Welcome to the hallowed halls of power! If you’re reading this, you, a woman, have managed to gain some kind of notoriety, or fame, or any kind of leverage to change the world. Congrats! That’s a big step in and of itself.
However, if you are reading this guide, it’s likely you’ve come across a common form of criticism: you need to be more likable. I get it! It’s hard in this day and age to be a likable woman and yet it is so necessary in order to be taken seriously by anyone at all. And if you’re not being taken seriously, you may as well not be in power.
Because you’re a reasonable, rational woman who isn’t afraid to change herself in order to please her detractors, you’ve come to me to find out how you can do this.
Well, you’re in luck! I’ve put together the ultimate guide in pandering to ensure that no matter what position you’re aiming for, from CEO to POTUS, you have all the tools you need at your disposal to do what really matters: being the kind of person people can drink a beer with, not too threatening, and capable of being a true leader.
Step 1: Don’t wear too much makeup.
Do not be this woman who has shimmery eyeshadow, bright red lipstick, and strong eyeliner! Strong makeup looks detract from your message. A bright lip is a no; any nail varnish must be pearly pink or clear. I mean, are you trying to come across as a harlot?
You don’t want folks to think you only care about the way you look. Bold and bright makeup might seem like a harmless way to express yourself and your personality, but rest assured it is one of the biggest mistakes you can make!
“What seemed to pique her detractors’ rage was that in spite of a record number of women serving in Congress, and in spite of AOC being a woman who took a man’s seat, the politician had dared to admit a base level of vanity. And she wore sunscreen.” — Morwenna Ferrier, the Guardian’s acting joint fashion editor
Recall that famous proverb: always take a woman swimming on a first date. Don’t fool people with glittery eyeshadow and purple lips. And god forbid you try to sexually attract them! Let them see your human-colored skin to be likable.
Step 2: Wear some makeup.
I see some of you over there already removing your makeup! Not so fast! While it’s important that you not shock and dismay your audience with bold makeup choices, it’s absolutely vital that you wear some. After all, you don’t want to look like a hag, do you?
It’s absolutely paramount that you care about how you look. People trust women who look good! It’s a sign of basic competency if a woman is able to apply concealer, foundation, some lipstick, maybe a smidgen of mascara. But not too much!
Basically, be attractive but also don’t stand out at all. An ignorable kind of attractiveness. Therein lies the secret to likability!
Step 3: Smile.
In order to be likable, you have to show your friendly side! Play up a smile in casual conversation. Make sure you don’t look grumpy, sad, tired, bitchy, upset, or annoyed. You want to look nice, don’t you? You need to be nurturing and kind, as a woman.
The only likable emotion is pleasant conviviality. Anything else will be seen as a negative emotion. Stay positive and see how well-respected you are!
Step 4: Don’t smile so much.
This may seem tricky, given the last tip, but it’s very important to remember that if you smile too much, you won’t be taken seriously!
You need to demonstrate that you’re here to be in charge — too much smiling and you’ll prove to people you’re not here for long.
Remember that your smile is like eating cake: as much as possible is good, but of course, you can have too much, too. The key is finding the arbitrary middle ground, and accepting that you will always be simultaneously too much and not enough.
Step 5: Be passionate!
You’ve got power, yes? You want to change the world, right? Let that show! Let people see what you’re all about — be approachable in your enthusiasm for whatever it is that drives you.
People rely on women to use that fabled emotional intelligence to assist in solving all the men’s problems, so if you are not emotional enough, you’ll be perceived as an incompetent leader.
One common criticism of women is that we can be cold, calculating, analytical. Drop that cold-fish attitude and start being warm, compassionate and nurturing! Let your passion shine through!
Step 6: Not so passionate, you’re coming off aggressive!
Now, now, now, I see you gearing up and rolling up your sleeves for your big Rah-Rah moment! Slow down. While it is of course absolutely critical that you show some passion, too much passion is worse! Watch out, woman, you’re coming across as aggressive!
“When women fervently sell an idea or argue against the consensus, for example, we’ve seen that male colleagues or managers say things like, ‘She was too hyped up’ and ‘She was emotional.’” — Kathryn Heath & Jill Flynn, Harvard Business Review
The most important thing to remember as a woman who wants to be successful yet likable is that you can never overshadow others with your passion. Think carefully before you speak, and ensure that you remain uncontroversial and calm throughout.
But remember to sparkle at least a little bit!
Step 7: Rinse and repeat.
Let’s be real, ladies: there will always be people who aren’t happy with us, no matter how likable we make ourselves! Why?
Because people don’t like women in power.
Accept that you will spend the majority of your career fielding questions and demands that you minimize yourself to make room for men. And don’t forget to smile!