During confidence programs I inevitably get asked about other people’s perceptions, which highlights the natural desire we have for other people’s approval. The question we should be asking is “Does this desire serve us well?”
There is nothing innately wrong with wanting to be liked and admired. It’s only when we base our sense of worth on others’ approval that it becomes problematic.
Other people’s perceptions can be tremendously enlightening or horribly devastating. The key is to know when to pay attention to others’ perceptions and when to ignore them.
This has always been a useful guide for me. If the information I’m getting helps propel me to whatever it is that I’m trying to achieve, I pay attention to it.
If the advice discourages me from pursuing my dreams, is critical of me or my approach without offering a constructive alternative or is denigrating in any way, I completely and confidently ignore what they are saying. But I don’t respond in kind.
I realize that while their advice might not be helpful, it is either well-intended or transference of the fears, anxiety and disappointment they’re currently experiencing. With these thoughts in mind, I smile and thank them for their insights…even though I have no intention of taking their advice.
When you feel yourself desiring someone’s approval follow these simple steps:
- Acknowledge the fact that we naturally crave others’ approval, it’s an aspect of our humanity.
- Remind yourself that while you might enjoy their approval, you don’t need their approval to validate your self-worth.
- Accept what they tell you without judgment. In other words, respecting their right to their opinion without feeling compelled to agree with it.
- Smile and thank them for taking the time to share their perspectives with you.
- Embrace the advice if it propels you toward your goals, ignore it if it doesn’t.
For our kids
As you see your kids falling victim to other people’s perceptions, share the simple steps listed above.
More importantly, live this message and they’ll learn even more quickly how to evaluate and utilize other people’s advice.
Interestingly, when it’s obvious to others that I don’t need their approval to feel good about myself, I more often than not get their approval. It’s one more example of the counterintuitive nature of confidence.
If you’d like to develop the skills to teach confidence as part of your role as an educator, coach, consultant, trainer, leader or other professional, check out my professional development and certification programs at TeachingConfidence.com.