Navigate Naysayers: How to Deal with People Who Don't Believe in You

Allison Graham

Are you getting your cookies squashed because of a negative naysayer? There's no reason to give up on your dreams, just because someone else doesn't get you. Don't worry, you've got this, you can easily navigate naysayers and use their opinions to work for you.

Work your way through this infographic on how to navigate the naysayers and read my story of naysayers below (this is one, there have been many!) If you find value in it, please share and let's squash the attitudes of the naysayers together.

Navigate naysayers : How to Deal with People Who Don't Believe in You

Have you ever been extra excited about a new idea, but when you shared it with family and friends, they squashed your enthusiasm? They were quick to tell you all the reasons something couldn’t or shouldn’t be done.

Talk about a buzz kill.

As someone who has set some lofty goals in my life, I’m no stranger to naysayers. There was a time when I would let their negative input crush my cookies and derail my plans.

There were also times when those who said I couldn’t were the very people who prompted me to prove I could. I must admit, there is a hint of sweet satisfaction that comes from being able to say, “I told you so,” even if you never actually say it out loud.

The typical advice from friends is to ignore the pessimism. That’s easier said than done.

I tried the old, “forget them, they don’t see my vision” approach, but the naysayers’ lingering message commands attention. Ignoring them didn’t erase that nagging feeling…what if they were right?

Finally, I decided to embrace the naysayers. Not to let them derail my plans, but to help me craft an even better plan! Stay with me, it’s possible, but first, let me tell you a recent naysayer story of mine.

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Yes, we all have our naysayers.

This past summer, at a gathering with about 20 speaker colleagues, I announced that I was going to write a book called Married My Mom, Birthed a Dog. I got a few odd looks! It wasn’t the first time I mentioned it, but normally it was a joke.

This time was different – I wasn’t joking. Something had stirred inside of me and I wanted to come clean about my struggles with chronic pain, grief and a whole host of other adversities. I wanted to share the tools I used to get through it all.

Some colleagues cheered me on; others weren’t quite so sure.

One dear friend and mentor challenged me to proceed with caution. Greg just didn’t see it.

Six months later, the book is released and he read a copy.

Unlike Greg, few naysayers ever realize their ways. Most offer their thoughts in passing, unaware of the impact they’ve had on the recipient. Many people take their feedback to heart and give up on their plans. The cynic wins.

How to Successfully Navigate the Naysayer

Accept that everyone has an opinion, but that doesn’t mean you need to agree with them.

To start, determine whose opinion counts. When you really look at that list, it’s likely shorter than you think. People who are with you for the long haul – family, good friends and mentors - should have a stronger weighting than strangers online. Shield yourself from unauthorized advice or bad reviews by not sharing your plans with people who aren’t on your list.

Next, try to figure out the motivations of the naysayers. Are they trying to protect you? Do they fear that if you succeed they’ll lose you? Is it just their nature to play devil’s advocate?

If you believe the intention is good – as it was from my colleague – then instead of getting defensive, try to understand the naysayer’s perspective.

In this case, with over 20 years experience in the speaking industry, Greg has seen many speakers fail when they drifted from their main topic. Aware of my nerve pain, he didn’t want me to dilute precious physical resources away from the core of my company that supported me financially.

His points were valid, and so my next step was to consider the best way to minimize the risks he highlighted.

For example, straddling two lanes – resilience and business growth – was a reasonable concern. Few speakers have done it successfully. The two topics had to make sense together or I would confuse the marketplace. His feedback caused me to seriously consider how I could integrate my new work without abandoning the foundational services that allowed me to succeed in the first place. It’s because of his resistance that my company’s new tag line became: elevate your life & double your business.

His insights caused me to sit back and carefully consider concerns that may never have crossed my mind, which ultimately made me even more confident in my choice to move into the resiliency space.

He wasn’t the only naysayer along my journey. With each person I determined if they were on my short-list, if their intention was in my best interest, and, if yes, then try to understand their concerns. From there I could adjust my sails to tweak my course for the best possible outcome.

When you’re ready to take a leap into a new venture, then you owe it to yourself to consider all the angles, which includes the skeptics who don’t see your vision.  By doing that you can mitigate risks and eventually share a completed project with a big smile and a huge sense of pride, because you know that you could say, “I told you so!” (even though you won’t!)

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