The Likeability Trap
How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are
Be nice, but not too nice. Be successful, but not too successful. Just be likeable. Whatever that means?
Women are stuck in an impossible bind. At work, strong women are criticized for being cold, and warm women are seen as pushovers. An award-winning journalist examines this fundamental paradox and empowers readers to let go of old rules and reimagine leadership rather than reinventing themselves.
Consider that even competent women must appear likeable to successfully negotiate a salary, ask for a promotion, or take credit for a job well done—and that studies show these actions usually make them less likeable. And this minefield is doubly loaded when likeability intersects with race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and parental status.
Relying on extensive research and interviews, and carefully examined personal experience, The Likeability Trap delivers an essential examination of the pressure put on women to be amiable at work, home, and in the public sphere, and explores the price women pay for internalizing those demands. Rather than advising readers to make themselves likeable, Menendez empowers them to examine how they perceive themselves and others and explores how the concept of likeability is riddled with cultural biases. Our demands for likeability, she argues, hinder everyone’s progress and power.
Inspiring, thoughtful and often funny, The Likeability Trap proposes surprising, practical solutions for confronting the cultural patterns holding us back, encourages us to value unique talents and styles instead of muting them, and to remember that while likeability is part of the game, it will not break you.
Praise For The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are…
— Tiffany Dufu, author of Drop the Ball and founder of The Cru
“Wanting to be liked is more than feeding our ego or calming our insecurities, it can unwittingly impact almost every aspect of our personal and professional life. With her innate sense of wit and eloquence, Alicia Menendez makes us reflect on how we can navigate the troubled waters of likeability, ignore the inevitable noise that blocks our progress, and live at peace with ourselves.”
— Maria Elena Salinas, CBS News Contributor
“Alicia Menendez gets it. All of it. And conveys some of the most poignant advice out there today in this book. She breaks down the construct of women being either ‘strong and cold’ or ‘weak and warm’ and the pressure we face at home, at the office, and in public. It’s as delightful as it is useful.”
— Alyssa Mastromonaco, author of So Here’s the Thing… and cohost of the #Hysteria podcast
“In a radical departure from business books that urge women to change who they are or how they lead, Alicia Menendez tears to shreds the false choices presented to women by workplaces that constantly challenge whether we have what it takes. She nimbly urges us not to conform or mutate but rather to work toward dimming the spotlight on likeability.”
— Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur, cofounders of Of a Kind and coauthors of Work Wife
“Reading The Likeability Trap, I felt a weight lift off me. I realized that feedback and worry about my likeability are systemic issues, not something wrong with me. I understood that I wasn’t alone and that there were things I could do about it. It has been a gift.”
— Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out
“It is hard to write something both new and noteworthy about women, work, and leadership, but Alicia Menendez has pulled it off. Even as a woman who has been leading for decades, I learned a lot from The Likeability Trap. Best of all, she writes powerfully and directly about the particular obstacles encountered by women of color, adding important voices to the debate.”
— Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America and author of Unfinished Business
“Menendez, a journalist and the cohost of PBS’s Amanpour and Company, issues a friend-to-friend wake-up call for pathological approval seekers. . . . The description of the problem is perfect . . . . the chatty, friendly, heart-to-heart tone will be a comfort and an encouragement to women hampered by their desire to be both liked and successful.”
— Publishers Weekly
“There will be a great deal of enthusiastic nodding and audible sighs among women devouring multimedia journalist Menendez’s first book. . . . This will stoke camaraderie and genuine outrage among women, and might even make a difference, one person at a time.”
“Fierce, relevant, witty, and illuminating. The Likeability Trap is filled with hard won wisdom and actionable advice for women who want more than to be liked.”
— Rebecca Jarvis, ABC News Chief Business and Economics Correspondent and Host of the No Limits Podcast
Harper Business, 9780062838766, 256pp.
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
About the Author
Alicia Menendez is an MSNBC anchor and host of the Latina to Latina podcast. She has been dubbed “Ms. Millennial” by the Washington Post, “journalism’s new gladiator” by Elle, and a “content queen” by Marie Claire; and her inter - views and reporting have appeared on ABC News, Bustle, FusionTV, PBS, and Vice News. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.