Last week, you may remember that I blogged about finding common ground and encouraged you to share a broad surface of who you are to enable people to find that common ground with you and increase the amount of opportunities that come your way.
In that same vein, I encourage you to share anything you are comfortable with sharing. You can read more about the value of sharing and it’s impact on likeability in my last blog post.
One question I often get asked is whether there are subjects you should keep to yourself or shy away from. The limitations on what information is sharable seems to be a gray area for many people.
My belief is simple: Always stay true to yourself. The only limit to what you are willing to share is that it should always be a reflection of who you truly are, what you believe, and how strongly you believe in it.
The reason I recommend that you be more open in sharing your interests and passions, is because you are opening the floodgates for people to find common ground with you. As we have learned, they will like you more for it.
Sometimes people feel compelled to hold back because they fear that if someone does not resonate with one of their passions or interests, it will have a negative impact on the way they are perceived.
However, typically what will happen in a case where someone finds an interest that they do not share in common with you is that they will have a neutral or passive reaction. For example, if a person does not share the passion for golf that you have, they will register the word “golf” in a somewhat automated fashion. In other words, it simply won’t get their neurons firing away.
Very often, this information will not even be retained. In these instances, you may not hit a common ground home run, but you’re also not likely to get a negative reaction either. It simply doesn’t hurt.
Pretend that you are a recreational bike rider, you ride your bike leisurely, mostly just to get some exercise in and take in the scenery. You come across someone on about.me who mentions one of their passions is competing in triathlons. Would your immediate thought be, “He competitively runs, swims, and bikes in one day? He must be a terrible person and I am disgusted by him ”? I’m going to guess that your reaction would be far more passive: “Hmm, interesting, I wonder what driving him?” is probably more like it. However, it is most likely that you won’t even spend a single thought on it.
One major caveat: When you begin to cross over into areas that can elicit very visceral, negative reactions from people, this is where you may encounter problems. Societal conventions have been ingrained in most of us that certain polarizing topics, like politics and religion are off limits. Even though many of our social media feeds may seem absolutely encumbered by these very topics, it might be optimal for you to simply steer clear of them, especially on about.me.
There is one exception: If your polarizing views are such an integral part of who you are that you would rather find common ground with people who also resonate with those topics, then share away. Keep in mind that this is likely to result in a sacrifice of the potential connections you might make with people that will have a very adverse reaction to your political or other stance. But that might not be bad at all. You may find even more happiness in your life by not having them in your life in the first place.
If you simply don’t care about the reactions of the people who do not share the same views as you on these polarizing topics, it is safe for you to share this information because those people who do are likely to develop an extremely strong connection with you on those topics on an even more intense level, forging those deep bonds right out of the gates.
The bottom line is, share what feels true to you, but always have this awareness around what others may find offensive. If you are mindful of that, the benefit of sharing more information is likely to outweigh the risks in most cases.
Women often have a different experience when it comes to likeability, as eloquently pointed out in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I’ve written a blog post on some ideas on how to overcome this to find common ground.