Podcast Episode 20: Other People’s Opinions

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In this episode we talk about why Other People’s Opinions affect us, and how we can manage our minds.  You’ll discover:

  • Why other people’s opinion can be so painful
  • How other people’s opinions hold us back
  • How strengthening your identify helps build your risk tolerance
  • Steps to set yourself free of other people’s opinion

Referenced on the show:
Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection
Teddy Roosevelt’s speech, The Man in the Arena
Listen to the The Career Refresh episode 10 for a deep dive on when you are included in the workplace 

You are not going to please everyone and trust me, the more success you create the more people may have something to say about it. Let them.

Read the Transcript
Hey friends, welcome back. 

This week I want to talk about the common fear of people’s opinions and how those fears may be holding you back.
Working on your mindset around this is what we do in my programs. We get to look at our thoughts and how they are creating an impact in our careers. Then we work on rebuilding thoughts. So if you are looking for this type of support, reach out. Details are in the show notes. 

So I want to talk about how to shift how you think and feel about this topic. Other people’s opinions can really create a psychological hold on us. OPO. 

For any rap fans out there the OPO may be reminiscent the song by Naughty By Nature. While the official title was OPP, or Other People’s Property, I am going to take some creative license here and call it OPO. Other People’s Opinions. 

Very often the reason we feel self-conscious or nervous about OPO. We let it impact our careers. We hold ourselves back. We worry what other people will say. We stay small. We people please and go out of our way to make sure people like us, we exhaust ourselves trying to manage and control everyone’s opinion of our performance, the work, the campaign. We only want positive feedback. 

We don’t want others to see us if they are going to judge us. We don’t want to be ostracized and we want to stay safe. After all the gazelles on the outside of the pack get eaten.  

So why does this happen to many people? According to Brené Brown, an expert on shame, she writes in her book
The Gifts of Imperfection, that “Healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ 
Perfectionism is other-focused: ‘What will they think?’”

Ooof. Can you feel that? 

All of this makes sense to me. We are often worried about social disapproval. And that worry can spread to our workplace performance, our networking connections, and eventually to our wallet. 

Our fear of OPO bounces between rational and irrational and can quickly become unproductive. It can even be obsessive. 

Often we are triggered when we have a little or big doubt around something about ourselves. And then someone says something. Or we think we know what they are thinking. 

What I know for certain is that if you say things about me and I don’t believe you, I’ll either scoff it off or laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. 

But back in the day, before mindset work, if you hit on a sensitive topic, something that I am aware of and was working on, it’s going to be harder for me to brush it off. I’m was going to feel triggered. And I was probably going to want to ‘fix it’. Or people please by going out of my way to see if you like me. And then I am just freaking weird.
You knew it and I knew it too

We get triggered because we believe what is being said. 

And that’s ok. Because we are all works in progress working on all our messiness. 

But when you think about what people might say, I want you to really think about is…who are these other people?

When you begin chewing on the thought ‘what will other people think?’ I would get specific. Who are you actually thinking about?

When I slip into this thinking, I often think about a woman from my early days of working at Atlantic Records. I assure you she hasn’t thought of me in years, yet I allow her to live rent-free in my head. 

It’s so funny that we do this to ourselves. And you know what? I guarantee that someone at some point has wondered and worried what you think about them. It’s just one big circular reference. 

And when you really think about their opinion…what are your thoughts? 

I want you to pause and think. Ask yourself if it’s true. Can you prove it to be true? What is the exact evidence? 

Then I want you to name them. Just WHO are they? 

Name names. Who are these boogeymen and women? Think. 

List the opinions or the things you think they might say. 

Ok, got it all down?   

Now let me ask you, can you answer all those opinions? Or do you find yourself grasping for words? 

Do you even want to? Are you exhausted from trying to manage or control something that is uncontrollable? 

Do you want their lives? This is not an exercise in taking them down or criticizing them. It’s simply to get curious. 

Are they a role model to you? 

When you question “what will other people think” I want you to come up with a list, a small list, like a 3 person list, of who’s opinion you’d actually take feedback from. 

This doesn’t mean you don’t love and respect others. It just means you are not taking opinions from them. If they are not in the arena, marred by the dust and sweat and blood, they don’t get an opinion. 

What I’ve learned is that most people really don’t care what you are doing. 

Everyone has their own insecurities. If they do care what you’re doing, and they are not your mother, their thought lasts about 60 seconds before they go back to focusing on themselves. 

Most of us are the reference point for our whole story. We are the center of our own narrative. Sort of like, enough now, back to me. 

When we pay attention to our strengths, values, skills, experiences, and beliefs, this is what makes up our identity.
This is what we can build a foundation upon. And when we have clarity we are more willing to push ourselves, tweak our signal-to-noise ratio, take risks and listen to our internal knowing to create what we want in our lives. 

If you don’t, you’ll begin to put what you think they are thinking about you through a filter of safety and you’ll start to play it safe all because you are afraid of what they might say. 

We want to control the outcome of what others think, and when we get squishy in our own identity, we surrender our viewpoint, our values are violated, and we begin to think we’re less qualified. 

Wanting to be liked or thought of in a good light isn’t a bad thing. 

It can help us create awareness of how others view us and if we choose to, we have an option to modify our behavior. 

Unfortunately for some, caring about other people’s opinions can send us down a path where we begin to value their opinion more than our own. 

I am not who I think I am. Ready? I am who I think you think I am. 

Another ooof. 

We are wired to connect and be part of a community. 

We want to be included and accepted. We have a fierce craving for societal approval. It’s evolutionary biology. 

If you messed up on the hunt and you didn’t get the kill, your existence in the tribe could be threatened. 

Our fear-based desire to fit in can be paralyzing and it impacts our lives and our growth. 

This is why mindset work is so important to all aspects of our lives. It takes practice. And time to peel back the layers of our unmanaged mind. 

There’s hope because you can get a ton accomplished with a half-managed mind, trust me, I know. 

When we manage our minds we have a greater chance of creating a life on our terms.  

The first step is to be the watcher or our minds. See how the OPO shows up for you. 

Once you become aware of your thoughts, you can begin to question them. Are they true? Do I know what they are thinking? How do I want to think about what they wrote in the email about me?

Once you’re aware of your thoughts, I want you to remember that you can’t control what other people think of you.
So give others the same mental freedom you want. 

Not everyone is going to like you – and hey you don’t like everyone either. 

Give them permission to not like you. It’s so freeing. 

Once you are clear in your thoughts about their words, you want to find statements that you can believe and build upon. Confidence-building statements. Start your sentences with “I am” and write 5 positive statements about yourself. I am a really good designer. I am great at leading my team. These statements will help you focus on your skills and abilities rather than others’ opinions.

You are not going to please everyone and trust me, the more success you create the more people may have something to say about it. Let them. 

To recap: 

When we worry what other people will think, name those people. Get clear. Now ask yourself if you really want them ‘running’ your life

Get clear on whose opinion you do care about and make sure they are in the arena with you, otherwise, love them but release their opinion

Getting clear in your strengths, skills, values, beliefs, is what creates your identity

Create confidence-building statements that start with I AM. These statements remind us how we want to feel and help us stay focused on the goal

Remember you are not going to control or please everyone. You don’t like everyone anyway. And that’s ok

Alright, my friends. I will see you next time.

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Tune into The Refresh Your Career Podcast Available on all streaming apps. https://jillgriffin.buzzsprout.com/