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This or That - when the need to be liked influences our decisions.

Would you rather be liked and keep the status quo, or shake the tree and bring change?

Have you ever played the discussion game “Would you Rather”?  

Someone presents two choices, with the rules of the game requiring you to choose and defend one over the other (you can’t try to be both).

  • Would you rather be a fish or a bird?

  • Would you rather go back into the past or forward into the future?

  • Would you rather only be able to communicate through interpretive dance or speak in rhymes for the rest of your life?

Maybe it was a team-building exercise or a conversation starter while taking a long drive with friends.

Would the activity result in arguments about who felt their answer was more sensible or realistic than the others, or would it descend into ridiculous humour where you take each concept and interpret what life would be like if that really did happen?

Imagine you are tasked with wrapping up the 'Would You Rather' discussion. How would you do it in a way that leaves a lasting impression and fosters a sense of camaraderie?

Would you rather the group come away liking you but not learning anything, or would you rather they come away with some solid learning but dislike you in the process?

Our days tend to be filled with endless meetings, and I would argue endless opportunities to progress and improve our working conditions and the projects we are trying to complete. But with limited time and pressure to be productive, when and how do we spark moments of imagination, share new knowledge, and ensure diverse perspectives or new ideas are heard? Let alone time for having a bit of fun.

Whether you are chairing the meeting or not, would you rather sit quietly and yet again go through the motions or would you like to throw a spanner in the works, wake everyone up and challenge how things are being approached?

What typically happens to the person that:

  • Speaks up and says, they have a different view.

  • Interrupts with energy to provide a new idea.

  • Questions whether there might be a more effective process.

If you did this regularly, would you be liked and always welcomed into the room, or would people begin to avoid you because of how you make them feel?

Without thinking too deeply about it, most people have already decided who they are and how they show up, this can be determined by a sense of confidence or a reaction to the context they are working in. It could look something like this.

The confident person might sayI am pragmatic and relational, but at the end of the day, we are here to get things done, so I don’t mind not being liked. 

The person who is a reflection of their context might say, around here, if you don’t shoot the breeze, make things fun, and ensure everyone is heard, you will find yourself on the outer, and good luck trying to get people to engage with your commitments.

Every interaction offers you a choice, you don’t have to stay locked into your chosen approach, style or context. If you feel you are being locked into one style and this is impacting what you want to achieve, consider the following:

  • Exploring Choices and Courage: use the "Would You Rather" tool to explore your motivations to maintain the status quo or to embrace change and what might happen to your relationships and outputs if you showed up and behaved differently.

  • Amp up your own Leadership and Innovation: How do you lead discussions that invite innovation, and when you do, how do you conclude these in a way that balances the desire for likability with the need for productive outcomes?

  • Challenging the Status Quo: Can you carve out even 5 minutes in the meeting or 15 minutes in a workshop to ensure an opportunity to test and stress test what you are all working on?

  • Shift the Social Dynamics: Where are the opportunities to challenge some of the ingrained and unhelpful behaviours that are forcing everyone into one mode of operating and possibly causing a morale issue for those who can’t or won’t comply?

Having tried the above, then you have a final option which might be a difficult one, but possibly the most honest one that needs your attention and time right now, especially if:

  • You still find that your confidence and approach are consistently not welcomed.

  • Your context (or the culture) causes you to behave in ways that cause you to compromise the essence of who you are and how you express yourself.

This topic, while starting off with a fun ‘game’, has ended on a potentially serious note. Hopefully, you can click out with a sense of satisfaction that all is good, or you have been reminded to make sure that your workplace is creating space for difference and some fun.

If you are feeling out of step and would like to consider your options, please contact me. I’d be happy to have a confidential conversation about taking the initial steps for change.

This blog titled Effort or Eff-it! from 2019, might also be of help.




 Photo Credit: Igor Omilaev on Unsplash 





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