I know it’s counterintuitive, but I’ve come to the realization that sometimes pissing people off is actually an important thing to do. I would hate to count up the hours of my life spent worrying about what people think of me. When we fall in to the people-pleasing trap we stop acting based on vision and start acting based on opinions and fear. We lose focus. We become confused and when we’re confused about our direction, where do we end up? Lost.
As women, we are often far too caught up in trying to get people to like us – constantly on the hunt for approval and avoiding confrontation at all costs. I think back to a time in my career where after a great deal of thought, research and consultation I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea to expand services and create revenue. Rather than backing myself and putting this idea in to action I took it to two extra people to gain approval. These were not people who had any higher authority, increased knowledge or awareness on the topic. Nor were they people who would be directly impacted by the change. They were simply people I feared criticism from. I was setting myself up for failure. Predictably, these two people both disagreed with my plan but for almost exactly opposing reasons. What did I do? Nothing. I didn’t make the change. I didn’t even try. My desire to be liked was stronger than my desire to achieve the big picture best outcome. It paralyzed me.
Don’t get me wrong - communication, collaboration and consultation are absolutely crucial for maintaining solid relationships and key attributes of a strong leader. It’s what we do with the information that is key. If we take away our ability to put people off side, we will inevitably take the safe option for fear of displeasing others. As a result we won’t get our message across strongly, we will stagnate and we won’t achieve what we set out to achieve. The reality is that as hard as we might try, we will never please everybody. We will always manage to piss someone off. There will be people who don’t like us and do you know what, that is totally ok! Embrace it! You’re doing something that’s getting you noticed which means you’re moving forward, you’re making changes, and you’re taking action. Wouldn’t you rather be that person than the person sitting back passing judgment? I would.
I now know that if I make decisions that are authentically mine and have the discipline to stick to them regardless of the opinions of others, I can create the world that I’m meant to be living in. If I’m strong enough to continue on the road toward my goals, I can tell people with certainty where I’m going and they can jump on board if they choose to. If they don’t that is absolutely ok. In being authentic to who I am, I begin to gather the tribe who I am meant to be surrounded with and by doing this my confidence grows. Alternatively, if I continue to worry about trying to please everyone, I continue to surround myself with people who I am not well aligned with and my confidence takes hit after hit.
By removing the energy expended and wasted trying to please everyone, I have also freed up a whole lot of energy that can be put in to following my passions and doing what I was put on this earth to do. Another big bonus!
So ask yourself – If I didn’t care about whether everyone liked me or not, what would I do differently? …Now go do it!