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Likeability and the Cost of Faking It

Erin: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we uncover the unconscious rules we've been following. We break those rules and we find a new path to being freer, happier, sexier, and more self expressed. I'm your host, Erin Keating. We have had a lot of new listeners from Apple Podcasts this week. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome.

I'm so happy you're here. If you found us some other way, I'm happy you're here. If you have been a listener since the beginning, I'm happy you're here. I'm just so fucking happy you're here.

Today, I want to talk about caring what other. people think of you. We all care about what other people think of us. [00:01:00] We want to be likable. We want to be liked. We want to be loved. And so we do a lot of things so that people will like us. We don't just walk around in the world being our unvarnished selves.

We work hard at social niceties and thoughtfulness and especially women. I think we really work hard to grease the wheels of social interaction so that people will think we're good. So that people will think, well, that's a nice person. Well, I like that person. And there's nothing wrong with that. But I do think sometimes we twist ourselves into knots and we live inauthentically in order to get that outcome, in order to get people to like us.

And sometimes we settle for being liked. but not really known. I think a lot of people settle for being [00:02:00] approvable, for being someone that people wouldn't mind having around. I think we try hard not to let our rough edges show, or to say the things that we're actually really thinking, that we may lack the diplomacy in the moment to say in a way that would be socially acceptable, right?

And the question is, would you rather be liked and approved of and deemed, that's a nice person by most people, or would you prefer to be seen and known and adored by the people who really, really get you. It is really scary to be seen, right? We are afraid of people judging us. We are afraid of being cast out of the village.

We want to be part of, we want to be approvable, [00:03:00] included. And yet, if you're not really seen. You're invisible. If you don't let people really see and know you, you may be approved of, you may walk around with all the check marks, but you, you're not known to people and they can't actually see the truth of who you are.

And in reality, you don't like everyone, right? They're just people that you don't like. Why should everyone like you? Not everyone is going to like you because not every person is your person and not every group is your group and not every place is your place. There are some people who really are your people and you know them when you see them and you connect with them when you read something that they wrote or hear something that they said or see something that they made and you go, Oh yes, you get [00:04:00] that nod of recognition and you go, God, I love that person.

Oh, I love that person. You may never have met them, but I love that person. What reaction would you prefer when your name comes up in conversation? There's a room full of people who have a consensus and they say yeah. Yeah. Mm hmm that person. Oh, yeah, I know that person Yeah, I think that they're really nice.

I think yeah, they're nice They're they're nice person or would you rather have a handful of people in that room say? Oh my god. I love that person I think that person is so awesome And here are some specific things about them that I really fucking adore I think I've changed camps. I think I used to be in the everyone needs to like me camp when I was a young person, starting in my preteen years, all the way through my 20s, I was an actor, and I really couldn't wait to get on stage.

And I couldn't [00:05:00] wait to get on stage because I really desperately wanted to be seen. And I really wanted to be approved of. And I really wanted the applause. And I wanted people to acknowledge me and say, look, there she is. Isn't she great? Even if what I was doing up there was reciting somebody else's words, even if what I was doing up there wasn't the truth of who I was, or it was a presentation version, right?

Or it was a character version of who I was. And I think the more I came to know and like myself. And this comes with age. The more I came to know and like myself, the less I needed that applause. The less I needed to be approved of publicly by a lot of people. Now, Erin, you're a podcaster. Apparently I'm a podcaster now.

And [00:06:00] my motivation is very, very different. My motivation is to connect with the people who get it and who want to hear what I want to talk about and who's going to benefit from the kinds of conversations that we're having. And if I only do things And say things that make people like me, I'm fucking doing it wrong.

I hope you like me, but if you don't, that's fine. I think that's a benefit of age. I really don't need, and I suspect you don't either, the approval of everyone I come across. My self esteem and hopefully yours is not dependent. on being liked by everyone. Because some people will never understand you. Some people will never get where you're coming from.

And some people will intuitively get you, [00:07:00] will intuitively like you, and those are the people you should run towards. You know, who else wants everyone to like them? Politicians. Do you know why everyone hates politicians? Because you have to dissemble. You have to be fake in order to convince every single person from whatever background that you're awesome, that you're great, that you're gonna really stand for what they believe in.

You know what? I stand for what you believe in, I stand for what you believe in, and I stand for what else. That other guy believes in. Do you? I prefer somebody who's going to be polarizing, who's going to say what they really think and feel. I love it when someone speaks from their heart and then I know this person's for me or yeah, no, this person is not for me.

But most of the time we think people are thinking about us, right? We walk into a room, we walk into a [00:08:00] party and we think, oh God, it's going to be so awkward and I don't know anybody here and they're going to notice that I'm standing by the buffet table just eating these little crudités that aren't even very good.

