The other day, a fellow entrepreneur, Ashley, was worried about a client of hers. Her worry was that she wasn’t delivering for this particular client.
You see, the client had recently told her that she no longer wanted Ashley to have full independence to complete tasks and projects when working within her business. Ashley had been going above and beyond to over deliver for this client over the past few months to meet several tight deadlines. And she hit every one of them.
I was surprised too, as just two weeks earlier, my friend was over the moon because this same client had recommended her services and skills to a top industry professional.
Hearing that directive crushed her. She couldn’t focus. She questioned if all of her clients were unhappy with her work.
Knowing the top notch service Ashley provides as a project manager and assistant, we poked around to see why she thought that.
After some targeted questioning, Ashley was able to see that she really was going above and beyond what was being asked of her for this client. The problem was that the client’s expectations weren’t realistic. And until the client understood that and took responsibility for what wasn’t working in her own business, she was probably always going to put the blame on someone else.
But this exchange got me thinking about why we allow one person’s opinion to have so much meaning in our lives.
Why do we make one negative opinion mean everything?
The good news is that you get to chose what you want words and thoughts and opinions to mean for you.
And more importantly, other people’s opinions actually have nothing to do with you. Otherwise, everyone would be walking around with the exact same opinion of you.
If a client complains, don’t get defensive and don’t beat yourself up. Instead, get curious. Ask “what result were you hoping to achieve by working together?”
Sometimes, you can be clear as day on the results you deliver and it still doesn’t get heard the same.
For example, say you’re a life coach and you tell your prospective client that they’ll gain confidence in themselves and will learn tools to reinforce their confidence and continue the progress you’ll make together. But, they’re so desperate to change their current situation, they actually hear “you’ll love your life and find the perfect partner by the time we’re done!”
See how that example could produce an unhappy client with a less-than-positive opinion of you and your work? But also notice how the unhappiness the client is feeling actually has nothing to do with you?
By being really clear on what they’re expecting, you help to ease the disappointment that can creep up.
Or, take an example of my lovable pup Georgie, who turned ‘4’ this week. That’s him up top, after digging a rather sizable hole in our backyard. He was out of breath and so proud of his work. Needless to say, I was not. But my opinion of him at that time, which was that he did a bad thing, had nothing to actually do with him and everything to do with my constant quest for tidiness and perfection.
Opinions aren’t facts. They’re thoughts that you, I and everyone has that we give meaning to.
Opinions can change over time.
And opinions don’t need to mean you are worth less.