What Others Think? Do You Really Ever Know?

For several years, Carol had been a speaker, mostly at professional women’s luncheon meetings. She was making about $2,500 at each event but wanted to up her game and reach for larger, and more diverse audiences. Her dream was to become a  sought-after keynote speaker, making at least $10,000-25,000 per event, and to be represented by an agency that would book her regularly.

A coach advised Carol to tape every speech, to hear the quality of her own voice and to see where her energy surged or dropped during the course of a presentation.  He assured her that this would be the fast-track to improvement.

After taping several speeches, Carol heard a definite and disturbing dip in her energy level at differing times during each speech.  She realized something startling. The energy dips occurred, only when she had begun focusing on the few people in the crowd who were NOT nodding in agreement or smiling during the anecdotes she shared. Even though she was enthusiastically received by the majority of the audience, as an achiever, her efforts had become about wanting a 100% positive reaction from every member of the crowd.

Her coach had strong words of advice.  You can’t always assume a person’s reaction to you is about you.  Carol heard what he had to say but she was determined. Her people pleasing, “never-met-a-stranger” personality was not going to fail her now. She decided what she really needed to do was to BE BETTER, to BE FUNNIER, and to WORK HARDER.

At Carol’s next event, a dark haired woman, wearing a bright green jacket was sitting five feet from her at the front table.  No matter what, Carol could not get any reaction from her.  The audience was howling.  Yet, this woman was stone-faced.  When asked for a “hands-in-the-air” response, hers were lifeless lumps, filling her lap. Carol realized her own energy was dropping again.  Carol, was again determined to win over this woman who was now looking downright irritated.

Even as she closed her presentation, in the midst of a ballroom full of enthusiastic applause, Carol couldn’t stand it another second.  She had to find out what she had done wrong in the eyes of this woman, who seemed to be frantically gathering her things to leave.  Carol tapped her on the shoulder, asking the woman to give her some feed back.

“All I want to do is get out of here!” said the woman.  Carol was stunned.  “Wow!  How rude!” But, she persevered. “I am trying so hard to improve with every speech.  Please? Any suggestions from you about what I could have done differently? If you will just tell me what you were thinking…I hated to be an obvious disappointment to you.”

Exasperated, the woman, said, “Yes, you could have made it much shorter!”  Now, Carol was crushed.  But before she could think of a come back, the woman continued. “I put a pot of water with six eggs in it on the stove, to hard boil, while I was getting dressed to come to the luncheon.  Just before you were about to speak, it occurred to me that I forgot to turn the burner off!!

When we think we know what others are thinking of us, we don’t.

When we react to others because of  what we think, they are thinking of us, chances are we will be exactly wrong.

Living our lives based on what others think of us is the energy eater, keeping us from living OUR OWN lives to the fullest.

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