Reader’s Letter: A message to the people of St. Maarten

POSTED: 08/1/11 1:34 PM

Dear Editor,


One thing I’ve realized over the years is that to be an effective leader you can’t aspire to be loved by everybody. I think people with this affliction have a hard time being great leaders. They dither on decision-making. They fudge on organizational charts to appease people. Clarity of purpose in leadership matters. In my experience it takes a really self-confident and resilient individual to make all of these tough judgment calls on a daily basis.

But over time if you make the tough calls with no fudges, if you’re fair and don’t play favorites, if you explain your rationale publicly and clearly, if you help soften the blow to the side that doesn’t get their way… people will respect you. And it is far better to be respected as a leader than loved.

In my case I expect people to hate me for defending my rights and fighting for native St. Maarten people. For me that is an honor. In the end most people will be thankful for me having had the courage – as long as my decisions were more often right than wrong. This is a concept that seems to elude a great deal of people; probably because it’s a very common thing to misconstrue the two. The two ideas are most assuredly not the same though. There are people whom you like but do not respect – (Government of St. Maarten against native people of St. Maarten Heritage). There are people whom you respect but do not care for – (Those people who oppose people people of St. Maarten heritage being recognized in the constitution but pretend they love St. Maarten).

The reason I’m writing on this subject is because at some point we’ve all felt like some people, while they may like us, do not necessarily respect us. It’s an annoying feeling when you realize that a friend may be using you as a social resource and an ego boost.
When you talk about why it’s better to be respected than liked, it’s important to make a clear distinction between the two. Let’s look at how those two ideas dictate human interaction in both social and professional environments. Being respected regardless of whether you’re liked, is a wholly pleasant experience. Being respected means that people actually listen to what you have to say. It means that people will realize your time is valuable and not waste it. It means that people will honor the boundaries and dynamics of your relationship. It means that people will recognize and treat you like a human being of intrinsic importance. It means that people will understand and honor your priorities.
Getting someone to like you is actually pretty easy. One decent joke or common interest will usually do it. It’s also easy enough to lose someone’s favor. One inconvenience or miscommunication can be enough. On the flip side, getting someone to respect you is very difficult. Normally it requires time, trust, reliability, honesty, and more time. In addition, once you’ve earned a person’s respect it typically takes something big to lose it. No less than a major violation of trust, a personal scandal, or unexplained permanent negative behavioral changes can dislodge a person’s respect.
It stands to reason then, that the more difficult one to get is the better one to have.
It’s important for me to point out that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being liked. The people who like you are social lubricant. They’re the people who fill out guest lists at parties. They provide a much needed ego boost, and can be valuable resources in times of need. Everyone likes to be liked.
But understand that there will be times in most interpersonal relationships when we are presented with situations where we must either command respect or subjugate to seek approval. When faced with that “either-or” dilemma, don’t forget that it is less important to gain someone’s approval than it is to gain their respect. If you go for the respect, that relationship is more likely to be healthy and functional, and will probably last much longer. Once respect is lost, it is difficult (and at times even impossible) to regain. There will always be another chance to get them to like you.

My native St. Maarten people and all people who truly love St. Maarten do not bother if some hate you or bad talk you. The fact is they respect us now for finally defending our rights as native people of St. Maarten Heritage. And that is the key to victory. Remember it is better to be respected than liked.

Yours truly



The Patriot Miguel Arrindell


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