I saw a LinkedIn article the other day that pointed out that when standing up for your beliefs, you are not usually rewarded with popularity. The author talks about how she grappled with the question “How do I retain my likeablility while still speaking my mind?”
(See On Losing my Likability).
This is a question that faces many professionals, but is particularly vexing for female professionals. We want to be seen as having opinions and contributing to a discussion, but we risk being perceived as too "aggressive," "opinionated," or "emotional" (speaking your mind).
The author of the LinkedIn article discusses taking a more measured approach to sharing her opinion and trying to care less about the opinions of others. I would add that you could include 'mirroring' to your toolkit.
Mirroring is when you reflect (or 'mimic') very subtle communication behaviours back to the person with whom you are conversing. Though straightforward, it requires you to be observant about the communication style of your partner. You need to make an assessment about who you are conversing with:
Once you have a sense of the type of communicator you're speaking with, you can subtly adapt your style to match theirs. I have found that this makes the other person more comfortable in the discussion, because I am 'mirroring' their instinctive communication behaviours. A word of caution - it needs to be subtle and must come from a genuine desire to connect with the other person. If not, you will likely be perceived as a fake or a copycat. You should be drawing on different aspects of your own personality, not putting on an act or pretending to be someone you're not.
So what does this looks like in practice?
Do you use mirroring in your conversations? What is your strategy for retaining likeability while speaking your mind?
Hi, I'm Liz!