Everyone’s a critic

But not everyone is doing the work and not everyone understands.

You’ll often find that the ones that are talking the most are those that do that least.

When it comes to criticism, it is so important not to take on the thoughts and opinions of the wrong people. When you’re working on something and it isn’t going well it can result in your sense of self and confidence being reduced. When this happens you’re likely to find yourself more susceptible to take on the criticism of others.

Criticism can be useful, in fact incredibly helpful when it’s from the right people. However, when it’s from the wrong people, it can be dangerous. Suddenly you’re taking on thoughts from a stranger who has no real idea about the work you do and what it takes to overcome the challenges you’re facing.

How to be a better listener

Don’t offer advice
Don’t offer advice until the person asks for it. People often make the assumption that when someone is talking about an issue they want to be told what to do. However, many times a person just wants to express themselves and feel heard.

Show that your engaged verbally
Muttering a generic hmmm, every now and then is sometimes what is done to portray a false sense of engagement but often the case is you’re probably just not interested. The ‘hmmm’ can also be a sign that you want to let them know you’re listening. You can also use short phrases like ‘I can’t imagine what that’s been like’ or ‘that must be difficult’ to show you’re engaged or you could ask questions.

Show that you’re engaged physically
Looking at your phone, being turned away from the person and not making eye contact can show a lack of interest. Don’t be distracted, have your body facing them and make eye contact.

Lastly, two things to remember, if you don’t want to listen then just say so instead of doing it half heartedly. Secondly, you can’t expect someone will want to come and talk to you if you don’t show that you’re interested in what they have to say.

Bored of anxieties

It’s been said that reassurance is something that we can’t get enough of. It’s strange to think about how we seek reassurance to keep our fears at bay but each time we get it we crave more and more often finding ourselves feeling stuck without it.

When you sit and watch a persons anxieties and fears play out in front of you, your immediate response is probably to console them with reassurance. You’ll find yourself saying things like ‘It’ll be alright’, it’s not necessarily because you believe it but instead because you don’t want them to feel low.

But reassurance is never enough so when the person continues on you might find yourself bored of the anxieties. It’s not that you don’t care but instead that you’ve accepted no amount of reassurance will change this persons mind so there’s no point in trying.

The lesson in all this is that sometimes people just want to vent, be heard and feel supported. Often that will work better to ease the anxieties rather than trying to use reassurance to make it go away.

Let them get it wrong

When teaching someone how to do something, you have to let them get it wrong.

It may be easier to jump in just before the mistake, error or failure occurs and rectify things. But this brings little benefit in the long run.

In the short run, the person may feel supported which is a good thing. But too much support leads a lack of independence and self-reliance. Instead they become reliant on you being there.

It teaches the person that they don’t have to work things out for themselves because someone will come along to make things right. It may also lead to this person not trying because you’ve showed them that you won’t allow them to fail.

The reason you step in before things go wrong is because you want them to get it right. However, you have to give people space to learn things for themselves and that includes getting things wrong.

The people and the work

The idea that what you are doing might not be good enough can be difficult to accept. Especially when that might be the reason why people aren’t supporting your work.

It’s much easier to hide behind the excuse that people just aren’t supporting you because you’re not popular but if it was *insert name of celebrity*, they’d be all over it.

That could be true for some situations but it isn’t always the case.

On the flipside, instead of playing the blame game you could accept that maybe your work needs work.

Instead of feeling frustrated that you aren’t getting enough support take some time out hone your craft, learn something new and improve. Then put your work out again.

If it’s better received great but if not then maybe you need to change the people you’re sharing it with.

Maybe they don’t trust you yet

When you’re putting out work out there having people support you enough to promote your work takes trust.

Trust is something that is earned, yet many people expect it simply because they’re putting in time and effort.

However, earning someone’s trust isn’t just about what you do, it’s about how a person feels about what you do.

You can end up sacrificing the work you want to create by trying to appease people in the hopes of gaining their trust. But I think it’s actually really important to start by trusting yourself and the work you’re putting out.

Something as simple as taking a step back and asking yourself questions like ‘Would I share this online if I saw it?’ or ‘Is this something I would talk about?’ can be incredibly useful.

If you can honestly answer yes to both of those questions then maybe the reason people aren’t sharing or talking about your work is because they don’t trust you yet.

Keep working and give it time.


Free promotion

Something that you may have observed in almost any field of work is that once momentum starts to pick up, the people that support you or your work will begin to promote you themselves.

However, it’s not that you no longer have to promote yourself.

But what happens is when you build up a network/group of people that believe in what you do they will eventually talk about your work with the people they know and words will spread. Essentially you end up getting free promotion without even asking.

It could be something as simple as when someone asks for a recommendation, your brand/work is what they bring up. However, over time it may go further, to the point where your work is brought up as a conversation starter rather than in response to something.

The right people

A message I’m always keen to get across is that as much as it’s important to open up, what matters even more is that you do it with the right people.

For some that may be obvious but others might find themselves wondering who qualifies as ‘right’.

It really depends on the individual.

However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself like…

How do I want to feel when I open up?

What do I want from the person I open up to?

Then come up with the answers and think about the people you know that align with this.

For example, if what you want from the person you open up to is emotional support and a listening ear, it’s no use opening up to someone who is just going to tell you what to do. Or if you want to feel calm and supported it’s no use talking to someone that leaves you feeling anxious.

Further to that think about your past experiences. Can you think of a time you opened up to someone and regretted it? Can you think of a time you were glad you opened up to someone?

I’ve found that these types of situations, when you know what you want, you’ll know what you’re willing to accept.

Sometimes that means being a little more picky about who you choose to open to.

Leaders and followers

When it comes to trends, movements and change there are leaders and there are followers.

There are people that go around regularly talking about something, doing something or wearing something, to the point where that they become known for that one specific thing. Then on the other hand there are followers, those that have to see it done before they choose to do it.

There is often a negative connotation of being a follower. It’s often associated with someone that is weak minded or perhaps does not have a strong sense of self. But what I rarely see discussed is the positive impacts of people following when it is in support of a good cause.

For example, if someone is campaigning for better working conditions, it’s not much use if there is only one person willing to stand up for the cause. If there is only one person then change is much less likely. The followers are a necessary part of making things happen.

Campaigning for better working conditions might not be your idea or perhaps you didn’t have the courage to lead. But that shouldn’t stop you from joining in and being a part of it.

“There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals.”

Idowu Koyenikan

Self help

Perhaps when you were young, someone taught you that when you feel overwhelmed, step away and give yourself a moment.

Maybe you grew up practising that and maybe you didn’t. If you didn’t you might find that as an adult when you feel overwhelmed you don’t quite know how to handle it.

The feeling might end up growing and growing to the point where it’s now unbearable. Then all of a sudden you remember that in the past it helped to give yourself a moment.

Even though you know it could help, you don’t do it straight away because you’re almost skeptical. It might not work, you might end up feeling exactly the same.

But then you do it, you step away, get some fresh air and take a few deep breaths.

It helps.

You feel calmer afterwards.

In that moment you remember that (even though you forget time and time again), you’re capable of supporting yourself in difficult or uncomfortable situations.