How being outnumbered will gain you raving fans
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You're sitting in class, and the teacher at the front has just said something
that doesn't entirely make sense to you. "You see, the world is flat. It's
always been flat. And it always will be flat. Flat, flat, flat."
The year is 1400 A.D., and you're thinking, "But, what if it isn't flat? What
if it's round?"
Do you stick your hand up and tell the teacher? Is it worth being burned by
the Inquisition just so you can speak your mind?
You probably have a few ideas that defy the mainstream.
It's hard to be in business for any length of time and not develop your own
opinions, insights, and ideas. And some of them may be.... controversial.
Talking about them may get some people's wigs in a knot, and garner you your
fair share of push back and abuse.
My client was ostracized.
She was in an online discussion, and a topic came up that she had a strong
opinion about, which she shared. And then the next ten commenters promptly
disagreed with her.
Some dismissed her opinion as "irrelevant." Others accused her of being
"afraid" or "timid." Not one person who responded took her response seriously.
I don't know about you, but when that happens to me, my knee-jerk response is
to crawl back under the covers into a fetal position, and cry myself to sleep.
If you do that, you abandon your newest raving fans.
See, in every conversation, there are the talkers, and the listeners. Since
you are the one representing your business, I hope that you step into the
'talker' position as often and sincerely as you can, in any conversation that
touches on what you do. Whether it's an online forum, the comments section of a
blog, a networking event, or a Saturday night bash, you might find yourself
engaged in a conversation that touches on your area of expertise.
The status quo can seem to hold a lot of power. And, stepping into the
spotlight by speaking a controversial point of view may get you into an
argument, or, worse, politely ignored or brushed off.
But, you have a secret weapon.
The Truth echoes loudly.
Remember those listeners, the ones that are eavesdropping on the
conversation, but aren't speaking? Other talkers may have run you over, but your
insight or opinion is still hitting a chord of truth in the ears of those
You see, they already believe, or want to believe, what you've spoken. But,
they don't want to get run over. When you speak up, you are a candidate for the
open office of 'champion' in their minds.
If you back down, or disappear, you lose, and so do they. If you stand up for
what you believe, even if you convince none of the other talkers, you still win
with the people who really count- the listeners who need a champion.
An example: Poverty Consciousness.
A while ago I wrote an article declaring that a healthy poverty consciousness
is more effective than abundance thinking. I got my share of pushback from
people, some of whom were fans of the movie The Secret, others who thought I was
collapsed and letting people down.
On the other hand, I heard from hordes of people who were frustrated and fed
up with their own experience of 'abundance thinking' and for whom the powerful
humility available in my description of 'healthy poverty consciousness' rang
It's also happened on various discussion forums I've participated in, where
I've gotten pushed at pretty vigorously in the public forum, and yet receive
private emails and messages from people who were grateful... and who went on to
become customers and clients. (Thank you! You know who you are...)
Truth is more powerful than playing it safe.
It's not much fun to wade into a bar-room brawl, throwing chairs and breaking
bottles (although I've always wanted to try it out with those break-away chairs
and sugar bottles they use on Western movie sets).
But, hiding out, biting your lip not saying anything at all, means that you
are abandoning people who want to hear your version of things. This leaves them
drowning in a flood of 'business as usual.'
Of course, you don't want to be rude or insulting to others. How do you
handle controversy in a way that helps people, and no one ends up getting -too-
Keys to Truth in Controversy
* Make the controversy clear.
What is an opinion, insight, or thought you've had in your business that goes
against the status quo? Once you've identified it, work it through.
Is it a knee-jerk reaction, or something that feels really true to you? If it
feels true, take time to get clear on your position, beyond 'it just feels
right.' Find examples and case studies of how it's worked. Sniff out the
principles of why it's true.
* Don't minimize what you're saying.
It's easy to minimize your insight just to be 'nice' and avoid conflict.
Don't do it. Don't be afraid to speak strongly. "Well, I don't agree with what
you say. I've found that many people I've worked with struggle with abundance
thinking without ever seeing results, and yet poverty consciousness really rings
true for them, and they have no trouble following through and seeing results."
If you are conflict-adverse, simply speaking your own perspective can sound
impossible. The key is to talk about yourself. Saying "I don't agree" is very
different than saying "You are wrong." No need to talk about them. Talk about
yourself and you can sound strong, without attacking anyone.
* Remember who you're speaking to.
Remember: you're really speaking to the listeners, and not to the people who
disagree with you. The controversy with the ones who disagree is bringing some
light to a Truth that needs to be seen- but you are not arguing with or
otherwise trying to win or convince the people who are dead-set against what
You are speaking for those who are silent. Who are stuck. Who need to hear a
different perspective so they can find some freedom and movement.
It's not uncommon for these kinds of encounters to release a lot of
adrenalin. You might find yourself shakey, scared, wanting to hide during or
afterwards. Be gentle with yourself. Make space for your fear and your shaking.
There is nothing wrong with you.
The world isn't flat, and never was. Keep your commitment to finding the
truth in the forefront, and keep your eyes on those silent listeners, who are
wanting your support in learning a different way around the world.
About the Author
Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How Money,
Marketing and Sales can Deepen Your Heart, Heal the World, and Still Add to Your
Bottom Line. He has helped hundreds of small business owners around the globe
succeed in business without lousing their hearts. Get three free chapters of the
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-10-01 17:24:35 in Business Articles