Oh gosh, I'm so awkward. Who should I talk to? I don't know anyone. Oh, I do. I kind of know that person, but we don't really be so uncomfortable to go talk to them. You think people are looking at you and thinking about you. But the truth is, they're not. They're not thinking about you. They're not looking at you.

And there is incredible freedom in that knowledge. You know what people are thinking about? They're thinking about themselves. Most of the time, we are thinking about ourselves. And other people come into our lives and get our attention. And then we go, oh, right, you. Oh, hi, hi. But for the most part, you're not as interesting to them as you are to yourself, right?

You're thinking about you [00:09:00] and your own situation and they're thinking about themselves in their own situation. And then in an ideal world, we connect, we connect, we break through our self centered bubbles and we connect with one another. And that is the best stuff of life, right? When we authentically connect with one another, when we take time to notice and see each other.

But for the most part. You're the one who's thinking about you the most. My daughter is 12. She's in middle school, 7th grade, hell on earth, 7th circle of hell, and I ran this theory past her because she's self conscious and she is a regular 12 year old girl who wants to be liked and is trying to understand popularity and why it seems easy for some people and not for other people and I said to her, You know what?

Nobody's thinking about you as much as You think, and she said, no mom, it's middle school. Actually, they are. [00:10:00] She might be right about that. She might be right about that. That may be the time when you are thinking about other people because you are thinking about where you fit in relation to those other people and you are ranking yourself and you are putting yourself above or below or, you know, grownup life is not that different.

It's just that we learn to mask our sense of competition. And what I want for you is to fucking opt out, opt out, be on your path, do your thing, think your thoughts, and then connect with the people who you connect with authentically. Yes, there is safety in being part of the herd, but then You're part of the herd.

And there's only one you. There is only one you. There's only one person in the world who has the [00:11:00] unique combination of gifts, and talents, and flaws, and sense of humor, and charm, and style that you have. And that's you. And your job on this planet, I do believe your job on this planet is to be the best version of you and to discover your talents and your gifts and your uniqueness and to share that with the world.

There was a time in my life when I worked as a writer for technology companies. That was how I made a living in my twenties. While I was trying to figure out my artistic self and writing and directing and doing these things in downtown New York that felt very DIY and punk rock and authentic to me. But during the day to make a living, I wrote for technology companies, and I found myself at one point [00:12:00] at a conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, I was working for a woman who did marketing using data based on this one company's database of information.

Don't ask. It's boring as fuck. It was boring then. It's boring now. I'm so bored. I don't even want to talk about it. But I think it is a good example for this topic. I was making nice with a bunch of good old boys. And I think I came off as a super friendly and sweet young woman. And I was talking to this guy. He was about my age in his late twenties. And he said, you know what? I just love the good old boys network. You know, you meet someone, you go play golf together, you make a deal, you have a drink, you have a cigar, and that's how you do business. And it's really amazing and so great. And life is sweet. And I thought to myself, I'm a [00:13:00] Jewish girl from Baltimore, I'm an artist, I'm a fucking weirdo.

If you really knew who I was, if I wasn't trying so hard to get you to like me, because I needed you to like me in this business context, if you knew who I was, you wouldn't like me at all. I'm nowhere adjacent to this world. I'm just good at faking it. And that was an awesome turning point in my life. I was like, you know what?

I don't think I can do this anymore. I don't belong here. These are not my people. And even for a day job, it did not feel worth it. The cost of faking it felt too high. I was very into punk rock as a teenager, and there was a band called Corrosion of Conformity. And I think as a Gen Xer. We identify with this notion of nonconformity and but there is something about adult life that forces [00:14:00] us into more conformist situations than we ever imagined we would be as our young rebel selves, because the reality of adult life is you sometimes go along to get along.

I think at a certain point, and maybe it's age, wanting to be liked can keep us from becoming who we really are. Or who we really want to be and people pleasing and faking happiness limits our self expression and there are situations where it is safer to do the things you need to do to be likable, but on a macro level.

What we're looking for in our ideal lives is total self expression and the ability to say and be the people that we know we are inside. There's only this one life [00:15:00] and we can twist and turn and bend ourselves in order to accommodate other people's comfort or discomfort perceived or otherwise with who we are.

But at the end of the day, The best use of us is the truest use of us. I was very lucky to have a corporate career doing something very creative in the television and media business. And it gave me a place in the world and people treated me a certain way because I sat in a certain seat. I was a buyer and so people were trying to sell me things and therefore.

People treated me with respect and were extra friendly and kind and invited me to stuff. And that was because of my job. And when you lose your position, like I did, being laid off from that big corporate job, You really get to see who was treating you that [00:16:00] way so that they could get something from you, which is totally natural and normal.

And I don't really judge people for that. That's just the nature of business. And who was there and treating you that way because they really liked you and they really connected with you and they really thought you were awesome like they said they did. And I didn't sweat it too much after I left because I had a sense of what was authentic and what wasn't authentic.

