What other people think of you is not your business. If you start to make that business your business, you will be offended for the rest of your life.
~Deepak Chopra ~
One of the primary reasons you might be stuck doing things you think you “should” be doing is your concern for what others will think if you say or do something different… in other words, how they will judge you.
It’s a fear, and the fear is real.
It’s showed up for me time and again throughout my career, even recently. When I started my business, I was terrified of being judged. Every time I posted on social media, asked people to visit my website, or did anything even vaguely promotional, I felt a little bit sick.
And, from my conversations with clients and colleagues, it seems fear of judgement is something that affects us all in a range of situations at some point in our lives.
Here’s what you need to know about judgement…
Our worry about how others will think about us stems from our desire to fit in. Research shows our need to belong is “the fundamental social motive” that underpins most human behaviour. You want others to see you as competent, attractive, interesting, and impressive. Negative opinions make you feel bad… like you’re not good enough.
The problem is, while you’re doing everything you can to avoid others thinking negatively about you… guess what, you can’t stop them thinking what they’re going to think.
You are going to be judged by others… and, sometimes that judgement will hurt. But equally likely is those “others” are not thinking about you at all. That can sting a little bit too, right?
So… to get unstuck, make a change, or do something significant, you need to give up worrying about what “others” might think… and yes, this includes your nearest and dearest and those unidentified strangers taking up space in your head.
How to overcome your fear of being judged
1. NOTICE HOW YOU JUDGE
Let’s face it, you might not like being judged, but you’re probably as guilty as the rest of us in passing judgement, am I right? [insert sheepish nod]. Have you ever considered the person you’re judging might also fear being judged? And there may be a perfectly good reason for what they’ve said or done that doesn’t warrant your judgement. Consider this… perhaps your fear of judgement stems from how you judge others. Therefore, reducing how much you judge might exponentially decrease your own fear of being judged.
2. AIM TO BE INDIFFERENT TO WHAT OTHERS THINK
Other people will always have opinions and they’re entitled to their thoughts, just as you’re entitled to yours. When you allocate time and effort to caring what others think you give them the power to define who you are. And they’re unlikely to do this based on anything you believe to be important. Be responsible for what you think and do and accept you’re not responsible for how others react. How they think and behave is all about them, not you.
3. BEWARE OF YOUR NOISY INNER CRITIC
We all have a human tendency towards negativity bias. When you start to worry about how others may judge you, consider if it’s your own self-doubt talking you down, telling you to watch out, that others are going to talk about you. We assume that whatever negative thought we have about ourselves will be reflected by those around us. Test whether this is fact or fiction. Do you have supporting evidence? Again, don’t hand over power to something that’s not real.
4. SEEK FEEDBACK FROM THOSE YOU RESPECT
Judgement and negative opinions are different from constructive and critical feedback. You need these to develop, grow and progress. Carefully choose where and from whom you receive feedback. Find those whose views matter to you and whose opinions you respect. Ask yourself, “does this person have my best interests at heart?”, “is this person an expert?”, “do they have experience in my field?” or “have they already achieved the career (or life) I want?”. If the answer to these questions is no, they’re probably the wrong person.
5. BE THE “YOU” EXPERT
Leveraging self-awareness is key to conquering your fear of judgement. The better you know yourself, acknowledging your unique set of strengths, skills, experience, and knowledge, and accepting your limitations, the less interested you’ll be in what others think. If you don’t manage the story of who you are, then others will make up their own version. Take control and be the foremost expert about “you”.
Your future career success relies on you releasing the need for external validation.
But sometimes actually recognising you’re your own worst critic is your first challenge. And it can be tough to tackle it on your own. I’d love to support you to acknowledge your unique value and design a career that’s the perfect fit for you. Let’s chat about the right next steps for you.