Above: Image, Gina Milicia
A few years ago I had a portrait shoot with a woman by the name of Dawn, well-loved and respected in the music industry (name, date and industry changed to protect the innocent).
From the first moment I met Dawn my inner monologue was “Houston we have a problem.”
Dawn shook my hand but her eyes were cold.
I knew I could take a great shot but there was something about her energy, yep, I said ‘energy’, that threw me.
When I finally got Dawn onto the set I approached her again for a quick pre-shoot chat. This is something I like to do to establish a connection. Sometimes I ask how people got to the studio or notice an item of clothing. There isn’t a formula, it’s just chit chat.
This technique usually works but every once in a while you meet someone like Dawn who doesn’t behave like most people. Now let me be very clear here. Dawn was polite and professional and agreed to do everything I asked her to do. The problem was I felt like everything I said was being blocked. Like there was a 10-storey fence around her and she wasn’t allowing anyone in.
If you asked me at this exact moment I would have said that Dawn just didn’t like me and I needed to do more to win her over. The problem was the harder I tried the more Dawn blocked me.
Then I remembered some advice a wise person had given me that said:
“You can’t control other people’s behaviour, but you can control your responses to it.”
So instead of trying to manipulate someone to like me, I changed my own behaviour towards them. I kept my energy calm, warm and professional. I was trying to win someone over that was not interested in playing the game.
The moment I stopped caring about what Dawn thought of me and focused on being a better version of myself everything changed. Dawn eventually relaxed into the shoot, and bit by bit, brick by brick the walls started to come down.
I can’t go as far to say that we were besties by the end of the shoot but I did get some great images and learnt a lot about connection in the process.
The next time you are confronted by someone like this, instead of blaming them, ask yourself how you can behave differently.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes about being liked.
“Being unafraid of not being liked is the best way to be liked.” —Ines de La Fressange
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
“You don’t worry about being liked. You have to be yourself.” —Vince Vaughn
“Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” —Tina Fey