You want to promote your business and you know that visibility is important, but you are afraid of being judged.
The problem is that most people who have a product or service to sell don’t feel comfortable promoting themselves online. They think they will be ridiculed for their ideas or products, so they never get started. Or if they do start, then give up quickly because it’s hard work and there doesn’t seem to be any payoff.
So, are you scared of being judged? Do you want to promote your business but lack the confidence? This post will help you overcome your fears.
What is fear of being judged?
Fear of being judged is described as worrying what others will think about your work, your decisions, or your goals. For business owners it can manifest as a fear that your staff, family, peers will judge you for taking the wrong or unpopular decision, or that your latest video/blog post/public appearance will generate negative reactions because of your appearance, your interaction with others, your opinions, your accent etc.
Business owners who struggle with this often say that they feel like their family and friends don’t understand them, so they live with a fear of being judged by the same persons that they expect to be their biggest supporters.
Others are so afraid of being judged that they do not live up to their true potential, fearing that if they show the world who they really are, what they really care about, they will be criticized, shut down or ignored.
And sometimes, this fear causes you to go along with something you don’t agree with just to be liked. Or feeling indecisive when you know you can’t please everyone.
How does fear of being judged impact your business?
Marketing is essential to grow your business, both online via social media and offline via means like direct mail advertising, but it can be scary. And fear of being judged is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t promote their businesses.
We have all been there before, scared to put ourselves out there because we’re afraid that what other people think about us will be negative or hurt our feelings. This is why most business owners fail at marketing themselves and growing their business.
You may wonder if anyone will believe in what you have to offer and whether or not they will even be interested at all. As a result, you end up putting off marketing efforts until the “perfect” time comes along. Unfortunately, that moment rarely arrives and can take years to materialize if it does at all!
Business owners spend years playing small, hiding, being afraid to talk about the work they do, even when logically they know they are doing a great job. For some it’s a worry that people will think they’re too salesy or even worse, that they just wouldn’t care about their message. So they hold themselves back from promoting themselves and creating powerful marketing messages.
It’s why people don’t know what you do, why you and your business have almost no public association, why you’re refusing media appearances, doing any interviews, videos or even publicly commenting on threads that help your target audience when you see them on social media or forums.
Oftentimes, the fear of being judged, the fear of visibility intertwine with imposter syndrome and that’s when you start thinking “I’ll wait to do this, until I am perfect”.
And as you’re waiting for that perfect time (which doesn’t exist), your business begins to suffer. The more you’re postponing your marketing and visibility efforts, the more prospects and clients you’re missing out on.
This brings on a new set of problems, as your stress levels increase you might start to lose sleep worrying what people think of you.
Where is this fear coming from?
Sometimes, fear of being judged is based on experience. Maybe you’ve seen it happen to others, or maybe you’ve been the one harshly judged. At best, it made you feel uncomfortable, at worst, it has been an excruciating experience that made you seriously doubt yourself. You’re likely living with a fear that it could happen again.
More frequently, fear of judgment comes from your own internal dialogue, your inner voice that keeps creating stories about how you’re supposed to be behave, or how you need to attain an impossible standard of perfection. And sometimes it comes from projecting your own insecurities onto others.
Some of the things you’d judge others for are creating the illusion that people will judge you over these things just as you would judge them too. It’s thoughts like “I don’t make enough money. I have no idea how to run my own business. I’m not good enough. I should be dressing for the part. I need to spend more time with my family, and not in the office”.
At its essence, the fear of being judged is a fear of being rejected, and it speaks to our need of belonging, something very deeply engrained in ourselves. We as humans, are profoundly social and reliant on our relationship with others. Back in our early years, if we didn’t have community and the help of others, it would have been difficult to survive on our own. So not belonging would spell disaster, which is why we are so afraid of being shunned, criticized and labeled as different, not worthy, not acceptable.
Do I have a disorder?
Many business owners, who I coach about their fear of being visible, wonder about this.
Yes, sometimes it can be more than shyness. But it will usually manifest in multiple areas of your life, not just your business or marketing.
If you have an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others you could suffer from social anxiety disorder. This is a mental health condition that is a common type of anxiety disorder. It manifests by feeling fear or anxiety in common social situations, such as eating or drinking in front of people, meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview, answering a question in class, or having to talk to a cashier in a store.
Since I am not a psychologist nor a doctor, if you suspect you are suffering from this disorder, I recommend you contact a mental health professional. In the meantime, you can learn more about this here.
How do you stop being scared of being judged
1. Understand where it’s coming from
The first thing to do in order to stop being afraid of something, is to understand where it’s coming from, how it manifests and what triggers it.
2. Write down your fears
Don’t rely only on your inner dialogue for understanding where your fear of being judged is coming from. Write down your fear and all the bad stuff you’re telling yourself. It will make you more aware of when it’s happening and it will help you heal. When you put your fears on paper, some of those thoughts will suddenly appear false, small and unimportant.
3. Talk to someone about them
This is an important exercise, and it will work best if you have this conversation with someone who is objective. Not your mom, not your spouse, but a coach, a therapist or a coaching buddy, a business owner who has been through it as well.
4. Is it real?
This is an essential question to ask whenever you catch yourself “in fear”. Is this real? Am I actually that bad at doing this? Chances are you’re actually better than you think and most people are not judgmental a**holes.
