Can you be liked AND respected as an artist?
In the arts world, many of us have found it common to face a lack of respect from others about what you do. I too understand what it’s like to face the discouraging words of family and friends who don’t think what you’re doing is a very smart or stable career path. Now not all of the Debbie Doubters in your life actually deserve to have your respect, or to have theirs earned. But as artists, it is our job to cultivate creativity and openness in as much of the world as we can.
And what’s more, as entrepreneurs and business owners, it is also important that you try and cultivate that respect and engender authority in your field. If you want to be successful as a creative entrepreneur, you will need to learn how to encourage people to respect what you do and have to say, beyond just liking you and your work.
But it can be tough to balance both.
Being likable and respected is a delicate line to walk. As John Neffinger says, “You need to project a combination of strength and warmth, and it’s a trick to project both at once.” In fact, John Neffinger’s book “Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential” (co-written with Matthew Kohut) is so highly respected that it’s actually part of the current curriculum at Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown business schools. See what I mean? It’s a bit like “rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. Definitely doable, not so easy.”
So I thought I’d offer 3 simple tips on how you can strike the right balance:
1. Build The Trust
According to a recent Princeton study, our brains make judgements about other people’s warmth and trustworthiness in the first tenth of a second. So if you don’t establish it right away at the start, you’ll have a harder time building that rapport later on. It’s easier to start by being liked, emphasize a willingness to listen, and build that foundation of trust. And then you can always slowly add in demonstrations of your strength and candor later as you feel is needed.
2. Roll Up Your Sleeves
If you are managing others, or in a position above other people you are trying to work with, it can be easy for them to start seeing you as out-of-touch and unapproachable. So be willing to get into the trenches with them and get your hands dirty. This will earn their respect like nothing else. As a film producer, I am always on set everyday of the shoot, working alongside my crew, helping unload and setup equipment, lending a hand where needed, and just generally hanging out and shooting the shit with them. Because I want them to know that I don’t think I am better or above them, or that my time is more valuable than theirs. As a result, I have never had a problem with any of my crew disrespecting me or not feeling like they could come to me with a problem. And at the same time, they all clearly understand what level of engagement and hard work I expect from all of them.
3. Acknowledge Others
In the same vein, it’s important to reward your colleagues and reports when they do well. This shows them that you care about the quality of work they do, and are just as open to giving them praise as you are to giving them constructive criticism. It’s important that they see both sides of that in order to both like and respect you in the workplace. At the end of every film project, I always like to give a special, personalized thank you note and reward to each member of my film team. A recent Daily Worth article on the subject also adds that these sorts of public recognition of your team members can provide incentives for the rest of the team to continue working hard and improving.
There are certainly other tips and tactics you can use besides these 3 to make a lasting, positive and professional impression on your coworkers. These are simply the ones I’ve found the most frequently valuable in my work. But I’d love to hear what you think and have found in yours!
Please comment below and tell me what you think works best, and how you’ve managed to strike the balance between being liked and respected in your creative work. Then remember to subscribe to my email list, buy my book on building your own respected business, and stay tuned for more tips right here!