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.