Apart from gender bias, pay gap, prejudices, and overall condescension, there are several workplace issues women go through. One of them is the likeability trap. According to this likeability trap, women can be either likable or successful. If all like a woman, she is perceived as less successful. Several women make the mistake of becoming likable powerful women. They also make the mistake of pushing themselves to become likable to others at the cost of their authentic selves. From Hilary Clinton to Sheryl Sandberg, several women have suffered this trap in their careers. Therefore, this article will take an in-depth look at the likeability trap and how women can overcome it.
What is the Likeability Trap
Likability in the workplace is something desired by all working women. However, this is a trap. To please others, women often sacrifice their self-worth. Like any other form of discrimination, the likeability trap is also a gendered setup. For example, if a man takes credit for his hard work, asks for a promotion, and negotiates his salary, he is considered competitive and assertive. However, when a woman does the same, she is perceived as bossy and demanding. As we can see, the qualities deemed likable to the case of men are seemingly disapproved of in the case of women. Hence, women often resort to doing things that are not authentic to them and follow traditionally feminine tropes to get positive outcomes.
Why Women Fall into the Likeability Trap
There are several double standards for women in the workplace. While they need to work harder than men to reach an equal position, they also face several challenges. From harsh gendered criticism to being undermined for positions in authority to being scrutinized at each step of the way, there are several discriminations that women go through each day.
While most prefer engaging with people they find likable, due to cultural biases, likeability in the workplace differs for men and women. What a man may find likable is different from what a woman finds likable. Women may often learn to do masculine things to establish competence. But they must do that in a feminine way to avoid any backlashes. As they excel in their career, they find it easier and even more strategic to play into the likeability bias.
While things get easier if you are likable, that is not always the case for women. Success and likeability seldom go hand-in-hand. As a woman, if you embrace the feminine stereotypes of being the office mom, you reinforce the descriptive stereotype that women are nurturing by nature and the prescriptive stereotype that a woman should be caring. You must realize that being likable is not essential to being a woman. Let us look at a few simple steps to help women avoid falling into this trap.
Read Also: How Gendered Language in the Workplace Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes?
How Can Women Escape the Likeability Trap
Since most cultural biases tend to be unconscious, they are difficult to challenge and overcome. However, likeability has never been a prerequisite for success. The modern era is complex but transparent. Hence, your authenticity may well be your most important quality. Therefore, here are five important points you need to remember to overcome the likeability trap.
Prioritize Influence Over Control
While you cannot control what others feel about you, you can certainly influence their behavior and thinking. Therefore, instead of trying to control others, focus on building relationships. Try to be inclusive and understand others. If you are articulate enough, you can easily share your ideas in a manner that resonates with others.
You also need to be empathetic to create connections. Use your emotional intelligence to listen and understand others and let others know about you. Exhibiting your humanity can develop stronger bonds and prove your leadership skills.
Be True to Yourself
To make others like you, you need to accept who you are in the first place. Self-acceptance is the first step towards overcoming the likeability trap. You need to have faith in your values and stand up for them. You must also hold on to your convictions instead of being fake and artificial. This can also help you set an example for those watching you.
Read Also: Kintsugi: The Art of Honoring Your Imperfections
Keep the Bigger Picture in Mind
You also need to remember what you are fighting for. It is not just about overcoming the likeability trap but fighting all kinds of unconscious biases women face at work. This will help you from making a big deal if others do not like you.
Never Consider Yourself Inferior
Accepting who you are does not mean that you should lower your self-worth. One can easily be humble without being weak. Hence, trust your decisions and ideas. You must also know how to use your strength instead of minimizing them due to your fear of criticism.
To overcome the likeability trap, women must value their self. Only by taking advantage of one’s unique style of work and leadership can you escape such biases. While everyone around you may not like you, likeability in the workplace is no matrix for success. That is defined by what you have accomplished. Therefore, you must create relationships that are based on trust and integrity. If you possess a strong vision, you are likely to forge genuine connections that will be stronger and deeper than those based on likeability.
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