I have a client who writes blog posts for a well known and extremely popular online site.
She was tickled pink to get the gig, and her words on the site drive traffic to her already booming online neck of the woods.
My client is a self-proclaimed activist. She’s on a mission and you’d better believe it. She’s uber-passionate and huge hearted, and will do everything in her power to make sure the people who most need to hear her message get it loud and clear.
Recently she wrote a post that was shared – last time I looked – more than 3,300 times on Facebook. A stunning result for the viral marketing machine that is social media.
My client has no issue with that. Of course not. It was some of the comments in response to her post that prompted her to write this email to me:
Did you see my post? I need your guidance on how I go forward with confidence and self assurance when I come under attack. I am strong and most of the time I can take it. But I have this side of me that is incredibly sensitive and only wants to please the world. I don’t want to be a fence sitter, but I aim to please at the same time. Would love your thoughts on this.
There were dozens and dozens of comments. Many heaped praise and gratitude on my client. Some gushed, saying the article was amazing, inspiring, humbling and thought provoking.
Others said they felt patronised. Some said it was one of the worst articles they’d ever read. A few said they were normally big fans but not anymore.
My client said she felt like hiding out for the rest of the day after her post was published because the intensity was a bit. too. much.
As an observer, not that I read every single comment in its entirety (there were so many it would have taken ages), I reckon there were a lot more ‘positive’ than ‘negative’ ones. But it’s always the ‘negative’ ones that stick, isn’t it. Because that’s what we do to ourselves.
We can’t quite let in all the good stuff and feel its warmth tingling in our bones. We just dive on the icy bit with sharp, spiky edges that pricks our pride.
And we forget that:
- What someone else thinks of us isn’t our problem
- Taking it personally often isn’t relevant or appropriate
- It’s important to be hard on issues and kind and respectful to one another
As a speaker/writer/thought leader, it’s not your job to please. It is your job to have a clear message and call to action, and to stand for something. That may make some – or all – of what you say controversial.
When I present to an audience, I want my words to make a difference. That’s the whole point. Otherwise I’m just wasting space and time. For me and my audiences.
There will always be people who don’t like what I say. I’ve learnt to expect that. I set a clear intention before any talk that the right people – those who will most benefit – connect with what I’m on about. That’s all I can do.
There are times I worry too much about what people will think of me. And I’m big enough and experienced enough to have learnt how to get back on my horse and ride it again after I’ve been dumped in the dirt, grazed knees and all.
As a former straight A student in the pleasing stakes, I’m well aware of the part of me that gets triggered when I know someone isn’t on my side. That part – she’s quite young and has a very sweet voice and is really such a darling – pipes up with all sorts of sound suggestions about what I could do differently to ensure I’m liked. Sometimes she tells me to grovel, change what I want to say, apologise for myself, keep quiet, and just, well, be nice.
I always thank her profusely. And I assure her that I’ve got it covered. This is a job for an adult, I tell her. She needn’t worry. It will all be okay.
Doing this – as simple as it is – has been profound for me, and for many of my clients.
Another client emailed me this week to let me know how she’d gone presenting to a range of audiences in Europe and the United States. These talks were a very big deal for her, and we worked together to help her prepare. She told me, during one session, that even though she loved speaking to audiences, the lead up for her was gruelling. So stressful that, at times, her hair had fallen out. And she’d struggle to breathe comfortably too.
Part of her homework was to start chatting with the all the parts of herself that were undermining her. Our goal was embracing the excitement of commanding the stage, and for her to love standing there and speaking, in all her glory.
Here’s what she wrote in her email to me:
I found myself shocked that I was actually excited, I couldn’t wait to wake up and get to the venue, I had zero nerves. I used your ‘speaking to your inner self’ technique over and over (even though I didn’t feel nervous) but I didn’t need to do any breathing exercises!
So, back to my other client who’s rocking the online world and firing up her readers. These are my thoughts, summed up:
Own what you stand for.
Know which parts of you are having a say. Keep the conversations going. Make a pact to work together as a team. Comfort the parts that need a reassuring snuggle as and when they need it. Love that pleaser of yours. Remind her in which areas of your life she can be most helpful.
Be proud of your gifts and your voice.
Send a blessing to everyone who piles on the praise and gratitude, and an extra blessing to those who are serving to strengthen your relationship with the parts of you that need extra reassurance and love. What seems like a ‘negative’ comment might just be helping you to become more whole.
Embrace your sensitivity. Own the power of your vulnerability. They help you to connect with your audiences. Even when someone doesn’t like what you’re saying, you’re connecting. You’re touching her. You’re moving her.
Your words matter. Pushing buttons = making an impact. That’s a very good thing.
Not everyone is your right person/client/audience member. You’re dreaming if you expect otherwise.
Don’t ever be less you.
Be kind and gentle. Tomorrow’s a new day.
No-one ever made a serious difference without ruffling a few feathers. And then a few more…
You’re amazing. This I know to be true.
It must be the week for it! I just received another email, this time from a subscriber. She wrote: I have gained such strength and encouragement from reading your blogs – I personally can’t wait to do one of your courses, it is a priority for me in 2014. You keep going girl – loud Tricia!! (If the ‘loud’ part doesn’t make sense to you, come over here).
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Photo credit: Bart Hiddink