Judy Churchill: Personal Experiences: How do you deal with the Naysayers?
Staying motivated, keeping going against the odds are hard enough in themselves but if you have the headwinds of naysayers added to that, you may just decide to give up all together. This could mean ditching a really good idea or project. So how do you tell the difference between friendly, well-intentioned ‘feedback’ that may stop you going where angels fear to tread and the ‘naysayers’ who will do anything and everything to drown your project before it’s even got to the drawing board?
This is an issue that comes up frequently in coaching sessions when clients are considering embarking on a new personal or professional project and are besieged by doubt. Here are a few pointers to help you see the naysaying wood from the trees:
1. Are you yourself your biggest doubter?
Ask yourself honestly and truthfully if you are listening to that nagging little voice in your head that is making you doubt your own capability of fulfilling your dreams. Whether it be running your first marathon, setting up a new ambitious business, retraining for a totally new career, moving to a new location, are you consciously or in most cases unconsciously seeking the opinions of people who will confirm those doubts so that you don’t have to move to the next level?
2. Seek out the ‘go for it’ people:
Whenever I have a new idea or project I want to ‘launch’ I seek the opinions of those who have weathered the toughest storms and come out smelling of roses. I latch on to their reminders of ‘yes it took me five years of battling with those who said you’ll never do it but I did it anyway’. These are the people that will not only encourage you, but they may even help you too.
3. Onboard likeminded people:
Whether on a personal or professional level, if you set about trying to change something, even if it’s for the best or promises improvements, you will get those who resist because a) it’s human nature to resist change b) your drive and initiative are constant reminders of their inertia and in some cases failure. You will find yourself stuck and in a negative lose-lose situation where those who seek your demise will spend more energy telling why what you want to do won’t work than actually helping you to make it work. Don’t waste your time and energy. Recruit new people into your life who share your passion and will help drive you forward. Reach out to anyone who inspires you, has positive energy and who will say ‘yes you can’.
4. Adopt an anything is possible attitude:
Remind yourself that anything is possible with the right training, attitude and preparation. I can’t stress this enough: no one is born a CEO, prima ballerina, world class marathon runner or pop star – they become these things. Great speakers are not born they are made. So transform yourself into whatever you want with the right help and guidance. This is the true essence of life coaching sessions.
5. Protect your projects:
Don’t share your vision or projects with the wrong people. Your projects are extremely precious. Beware of anyone who in the past has been discouraging and negative about your ideas. They won’t change overnight just because you appear with a new idea. These people always focus on the roadblocks and dangers. They will dampen your enthusiasm, which is what they set out to achieve, will not give you any form of assistance (also deliberate) and will be hell bent on damaging your dreams. Cherry pick the people with whom you wish to share your dreams.
Do share with the universe: keep very very focused and make a vision board. A coach can help you do this. I was once helping a client make her vision board and as we were inserting the picture of the very company she wanted to work for, they called her for an interview!
6. Check out the naysayer’s background:
When trying to decide whether a potential naysayer is being gratuitously negative or imparting genuine feedback, take time to evaluate their background and current circumstances. Is there anything about the way this person is living their life that you admire? Has this person been successful in a goal similar to the one you’re pursuing? Does this person have up-to-date knowledge and expertise in this area? Did you get any ‘nos’? If so, then delete! Game over.
7. Ignore them and tune them out:
This is one of the hardest but most important techniques to apply to naysayers. There is no rule that says you have to listen to someone’s advice. You can also choose how you react to naysayers and you don’t have to engage in discussion. In fact it’s a total waste of energy and time. Always recall as a mental reference a positive conversation you’ve had with someone and this will help you tune them out. You don’t need their agreement and you don’t need their approval; just keep your replies short and sweet such as ‘aha’ ‘right ok thank you’ ‘I see’ and then ‘OK let’s move on’ or ‘sorry I have to dash…’
8. Don’t come undone by those who have never done:
Think of it this way. If you want to set up a business and you’re on the receiving end of advice from a person who knows strictly nothing about entrepreneurship and has never and will never set up a business in their entire life, then you should take their advice with a very big pinch of salt. For as long as there are new ideas, projects and innovations, there will always be naysayers. But look around and ask yourself what wasn’t around only last year and you’ll see many new things that have seemingly sprung up over night. Well guess what? They didn’t spring up over night, but someone somewhere, sometime planted a seed, watered it, tended the garden and then harvested the produce and someone somewhere is sitting there now with a massive smile on their face - that could be you next!
Judy specializes in transformational coaching on both an individual and team level.