How to overcome the fear of other people’s opinion
Petra Blancas gives TJ an important lesson in reframing differences of opinion.
“Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu
Might sound harsh, but is it really?
Opinions come in all shapes and forms and can be either in accordance or in opposition with ours. Everything is well when they match ours and we hear what we want to hear. Issues arise when they don’t, in which case our fears are activated, and our feelings plummet.
We fear other people’s opinions because we associate opposition with wrongfulness. We often find it hard to accept that even though different, opinions can both be right. We give value to other people’s opinions and let them impact us negatively, because of various emotional blockages..
As children we say and do things freely, without worrying about the effect or impact that our actions or words might leave on others. We also don’t really care what others say or think about us, we just keep going our own way.
Whether consciously or subconsciously, interpreting others’ opinions as judgement becomes our default mechanism
As we grow up, authority figures, such as parents or teachers, start telling us how to act, how to react, how to be, and so on. If we don’t conform, we end up being told off or worse. As a result, we start associating opposing opinions with negative connotations, ending up feeling triggered by them.
Whether consciously or subconsciously, interpreting others’ opinions as judgement becomes our default mechanism and alters our behaviour to the point at which focusing on convincing the others that either our opinion is better or theirs is wrong, becomes our underlying drive.
The conversation becomes personal and emotional, rather than subjective and productive, and loses its initial purpose. It’s important to acknowledge that opinions are not always black or white, if ever.
We all form opinions based on our upbringing, background, age, experience, lifestyle, etc., therefore our understanding comes from different perspectives. With this in mind, it becomes easier to avoid deeming someone’s view as ‘wrong’.
Aiming to understand other points of view, regardless of whether we agree or not with them, is a great way to observe our limiting beliefs and expand our perspectives.
Ever wonder why some statements trigger you and not others? Or the other way around? Well, the judgement we fear from others is the judgment we place on ourselves, and we feel judged because we are projecting our insecurities.
Luckily, there are ways to overcome and evolve past fear of other people’s opinions, especially if we start early. Learning to observe that you have been triggered is key to making the mindset switch that liberates you.
Next time you are in a conversation and you feel any sort of negative reaction due to something said, just notice the feeling. Acknowledge it and refrain from acting on it, as that would likely result in impulsive and defensive comebacks.
Understanding that you felt triggered because of your own limiting beliefs, instead of blaming the other person for thinking differently, helps you take responsibility for your feelings. The more you are able to be aware of what specifically triggers you, the clearer and more noticeable the pattern of your behaviour becomes.
Switching your mindset from feeling like you are a victim to owning your insecurities in conversations, until the time you have cleared them, is the key to being able to voice your viewpoint and to also listen to others’ opinions without taking it personally.
I suppose there’s a lot to take on and you might be tempted to challenge my opinions above, but it’s a tried and tested process that makes your conversations fun, proactive and harmonious.
About the author
Petra Blancas is founder of Amicitta.
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