I’m on Seth Godin’s email list. Every day, I get a short, pithy observation or opinion on the world.
Some of them are brilliant. Seth is great at boiling down complicated ideas or feelings into simple analogies.
Like the toddler strategy. Do you get upset if a two-year-old says something rude or mean to you? Of course not; it’s a two-year-old.
They don’t really do empathy, nor do they really understand the subtle ways of the world. And they certainly don’t understand (or care about) social niceties.
You can apply some of this thinking to your uninformed critics.
We’ve all had them, right? Somebody outside your business — outside the world of running your own business at all, really — who tells you that you’re doing it all wrong. That you shouldn’t say this or that, because you’ll lose customers. That, in short, they know better than you.
Sometimes they’re small-minded folks who can’t stand to see someone making something of their lives, actually doing something and moving along the road to success. I’ve known a few of those.
They bring you down and sabotage your self-confidence and your work for their own selfish reasons.
And sometimes they’re just doing it from a place of utter ignorance. They don’t know what they don’t know. This is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect, and it’s fascinating.
There are different levels of informedness, and the very bottom rung is when you’re so utterly clueless that you don’t possess the skills and knowledge to know that you’re utterly clueless. This is how I was when I first started my business.
But as I gathered skills and knowledge, I realised how utterly clueless I was and started working bloody hard to rectify that.
Anyway, my point is this: would you let a stroppy toddler ruin your day? Of course not.
So why would you let an uninformed critic ruin it? To all intents and purposes, they’re exactly like the toddler. Except that they should know better about being rude, mean, or thoughtless.
As Mr Godin said:
“Better, I think, to treat them like a toddler. Buy them a lollipop, smile and walk away.”
Indeed. Anything else is a waste of your precious time and energy.
Walk away from the toddlers… but find yourself someone who knows what they’re talking about, who walks the talk, and is worth listening to.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS If you want some help – and not from a toddler – you should get yourself a copy of my book, Business For Superheroes.