Being Liked Vs. Being Respected – You Don’t Have to Pick Just One


by Lisa K. McDonald,

This or that, black or white, yes or no, one or the other – not everything can be defined in such simple terms.

“Being liked” and “being respected” in the workplace are neither polar opposites nor absolutes.

Unfortunately, we often guided to believe that you can only pick one. This is not entirely true. You can have both – perhaps not at the same level, but the fact remains that they do not cancel each other out. You can be liked and respected at work at the same time.

There are many articles on how to be liked at work, and just as many on how to be respected. The strategies for either one tend to be very similar to the strategies for the other. In fact, the strategies for being liked and being respected share one fundamental element: If you want to be liked or respected, you need to be a mirror.

How to Be a ‘Mirror’ at Work

When you look at yourself in the mirror, who do you want to see looking back at you? A person who is interesting, interested, upfront, upbeat, dependable, respectful, happy, supportive, and proactive?

Being a mirror means behaving in the way that makes you the person you want to see in the mirror. Being a mirror means acting the way you want other people to see you acting.

Treat people with respect, listen to what they have to say, and recognize their individual contributions and value. They may not do things the way you do them, but that does not make them wrong.

We all have different viewpoints. If you want to be both liked and respected, you need to consider the viewpoints of others, no matter how different they may be from your own. Respect yourself: Give yourself the opportunity to learn from others. Get to know who your coworkers are, what they want, and what they value.

Support those around you. Give them opportunities to contribute and praise their contributions.

Approach problems, challenges, and difficulties in a positive way by offering solutions, rather than criticisms. Critique constructively; do not blame or point fingers.

Be dependable with your time and talent. Do more than expected without the expectation of reward.

Be honest, professional, and kind. Set boundaries for how you expect to be treated and demonstrate that in your treatment of others. Do not reward bad behavior.

Have friends, but not favorites.

Mirror those you respect. Identify what you respect in them and why, and apply these things to your own conduct in the workplace.

Do all of these things, and you will not only build likability and respect, but also trust and inspiration.

You Can Be Liked and Respected – But Not Always at the Same Time

Do these things knowing that not everyone is going to like you. At no point in your career is it your job to get everyone to like you. Remember that, if a choice is to be made, people will follow a good leader in critical situations rather than someone they like a lot. A good leader has built trust, respect, and credibility through their actions.

I have been respected and liked as a leader, but not always at the same time. I took the attitude that I am not everyone’s cup of tea, and that is okay – most people I know drink coffee, anyway.

Being liked at work helps you be more productive. It increases your happiness, and, when things are especially difficult, it can also save your sanity.

Being respected builds bridges and makes you a better leader.

Become a mirror. Follow the steps set out above to create a healthier work environment for yourself and those around you.

Make yourself more successful at work. Give yourself some peace of mind. Look in the mirror: Who do you want to see there?

Become that person.

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