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Work Daze – Like It or Lump It

Everybody likes to be liked, right?

Maybe not.

Many managers like to be not liked. A manager may want to project an image of someone who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of them. The only thing that matters is achieving the company’s goals.

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They can be clowns, true, but they’re scary clowns.

Normal people, like thee and me, want our co-workers to like us. We believe it fosters that “we’re in it all together feeling.” And when you have no choice but to rat out one of your well-liked colleagues, being likeable yourself could help you survive the aftermath of whatever havoc you have caused.

But how do you get to be likeable? Given your natural propensity for spreading gossip, back-biting and general orneriness, you are not likely to be one of those people who are naturally likeable.

That’s where the most likeable journalist Shana Lebowitz comes in. Ms. Lebowitz wrote an important Business Insider article titled, “9 things you’re doing that make people dislike you immediately.”

Now, this is a how-to article that commands attention. Usually, for people like us, becoming not liked is something we do really well. It rarely takes more than a few minutes before we can inspire loathing and contempt.

In order to tip the scale in the other direction, we need to learn what we’re doing wrong.

One dislikeable attribute is “having too many or too few Facebook friends.” As work life and real life merge, work friends are likely to also be Facebook friends. If your co-workers see you have too few or too many friends, it can reduce your likeability quotient, or LQ.

According to research, the “sweet spot” for likeability is about 300 friends. Having more friends makes it appear that you are “friending out of desperation.” Having fewer friends suggest that you are as unpopular in the real world as you are at work.

The solution is easy peasy. If you have too many friends, start posting about politics. No matter where you are on the spectrum, at least half of your friends will unfriend you, pronto. If you have too few friends, go hire some. This is easily done through a freelance job site, like downtroddenserf.com. Personally, I have 300 friends, 299 of which I pay.

Is this expensive? Yes. Is it embarrassing? Nah. To tell the truth I like my paid friends more than I like my real friend, and vice versa.

“Disclosing something extremely personal early in a relationship” can also reduce your LQ. According to a bunch of Ph.D.s, self-disclosure is one of the best ways to make friends as an adult, but “disclosing something too intimate — say, the fact that your sister is having an extramarital affair — while you’re still getting to know someone can make you seem insecure and decrease your likeability.”

OK, so maybe you shouldn’t talk about your sister’s affairs, but you do have to admit, many of your co-workers really like hearing about your wayward sib.

A better idea is to have some affairs yourself. Then no one will dislike you, and you can show photos.

Use LinkedIn? According to Lebowitz, “posting a close-up profile photo” will make you unlikeable.

Research suggests that being photographed from about 4.5 feet away makes you look more trustworthy, attractive and competent. In your case, may I suggest that the perfect distance is slightly further — say, 4.5 miles.

Don’t be offended. No one makes a more attractive smudge on the landscape than you.

“Acting too nice” can definitely make you less likeable. No worries on that account for you.

“Humblebragging” is a highly disliked attribute. This refers to people who claim bogus faults to make them look better. I can’t believe anyone does this, but, then again, my major fault is that I don’t spend enough time on research, because I’m so busy caring about my readers.

Turns out that even people who like people dislike people who “get too nervous.” In a study at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, participants viewed videos while sniffing three different types of sweat: exercise-induced sweat, stress-induced sweat and stress-induced sweat covered up by antiperspirant. The stress-induced sweat was ranked as smelling the worst.

Interesting research, I suppose, but for you, the major takeaway is that there is a market for sweat.

You’ll never be able to produce enough exercise sweat, but you’ve got stress sweat by the bucketful.

I say, if people are getting paid to sell sweat, go ahead and change your LinkedIn photo and jettison your Facebook friends.

That’s the job for you!

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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