On People Pleasing and Holding Criticism | Notes To Self

This week I want to share some notes I wrote to myself after reflecting on how my relationship with people pleasing and criticism has changed through ten years running The Haven.

2024 is The Haven’s tenth anniversary and I’ve been thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learned during that time. Join me on Instagram for more reflections. I’m also exploring Threads to see how it feels. If you’re on there, I’d love to connect – I’m here if you are.

If you want to create, lead, or build things involving other people, these notes might resonate…

On Letting Go and Ending Well

Some people are after things you can’t or don’t want to provide. Have the courage to let go, even if it means losing them for now.

Point them to more appropriate and helpful solutions for their needs where possible.

If you end these relationships well, they will remember how you made them feel. That memory may prompt them to return down the line.

People naturally come and go. Don’t take it personally when they choose to move on. Don’t fight to cling on. Just think of it as the right time (even if you DON’T believe it’s the right time).

On Wanting To Be Liked

Not everything you do will appeal to everyone. People have different needs, desires, and learning styles. If you try second-guessing and mitigating every potential response (and complaint) to every little thing, you risk watering things down and speaking to no one.

Marmite tastes great to the people who love it.

On Receiving Feedback (and Criticism)

Be specific when asking for feedback. Know what you’re asking for and why. What do you want to improve or grow as a result? Is feedback going to help or hinder you?

Be aware when receiving unsolicited feedback.

Be clear about what you don’t need to hear right now (it might be helpful, but it may also derail progress at this stage).

On Listening

Pay attention and express a genuine interest in people. Everyone has a story to tell. But not everyone (especially interesting people) is forthcoming in divulging everything unless you carve out meaningful time with them.

You can’t begin to understand unless you actively listen.

The community is a hive of wisdom. You don’t have all the answers and don’t need to.

You are facilitating space for people to explore, collaborate, and create.

On Rejecting Criticism (Without Rejecting People)

Criticism can help you see blind spots, but it also allows you to recognise things you DON’T want to change, pursue, or build. Sometimes, core values only become apparent when someone says you should do things differently.

Identify internal resistance and ask yourself what it’s telling you.

If someone’s words spark a defensive reaction in you, leave as much time as possible between the stimulus and your response.

Sometimes, resistance is a doorway to truth. Other times, it’s telling you to ignore the loudest voices in the room. Practice listening and noticing.

And practice letting go of unhelpful criticism without rejecting and dehumanising the critic.

On Communication

Keep the lines of communication open and facilitate a sense of safety so that people know it’s okay to make mistakes, get things wrong, and express their uncertainties.

Safety includes the freedom to leave at any time and knowing how to do that.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Over to You

Do any of these points speak to you? Any that you would add to your own list? I’d love to hear in the comments below or via social media.

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