When no one is listening - stop talking

The kid was frantic. Kicking and screaming, refusing to go home from daycare.
His mother was trying to reason with him. She used logical arguments, explaining why they needed to do what she had planned, not what he wanted. The boy screamed even louder and put his arms around his head while his mother became increasingly desperate.

I remember thinking;
Why on earth are you talking to a child who is not in a listening state?
Greta Thunberg was clearheaded about it, when she said:
"Why would I waste time talking to him [Donald Trump] when he, of course, is not going to listen to me?"
Why indeed?

Angry toddler. 
Photo by Mohamed Abdelgaffar from Pexels

I have picked up my kids on many occasions and walked away with them in my arms, calming them down with my physical presence rather than with words that would just fall on deaf ears.

It is harder to pick up a colleague who is not listening, or a parent who refuses to accept help.

When you are faced with a person who is not ready or willing to listen - stop talking.

When you resist what is, you waste your time and your energy.

Stop talking, and do something else to get through.
Like picking up your child, or tickling her/him. 
Or something else that breaks the stalemate.

In the example of a colleague, you can choose to simply leave it be for a while.
Come back to the topic another time.

Your words, your time and your energy are too valuable to waste. Only use them when and where they make a difference.


Set goals like a child, not like a fearful adult

“So, what are the goals we are going after this year?”

Manda looked at Victor with anticipation. He knew why. Tomorrow she was going to have a kick-off with the project team. She wanted to have juicy, inspirational goals to share. And she expected him to give them to her.

He cleared his throat, but she interrupted him before he even got started.

“No, don’t tell me. We will go all in on that idea that came up in the last Hackathon and finally show the world that we are as innovative as we say in our marketing. Right?”

She looked at him as a child the day before Christmas. With the same eagerness he had had when the leadership team had gone off-site to set the goals for the year.

“Well... you know, it’s hard to set that as a goal. We have no idea if we can achieve that or not. We haven’t done these things before and...” his voice trailed off when he saw her look.

She crossed her arms.

“So, tell me. What is the goal for the year?”

He looked down and mumbled so she could barely hear him.

“We will increase the sales by 10%.”

Manda shook her head and sighed.

“You didn’t set a goal Victor. You made a bloody forecast.”

When children see something they want, they go after it. They believe without a doubt they can become astronauts, dancers, prime ministers or teachers. Or anything else they want.

As we grow up, we learn that not achieving the goals we set is the same as failing.
Over time we even see ourselves as failures if we don’t meet the goals.
Instead of aiming high and risking to fail, we set our goals lower and lower.
We stop aiming for what is possible and settle for what is obtainable.

Don’t fall into that trap.

Set goals as inspiration and use each outcome as a stepping stone – not a measure of your worth.

Happy goal setting!


Using No as fuel

“Why is that guy even working here? Has he ever contributed to anything? I mean, I can deal with different opinions, with criticism, but that guy – he is so downright negative he makes Ebenezer Scrooge seem like Polyanna.”

Victor paced the conference room. Manda looked at him.

“He didn’t like your proposal, I know, but...”

“He never likes anyone’s proposal, he is negative to everything, why should I spend energy on updating a proposal he will not like anyway?”

Manda stood up and got in Victor’s way, forcing him to stop pacing.

“You are not going to update it until he likes it. You are going to update it until you like it. Use the parts of his criticism that make sense and create an even better proposal.“

Victor looked at her, his chest moving as if he had run up the stairs rather than just sitting in the conference room. He wanted to say that there was nothing useful in the old man’s complaints, but deep inside he knew there was always something worth looking into. The guy was annoying but not stupid.

“It’s just that... I don’t know why I let him get to me.”

Manda shrugged.

“Because you want him to like your proposals. Even though he never does. Stop aiming for praise you'll never get. Turn it into a game. How many of his Nos do you need to make your proposal really great?”

He looked at her, suddenly smiling.

“You’re right. I will be like Rocky.”

“Rocky? Your cat?”

“No, Rocky Balboa.” Victor relaxed his face and imitated Sylvester Stallone:

“It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” 

Rocky Balboa. Flickr

Some people will love everything you do.

Some people will dislike everything you do.

Regardless of what you do.

Make sure you use whatever opinions people have, as ways to improve. Then both Yes and No will help you, and you will be unstoppable.