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How to deal with people who don’t take you seriously

People not taking you seriously? It’s a common problem for new creators, but a simple one to fix. Here are 5 strategies you can use to tackle it today.

September 17, 2019 by Cyn Meyer

Like many passionate creators, you’ve been itching to turn your online side-hustle into a full-time business.

And it’s not just a pipe dream, either.

You’re ready to take the plunge and commit to creating a thriving business.

The only problem is you’ve encountered some folks who don’t take you seriously.

Not to worry.

Whether it’s prospective customers who don’t take you seriously enough to purchase from you or people who won’t accept you socially as a business owner, we’ve all encountered this hurdle.

To help you wade through the ebbs and flows of entrepreneurial hardship, we’ve lined up some tips for you today on how to deal with people who don’t take you seriously.

First things first, though. Let’s quickly lay out why people might not take you seriously.

Why don't people take you seriously?

There is an external and internal reason for why people don’t take you seriously. Let’s start with the external.

It’s about them.

People are guilty of reflecting their own fears onto you and your business. Most things that aren’t straight-and-narrow may come off as too progressive. This may scare people into judging you and keeping their distance from you (i.e., not taking you seriously).

In fact, one study revealed that when you have negative perceptions of others, it’s linked to higher levels of narcissism and antisocial behavior.

Which means deep down the truth may be that people aren’t sold on your entrepreneurial endeavors because they aren’t sold on their own endeavors.

Take, for example, your career.

Do most careers follow a traditional path? Not really.

Do most people expect it to follow a traditional path? In short, yes.

So people judge against what is socially acceptable. Here’s what I mean.

These days -- especially as technology and the online world advances -- people are looking toward non-traditional career paths, as noted by this modern HR strategy, which is no longer based on three stages of life, but rather, multi-stages.

Another piece of evidence that reveals times are changing is entrepreneurship is fast on the rise. 27 million Americans are anticipated to leave the traditional workforce for full-time self-employment by 2020.

However, despite these trends, the majority of society has yet to embrace this modern form of employment, which means your solopreneur business may be outwardly judged, and hence, not taken seriously.

It’s little wonder, too, because the traditional thinking of a linear career path runs deep.

For instance, your parents and grandparents may presume your lifelong goals follow a linear route that goes from achieving straight A’s in high school to getting accepted into an accredited college and landing a fancy corporate job.

Although such traditional thinking may no longer be the case, until the majority adopts a more progressive outlook, society will judge, and as such, not always take those who sidestep the main path seriously.

OK, that covers the external. Let’s move on to the internal reason why people don’t take you seriously.

It’s about you.

There are likely a few poor habits that you’ve become accustomed to where people don’t see you as a reliable and trustworthy business leader.

Perhaps you’ve allowed life to get in the way, so much so that you end up spreading yourself too thin and now have poor follow-through. Another side effect may be your lack of productivity while working, which boosts your empty-promising and procrastinating to an all-time high.

To be clear, I’m not judging you. You’re far from alone. 85-95% of people are guilty of it and need to procrastinate less, and 57% of people who are very stressed at work feel less productive and more disengaged.

Unfortunately, running out of time and not delivering your best work is simply taken as an excuse. And all these factors contribute to people not taking you seriously.

Now, if you’re ready to spruce up your habits with a healthy makeover, we’ve got five simple ways for you to deal with people who don’t take you seriously.

5 simple ways to get people to take you seriously

#1. Be committed to your word

Our first way of getting people to take you seriously is to be true to your word. In other words, do what you say you’re going to do.

Follow-through is vital for people taking you seriously. The last thing you want to do is flake on delivering a promise.

In your business, this means:

  • If you say you’re going to show up on time, do it.  
  • If you promote an hour-long webinar, don’t go past the 60-minute mark.
  • If you announce a limited time offer when selling your ebook, end the discount on the date you advertised.

You get the gist.

Breaking a promise is a dangerous habit to get into, so it’s best not to start.

If you do it once, you’re more likely to do it again. 62% of consumers who encountered a broken promise from a brand, unfortunately, said the company committed a broken promise multiple times.

Beyond that, it’s important to realize your business relies on the trust you build by sticking to your word.

92% of customers say their trust in a company makes them more likely to purchase more products and services, and 95% say their trust in a company makes them more likely to be loyal.

If you’re curious about how best to follow through, check out these tips:

  • Be careful of what you promise - The saying “underpromise and overdeliver” should do the trick.
  • Expect your enthusiasm to drop - Be mindful that your enthusiasm and energy level are likely higher at the time of making your promise than when it comes time to deliver.
  • Put it on your calendar - Stay organized and clear about the commitments you make.

Don’t just exercise care with what you promise, though: it’s just as important to be cautious about who you make those promises to or with.

#2. Be cautious of who you associate with

Another way to deal with people who don’t take you seriously is to be aware of your social network and who you associate your brand with.

Pulled from the lesson that you become who you hang out with, try to only associate with those who best represent you and your brand.

I.e., align your brand’s values with your network and focus on serving your audience.

For example, if you’re pursuing an affiliate marketing program, be sure to partner with relevant products that benefit your audience, just like Michelle Gardner, founder of Making Sense of Cents, does.

Michelle has an entire “recommendations” page dedicated to promoting services, products, and companies that she either uses or vouches for.

With a website dedicated entirely to helping her audience streamline their finances, Michelle’s recommendations page only publishes resources related to her money-saving topic.