5. Stop judging yourself
Remember when I said that sometimes we project our own insecurities onto others? Well this is the moment to stop judging yourself so harsh. Work on your self esteem, imposter syndrome, so you can build up your courage and confidence. As you work on yourself to grow your own mindset, you will notice that you are happier, stronger, and suddenly there are less people out there who would judge you.
6. Focus on the positive
We are build to seek out the negative, the red flags as a survival mechanism. This downplays the good results and the positive feedback we receive, so we obsess over that only negative feedback we got on a video five years ago, or a thumbs down on that same video. Take feedback that is constructive, celebrate good feedback and remember that nobody is perfect.
7. You don’t need people’s approval
If you’re hoping to go through life without bothering, annoying or being hated by some people, I’m sorry to break it to you, but that’s not going to happen. And that’s ok. It’s part of life. Not everyone is going to like you or agree with you, and that is totally fine.
8. It’s not about you
Earlier in this article I mentioned how sometimes fear of being judged is created by us projecting onto others our own insecurities. Remember this the next time you go in a spiral of worry about what others think about you – because it’s not about you. When someone judges you it says more about them than it does about you. Their own imposter syndrome, self doubt, feeling of inadequacy, or jealousy speaks for them and about them, not about you.
9. It will happen…
… but it won’t be as worse as you think. Respond with kindness and empathy and remember that it’s ok for people not to like you. Accept that people are going to judge you regardless of how much you are beating yourself over it, how much you’re trying to be perfect, say the right thing etc.
The fear of judgment can only effect the success of your business if you let it.
So, here’s what you can do to promote your business when you’re afraid of being judged.
1. Find your why
When you are clear about why you’ve started your business and how you are helping people, you will take action with much more confidence. Even if you’re still fearing being criticized, knowing that what you do can help others will give you power over your own dark thoughts. When you focus your attention on your why, that thing that puts a fire in your belly, you grow your impact and influence in ways that nothing else can.
2. Know how your offer helps
Your business is not about you, it’s about the results and transformation it can deliver to your clients. Switch focus from yourself, and focus on how your offer enhances your clients’ life, relationships, health, income, lifestyle, energy, business, intellect etc. Find all the ways in which your service or product improves your clients’ lives.
There are ten reasons people buy: make money, save money, save time, avoid effort, escape mental or physical pain, get more comfort, better health, gain praise, feel more loved, increase their social status or popularity.
3. Understand your audience
Your client does not care about you as a person. They only care about themselves. It sounds bad, but it isn’t, because your sole purpose as a business owner is to focus on how you can help your audience achieve their goals through your offer. So get very familiar with your IDEAL Audience, they are the persons you can help with the uttermost confidence, they are the persons you know everything about, their pain points, their objections, their desires, their everyday life. The more you learn about them, the more confidently you will be able to promote your business.
4. Discover your strengths
Some people are great at writing, while some people are great in-person or over video. If you don’t have the budget to hire a marketing person to handle your marketing for you, then you need to discover your strengths and focus on creating the type of content that best matches what you’re really good at.
You can always hire out a copywriter for your blog, an actor for your videos, or create a business character that speaks for yourself in the real world.
5. Go with what works
When you become very familiar with what your audience likes, you should also know what type of content they consume. Do they like to get their information fast and easy (then videos could be a great way to convey your message), or do they like long, step-by-step tutorials than give a lot of information (then long form articles, ebooks and whitepapers could be great), or maybe they like interactive, fun, fast to consume type of content (in which case you can use quizzes).
You should also know where your audience likes to hang out and who, and where they go to for advice and inspiration. This will help you better identify your type of content and channels (organic with blog post, social with imagery, social with video, referral with influencer).
6. The path of least resistance
Things will not be the same always. You will not have the same fears and beliefs as you have now, however it is important to start taking action on promoting your business now, and not later.
This means that you need to identify the thing that works best with the things you’re showing the least resistance to. You can try the grid of obstacles to go over the nine major obstacles people can have in relation to an action.
So take each marketing initiative and put it through the grid.
7. Start small
The fastest way to kill your drive is to set unrealistic goals for yourself. Don’t expect to have a great webinar, live video, or article the first time you try. But nobody will care, except you. The good news is that you have time to become better. What you don’t have time is to wait until you will be able to make it perfect. Start with small steps, repeat every day or week, and sooner than later you will become great. You can also try marketing in the little things. Get all the answers to your ID card questions and use them as an in-person branding tool when you’re working face to face.
8. Be honest about it
When the going gets tough, many people find themselves at a loss of what to do. The fear of being judged for your actions can be paralyzing and prevent you from taking action at all. Even though it is counterintuitive, one way that people overcome this fear is by being transparent with their audience.
This approach allows them to be more vulnerable and open up about their flaws instead of trying to hide them or pretend they don’t exist. In addition, if done correctly, communicating openly may also lead others who are facing similar challenges feel less alone in the world—which could actually help your brand by creating partnerships and increasing your network.
Being judged is scary and we all have this fear. Whether you are afraid of speaking in public, asking for a raise or promoting your business, fear can be paralyzing.
The problem is you will never get anywhere if you don’t promote yourself. The best way to overcome this fear is by learning how to talk about what you do in a confident manner without being afraid they sound pushy or salesy.
As a visibility coach, I show people how to promote their businesses without feeling guilty for selling their product or service. I’m here to help you overcome these fears and build the confidence and strategy that will allow you to succeed in building your brand through social media marketing, SEO & blogging etc… And yes – it can be done without having an “online personality”.
If you’re reading this post, you might be looking for help with this. Book a discovery call right now. Just click here.