3 Reasons Why “Be Yourself” Can Sometimes Be False Advice

How many times have you heard coaches and motivational speakers tell you to BE YOURSELF because people do business with people they like?


But what if you are not “well-liked?” What if you have a nasty attitude? Should you still be yourself?

I think it’s time to face the music, burst the bubble, or rain on the parade because the truth of the matter is, common sense is not so common and the truth won’t always set you free.

I had first encountered this through an experience I had with a web designer who I thought was rude and unprofessional with his abrupt responses and constant sarcastic comments. No wonder he was offering great deals. His sales must be hurting and he thought slashing his prices in half would help him. I decided not to work with him and on my way out the door, I told him, that it wasn’t the price of his services, but his personality that hurts his business.

I think that coaches and motivational speakers need to be careful with this statement because there really are some people out there with unpleasant personalities that will take this “Be Yourself” advice and run with it. The better advice should be “BE LIKABLE.” 

With that said, here are three grey areas of the famous cliche advice “Be Yourself:”

1. IT DOESN’T LEAVE ROOM FOR BAD PERSONALITIES.  Telling a room full of strangers to be themselves and business will get better is a careless statement! Those who preach this “Be Yourself” campaign are naturally outgoing and likable and have not taken the time to understand that some people can be rude, disrespectful, impolite, inappropriate, etc… Imagine if that web guy I met attended a conference where the coaches encourages them to be themselves? Yikes! He is the wrong person to hear that advice.

2. IT DOESN’T CLARIFY THE REAL TRAITS THAT PEOPLE SEEK. Here are some of  the characteristics and traits that people find likable:

  • Friendly
  • Sincere
  • Hard Working
  • Intelligent
  • Presentable
  • Impressive
  • Graceful
  • Respectful
  • Patient

If you understand what it takes to “work” these traits, then it will be much easier to be likable. The reality is, we cannot be in our best behavior at all times and a great entrepreneur will know when to turn it on or off. See, your clients do not want to hire someone who doesn’t know how to act appropriately. Believe me or not, there are business owners that engage in inappropriate conversations with their clients (i.e. Gossiping and bad mouthing other people or clients). You could be laughing with them at the moment but as soon as they get home, your prospective client will think that you’re bad mouthing them to other people as well.

You also have those who invite their clients out for dinner/lunch and order one to many drinks. Or a more subtle example is, letting steam off in front of your clients. They don’t want to see you “lose it.” Your clients do not want to know your personal problems. When they ask you how you are doing, keep it professional and graceful. Sometimes some people get too comfortable and start thinking their clients are their friends. No!


The cliché advice that states “Be Yourself” is a lie! The truth is that we have to figure out how to be likable in different circumstances. Have the ability to put on a different hat, depending on the audience. Be self aware and know how your tone sounds, how you are being perceived and how people are connecting with you. Living in oblivion is not an option even if that is your true self.

Depending on your personality, running a business can be very challenging. It is all about pleasing other people – under promising and over delivering. Your clients want to feel confident that they’ve hired the best. Show them your BEST SELF. Show them you are competent and capable of rising to any occasion.

Published by Sweeney Mae - Marketing and Events Expert

Sweeney Mae is an award-winning Marketing Professional who has organized thousands of events and has collaborated with hundreds of organizations in the last 10 years of her career. She has worked with some of the great movers and shakers in the industry: Bill Walsh, America's Business Expert; Jarvee Hutcherson, Founder of Multicultural Motion Pictures Association; Max Amini, Actor and Comedian; Apl de Ap with the Black Eyed Peas and many more! Some of the organizations she's worked with includes: The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, NBA All Stars and more! She's passionate about helping start ups and small business owners in improving their marketing skills and strategy.

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