Do Other People Know Our Opinions of Them?

We all have opinions about others, but how often do we tell them what they are? When we don't communicate, people tell themselves inaccurate stories about what they think WE think. To further complicate the matter, introverts and extroverts have different needs when seeking opinions, so how does this all work? How can we do a better job of sharing with each other?

October 19, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:02  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness Journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long in features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:22  
Most we're working on recognition as a leadership team at work this week. Oh, so like the idea. Like, Chris, one of our leaders wanted to make sure that people were being recognized for their work. Oh, which is great. It's a great initiative. One thing I'll admit that I'm bad at, is recognizing other people. Because for me, like, I'm not super motivated by that. And I think in previous pods, we've actually talked about how it kind of like freaks me out. Yeah. So I don't like do that for other people. Naturally, I have to be really purposeful about it. Yeah. Like, last week, when you my friend reminded me that I said, tell one of my employees how great of a job she'd been doing after I was droning on and on about it to you, but had not told her

Melissa Albers  1:17  
exactly not. Not a word.

JJ Parker  1:21  
Don't tell her said was, um, should you tell her that? Did you tell her that I was like, Oh, no. Yeah, right. I should probably do that. Wait, wait, wait, yeah.

Melissa Albers  1:31  
But tell then what happened? Because then I said, Well, you could call her and you said, Ah, I'll write an email, send an

JJ Parker  1:37  
email. So it got me thinking, it really got me thinking about this idea that, like, what we think of someone else? Do they know what we think of them? Oh, right. I'm

Melissa Albers  1:55  
so excited to talk about this. I have a lot of ideas, because I

JJ Parker  1:59  
like I'm walking around, right. And I have all sorts of thoughts about all of these people in my life. Right. But if I don't express that very much, then they probably probably don't know how much I you know, like, appreciate and love all of them. Right? They might be thinking like the opposite. Like, he never says anything good about me. So I you know, whatever. It was just like the opposite is true. Yeah. So I thought that that was a really interesting gap, right there. And I bet it causes all sorts of problems, all sorts

Melissa Albers  2:33  
of ruckus. And I think it's slightly exacerbated by your personality style. Right? Because

JJ Parker  2:41  
in particular, no. Well, I direct

Melissa Albers  2:46  
let's talk about how you went right to it being about you know, I mean, depending on our personality styles, we have a tendency to think about rewarding other people or treating other people the way we want to be treated. And we oftentimes assume everybody feels the same way. So in other words, I'm more of an extrovert. So I have a tendency to be more expressive about how I feel about other people. And so until, you know, a few years back, I would treat everybody in that same way. It's like, oh, I people, I'd rather people tell me right on how they think or feel about me. And so I would naturally do that with other people. But if you're an introvert, you really don't want people to come right at you. And tell you what they think you'd rather have the dialogue in your own mind and make up that make up that story. Right about how the other person must be thinking or feeling rather than having it come right at you. Because that's totally overwhelming.

JJ Parker  4:00  
Yeah, and what's interesting about that is if I am thinking, if I'm trying to figure out what someone else thinks of me, yeah, right. Uh, huh. I project, like my own self image. Yes. Precisely. Right. So if I yeah, whatever. I'm not thinking highly of myself. I mean, I think other people don't think highly of me. But that could be completely false.

Melissa Albers  4:26  
Yeah, yeah. You just summarize that once again, you did a really good job of word compacting when I was wandering around trying to get at. Yeah, it's true, though. It's true, though. And I think a lot of times, we make up stories about what other people think about us. And they're not right.

JJ Parker  4:45  
Yeah, this is like we've talked about it like this is fun, because this dovetails into all sorts of things like five love languages. I know episode, right. So it's like, the words of affirmation is one of those. Yep. Yeah, all languages, right? So people who, who who does that, like that's their love language, they would actually more naturally give affirming words to other people.

Melissa Albers  5:11  
Uh huh.

JJ Parker  5:12  
And what was the other opposite that dovetail in with? Or think about it in a second?