But there are some people I will never hear from ever again. And those people are not my people. Those people were not my people. And when I decided to step out of that life and try something new and look for a truer form of self expression, I was very nervous about how I would be perceived by my professional community.

Whether people would still approve of me, whether they would still [00:17:00] like me, whether they would see me as a viable future executive. Should I? ever choose to return to that side of the business. And I remember fretting. About what I was going to post on LinkedIn, about what I was up to in the six month period when I was really giving myself space to transition out of corporate life and discover what was going to be next for me.

And I remember laboring really hard over how I was going to frame myself for my LinkedIn posts. I mean, in the scheme of things, who gives a shit, right? No one gives a shit except me because I'm worried about what people are going to think of me. And ultimately, I found a way to do it that made me feel less nervous and split the difference.

And I don't usually post [00:18:00] clips of my sexiest episodes up on LinkedIn because it doesn't feel appropriate for a business networking site. However, I'm really the only one who cares. And there is an incredible amount of freedom in that when artists would come to me with their material that they've written, their pilot scripts or their short films, and especially early career artists, they would be so nervous about, Oh, well, what kind of impression is this going to make and just really wrapped up in what other people's perceptions were going to be of them and whether this would be the thing that was really going to make their career.

And my advice to them is the same as my advice to myself and what I would say to a close friend and what I'll say to you, which is no one gives a shit[00:19:00] until you do something or say something or make something that people care about. No one cares. So your only job is to go and do the work that you believe in, to go and make the thing you want to make, to go and be the person and live the life you want to live. And if you make something or do something or say something that resonates with someone else, In that beautiful moment of connection at the cocktail party or wherever you happen to be at the interview, if you happen to make the right connection and someone resonates with what you said or what you did, then that is authentic and that is real and that is being liked.

Wouldn't you rather be a magnet for the people who [00:20:00] really get you, who really want to be around your energy, who think what you are is special and awesome, who are attracted to what you are and who you are authentically, because you put that out into the world unapologetically? Wouldn't you rather be loved?

And appreciated for being that person, then generally thought of as like likable and pretty good by a whole lot of people who could sort of take or leave you. That's my point of view today, that your job is to be the best version of you, that you authentically are to express your truth, to say the things you want to say.

I'm not talking about being an asshole or being combative or putting other people down or saying, well, if you aren't like me. then you're no good. This isn't about that. This is about being the you that you [00:21:00] really are inside, as opposed to shapeshifting yourself into someone who you're not in order to gain the approval of people who you may or may not like.

You do you. You do you. A hundred fucking percent. And your life will be full of people who really care about you. Who really see you. You will not be invisible. You will be known and maybe parts of you will be known that are uncomfortable for other people to see. Maybe you want to be a married mother of two with a perfect career and all the status that comes with that position in society.

I wanted to be that. I'm so much happier not being that because what that took cost me so, so much. And what it takes to be myself is just a little bit more courage. You [00:22:00] have that courage. Everyone does. Actors get reviewed, right? Artists, there are reviews of their work. And they're published really widely and everybody has an opinion about everything everyone makes once someone is successful and has put stuff out there into the world.

And you have to make a policy as a creative person about whether or not you're going to read your reviews. Because we have a negativity bias, right? What we have inbuilt is a danger alert, where someone says something critical and you go, Oh, okay, well, well, maybe I am XYZ that they say I am. Oh, maybe I am too old for this.

Or maybe I am. You're past my prime, oh my God, maybe I am all these critical things that people say about me. We have a negativity bias that developed when we needed to be oriented towards our [00:23:00] own literal survival in the world, where our genetic code got imprinted to take the negative things more seriously than the positive things.

What we need to do as people in the world in 2023 is cultivate a positivity bias. Where we hear the positive things that people say so much louder than the criticism where we work really hard on how we talk to ourselves about ourselves and what is possible for ourselves so that we are approaching the world with a positive energy that will attract the right people and things and situations and dynamics into our lives and will repel the people and things and situations from us That are not for us, work on your positivity bias, work on telling yourself all kinds of positive things about yourself, work on [00:24:00] caring what you think of yourself more than what you care about. Other people think of you, I guarantee it's a life changer. That's my thought for today.

Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. I want to hear from you. DM us on social media and share your thoughts about likeability and authenticity @hotterthaneverpod on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube. We are everywhere.

My friends, we may even share your message on the show while you're at it. Please follow the show on whatever platform you're listening to right now. Check that little check mark and you will get new episodes in your feed every Thursday morning. Tell your Friends about it and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Gerard and PodKit Productions. Our interim associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez.

Come back next week. You are so fucking hot. I see that inner [00:25:00] confidence radiating out of you and I like you. I really fucking like you.


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