Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On likeability

There is a person in my department who cares not one whit whether anyone else thinks he's nice. This isn't deployed as an excuse to behave assholeishly - rather, it seems like an effort of economization, one where likeability lost out to whatever other three hundred things are more important. I know his partner rather better, and she's a delightful person, so I'm betting that he's got some specifically likeable qualities (I suppose that's a rather generous conjecture - again anecdotally, I know loads of lovely people with awful taste in partners, so... grain of salt, applied!) that don't come across in his quotidian interactions.

If there is indeed something different about general likeability versus specific likeability... I think I probably waste too much time on behaviors designed to perpetuate an impression of niceness. I hope that I'm likeable in specific ways, or at least that those people who matter to me also find my continued presence in their lives mostly more than tolerable.

This is so much of my daily calculus, though. If I were to keep only those behaviors that maximize qualities I value more than milquetoast niceness, would I feel more authentic? Would I have more time for the meaningful, controllable stuff?