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Pushing Past the Fear of Being Judged

Pushing Past the Fear of Being Judged

Pushing Past the Fear of Being Judged

This topic certainly cut close for me because it is the number one reason I have not gone after some of my goals in the past. It is the number one reason I have played down my own ambitions and desires. It is the number one reason I have stayed quiet and let others take the spotlight when I know I could do a better job.

I have literally said out loud that I didn’t want things that I actually really did want. The sole reason I did it was to avoid judgement.

Some of the thoughts I have experienced include:

What If I put myself out there and others look down their nose at me and ask who the hell I think I am?

What if they look at my work and laugh at me?

What if they pick me apart and find something they can use against me?

It would be great to say that none of those things ever happened. But the truth is that when you start putting yourself out there, people will notice and some of them will look for reasons to shoot you down. All of the above are actually not ‘what ifs’, they are all things that I’ve experienced and are all things that I’ve allowed to affect me more than I should have.

Yet here I am still plugging away and most importantly, learning how to deal with it to the point where I now feel that I can grow my business without fearing other people’s judgement.

Here’s a few things I have learned:

Make an effort to be less judgemental yourself

I am not preaching from the high ground here. I am human like everyone else and find myself daily having to consciously override a natural tendency to make judgements about others without knowing all the facts or really, anything about their story.

However, the good thing is that once you start making this conscious effort, and being fairer to others, the things that you are most self-conscious about start seeming less daunting. 

Don’t buy in to people’s BS

In business, when you see or hear people using complicated language and buzzwords to describe what they do and you find yourself thinking things like “They must be smarter than me”, remember, that’s the idea. The intent is to protect their piece of turf by making what they do sound more complicated than it actually is.

The irony is that themost successful people get that way by discussing what they do in a way that i seasily understood and resonates with people. So rather than fear the judgement of people whose existence relies on smoke and mirrors, make what you do accessible by simplifying it for others.

Find your unique value

Our own fear of being judged largely comes from comparing ourselves to others in our field. So, wanna know one way to not compare yourself to others and feel less judged? Make yourself incomparable.

We have a habit of noticing other people’s strengths and comparing ourselves on those items. Instead, identify YOUR strengths and put them out in to the world.

Be okay with others’ opinions

This is similar but slightly different to popular mantras such as “I don’t care what others think of me’ or “What other people think of you is none of your business”.

When I hear people say things like that, it suggests to me recklessness and a lack of consideration. I prefer to say “I’m okay with others think of me whether it be good, bad, or indifferent.”

Saying the same thing but from a different perspective. The difference is that framing it this way empowers you to focus your energy on the ‘good’ and let the bad and indifferent go.

Learn to distinguish constructive criticism from criticism

When you start putting your voice out into the world, there’s going to be some push back. There’s nothing you can do to stop it so you need to learn how to know what is worth paying attention to and what you should just let pass right on by.

If somebody has constructive criticism to offer, firstly they will be qualified to offer it because they have been on the same journey. Secondly they will generally approach you in an amicable way and engage you in a conversation.

If somebody just wants to criticise it is rarely ever about you. It’s usually about making themselves feel better about their own shortcomings by putting someone else down. Research shows that if you pose a threat to someone else’s ego, they are more likely to judge you negatively regardless of your actual ability.

Learn to sort the gold from the garbage – and don’t go playing in the dumpster.

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The Little Stories That Affect Our Credibility

Years ago a guy called Aristotle, whom most people considered quite smart, talked about a concept known as the ‘three artistic proofs’ – logos (logic), pathos (emotion), ethos (credibility/character). Aristotle noticed that in order for someone to persuade others, their communication had to include both logical and emotional appeal and the speaker or writer had to have credibility.

Illustration: Truth and LieWhile we have many more tools of communication available to us these days than Aristotle had, that basic principle remains the same. Effective communication still has to have logical and emotional appeal and come wrapped in a package of credibility.

In business communication, some of our credibility comes from things we do deliberately to create a certain image. Positioning, branding, imaging are words that spring to mind. However our credibility is also affected by other little things that tell a story to others about what we are really like. I’ve also seen this referred to as our ‘big story’ versus our ‘little stories’.

We all have a ‘big story’ that we put out to the world. In business that’s usually the image that we portray in our marketing – the way we want people to view us. Our little stories are all the little things we do (or don’t do) every minute of every day that either reinforce our big story or undermine it. It’s all the little things we may not notice that others do that can cause us embarrassment. Little stories are everywhere. A few examples that spring to mind:

  • The customer service representative that is aggressive and rude to customers
  • The inappropriate joke when speaking in front of an audience or distasteful post on social media
  • The website or other written material that is full of spelling errors
  • Being a ‘nice guy’ on one social media channel and being a crazy troll on another
  • The narky sign in a place of business
  • Careless or aggressive driving in a company sign-written vehicle

The list is literally endless because this stuff is absolutely everywhere and sometimes it’s not even something we can identify like in the examples above. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling that we don’t trust a person or even a whole organisation.

By the way, little stories are also the way that police catch out criminals most of the time. It’s the little inconsistencies in the criminals’ stories that give the police clues as to where to look for the hard evidence.

So how worried should you be about your ‘little stories’?

There’s no straightforward answer to that question. The fact is that there are always going to be little things that trip us up and put out a message we didn’t intend. For example we all forget to return a phone call from time to time. We all miss the odd mistake here and there. We all have bad days when we’re not as polite and friendly as we should be. Sometimes people just put crazy interpretations on what we say despite our best efforts.

In business we can put systems and procedures in place for some things. For example when I write something like website copy I always get someone else to proofread it. I also have checklists for a range of different things I do to make sure all the details are covered and nothing slips through the cracks.

However a lot of the time, credibility has more to do with ‘ways of being’ than ‘ways of doing’. If you put out a big story that you are a friendly business with helpful customer service then you actually have to have friendly and helpful staff and display those values yourself – all the time not just when you are with a customer. Seems obvious I know but the reality is it doesn’t happen a great deal of the time.

The first thing to do is know what your big story is in the first place. Then and only then, you can constantly check whether the little stories you are putting out are consistent with your big story.