Whose opinion do you listen to?

I see that my favourite marketing guru (Seth Godin) has an interesting blog post today about which opinions are worth listening to. There are certainly plenty of folk out there willing to share their views on us and what we do, and according to Seth we often pay heed to the wrong ones!

It reminded me of a couple of things, one abstract, the other more real-world.

First, the Inner Voice concept which performance psychologists, NLP coaches and others find so fascinating. Tim Gallwey wrote the Inner Game of Tennis (one of the most influential books in business coaching) and built up the case for the Two Selves. Self 1 is our inner voice, the internal chatter that frequently sabotages our efforts when we have to perform in some way and feel anxiety or uncertainty. Self 2 is the doing part of our being – it’s dominant when we perform at our best, when we’re in a state of ‘flow’ (driving a car for example). Our ability to manage that inner chatter and allow Self 2 to strut its stuff is crucial to our success – take an interest in these areas. Start by simply being aware of the existence of negative self-talk. These internal critics may shout loud, but their opinions need to be balanced with more positive influences.

My second point comes from my past experience of running membership-based golf & leisure clubs. I recall how easy it was to be swayed by the ‘regulars’. They’re always in the bar and they’ll seize every opportunity to tell you where you’re going wrong. Yet despite being so unhappy with the way things are, they’ll never leave! They’ll renew their membership year-on-year and keep propping up the bar. It’s the members you rarely see who represent the risk in your business. Their renewal is by no means guaranteed and for some reason they’re not frequenting the club/bar/restaurant. It’s your job to find out why, and try to convert them into active users.

Criticism stings and it forces itself into our consciousness. But as Seth Godin reminds us, the trick is to identify which opinions matter – a central theme in improved emotional intelligence.

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