It’s worth noting that with any affiliate promotion, it’s required that you disclose the affiliate link placements to your audience, which Michelle also pulls off nicely.

There’s another benefit to associating with the right crowd.

Harvard social psychologist Dr. David McClelland found that the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95% of your success or failure, so if you’re going to be picky about any relationship, the ones your brand forms are ideal.

Bottom line is that trust is easy to lose and hard to gain. The people you associate with your business can make or break that trust. Choose wisely.

#3. Dress the part  

Another way for people to take you more seriously is to dress appropriately. Wear outfits that align with your brand’s look and feel.

While it seems like a shallow detail to focus on, we’re all guilty of snap-judging someone based on their looks.

More specifically, our brains make millisecond judgments, called thin-slicing, about how much we can trust someone new.

In a survey of 1,000 men, 42% said people take them more seriously when wearing a suit.

That’s not to stay you need to dress to the nines every day, but what you wear can certainly impact whether or not someone trusts you enough to make a purchase from you.

Sound far-fetched? Check out these numbers.

A Yale study of 128 male participants found that people who dressed in sweatpants and sandals while negotiating averaged $680,000 in profit, whereas people who dressed in suits raked in a sizable $1.58 million profit.

So why not take the extra moment to dress with more care?

As it relates to your business, wear the fashion that best represents how seriously you want people to take you.

If you’re confused about how to dress, err on the side of caution and go for more formal attire. There are two quotes that come to mind here: “dress for your next job” and “dress to impress”.

In the same sense that you dress more formally for an interview, dress to impress your audience. Another way to look at it is to dress for your next customer.

There’s also a benefit to your cognitive processing when you step up your fashion sense.

Believe it or not, the clothes you wear can influence the way you think.

Another study of 54 participants found that wearing more formal clothes encourages global processing in your brain, while casual outfits tap into local processing.

In other words, the way you dress can impact the way you approach a decision or focus on a task.

So, if you’re making a big decision in your business, it may help to dress more formally while you weigh your options. On the contrary, if you’ve got a day full of mundane, repetitive tasks, it may be appropriate to dress more casually.

Our next tip today also touches on the way you appear. Rather than your garb, however, it focuses on your mannerisms.

#4. Watch your body language

Whether in video conferences, recorded video, or in-person, another way to improve your credibility is to make sure your body language reflects confidence.

When it comes to the three main elements of communication, body language accounts for 55% of your overall message, which means it’s more important than the words you actually say.

Accounting for 38% of your message, tone matters, too.

Some tips on how to have more confident body language when presenting or talking to your audience include:

  • Make eye contact and lean forward
  • Stand up straight and keep your chin up
  • Avoid fidgeting and touching your face or neck

Try to apply these tips at any opportunity you interact with your audience, which means in your webinar presentations, videos on social media, live meetings, and et cetera. It might feel awkward at first, but over time the mannerisms will become second-nature.

And, while you’re at it, add that confidence into the way you talk.

#5. Speak (and listen) with confidence  

Our final tip for you today for dealing with people who don’t take you seriously is to speak with confidence.

How exactly do you achieve confidence while speaking?

A notable tactic is to speak slowly, especially when presenting. The average speech rate for presentations is between 100-150 words per minute and between 120-150 words per minute for conversations.

That’s not to say you should lock yourself into those ranges, but rather, use it as a guideline. If you take a look at the most popular TED Talk speaking rates, the pace is a bit quicker, averaging 173 words per minute.

Other tips for speaking with confidence include:

  • Eliminate filler words - Refrain from using words such as “umm,” “uhh,” and “like” .
  • Focus on downward inflection - Avoid raising your pitch at the end of your sentences as if asking a question.
  • Breathing - This helps you maintain a slow and steady cadence and stay in the present moment.

Speaking isn’t the only vital element on this topic, either.

Listening, too, goes a long way.

Unfortunately, humans are naturally inefficient listeners. After listening to a 10-minute presentation, the average person hears, understands, and retains about 50% of what was said.

Within two days, that drops off to 25% efficiency.

What’s the remedy for inefficient listening? It’s a numbers game. You’ve got to listen more to retain more.

The more you listen to others, the more they’ll feel heard and like you take them seriously. Which, in turn, makes them want to take you seriously.

How’s that for a positive feedback loop?

Another perk to listening is you pick up on what people truly want and need. And that’s the whole point of your business, isn’t it? To fulfill your audience’s needs and solve their problems.

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Get people to take you more seriously as an entrepreneur

Although you can’t please everyone, you can certainly focus on winning over those who matter the most.

In your business, this means getting your audience and those you serve to take you seriously.

To deal with people who don’t take you seriously, tap into these five tactics:

  • Followthrough with your word. If you make a promise, be sure to deliver on it. You’ll come off as less flaky and build up trust among your audience.
  • Be cognizant of who you associate with and align any partnerships or affiliates with your brand’s values. When in doubt, think about whether or not your audience benefits from the relationship in your network.
  • While it may appear to be shallow, dress appropriately, and make sure your outfit reflects your brand. The reason for this is new audience members will snap-judge (unfortunately).
  • Speak with confidence and actively listen to your audience’s needs, wants, and problems. By taking them seriously, they’ll take you seriously.

Will these work overnight? Not a chance. But they will work, and hey, just remember -- even if no one else believes in your dream, you do.

And that’s more than enough.