Be careful who you listen to
April 28th, 2013 - 72 Comments
Foreign people don’t give a damn about calling you fat. Go find any Spanish/Indian/Asian person and ask them if their foreign relatives have ever called them fat.
They will look at you bewildered. “Of course. Every time I visit.”
White people are speechless upon hearing this. But it happens.
When I went to visit India a few years ago, I had moved on from being a skinny Indian dude to actually gaining a little muscle. One of my uncles took one look at me and said, “You have become very fat.”
Another uncle saw me, squeezed my bicep, and said, “Aray! Been working out?”
Here’s the difference: The first uncle who called me fat…is overweight! The second uncle, who knew I’d been working out, is ultra-fit.
Who do you want to listen to?
Everyone has an opinion. One of the keys to mastering my personal psychology has been choosing who to listen to — and who can be smiled at, then ignored.
Guy calls me “scammy”
Look at this:
This is from a frugality blog. Imagine someone said this about you. In the past, I would read a comment like this over and over, getting depressed, debating whether to respond, and feeling a knot in the pit of my stomach all day. Now, I see it and move on.
Do I really care what a frugalista says about my “expensive” courses?
This power to control my reactions to unpleasant comments has taken years. And in fact, he’s right! My courses ARE expensive! I don’t care about producing $9 ebooks. I don’t play in a $9 sandbox, nor do I create simple material for people who will never read it.
One way I look at it is, I’d rather spend a lot on something that works than get something for free that doesn’t.
Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you rather spend $1,000 on something that works than $29 on something that doesn’t?
And I would rather stretch myself to write about all the different facets of living a rich life — careers, entrepreneurship, productivity, and more — instead of writing yet another post about interest rates and lattes. Just kill me.
Why do people criticize?
There are many reasons, but one of the most interesting comes from an example called “bike-shedding”: Basically, if you have a meeting about an atomic reactor, most people won’t speak up, because it’s way too complicated for them to have any meaningful input. But when confronted with a simpler choice — which color should we paint the bikeshed? — EVERYONE has an opinion.
Interestingly, I still get about 15 comments/week about my headshot. “Ramit, you should really change your headshot,” etc. Why? Because they probably can’t comment on my psychological techniques or email funnels…but anyone can say your photo sucks.
So, back to you.
How to handle critics
If there is one thing I’ve learned writing for IWT, it’s that 30% of the people who email me don’t need a tactic or technique. They need therapy. Maybe I’ll get into that in a future post.
I’ve learned you’re ALWAYS going to get unsolicited advice from people. But your reaction to it is what counts. Novices get really frustrated, then try to fight back against it: “Mom, let me do what I WANT to do! I’m a GROWNUP now!”
Life isn’t a Huggies commercial. Top performers plan for feedback. They actively solicit it. Plan for doubters, concern trolls, and outright skeptics. For example, I’ve been writing this site since 2004 and people are STILL skeptical! They continue to leave comments like this!
The truth is, some people are determined to be offended, or play the victim role, or be adversarial towards you.
But always ask yourself: Is this person in the position I want to be? Am I getting relationship advice from my girl friend who can’t hold down a relationship more than 3 months? Am I buying a “Make a million dollars” course from some info-product joker who, if I Googled around for 5 minutes, I’d discover he has severe credit-card debt and cashflow issues?
Or am I working on mastering my own psychology, recognizing negative feedback (not simply trying to ignore it), and improving my response to it?
This is why I don’t even bother selling stuff from my blog. If you don’t like what I see, leave. If you do, at some point you’ll join my newsletter, where you can see the 8+ master courses I’ve created over the last few years.
But I recommend you remind yourself of this: Opinions are cheap. Everyone will have them, because it’s easy to point out things you’re doing wrong, or ways you “should” think about things.
- “Just follow your passion!”
- “A Dream Job? You should be lucky to have ANY job in this economy!”
- “You need to track your spending”
- “Buying a house is the best investment you can ever make”
- “Your first step needs to be social media”
All of these sound logical and are well-intended pieces of advice, yet are ultimately useless. Always ask yourself: Is this advice-giver in the situation I want to be in? Are they giving surface-level advice (“social media!!”) or, if I pressed them, would they be able to back it up and give examples?
You don’t have to listen to everyone.
You don’t have to give equal weight to critics.
And that goes for me, too! Question my background. Question what I’m telling you! In fact, you should do your research on me (Google around, or you can find a 6-page profile that Fortune did on me) before listening to anything I have to say.
And if you like what you see, check out my newsletter — where I post my best material — for more.
Just remember, everyone has an opinion. Not everyone deserves your full attention.
Now you tell me: What kind of BAD feedback have you gotten — feedback that you ignored? Share your story in the comments.
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