What does it mean to be polarizing? When we say someone is polarizing, we usually mean people either “love ’em or hate ‘em.”
The act of polarization divides people. A polarizing movie is either applauded or lauded. A polarizing political figure is either supported or refuted. A polarizing piece of artwork is either accepted or rejected.
The real question is, do we ourselves want to be polarizing? Do we want to do something that people will either love or hate? Do the positives of your admirers offset the negatives of your detractors?
There’s no golden rule on if and how polarizing one should be. Polarization is more an art than a science. The key is to ascertain what situations to be polarizing and when to hold back.
Before diving deeper, let’s meet polarization’s polar opposite — the people pleaser.
If polarization is the act of dividing people into separate groups, then the act of people-pleasing is attempting to be as likable as possible.
A people pleaser’s goal is to earn as many people’s approval as possible. People-pleasers default to the safest, most politically correct, and least controversial option. No ruffling feathers.
There are certainly pros to being a people pleaser. Less conflict means less time butting heads with those who disagree with you, which means more time minding your own business. Additionally, you are less likely to create enemies had you instead decided to “ruffle some feathers.”
But do we want to be permanent people pleasers? Should we go through life acting in a way that will give us the most thumbs up?
The answer is no.
Polarizing vs. People Pleasing — A Balancing Act
We shouldn’t always seek to polarize people, nor should we always act to please as many people as possible. There has to be a happy equilibrium — harmony between the yin and the yang — to achieve the proper balance.
The question becomes when is it appropriate to be polarizing, and when should one avoid conflict? Let’s dive deeper.
Polarize to Create An Impression
In Western cultures, we’re taught to stick out. To be an individual. To think differently. To go against the status quo.
To stick out, you must channel your polarizing side. Think of polarization not as forcing some on your good side and others on your bad side, but rather conveying yourself as a unique individual. The way to come off as “unique” is by revealing your true authentic self.
Polarize to convey who you really are. You only have one shot at a first impression. Imagine stepping into a job interview. This is a great opportunity to flex your polarizing side.
If you’re interviewing for a competitive role, odds are you are competing against other highly qualified individuals. How are you going to separate yourself? The answer — be polarizing.
Tell the interviewer your quirky work habits. Tell the interviewer about your passion for philosophy and how it affects your everyday decision making.
Is there a risk to revealing your polarizing side? You bet. But these are the calculated risks one must take to stand out. The person evaluating you may embrace your polarizing side. That same person may also think you are completely insane. Being your authentically polarizing self weeds out what would not have been the right fit.
When people say “be yourself,” what they actually mean is “be your true polarizing self.” What is unique is also polarizing.
People-Please to Choose Your Battles
To be polarizing all the time would be exhausting. Expressing your political beliefs, continuously going against the grain, doing what others aren’t doing could lead to burn out.
“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s not winning battles that makes you happy, but it’s how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction.”
— C. Joybell C.
Sometimes it’s easier to step back and go with the flow. If you polarize in every situation, you won’t have much energy to polarize when it matters most.
Polarize to leave a strong impression. Polarize to stand up for what matters most. Polarize to separate yourself from the crowd. Then, know when to step back.
Strategic polarization is the name of the game.
Enjoy this post? Subscribe and get notified when new content is released.