Why Should Your Readers Listen to You?

The main ingredients to gaining and retaining credibility

Sylvia Emokpae
Jan 9 · 9 min read
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husband is extremely funny. His life is one big blob of fun. If there were a profession I would’ve chosen for him, it’s stand-up. It’s literally what drew me to him in the first place — he handled my rejection to date him with a funny joke. And then I changed my mind. Here we are, nearly a decade later.

But he didn’t fall in love with my sense of humor. Rather he laughs more at my sense of irony and awkwardness. He will roll over the sofa laughing at my reactions to his jokes, rather than at my own jokes.

Somehow, his sense of humor and my overseriousness work well together. He banks on my eye-rolling for jokes to hit the desired effect within a crowd. His wedding speech was more focused on the punchlines than the love he has for me. And everyone loved it. I rolled my eyes but I also cried with joy and love. His humor is his way of being romantic, and I truly embrace it.

The trouble is, I do sometimes wish I could match his natural ability to be so darn hilarious.

But my husband’s mind is made up — I am just not a funny person.

I don’t deliver the punchlines or tell a story well because I don’t have the talent he has to simultaneously bring comedy to our everyday lives. For me to be deliberately funny, I need to have written the jokes, rehearsed them, and maybe have a drink or two to relax before delivering them.

Ha, I sound like a real comedian now.

*Funny drum sound effect*

There is my sense of irony. You’re welcome.

Here’s the bad joke I would tell if I was trying to be spontaneously funny:

“You get it? Because a lot of comedians are introverted, anxiety-ridden alcoholics? So I would need all of the above to make you laugh? Ha-ha, hahaha!”

Sit in that bit of awkwardness.

Still with me?

Good.

No, I’m not a comedian.

But I am funny in my own way. Devonte just doesn’t think I am because I have cracked a lot of bad jokes in the time we have been together. We live with each other and I am most comfortable with him, so I have unapologetically acted silly and cracked awful jokes and then laughed intensely at them.

Now that Devonte has been the poor recipient of my bad jokes throughout our relationship, he has gifted me the reputation of a bad joker.

This preformed opinion prepares him to boo at my next joke whether it is funny or not. That in turn makes any joke I make a bad joke since he is my main audience at the moment I am telling it.

But if someone else said the same joke as me, in the same tone, using the same words, he might engage and crack a joke back in response.

Equally, you can take him out of the room and my humor will come out. My sister and I have had nights where we have bounced off each other’s jokes, crying tears of laughter for hours. Our laughs attract crowds and we make friends everywhere we go with our banter.

Side note: don’t think I am bitter towards my husband for not thinking that I am funny. I do make him laugh, and even my awkwardness about bad jokes makes us laugh, so this topic is very lighthearted. (Hey babe! I know you’re reading this! *waves frantically*).

I do think it’s a great example to show how difficult it is to convince those around you of something that they already have a strong opinion on, and it is not just about changing someone’s mind about global warming or religion, but about character traits, too.

Everyone’s heard the saying “once a cheater, always a cheater.” Well, I say bollocks to that. People can change and do change. We just have to look somewhere else for that credibility. So where do we start?

Changing Your Mind

The following hits the nail on the head:

“As a result of the well-documented confirmation bias, we tend to undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them. We filter out inconvenient truths and arguments on the opposing side. As a result, our opinions solidify, and it becomes increasingly harder to disrupt established patterns of thinking.” — Next Big Idea Club

In the same way that people form opinions about politics, religion, and current affairs, they form opinions about people, and it is very hard to convince someone you’ve changed. The main reason for this is that we tend to identify with our opinions and our ownership of them intensifies our attachment to them. Once we realize our opinions don’t define us, it is easier to let them go and form new views with the new context or information.

But, no matter what, Devonte still doesn’t think I’m funny, despite reading and laughing at many of my jokes throughout my articles. I’m just not as funny as him, and I am perfectly OK with that because my goal is not to be a comedian.

My goal is to gain the attention of thousands, or millions, and inspire them all. Sometimes, I use comedy, sometimes I don’t.

Either way, I need credibility.

I need to build a good, solid following who will trust in what I have to say and maybe even learn something new.

So, how am I to gain credibility about the topics I choose to talk about when I can count with my hands the number of people close to me who regularly read my articles?

I wasn’t always a mother, yet I write as if I was made to be one.

