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Why Do Other People’s Opinions Matter So Much?

And “I don’t care” is just denial.

Photo by Atikh Bana on Unsplash

And finally, would we really like to ignore it?

Let’s play the game for a moment. If opinion no longer mattered, we would certainly rejoice in freedom without borders. Let’s try to see this dimension in several aspects.

Let’s dive into a world without judgment.

In the friendly sphere.

Would we really be able to make friends without worrying about the opinions of others? In an optimistic (gullible?) way, one would think that the exchange would focus on other, more fulfilling topics.

But what is an uncritical debate? Without personal opinion?

It seems a bit empty to me.

So I’m afraid that if we didn’t weigh the opinions of our friends, we would simply be big egocentrics who would form superficial bonds.

For my part, I like to refer to a friend’s opinion about a situation.

I like to take into consideration their judgment based on their character and experience.

Because I find this person credible to bring his or her personal judgment to me. And I think (perhaps naively) that’s what keeps us going.

In the sentimental sphere.

It is often in this sphere where we are most affected, where we feel the most fragile. Don’t you think so? (No? Are you made of titanium?)

Perhaps because criticism goes straight to our hearts.

And we know how vulnerable our hearts can be (poor baby). However, this does not mean that we should let ourselves be shot down and take the victim’s cover to justify all our moods. Let’s raise our heads up and take a step back.

We will not elaborate on the concerns related to self-confidence in this field. Of course, it’s related, but isn’t self-confidence a perpetual quest? By the time, let’s act.

If our crush is defined as such, it is because we were kind enough to give it importance. And therefore a certain legitimacy (whether we want to admit it or not).

Criticism is however essential in a couple that wants to be perennial. As long as it is healthy, constructive, and listened to, it allows us to move forward. The whole thing is to choose the right words, to put a little bit of form (i.e. our little fragile heart), and not to choose a situation too quirky to say the famous criticism(s).

A world without criticism on this side would be denial, mutual disinterest, and failure to listen to the other’s feelings (empathy, emotional intelligence, all that).

Let us review the purpose of criticism in this context. Because it can quickly become unhealthy and destructive (and that’s what makes us imagine a scenario without it, isn’t it?)

The purpose of criticism is not and should never be to perfect partner according to our own wishes. Its purpose is to express one’s feelings, emotions about a given situation or a disagreement for example.

Criticism should be the opening to a constructive and healthy exchange between partners.

And not a mutual release.

The aces of personal development would say that it is necessary to accept our partner as a whole, but also to become aware of our own value. Based on this principle (which may seem utopian at first glance), the exchange should be balanced in a healthy way.

Don’t run away from criticism, but rather model it, handle it carefully so that it becomes more of an ally than an enemy.

In the family sphere.

Ah, the family! A long story that too. Sometimes sensitive, sometimes taboo, sometimes open-hearted. I will try as best I can not to make generalities on this field #tootouchy.

The legitimacy of criticism from family members is often questioned. It is very subjective because each of us often has a very distinct perception of this same legitimacy.

Some give it credibility through age, experience, wisdom… Why not.

We can hear arguments that are genuinely credible, but when affect comes into a conversation, the judgment is harsher. And psychological consequences too.

What would our Christmas meals be without the criticism of people’s laziness, the arrogance of the younger generation, and the daily routines that we should adopt because apparently, your uncle knows more about you and your needs?

Quiet. Much too quiet.

However, one can try to understand the person behind the judgment (spoiler alert, the judgment will not go away at family meals. It is even his essence). Have a little empathy for his or her journey, life path, choices, experiences that make this person make this criticism today.

The interest is not to agree or disagree. The interest is to understand the basis of the judgment (before overreacting).

Afterward, it’s up to you to let the judgment flow or not.

In the professional sphere.

Here, too, judgment is present on all sides. It is sometimes sincerely benevolent (or sincerely sneaky), but it can be experienced as a hurtful humiliation #dramaqueen.

A non-judgmental world in the workplace? Nonsense. Let’s give it a try.

Regarding our work, I think you’d end up stagnating. Because not having the endorsement of your peers on what you produce can be a drag on your career. We would have to refer to their actions alone, from our humble, distant gaze. Not the same, true?

A real exchange on the areas for improvement is still very stimulating when it is well handled. But that’s what leaders do, isn’t it?

You’re supposed to criticize the skills for the job. But reality can deviate towards a more personal criticism. And this criticism hits our ego hard. Because the latter takes up a lot of space in the professional environment (from the point of view of my own analysis once again).

Utopically, in the workplace, criticism should essentially be made when work is done badly and it offends either the company’s values or its ability to prosper.

In France, people are surfing on the wave of denunciation of these untimely criticisms, which have a huge impact on employee morale but also on their productivity (or even their ability to work at all because sick leave is often necessary for excessive situations). The tendency of denunciation is borrowed from #metoo. It can be seen in various Instagram accounts like Balance ta startup, Balance ton agency and so on that followed the approach. We can call this movement justice, name-bashing, or buzz (or also karma).

In any case, this proves that criticism is very much present in the professional world and that it does much more harm than we would like to admit to ourselves.

Being naively in the process of finding the company of my dreams in Madrid, I hope, in a completely gullible way (because a little bit disillusioned sometimes) to find another working environment in Spain. I’ll tell you more about it soon then.

In day-to-day life with I-don’t-know-that-much people.

Let’s face it. It’s clearly in this sphere that judgment has the least room. And it’s precisely in this part of our daily lives that criticism should not have (as much) importance.

People like to gossip. People are gossip.

It would be the loss of celebrity magazines, the collapse of gossip at the coffee machine, and the total absence of meaning when it comes to the activity of sitting on a bench (we all thought it was insignificant… But we all do the same thing. Watch. Judge. And laugh bitterly when you have a (little?) dark side like mine. Not to be reproduced at home).

We have talked about credibility, legitimacy, and context. I think these are the keywords that allow us to gauge whether the criticism is viable or not.

In a context where people don’t know us well enough, preconceptions and prejudices are the order of the day. Criticism is therefore made from a very subjective point of view (it always is, of course, but it has credibility when it is counterbalanced by the objective nature of the situation and the point of view. You know what I mean).

It is up to us to gauge the relevance of the criticism, our degree of interaction with the person making it, and the subject the critic points to, whether it is important to us or not.

In other words, to gauge whether that person has the power to make a judgment about us (because we often remain the main character of the critic) regarding a situation that has importance to us (does it really matter to us? If not, just answer “you’re right” and the circle is complete. Don’t waste energy debating with an almost-unknown about something futile. I won’t worth it).

After this sweet non-judgmental scenario, what do you think?

Don’t you think that a world without judgment would lose a little taste? Even if we would be preserved in certain situations because not hurt in our emotions and ego, we might have this impression of stagnation.

In my opinion, the key is to measure not only the way of criticizing, but also the capacity to receive it according to our key criteria: the legitimacy of the person, his or her own emotional intelligence, and the context. Roughly.




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French Digital Marketing Manager living in Madrid & English Writer about emotions, leadership & marketing. My world’s point of view with a pinch of sarcasm.

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