“Don't worry about what others think of you” – why this is good AND bad advice

Not worrying about what other people think of you can be liberating…but there is a cost.

Not worrying about what other people think of you can be liberating…but there is a cost.

Not worrying about what other people think of you can be liberating. It can inspire you to be fearless, to be brave, and to push your own limits without having to kowtow to the beliefs, expectations and desires of others. When we learn to live according to our own values, we become better at what we do; more engaged in our endeavours, and more satisfied with our lives. And who doesn't want that?? 

Learning to ignore the voices of our dissenters is a necessary part of our development as people, as leaders and as contributors to society - AND at some point, developing the ability to know when to ignore and when to listen will make even more of a difference to our lives and results. 

Leaders who are the most flexible with their behaviours are the most effective. Those who can adapt their styles to suit their listeners are heard more effectively, and therefore able to communicate a wider array of messages without being lost in translation. So how does this link to caring what people think? Well you can’t adapt your style without knowing what the other person needs. This usually starts with knowing what they think about you. It requires you to care what they think and pay attention to the feedback you’re getting.  

Are you too abrupt? Are you too consultative? Are you too progressive or too cautious? The judgements people make about us, and our style, give us useful clues about what they need from us. If you notice your current style is not working, you may need to try a different approach. Be more tactful; be more direct; be more measured, or be bolder. 

Eventually it serves us to care what other people think about us. Meaning how they receive us and how they interpret our behaviours. People make instant and unconscious judgements about us based on what we say and do. They make these assessments (that drive their response to us), whether we choose to ‘care about that’ or not. If we do care, we can adapt our style and potentially improve our results. If we don’t care, we don't bother changing thus we don’t alter the outcome of our results.  

The question to ask yourself then is, “Are you getting the result you want?” If the answer is yes, then “Don't worry what others think of you” becomes good advice, so carry on! If the answer is no, then that advice is not so good, and you might want to start paying attention to the perception others have of you. It could be your ticket to a turnaround. 

Need to improve your leadership effectiveness through greater influence, engagement and impact? Contact Anneli today to discuss how working one on one with a communication expert can help you reach your leadership goals.

Anneli is an author, speaker and communication expert (a.k.a professional People Whisperer), who helps her clients improve their communication, influence and engagement. She’s obsessed with decoding people dynamics for improved performance and specialises in interpersonal intelligence - the ability to understand and navigate the people dynamics in a given situation.  
Anneli is the co-author of Developing Direct Reports: Taking the guesswork out of leading leaders. She is currently working on her next book, ‘Decoding Resistance: The real reason people won’t do what you want’, a practical guide for increasing buy-in, reducing push back and navigating the daily barriers that impact influence, engagement and change.