Melissa Albers  5:18  
Yeah, no. Think this does talk This is Hell has a lot to do with. It has a lot to do with our own self awareness. It has to do with our self esteem. It has to do with how we see the world and our ability to be objective. Right, because how many times have people misunderstood? What you thought of them? In your brief recollection? Like if you were to just think about it?

JJ Parker  5:42  
I think pretty often, do you? I think so. Well, I think I get the sense that people think I expect a lot more out of them that I actually do. Oh, and this I said, I have like low expectations. No, no, no performance or anything. But I think they often think they're not doing enough. Ah, I'm in like, but I always think they're doing way more than enough. Yeah, right. Yeah. So there's, again, that's probably like my low expressiveness. I'm not like showing a telling them like, Hey, you're doing like way above and beyond what I expect? Yeah. Yeah, that's not saying anything, it creates a gap? Well, where they're constantly trying to do more.

Melissa Albers  6:35  
And I mean, this, this is particularly prevalent in relationships, where you have a lot of influence over someone, right? Like, if you're peer to peer, maybe you don't, maybe you still think about it, but in a little bit of a different, you don't give it as much energy or you don't give it as much attention. Yeah. But if it's like, if you're in a role of highly influencing someone else, like a boss, or somebody, a mentor, or you have just a little more experience in something and someone else, and they know it, I think that people tell themselves stories that they're being judged. And I think that's just a natural human instinct to think, oh, my gosh, I have to, I have to be this certain way. You know, this person, this person must look at me and think I'm not as good as them. Yeah.

JJ Parker  7:27  
Yeah. Yeah, I would, I was even thinking about, you know, like, it this, this idea is all over work scenarios, right. But it happens in your personal life, too. Like, I just think back to times where, like, you know, maybe like, my wife thought that I wanted the house to be certain cleanliness. So she tried to live up to I think, like, like, keep everything sort of, like, pristine, especially when we had like young kids that the house was always just chaos. Right? Yeah. But like, she like tried to keep it to a standard, which like, I really didn't care about, like, like, of course, the house is a disaster. We have kids, it doesn't, doesn't bother me at all. But she'd always like, think that I wanted it cleaner than I actually did. Hmm. So it caused her stress. Yeah. I didn't realize that for a long time. So why

Melissa Albers  8:21  
do you think she did? Like, think about that for a second? Because that's interesting. Why do people make assumptions about us? And then act on them? Why do you think that is?

JJ Parker  8:30  
That's a good question. Well, part of it. Well, there's probably a lot of layers here. Because in that house scenario, yeah, I think it's probably like, there's maybe like a, I don't know, social or stereotypical sort of view of like, how random no clean your house should be. Or like, even is probably gets even deeper, like the role of a stay at home mom or something. And, like, what, what sort of like these image pressures, stereotypes, and so that might play into it? Yeah. Um, the other thing that I think actually also plays into it in, in our personal scenario here is like, especially when the kids were young like that, you know, it would just like get overwhelming. And then I would spend like, an entire Saturday. Yeah, like a crazy person in the house.

Melissa Albers  9:27  
I did too.

JJ Parker  9:29  
So yeah, I think what that probably single single signaled was like, hey, JJ was a house way cleaner, when he was actually trying to do was just get the house back to like, a baseline level of sanity.

Melissa Albers  9:42  
So that you could live in it for a while longer without worrying about it. Yeah.

JJ Parker  9:45  
Right. But it wasn't like me trying to I was actually like, trying to be helpful. Yeah, but what I was probably signaling was like, this isn't good enough. Yeah. So

Melissa Albers  9:55  
what you're saying what I just heard you say is your energy was kicking off a message. So you what you were doing your energy was kicking off a message that was being read, but it wasn't being read quite accurately. Mm hmm. So this is an important thing to think about. Because the energy that we kick off, and I'm always talking about energy, the energy we kick off is what people are reading. Right now what we're saying. So, if we are kicking off an energy of quiet resolution, like, I'm just going to clean this house all day, I'm going to put a ticket out myself, I, I'm not going to ask the other person because I know that they're tired, they need to work that other data. But that person is just reading the energy of you scooting around cleaning everything. You know, that and I, by the way, this is so me. I and I think I think much of it is stemming not from what our expectations of other people are. Rather it's our expectations for ourselves and wanting to participate with other people. But other people are doing the same thing. So I think that they feel that they're judging themselves. So everyone else must be to.

