Let me know if this feels familiar – you have a call with a person who criticizes your actions and suddenly you feel deflated. You ruminate on it for days feeling no self-worth and vacillating from anger to pity. Perhaps you are at work and your boss calls you in for a sudden chastising of your performance – you feel sorry for yourself, wonder if everyone else in the office feels the same way, resolve to look for a different job, and beat yourself up for days. Maybe it is something as simple as being on the receiving end of criticism from a friend or family member. You shut down and feel deflated, replaying the conversation over and over in your mind. Our interactions with people can either fuel or deter our progress and the bottom line is that people cannot steal our power, we can only give it away.
There will always be people who don’t like us, don’t get us, and are critical. Sometimes we have done things that warrant their opinion however often we have not. If you want to get to the next level, you are going to have to stop allowing others to rob you of momentum and here are five strategies to help you do just that.
1. Develop a Thicker Skin
In Megyn Kelly’s biography, Settle for More, she chronicles her foray into journalism and the attention that came with it. When she first took a lead role at Fox, a tenacious stalker pursued her, followed by another. There were also critics, both viewers and colleagues, who disagreed with her policies, her wardrobe, her decision to appear in GQ, take a maternity leave, and more. Kelly’s evolution from lawyer, to reporter for a local news affiliate, to the woman who allegedly signed an eight-figure deal with NBC after twelve years at Fox, is one that we all can learn from.
Kelly developed a thick skin and focused on her own progress. She is quoted as saying, ‘I don’t pay attention to the worst of the worst or the best of the best comments.’ Ultimately if we want to make progress, we are going to have detractors and will have to develop a thicker skin.
2. Don’t Play the Victim
Perhaps you are programed to use complaining to get attention and maybe that served you for a time. The reality is that when we are in victim mode, we allow other people to deter our progress because they enable us. As victims, we will never grow. To stop playing the victim, make a concerted effort to resist complaining about anything. The more we complain, the more we focus on the past and in doing so, we lose the opportunity to seize the possibilities of the future.
3. Choose Power Words
Our words can either be purveyors of love or weapons of destruction. Powerful people consciously choose words that convey their strength in such a way that others take notice. For example, instead of lamenting that they can’t do something, they choose to say things like, ‘I will find a way.’ Instead of complaining about a lackluster economy, they talk about the opportunities that are available.
When we choose weak words, we give away our power. It doesn’t matter if we are talking to someone else or we are engaging in self-talk. By choosing powerful words, we send a clear signal that we are gravitating toward progress and will not be deterred.
4. Create Boundaries
I am a huge believer in boundaries. I do not spend time with people who complain, judge, or criticize. Furthermore, I have learned to trust my gut when it comes to people with whom I collaborate with or engage with in a social setting. At this stage of the game, my standard is that my time is valuable and people must earn it. People pleasing and giving away my power to one-sided relationships is a thing of the past.
Creating boundaries is a show of strength and the most powerful people on the planet have clear delineation. The other night I was at a benefit and Harrison Ford was one of the guests. His bodyguard, a strapping man with hands the size of oven mitts, stood behind his chair so that no one could gain access. Mr. Ford obviously values his boundaries.
In business, people should not be able to gain access to you just because they want it. Scheduling calls with team members who are relentlessly complaining is going to drain you of the energy and stamina required to build your business. In a company, you can fire these people. If you have a network marketing business, you cannot terminate people however you can be clear about your standards. Booking fifteen minute calls, asking people to come prepared to a meeting, and retaining control of the conversation guards your power and sends a clear message about your boundaries.
5. Move Your Body in a Way That Makes You Feel Powerful
Amy Cuddy’s notorious Ted Talk on power posing has had millions of views. From the hormones secreted by doing the ‘Wonder Woman’ to how we position ourselves in a meeting, this is one of the simplest, most effective strategies we can incorporate. Beyond this, find something that makes you feel like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider or Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator. Whether it is a martial arts, or Zumba class, training for a half marathon, or doing an Ashtanga yoga class – how we move our bodies can inspire us to feel more confident and powerful.
Susan Sly is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, certified NLP practitioner, coach, and trauma recovery specialist. Susan specializes in helping people become more productive so they can lead ridiculously fulfilling lives. She is the mother of five and has been working in human potential for over two decades.