We all long to be likable; it’s freakin’ human nature. Even those that claim not to give a hoot as to whether they are liked, they want you to like the fact that they are supposedly not caring whether or not you like them.
Are you confused? Good, then they have succeeded.
They want to come off like a conundrum to you because people that are ‘different’ and go ‘against the grain’ are unique, raw, and dynamic. Well, that is until they are not; because now there are far too many of those seemingly rare beings who could genuinely not give a hoot what you or I think of them.
Not too long ago, I wrote an article titled Likability: How Important Is It That Your Children Are Liked By Others? In the article, I shared my contention that as parents, we seem to have this unnecessary need for complete strangers, acquaintances, and of course those close to us to both like and enjoy our children AND us. I went on to note that the problem we run into is that there will always be people who don’t like us (or our kids) because of the way we look, our personality, our opinions, or even for no damn reason whatsoever.
An article on Business Insider titled 19 simple social skills that will instantly make you more likable, states that people “can practice certain behaviors in order to appear — and become — more likable,” and that increasing our likability factor “is entirely under [our] control.” But, guess what?
I went through this list, and as it turns out, the skills that will supposedly make adults more likable are the same skills which make children more annoying (apparently). Not to me, of course, because I love children, especially the three I birthed, but for the rest of the general public (mainly those that don’t have kids and find children to be annoying) — those adult skills for likability make children a pain in the rear.
Let me break it down for you by discussing a few likability skills that make adults more appealing, but children more annoying:
Eye Contact. You are supposed to make it and maintain it while exuding “warmth and competence” through your pupils. It is further suggested that you make “the commitment to meet someone’s gaze.” Well, let me ask you this? How pleasurable do you find a messy 4-year-old, drippy-nosed boy STARING at you like you’re a French fry he wants to eat? How awkward for you is it when you break eye contact, just to look back and see that he has still maintained it, as well as his proximity to you. Do you unwelcome such behavior? Yep, thought so.
Smile. I love to smile. I smile at everyone I walk by each day. Do I do it for them? Sort of, but I also do it for me to ensure that I receive some adult interaction. As a former SAHM and now a WAHM, I need to take engagement wherever I can get it; even in passing. But to some, nothing is endearing about a child in the booth next to you who will not stop looking at you and smiling. At first, it was cute. After thirty minutes, your cheeks hurt and you can no longer smile back at them. After matching their smile for so long, you barely have the energy left in your cheek muscles to speak to the child’s parents and kindly (or not so sweetly) ask them to turn their child around.
Show enthusiasm. Excitement can be contagious and often, it is intriguing. However, have you ever been around a child who is ridiculously giddy, as if they ate a whole pixie stick right before coming into contact with you? Not so fun.
Call people by their name. All I have to say is “Mommmmmmy,” Mommmmmmy,” “Mom,” “Mommmmmmy,” “Mommmmmmy,” “Mom,” “Mommmmmmy,” “Mommmmmmy,” “Mommmmmmy.”
Make everyone feel included. Has a child ever tried to include you in their every activity? While that is sincerely sweet of them, it’s also super frustrating to not be able to complete a single task without interruption. It’s okay, child, to not include me in every single thing you are doing, like going to the bathroom, and blowing your nose, and taking a step to the left and then to the right. I find independence more likable.
So, what do you think? Do you agree that some adult likability skills make children, dare I even say it, less likable?
The fact remains, though, that if you want any person who has a child to like you, you must find a way to like (or at least put up with) their children. Like with me, for example, if you could simultaneously and enthusiastically make me feel included, call me by my given name, smile at me, and make eye contact, all while my children irritate you by doing the same, I would forever be grateful.