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7 Tips To Handle Naysayers

7 Tips To Handle Naysayers

For the original full-length article by Celestine: 7 Tips To Tackle Naysayers in Your Life

quote-Mahatma-Gandhi-first-they-ignore-you-then-they-laugh-at-42

    “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

    Are there any naysayers in your life? Someone who is perhaps discouraging you from pursuing your goals and dreams? Someone who is keeping you from achieving your highest potential?

    I have faced my fair share of naysayers.

    One of them was my junior college form teacher. She would discourage me and my classmates from aiming too high in life (by too high, I really mean trying to aim anything at all). She also pre-judged each student based on her biased assessment of his/her abilities, then treated the student as such, hence creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather than encourage us as a teacher, she was often a wet blanket, telling us to opt for pragmatic courses and career paths than set big goals and dreams.

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    Then, when I decided to quit my corporate job in 2008 to pursue my passion, everyone said no. A close friend said I would regret it in the future. Another friend asked if anyone said I was crazy. People, personal mentors and friends alike, advised me against it. Some said that economic recession was coming soon. Some said that my then corporate job was fantastic and that I would never get such a great job in the future. Some said that I was too young and didn’t have the right skills and know-how to achieve results in my new path. Some said that I was wasting my previous education and my career path.

    For all the naysayers I faced in the past, I never heeded their words. Funnily, none of their pre-cautions came true. I went on to achieve every single goal I have set out for, and more. It was almost as if they were just projecting their personal fears and issues onto me.

    If you are facing naysayers, I want you to know that your life is yours and you don’t need other people telling you what to do. Here are 7 tips I have for you to deal with them:

    1. Safeguard your goals from them

    Imagine you’re trying to create a beautiful, grand sandcastle at the beach. Now, imagine someone pouring water on top of your castle every 1 minute. Will you be able to build anything in the end?

    No of course not. Each time you get anywhere, your creation gets demolished instantly. At most you’ll end up with some clumpy looking lump and a very frustrated you. All the efforts you’ve put in have gone to waste.

    That’s the same thing when you listen to the naysayers. Being discouraging and skeptical in nature, they tend to talk about the downsides and horror stories of the “dangers” surrounding what you plan to do. Every second you spend listening to what they have to say about your goals is just like pouring acid over your dreams. In the end you have to spend extra time and effort to combat the damage they’ve done. It’s not even worth it in my opinion.

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    Your goals are too precious to let other people taint them. Protect them. Don’t give naysayers the opportunity to damage your dreams by not even raising the topic in the first place.

    2. Eject the naysayer from your life (if you can)

    If possible, eject the naysayer from your life. Generally naysayers serve as a shroud over life’s possibilities, so spending too much time with them is only going to limit your own potential.

    3. Evaluate the naysayer’s background

    One thing I look at before I consider anyone’s words is how the person is doing in his/her own life. Is this person’s life the kind of life I want to have for myself? Does this person have knowledge and expertise in what he/she is commenting on?

    If the answer is no, then I’ll discount what he/she says. After all, this person is where he/she is precisely because of his/her own knowledge and advice. By following his/her words, it can only get me to where he/she is, not where I want to go.

    4. Ignore them – Tune out

    If you’ve evaluated the naysayer’s words and concluded that these are not relevant to your goals, then simply tune out. Just because they say something, doesn’t mean you have to take what they say. As Buddha has said before, if someone offers you a gift and you decline it, the gift is still that person’s. Likewise, if someone wants to offer you their 2 cents, you can’t stop them from doing that, but you can choose not to accept it.

    5. Don’t engage in the discussion

    The naysayers are as staunch in their stance as you are in yours, and there’s no need to seek any agreement too.

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    In your replies, keep it simple and short – with “I see” or “Okay”.

    Don’t assert your stand, don’t try to probe why he/she said what he/she said, don’t try to explain yourself either. The naysayer can come up with all sorts of reasons why he/she is right and why you’re wrong, which is just a waste of time.

    Switch topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there. Also remember tip #1 – make a mental note to safeguard your goals from them in the future.

    6. Surround yourself with enablers

    Rather than face negativity, surround yourself with positivity instead. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so choose the best five people you want to spend time around. In Day 19 of Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program: Create Your Success Network, we work on building our success network of five, which are the five people whom we want to emulate in real life.

    Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your goals if you told them. Think about how you can increase the time you spend with them starting from today.

    If you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. Think of the people out there in this world who are doing what you want to do, then increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on.

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    7. Think back to your vision for yourself

    Last but not least, think about your ideal vision. What is your ideal vision for your life?

    Whenever you get distracted by naysayers, it’s only because you’ve taken your eyes off your goals. If that’s the case, all you need to do is to look back at them. Recall what exactly you want to achieve. Think about what exactly you want to get out of your life. Then ask yourself if it’s worth it to put them on hold because of a couple of naysayers.

    Final Words

    Don’t deny yourself of the life you should live just because of naysayers. At the same time, make sure you’re not being a naysayer to others.

    Here’s my favorite quote by John Eliot:

    “History shows us that the people who end up changing the world – the great political, social, scientific, technological, artistic, even sports revolutionaries – are always nuts, until they are right, and then they are geniuses.”

    Are you ready to rock your life? Let’s start living our best life starting from today :D

    This article is also available in manifestoweb lecture, and audio podcast formats.

    Be sure to check out How To Say No To Others: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to learn how to say no to others.

    More by this author

    Celestine Chua

    Life Coach, Blogger

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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