7-toxic-people
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5 Reasons People Don’t Take You Seriously and How to Fix It

7-toxic-peopleWritten on 5/12/2008 by David B. Bohl, the author of Slow Down Fast.

Ever wonder how some people manage to command a room simply by entering it?

Do you sometimes feel like you get mowed down by other people’s big ideas, priorities and needs?

Is it exceedingly difficult for you to get people to cooperate and follow your lead?

While some people seem blessed with strong character from birth, the rest of us flounder, stagnate, learn to acquire a taste for shoe leather. Why is this? It may be because people aren’t taking you seriously enough. And the reason is that, most likely, you don’t take yourself seriously enough.

How others see us begins with how we see ourselves. We project this self-perception into every action and every word we speak. Here are five reasons people aren’t taking you seriously and how to fix it.

  1. Not being true to your word: Do you make promises only to realize later that you can’t keep them? Do you excitedly tell your friends and family what you plan to do, i.e. look for a new job, clean the garage, go on an amazing vacation… but then somehow it never seems to happen?

Set a new rule for yourself: stop telling people what you’re going to do. Instead, tell them what you already did. Not only will this save you from future embarrassment (for example, when people ask you “whatever happened with your plan to…”) but it will keep you motivated to accomplish what you set out to. People who get things done get taken more seriously. They’re also granted more responsibility.

  • Poor follow-through: Be honest here. Do you often start up new projects in your work and life, but find that they never get past the initial launch phase? It’s no wonder people are having trouble viewing you in a serious light.

What’s happening here is that there’s no follow-through and no goal setting system in place. You may think that only over-achieving nerds set goals. (Allow me to point out that ‘nerd’ is enjoying a new, positive connotation these days.) Let’s face it: the ONLY way things will get done is if you create a step-by-step plan and then follow through with that plan. Can you use some practice in setting and attaining goals?

  • Not learning to separate work and play: Seems like everywhere we look, boundaries are being overstepped: employees cozying up to their bosses over drinks, business owners taking clients out for a round of golf and an earful about their dating life. It’s great to share personal interests and information with those in our professional circle. And yes, we all can relate to some level of dysfunction with our families and loved ones. But the truth remains that the more people know about you, the less they’re able to see you in a professional light. Better to reserve the details of our private lives to trusted friends instead of coworkers and colleagues who might take us less seriously – and therefore pass us up for future opportunities – because of it. 
  • Making excuses instead of making it happen: Think about all the time we waste telling people why we couldn’t accomplish what we said we’d do. Now think about how much more productive you’d be if, instead of moaning and making excuses… you just went ahead and did it. Making excuses is a procrastination art form. Next time you’re about to blame your inaction on someone or something else, ask yourself: why am I playing an avoidance game? What’s really preventing me from buckling down and just getting it done? How much more seriously might people take me if I were more effective? Who do I need to talk to to initiate this change in myself? 
  • Hanging with the wrong crowd: Sometimes people don’t take us seriously when they see us hanging around with people who are too casual or flippant about life. It’s true; as much as we want to believe that “we’re all adults here,” not everyone practices healthy living habits or behaves in a responsible manner. Look around at the people who you spend time with. Are they of sound moral fiber and solid constitution? Or are you secretly embarrassed by their behavior and questioning of their decisions a lot of the time?

Sometimes it can be tough to break away from people who don’t enhance our lives or embrace the same values as we do. But remember that there is a world full of people out there. If you’re serious about being taken seriously… find a new friend, or group of friends, who can help you move toward this goal.

Have you or your ideas been brushed off? Why did it happen and what did you do to get heard?

-David