You exist as a different person in the minds of everyone you have met. No matter what you say or do, others will make judgments and form a unique opinion or mental picture of you as a human being.
Following this logic, there are some personal policies that I follow. One is to never judge someone by someone else’s opinion of them. Imagine hearing someone described by another, then meeting them for yourself and realizing they are nothing like the portrayal you were led to believe. There are two sides to every story. There’s a different perception of every person depending on who offers it. Preconceived beliefs cloud every opinion; they are rarely unbiased.
If someone is talking negatively about you behind your back and it’s all stuff that you could dispel if it was said directly to you, then let it go. It’s not worth your time; they’re not worth your time. As Gary Vaynerchuk said, “I put zero weight into anyone else’s opinion of me because I know exactly who I am. Can you say the same?”
Don’t have the conversations in your head; don’t imagine what you’d say if you saw them. Don’t think about them at all. If someone has got you that wrong, if someone is telling themselves a narrative that involves you that just isn’t true, let them. Rise above it and let it slide. You can be their obsession, but they’ll never be yours.
Make it your personal policy to not say anything behind someone’s back you wouldn’t say to their face. Think of all those people you know who love to gossip and speak negatively about others when they can’t hear. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re exempt from this treatment. Consider that they love the drama and love to spread rumors and negativity.
They might have a point to prove, feel they were wronged in some way, or they’re simply not that happy in themselves. In any case, it’s not your problem. Truly happy people don’t need to put others down.
You don’t have room for toxicity in your life. Don’t join in; just walk away. You don’t want to be known as someone who talks about people behind their backs. You don’t want to lose trust from those you value. If you absolutely have to talk about others when they’re not there, say positive things! Be the beacon of positivity and shine brighter than the haters.
So, given that you know everyone you meet will have a different perception of you, how do you make each person’s perception favorable? How do you make everyone like you?
Well, you don’t. Because it’s impossible. It’s a waste of your time, too. Show me someone everyone likes and understands; let’s bet they haven’t made much of an impact.
Consider what is in your control and what’s out of it. Out: someone else’s opinion. In: your own actions. So if your actions are sound, if upon questioning you could reasonably explain every decision you’ve ever made, let it all go. Why do you care what people think? In the words of Jurgen Klinnsman, football manager, “I’m not here to be liked, I’m here to do a good job.”
It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to give an opinion. It’s easy for someone to think they know best. It’s easy to judge someone else as inferior or stupid or thoughtless. It’s easy for someone to think that if they were in your shoes, they could do a better job. But the truth is, only you are living your life and only your opinion on it counts.
If someone is talking about you behind your back, it means they’re spending time and brain space thinking about you before relaying it to someone else, who then is spending time on you. What a waste of life. A productivity strategy of Derek Sivers is to think of his time as being worth $500 per hour. Someone who might be insignificant to you is spending their life thinking and talking about you. All things considered, it’s rather flattering.
Let anyone else think anything they like. Who cares? There were never any statues erected to celebrate critics. Those who cannot should not stand in the way of those who can. Ronnie Coleman said, “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.” Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.
It’s easy to criticise others, but it’s not easy to do everything perfectly yourself, especially when you have plans bigger than most people could even imagine. It’s not easy to be such a winner. You know that. You don’t need everyone’s approval, and you certainly don’t need everyone to like you. For everything worthwhile you do, there will be countless people who would have done it differently. But who cares, right? This isn’t your first rodeo. You know what you’re doing.
Play the long game. Rise above it all and refuse to engage. Let it slide. Stop losing sleep over the opinions of sheep, and don’t be sidetracked by people who are not on track themselves.