t know me and therefore didn’t like me. He suggested that when people went off for the after-dinner socials I join them. He really didn’t want to hear anymore, and I didn’t feel like sharing.
While it’s nice to be liked, I prefer being respected. Only over time with consistency would people know they could trust what to expect from me in each situation. My experience had taught me people would like and respect me and I was willing to be patient.
Recently I encountered a situation at work that has me pondering the role of trust in business relationships.
Steven Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about the concept of the EBA (emotional bank account) and that every interaction either makes a deposit or withdrawal from our EBAs, think of it as a trust balance.
This EBA balance is a representation of trust that has been built between the members of a team, or a personal partnership.
In this recent situation I trusted a colleague to understand my intent when communicating a potential problem. Upon reflection, I didn’t realize that this person may receive this information as an accusation. We liked each other and both direct communicators. We never encountered before a problem laying out our opinions and ideas.
This single interaction, made a significant withdrawal from what otherwise was a large balance in our mutual EBAs. Think of a bank account, you have $100-dollar balance by making weekly $5 deposits. That took a total of 20 weeks! Now this experience has left on $10 in the bank account. With fewer interactions we are only able to deposit $3 a week. To get back to that $100 balance it will take us 30 weeks!
Trust can be restored if both parties agree that is the desired outcome. We must agree to make weekly $3-dollar deposits.
What I failed to recognize in this situation, while the approach (direct communication) was the same, the environment in which it was sent must have been changing. I write today to say, even when you remind you that your brand is always a work in progress.
We all have our life experiences which shape our approach and willingness to trust. Think about these questions:
Do we trust freely first?
Do we feel trust must be earned before given?
How do we repair trust when broken? Do we believe it can be restored?
Think about your relationships at work. Your boss, co-worker a customer or vendor. Is your Personal Brand Intention (actions and behaviors) foster trust in these relationships? With trust come credibility. With credibility comes respect.
Let’s think about explore actions and behaviors that build or erode trust. that you can reflect on, to seek areas of improvement and avoidance.
Trust – Deposits:
Listening, Taking Notice
Trust – Withdrawals:
Making excuses or blaming others
Avoiding taking responsibility
In honesty we all do all want to be liked, and that does not have to come at the expense of being trusted or respected. It’s all about your approach and priority. Be purposeful of your actions and behaviors and you can have both!
Fondly, Aunt Kris