A long, long time ago someone said to me: “All things being equal, people like to work with people they like.”

“Attract, entertain, excite, appeal, impress, validate, announce”. All great aspirational verbs for our work.“Communication, clarity, coherence, commitment, compassion, connection” are all great verbs for our work relationships. But one verb we secretly value is “like“. The best jobs are the ones where we like our work and perhaps even more importantly, like who we are working with.

This sounds obvious, yet people underestimate the importance of liking. In the professional trenches, deadlines can be harsh, bosses can be demanding and work can be creatively and physically exhausting. Liking the team you are working with – client and co-worker – can make a huge difference to mood, and mood can make a huge difference to process and outcomes. We all work harder and better for those we care for.

This is not about salesmanship, or false bonhomie and certainly not SMARM . Maybe you can swap the word “likability” for Being Real (dude); letting go of some of the facade we work hard to preserve in many social and work situations, connecting person to person and to the common goals we share – professional or personal. It’s a sliver of a larger paradigm – being good neighbours, good citizens and good planetary inhabitants. We’re all in this together.

Cynics out there might say “nuh unh – everyone works harder for $$ and power”. Indeed $$ and power make people stand at attention, they command respect, hard work and great effort. But there is an undeniable positive dynamic in play when “like” and “trust” are present in the work relationship. Creativity can’t always be pressured into existence and at Bigstudios – mood & flow are extremely important, and liking is a big part of all that.

You might be working on the latest JJ Abrams flick – awesome!! But the vfx supervisor or your producer is not being upfront about change requests and budget. He’s willing to throw you under the bus if the director doesn’t like way the shot is going. He’s abrasive and pushy. BAM just like that – working for JJ Abrams is fraught with anxiety, stress and resentment that has nothing to do with the super charged scary positive energy required to create some of the best work you’ve ever done. Bummer.

So yes it sounds obvious. But when all things are somewhat equal – “likability” is a significant differentiator. And probably one of the reasons people come back and stay.

So hey- Like us on Facebook!

cartoon by Mathew Diffee