How to stop worrying about what other people think about you

Listen on:

No one likes to feel like they are being judged, but have you noticed that trying to control what other people think about you is not only exhausting, but doesn’t work. Constantly worrying about people’s opinions about us feels horrible and makes us do crazy thing.

Maybe you work on a product and want to propose a new feature to test. If you are worried people might judge you if it fails, you are not going to do your best work because your focus is on other people’s perceptions and not your project.

Or you’re in a meeting and have a question, but don’t want to seem dumb for not understanding what’s going on. Most people won’t ask the question, but then you are even more lost because the conversation is moving forward, but you’re still confused.

What about when you’re getting feedback on a doc and start to worry the other person thinks you are being defensive. We start explaining why we framed the doc a certain way and spend our time defending our work and not getting the feedback.

In all of these examples, we are trying to keep someone else from judging us, but we are judging ourselves. What someone thinks about you is none of your business. You can’t literally “hurt their feelings,” but you also can’t make them like you.

So how do you stop worrying about what people think about you?

Anytime you find yourself worried that you are being judged, stop and re-direct your thought to yourself. Why are you doing the thing or asking the question or saying no? Why do you care what they think? What are you making it mean? Why does their opinion matter? You have to be willing to let them judge you. This keeps you from getting all creepy and weird by trying to manipulate the other persons perception of you. Let them judge you. Let them be right. Let them be wrong. It doesn’t matter.

If you have a new feature you believe in, keep believing in it and stay focused on the work, not what others will think. It will feel so much better trying and possibly failing after the fact, then failing ahead of time because you were to worried to try.

If you have a question, ask it. And keep digging around until you find an answer. Not knowing the answer is only going to impact you so you can choose to ask the question and do your job or don’t ask it and struggle at doing your job.

If you are worried someone thinks you are being defensive, stop defending yourself and keep asking questions to better understand their feedback. 

People push back on this and say it’s selfish to only think about yourself. But when you are being true to yourself and showing up as your honest and genuine self, that is when you really are being kind, open, and honest. The other person gets to decide how they want to feel based on what they are thinking. Let them judge you. The only person their judgment impacts is them. They are the ones feeling annoyed or frustrated, not you.

So stop judging yourself and start letting people be wrong about you. It feels so much better and gets you the results you want so much faster.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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