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It’s difficult to swim against the current. It’s especially difficult to fight against the negative tide of other people’s fears, anxieties, failures, and mistakes projected onto us.
As difficult as it is, negativity from others is part of the creative process. As creatives, we will have ideas, visions, projects that other people simply won’t understand. Maybe because they are not ready, maybe because they lack vision, belief. Maybe because they are choosing to be afraid.
Their negativity could actually be a good thing. Hidden inside their awful scenarios you might see something your original plan was missing. You can make your idea better by looking at it from their perspective. And what if their reaction is not negative just less than enthusiastic? What if they just find the idea uninteresting, irrelevant? To be honest, no reaction at all hits even harder…but if the idea still sparks your curiosity and imagination, shake their dis-empowering apathy and keep moving forward.
Here’re 5 simple steps we can take when the negative tide is upon us:
1.Don’t take it personally. People’s negative reaction has more to do with them than with you.
2. Take a breather. Don’t react to their negativity. Take a moment to breathe, reassess and respond. Maybe you caught them at a bad time…maybe you have to paint them a better picture.
3. See it from their perspective. Where are they coming from? Especially if this negativity is not coming from strangers, but friends and family, re-frame their responses. Are they pointing at a missing piece of the puzzle? Is their negativity masking worries and fears? How can you ease these with facts, numbers, information, research?
4. Don’t project your fears back. If we allow external negativity to sink in, our own internal fears will bubble up and take hold in no time. We fight back these fears by quickly jumping to #5.
5. Mine for the nuggets of positive action. Jot down their comments without labeling them as negative. They are suggestions to make your idea of project better, that’s all. For every comment or dooms-day scenario write only actionable objectives. These are problems to solve, not obstacles.