Are You Prepared Not To Be Popular?

If you are the one at the top, if you are speaking about something that might not be comfortable for everyone, if you are stepping up and taking leadership of a team, if you are making changes to something and have to let people know … there are going to be people who don’t like what you have to say.

Let’s face it, speaking can be challenging at the best of times, but if what you’re saying is likely to be contentious then you have a whole lot of other difficulties facing you.

This is one of the reasons some people don’t go up for promotion, because they don’t know how they would tackle the challenging conversations, or handle being the person who’s not liked sometimes.  Is it any surprise, therefore, that ‘evil bosses’ situations occur. The people who put themselves forward are more likely to be the ones who care less about what other people think about them.

Sometimes you need to be the person who is talking about the topic no-one wants to talk about.  Perhaps you’re the one who has to say “no”, or tell people that what they’re doing just isn’t working.

There are times when I broach topics even I find difficult to talk about … and I’ve been the recipient of things I didn’t want to hear, but that doesn’t mean they should go unsaid.  However, there are ways, and ways, of saying it!

This blog was inspired by overhearing a conversation on the tube, a man saying “… if you get to that position in a company, you’ve got to be prepared not to be popular, but that doesn’t mean you have to be an ar$e in the way you go about things.”

I think that statement is true no matter where in life you are.  No matter what, not everyone is going to like you. So you have choices in how you go about communicating what needs to be said – and be prepared to live with the outcomes.

You can say whatever you like, and never temper it, and some people will love you for your open bluntness.  Others will think you’re rude, or maybe thoughtless or heartless.

You can spend your life trying to please everyone, never saying what you really think; and some people will think you’re lovely.  Others will think you’re a doormat.

Most of us lie somewhere in between, but none of us, no, not even you, is liked by everyone.

So what to do? How can you be prepared not to be popular, without being the ‘nasty’ one?

Here are three things to consider:

  • Instead of worrying about what other people might think of you, or not being popular, focus on who benefits from what you are saying. This will change the energy of how you say what you’re saying.
  • How well do you know the people or person you’re speaking to? How do they like to be treated?
    We are often told ‘Do as you would be done by.’ But actually, do, or speak, as other people would like to be done by, or spoken to.  It works better.
  • If in doubt look for what’s really TRUE about whatever you’re saying – what lies deep beneath everything you, or they, might initially feel about it – you might not be popular, especially if you’re speaking an unspoken truth that no-one wants to face, but if it’s really true, as much as people might not like to hear it, ultimately, it’s hard for them to come back at you for it. (Although obviously people can get defensive, especially if it is a personal reflection.)

How can you make this work for you?  I know that not everyone will agree with me when I say, for example, “All speaking is public speaking”, but that’s OK, I’m prepared not to have everyone agree with me, but it is my TRUE truth.   On my workshops and retreats, or when I’m working with someone one-on-one, when I point out someone’s patterns there is a high chance of it being received with reluctance, defensiveness, or offence.  I am definitely not popular in those moments, but I would be doing that person a disservice if I didn’t – because the reason they are resistant is that no-one has been honest enough to tell them before, and if we are unaware we can’t adapt.

Someone has to lead the way.  The next time you know what you have to say might not go down well … take a moment, know your audience, know the higher purpose behind what it is you’re going to say, and be prepared not to be popular.

Agree? Don’t Agree? Let me know – comment below!

Words Make Waves: Speak With The Power Of Your Whole Voice