When a ‘Dislike’ is better than a ‘Like’
I know this is going to sound weird, but I’m going to state it anyway. Recently, I really like receiving “dislikes” from people I know.
It’s not that I want to be disliked as a person. I’ll accept that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have that same human desire for likeability as everyone else.
When I say I’ve learned that I like the “dislikes,” I mean that I appreciate the constructive feedback I get as I share my new ideas and my newsletters with friends and colleagues. I call these the “dislikes.” And I really like them, sometimes even more than the “likes.”
All the feedback is important and deeply appreciated (so thank you!). The positive comments give me confidence and put wind in my sails as I build more, write more, and share more. And even though the dislikes aren’t always delivered in the most likeable way, they are a powerful tool that transcends the messenger’s style. They help me sharpen my thinking. They push me to revisit assumptions, and they force me to reshape my hypotheses.
Research shows that “likes” on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram give users an addictive dopamine rush. People love positive feedback, which is, in part, how tech platforms get us hooked on sharing our stories. The thrill of seeing those accumulating likes makes us want to post more. It makes us feel validated.
But for me, the fix comes from the critical feedback that helps me sharpen my projects. For example, this email newsletter has evolved based on constructive feedback from readers (and non-readers who haven’t signed up… yet). Similarly, I’ve workshopped (and re-thought) other projects based on feedback from experts and allies, potential partners and customers, and even family and friends.
Part of this drive to constantly improve comes from my relentless focus on having what psychologist and author Dr. Carol Dweck refers to as a growth mindset. Dweck believes that individual intelligence is not a static, immutable quality, but is actually one that can be nurtured and developed. As a result, a person with a growth mindset embraces challenges, learns from criticism and adapts to overcome setbacks.
With a growth mindset, the dislikes are an important fuel for growth – they help thinking become more elastic and stronger. Of course, too many “dislikes” might mean that you are truly on the wrong path. But in most cases, the dislikes are enabling, especially when they are shared from a perspective of genuine helpfulness.
Let’s be real. It’s always easier to be optimistic when everyone loves what you are thinking, but I have learned that isn’t realistic. I do know that I feel a lot more optimistic when people are willing to share the critical thoughts that they know will help me grow. It usually takes more time to explain a dislike than it takes to give me a thumbs up or a like, and I see that investment of time as an investment in me.
Think about your own preferences. Which do you seek – the likes or the dislikes? And are you someone who is an efficient super-liker, or are you someone who smartly and sensitively provides colleagues and friends the time intensive “disliking” that will help them grow?
In any case, don’t underestimate the positive power of thoughtfully disliking someone’s idea… it might be the very feedback that helps creates something better and more impactful.
And that’s a result we all can like.