‘ALWAYS RESPECTED. NEVER LOVED’.

I always want to be loved. But I’m rarely prepared to behave in a way that might make me loved. Recently a good friend said, ‘You’re always respected, but never loved’. It hurt…but it’s true. If I want to be loved, why don’t I change my behaviour?

Blame Mum
My mother always said, ‘You need to tell the truth, be honest’. I suppose it must be in my genes, because I always seem to behave like that, even when people don’t really want to hear the truth. It seems to run in my family as well, which is why I think it is in the genes and not learned behaviour. But I always wonder why other people shy away from addressing issues, are diplomatic or just plain lie. Perhaps it’s in their genes too… But, without seeing facts, speaking truthfully, it’s difficult to solve problems effectively.

‘Always Respected’
I almost always have a view on an organisational or personal issue, simple or complex. I seem to be able to process complex information quickly, accurately assess its importance and, importantly, decide what should be done about it. My30-year successful strategy consulting practice, and my academic teaching reputation in strategic thinking, analysis and implementation showed that my view was often sought and valued for addressing complex business issues.

My advice on how to proceed, however, is not always favourably received! Suggestions of major organisational change, promotion or demotion of individuals, departments or new ideas are often resisted. One organisation I worked with had only 2 major customers taking 80% of their sales when I started work with them. My advice to get 10 international customers to diversify their risk, while withdrawing from the unprofitable, difficult US market, took years to be accepted and implemented. Before they achieved this, my services were dispensed with. Yet another consultant who shared my views privately remained a close CEO adviser, because he only told the CEO what the CEO wanted to hear or could absorb.

Of course, my advice is not always right! (But whose is?) I’m very poor on share market advice and not that good on new product and service concepts or marketing generally. My tech skill is limited so I usually bow out of advice in that area. I’m a big picture person, so implementing my simple recommendations is always more complex than I expect.

‘Never Loved’.
It’s problematic raising difficult issues in organisations or with friends or family and – worse – having controversial or difficult proposed solutions. People are often unwilling or unable to hear the truth, see the facts, make the changes quickly or, particularly, as quickly as I see them.

I jump quickly to conclusions and recommendations, well before most others have processed the issues, so I make people uncomfortable with my ‘black and white’ solutions (‘Do this, not that’). Most people see lots of difficulties, barriers, complexities, alternative options, where I see clarity and improved outcomes.

It’s hard to love such a person, particularly if the recommendations are personally confronting (eg ‘Walk away from your marriage’, ‘confront his drug use’, ‘sack the marketing manager’, ‘leave the organisation’).

Why Don’t I Change Behaviour?
So here I’m guilty of my own analysis! If I want to be loved, why won’t I change??
The truth is I value truth, honesty, correct analysis, good problem solutions more than being loved. Changing my behaviour would change the nature of ‘me’. I would not be ‘me’, for better or worse.

I’ve thought about it over a long time. My friend’s pronouncement didn’t shock me, except that he actually stated it…because it is the truth. I’ve tried a few times to be more likeable…but I just don’t feel good about saying stuff I just don’t believe. The best I can do is to say nothing, to not antagonise, if I think my opinion or analysis would not be well received.

But, if you ask me for my opinion….be prepared to get it! I may not be right, but I will give it honestly, truthfully…and you may not like it. You may respect me for it, but it won’t help you love me.

I want to make the world a better place. That requires better solutions that often impact and upset people. I’d rather be respected for impacting the world favourably, than be loved and not address issues I could impact.

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