Many people know the feeling: You stand in front of a group and have to give a presentation. Or you should make a contribution in a large meeting with many strangers. Or interact with colleagues you don't even know at a company party. Not everyone feels comfortable in such a situation, not everyone behaves calmly and naturally. For most people, the unpleasant feeling of being observed creeps in weakly or strongly, and the question "What do the others think of me now?“
Doubts lead to unproductivity
Such thoughts are irrational and guide our focus away from our activity and its outcome, which is ultimately our product, and shift the focus to the others, to our environment and their theories about the world and us. Nothing could be more unproductive. Because as soon as we think more about what other people think of us in a certain situation than we believe in our abilities, talents and achievable successes, we unconsciously doubt the true existence of these talents. If we are suddenly no longer certain of our abilities, in many situations this leads to us not expressing an opinion, not leading an argument, not accepting a task, a challenge - because we are not sure whether we can achieve a good result.
Man as part of a community
Man's habit of taking care of others' opinions and placing himself in his immediate and indirect social environment has ancient roots. When people lived in tribal communities, the role of the individual was completely different and subordinated to the welfare and survival of the community. If someone did something that was not recognized by the majority, or even a mistake that endangered the group, he was immediately confronted with the envy of the tribal community, perhaps as a consequence even with the exclusion from the community. As social beings, we have still not completely abandoned this behavior: Man wants to belong, he does not want to offend. Nonetheless, one can also stand out without being scandalising and leaving debris behind. And to position oneself self-confidently does not automatically mean that one offends the others.
Philosophy of life
We need to get a sense of when our behaviour is limited by the fear of the opinion of others, and to do this we must first become aware of our situation and our personality.
What do we do best? What do the people in our immediate surroundings value us for?
What is our motivation at work and in daily life?
What is or would be a motto that describes us and our behaviour?
What qualities do we value in other people?
How many of these qualities and which ones do we possess ourselves?
Answering these and similar questions can help us to get a rounded picture of ourselves and to develop a kind of philosophy of life.
Such a philosophy of life can quickly become a guideline that also gives us support in making decisions, both in our private and professional lives. Making our own decisions gives us self-confidence, because we feel that we are doing things right according to our philosophy of life and that we are ourselves. This automatically makes us less susceptible to the opinions of others when making decisions. However, if at some point the thought of what others might think of us seizes us again and restricts us in our actions, we can immediately refer back to our guidelines and thus keep an eye on our more far-reaching goals.
Make use of criticism
This does not mean, of course, that we completely shut ourselves off from the opinions of our fellow human beings and that we reject any criticism. On the contrary, it is important that we choose a handful of people whom we have a special trust in, whose thoughts we value and of whom we know that dealing with them is good for us. In order to grow in character, personality and professionality, we should regularly seek feedback from these people. This may also include criticism, because criticism is not something negative, but - if expressed by a person who is important for oneself - an impulse to improve, to learn, to grow. When we realize that we learn from mistakes, that we grow with challenges and feel ready for the next difficulty and the next level, we also gain self-confidence. And thus, at some point, our guideline will keep us safely in our position, without possible valuations from others causing us to waver. This is not the easiest way, because it requires effort, reflection, critical ability, steadfastness and much more. But all these things we can learn and grow in ourselves to gain more self-confidence.