For the Sheldons of the World

A few days before going to Cedar Point, I read a blog on the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Have You Tried Being Likeable?," that hit closer to home than I expected.  The gist of the blog post is that being likeable is about much more than knowing your stuff or being smart.  I have a confession to make.  I struggle with being likeable every day.  The sad part is that I do not think I am alone.

When I'm out and about I try to smile at people and say hello.  However, I am terrified that someone will want to have a discussion with me and that I will not know what to say or, even worse, what I do say is taken the wrong way.  My sense of humor is very dry and, if taken out of context, can be misconstrued.  To make matters worse, I am pretty blunt with my opinions and tend to not sugar coat things.  I have learned that when people say I can tell them what I really think about them, their ideas, or their opinions that I should hold back the complete truth.  My "word filter" works overtime most days.  It is not that I am trying to be mean, condescending, or any of those other adjectives that have been used to describe me.  Rather, I think a lot about what people are saying when they say it and truly try to listen to them.  When I am talking with someone, I block out all other distractions and focus on them and what they are saying.

All of that being said, I am sure that I am not likeable most days and that this is affecting my ability to teach.  Every semester I vow that this is the semester that my student evaluations will not have remarks about my facial expressions being awkward or that I am overly inflexible.  Perhaps I am just too sensitive about what my students think about me, but it hurts my feelings when I try so hard.  To some degree, I think that my character traits are a product of my upbringing and my education.  Changing them would require me to change who I am my core.  So, I will go on smiling and trying to be likeable and hoping that people can accept me for who I am -- quirks and all.


  1. I love you Sheldon, because I know what's beyond the surface. You are wonderful, especially because you don't sugar-coat everything (I have heard your filter work well many, many times.) Because I can always depend on you to tell me the truth and still respect my opinion, different or not.

    1. I guess I just get frustrated when people who don't take the time to get to know me have the power to ruin my life and career via student evaluations. Some of the snarky things that students write would amaze you. It's almost as if they are trying to be mean. Please don't get the wrong impression, most of my student evaluations are positive, but we know what they say about a few rotten grapes spoiling the wine. I'm working on looking at the big pictures and not letting a few small blemishes detract from the whole, but it's tough.


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