I am equally extremely new at this whole self-love thing, my second chosen niche, yet I claim to be an expert at it.

And lastly, I am not black, so I cannot talk about Black Lives Matter as if I absolutely understand what it’s all about, yet I still try.

Start From Scratch

This may not apply to every business, but it certainly relates to a career in writing or any other idea that is very specialized.

I could not rely on my old support network to drastically grow my audience.

It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf. — Walter Lippmann

Yes, a handful of my followers are close family and friends but the vast majority only read a piece or two if it relates to them, and if not, they won’t bother.

But this is OK! I’m not mad! *laughs nervously while stabbing the keys of my keyboard with my fingers*

(Was that another bad joke?)

Anyway.

It means that to grow an audience, I had to stop trying to force articles down my friends’ and families’ throats and potentially hindering our relationships. Instead, I had to focus on growing an audience who are interested in the same topics as I am.

Focus on finding a group of people who care about what you have to say. My friends are awesome but some are way too busy to want to hear about my daily battles with my toddler. I’d rather take my content to someone who is also battling with their toddler daily so we can swap stories and relate.

You worked on your past relationships, put in time with new ones too.

You can never have too many connections, and it is never too late to make friends. You need both to gain an audience.

I have met some awesome fellow writers on Medium and I am deeply appreciative of their support. After all, it is thanks to every single reader that I am achieving my goal of reaching thousands. And if I can do it, so can you.

Passion

I loved the philosophy classes I took when I was in high school because my teacher was extremely passionate about everything she taught. I might not have been terribly interested in the topic being discussed until she added her two cents. Passion is everything.

I literally believe in every single thing I write about with every single fiber of my body, mind, and soul.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” -Oprah Winfrey

I absolutely think there are many ways to gain a following, but none of them will work if your passion does not show.

This sometimes includes a little vulnerability because I believe it is the most heightened of emotions that inspire the best work, even when those emotions are negative.

Just last month, this article got curated and mentioned in Illumination’s Top Writer Newsletter. I wrote it at 5 AM one morning after I had been feeling really down and my husband literally forced me out of bed to write.

My first curated article ever came because I talked about how low I had felt during a breakup and what I did to get over it.

My emotions show through my work because I am extremely passionate about what I write about.

Your purpose is to make your audience see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt. — Dale Carnegie

Whatever the topic, you will make it interesting with your own enthusiasm, and people will believe it.

Consistency

Practice makes perfect. I look at some of my articles from just a couple of months ago and I cringe. In a couple of months, I hope to cringe again.

It means I have made progress and the only thing I have done is kept up my writing. Consistency is everything.

The more I write, the more I write.

The more I write, the better I write too.

I started off publishing one article every couple of months. Now I write every day and publish 8–12 articles a month. There is no way one does not get better at a skill they are doing every single day.

Eventually, I will be able to put out an article a day with my eyes closed and post daily inspiring messages on LinkedIn which will be read and shared by thousands.

To get good at anything, you need practice, and then more practice. To practice, you need to be consistent with your routine, your attitude, and your writing.

“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time.” — Bruce Springsteen

The more you see my name plastered over Medium, the higher the chance that you’ll click on an article eventually. That alone requires consistency on my part.

Last Words

Start your audience from scratch, and see any extra business from your old network as a welcome bonus.

Talk the talk and walk the walk.

Write with your heart or your readers will see the dollar signs on your vision rather than genuine care. Be consistent with your routine and your attitude.

And most importantly, realize you can be anything you want — credibility starts with the belief in yourself. Don’t just dip your toes into anything you deeply care about achieving — chuck yourself in at the deep end and force yourself to swim.

Sylvia Emokpae, thinker and philosopher, is passionate about self-love, motherhood, and pro-race. See more work like this.

https://twitter.com/SylviaEmokpae

ILLUMINATION

We curate outstanding articles from diverse domains and…

Thanks to Jon Hawkins

Sylvia Emokpae

Written by

Hustler by day, mother all the time. Inspired by normal life occurrences because, in hindsight, everything we do is interesting. Chocolate addict.

ILLUMINATION

We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Sylvia Emokpae

Written by

Hustler by day, mother all the time. Inspired by normal life occurrences because, in hindsight, everything we do is interesting. Chocolate addict.

ILLUMINATION

We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

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