Home Career Services The Likeability vs. Ability Hypothesis, Part 1
The Likeability vs. Ability Hypothesis, Part 1

The Likeability vs. Ability Hypothesis, Part 1

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By Shun McGheewordy-coworker
Contributor, Career Services

If you have read enough of my blog posts you may have discovered I enjoy football because I think the game offers players many lessons. To play requires a measure of speed, endurance, perseverance and class. As a former high school player I encountered a variety of scenarios that taught me valuable lessons applicable to the workplace. The overwhelming lesson I learned was it is just as important to be liked as it is to be good. In this post I am going to call this hypothesis likability versus ability.

I played varsity as a freshman. In addition to adjusting to a new school and making new friends I also had to become accustomed to a new football system. This system did not award playing time only to the best players but to those whom the coach liked most. My position coach tried to teach me this lesson when he asked “McGhee, how come you don’t say ‘Hi’ when you see me in school?” I answered “Because I didn’t want to be a kiss up like other players.” He told me exchanging pleasantries or acknowledging someone’s presence was not kissing up as much as it was subscribing to protocol and establishing a relationship outside of just football. Though Coach Sheffield’s lesson fell upon deaf ears at the time I remember his words and I know them to be true within the work place.

Employees are evaluated in interviews not just according to their work history and subsequent ability,  but also by the Buffalo Airport Test. This test suggests when considering a candidate you imagine yourself being snowed in at the Buffalo airport for 8 hours with them. If you believe it would be a good experience the applicant is hired. It used to be said that it’s not what you know but who you know. This evolved into it’s not who you know but who knows you. I am going to say it’s not just who knows you but who likes you. When applying for promotions or even pondering lateral moves do not just consider whether you are capable of performing the position’s assigned duties but determine whether you are well liked by the members of the department. The likability factor could mean the difference progressing or being or professional stagnation.

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