It’s difficult enough dealing with our own internal critic but what do you do when faced with real life outer critics – the people often referred to as naysayers?
Just in case you aren’t quite sure a naysayer is someone who is unnecessarily negative, punishingly pessimistic and constantly critical.
They rain on your parade, dump on your dreams and guffaw at your goals. Unfortunately naysayers also tend to be those nearest and dearest to you. Friends and family usually top the list. So what can you do when all those around you are pointing out every obstacle and problem that could possibly get in your way?
The easiest thing to do is to avoid them but that’s not always possible, especially when they are close friends and family. Sometimes it helps to remember that we all have different mindsets and different motives and theirs will be different to yours. Here are some insights into the mindset of the typical naysayer.
1. They don’t want the same things as you
Naysayers assume you want what they want. But you don’t, so it’s logical that you should do things differently to them. For instance if they are happy in their corporate job and you have left yours (something they are still completely bemused by) they may continue to advise you to do things the same way you did whilst still employed. However, any entrepreneur knows that running your own business is a whole different kettle of fish. The naysayer will usually struggle to see this logic though.
2. They’re not really worried about you, they’re worried about them.
This may sound a bit harsh and of course if they are friends and family they probably think they have your best interests at heart. Naysayers aren’t really worried about you, they’re worried about them. They are worried that the goals you are choosing to pursue will mean change for them.
And people don’t like change.
Especially if they are risk averse, which naysayers tend to be.
3. They tend to be people that point out problems rather than identify solutions
If your naysayer isn’t telling you that you should do it their way (see 1.) , just that you shouldn’t do it your way, that’s probably because very often naysayers are excellent at pointing out problems but incapable of brainstorming solutions. A typical trait of the solution-less naysayer is to answer a question with a question or a deflection. You might find them saying things like ‘What do I think? Well, what do you think?‘ or ‘Don’t make this about me, it’s about you‘ (but remember from point 2 it may well be about them and not about you). If they are pointing out a problem do give it due consideration but if the problem they are pointing out isn’t very likely to happen, ignore it. If it is a genuine concern address it. You’re a solutioneer after all.
4. It might be a case of the green eyed monster
People that criticise others are often dissatisfied with their own lot. As a result they begrudge people that go after their dreams and do get what they want. If they see you making significant progress towards achieving your dreams they can see this as unfair since they have a great long list of things they would like but don’t have.
5. They tend to assume that everything is difficult
Naysayers are often of the ‘Life’s hard. We all have to do things we don’t want to do‘ school of thought. This is in part because they tend to see the the problems and obstacles in the way all the time (see point 3). It doesn’t occur to them that some people have figured out a different way to do things. It doesn’t occur to them that you have figured out how to enjoy your work and your life. That you might work hard in the process but don’t see everything in life as a chore like they do.
So here are my top tips for dealing with naysayers:
1. Ask yourself ‘Do we want the same thing‘?
2. Ask yourself ‘Are they worried about me or themselves?’
3. Ask yourself ‘Are they offering a solution?’
4. Ask yourself ‘Could it be the green eyed monster’?
5. Ask yourself ‘Do they have that ‘life’s hard’ attitiude’?
Another trick of course is not to share your goals with people unless they are like-minded individuals who will cheer you on and provide constructive advice. This may not always be possible but at least try and make sure you have as many cheerleaders around you as you have naysayers.
And if all else fails? Simply imagine shipping the naysayers off on the first manned mission to Mars.
(It’s a one way trip you know*).
Whos’ your biggest naysayer and what do you do about it? Let me know in the comments below.
* The search for ‘astronauts’ for the one-way permanent emigration to Mars began in 2013 receiving 200,000 applications for the first selection process. The 100 shortlisted applicants have now been chosen and soon begin training.