JJ Parker  11:08  
Yeah. Think about, just like, the sort of, like, global amount of unnecessary anxiety because of this gap. Yeah. Right. Like, I mean, you can see like, you can see this like, sort of communication, expectation gap all over the place, and how much consternation it causes for people.

Melissa Albers  11:39  
Yeah, that's really an interesting thing. And you know, what I immediately went to thinking about right here, I started thinking about, how can we help? How can we help? And maybe what that means is, how can we be so aware of the energy that we're kicking off? That it leaves very little doubt for others? Right, like, because we don't have any control over other people? Yeah, you know, even if we tell them, even if we try to even be the most accurate, specific communicator. We cannot control how they hear it. Yep. All we can control is what we kick off. And I mean, I think this is just such a good reminder about Yeah, right. Like, what are we how are we responsible for this?

JJ Parker  12:29  
How many? Maybe this doesn't have any, but this happens to me, where I will say a thing. A very specific thing, like, I don't like, like, this expectation is okay. And then someone will come back later, as I say, like, Yeah, I know, you said that, but don't really feel that that was gonna be okay. Yep, I, yep. Yeah, I said something specific. But they came back and said, I didn't feel like you meant that. Right. So that would be like the energy problem you're talking about, right? Mm hmm. Yeah, something about the energy I was kicking off was not aligned with what I was actually saying,

Melissa Albers  13:14  
right? I've had that same thing happen. As a matter of fact, this week, I was in a coaching session with someone I just adore. Super fun, client, very intelligent, good sense of humor. And I asked, I asked him a question. And it was an open ended question. But I was leading to something because I was excited, like, we were on the verge of something right. And I could just tell he was ready for that. And so I wanted to enter into the conversation more gradually. So I didn't really have an agenda other than getting into the topic. So I didn't have an agenda about how the topic went. Right. I didn't have an opinion about how he was. I was really excited about talking about that subject. And so I asked a general question. And the energy that I asked that with key picked up on right away, and he said, my spidey sense tells me that you might know something I don't. And I was so taken aback by that. I was like, oh, no, not at all. Like, I'm just excited to talk about this topic. But that, that enthusiasm or that energy that I was kicking out, getting ready for the conversation, like getting ready to be ready. He was misunderstanding as I was coming for him in some way. Not quite that hard, but

JJ Parker  14:42  
Well, that's, that's, that's it. That's an interesting story. The thing that struck me the most was that he had the awareness. Yeah. And to kind of call you on it. Yep. Yes, to say everything cuz if he didn't, he would have thought you had like some sort of others agenda. That entire conversation, it would have wrecked the whole conversation because he would have been like constantly thinking, Oh, Moses got some alternative motive here some, some other agenda, some other information that you know, and if she it wouldn't turn into like, Yeah, way, way worse. Yeah interaction

Melissa Albers  15:23  
well it and maybe not well, maybe, or it just could have been a huge missed opportunity. Yeah. Right, because I think he cuz you know what we all do that we all reach for the other person in any conversation we're reaching for what does that other person need? What does that other person expect? What is happening right now? What am I trying to get done right now, like we all are in our heads all the time, and I don't think we notice it. And in this situation, I was grateful because, particularly with him, that's been something that he has high anxiety. Well, high anxiety is based off of us trying to get out ahead of absolutely everything before it happens. And anxiety, we always talk about that it's spending too much time focusing on the future, which means that we aren't present when we're listening and talking with other people. So if we're talking with someone who's more introverted, like you, for example, and there's Okay, so if you and I are in conversation, and you are more careful with your words, you're more you choose your words more specifically, if I was really worrying about the outcome of the conversation, I'd have a hard time listening to the words that you chose, even if there were only 10 of them. Because I'd be so busy looking at you like oh, are you okay with what we're saying? Like, is this okay? And I think that's a really important thing to pay attention to is our own reactions and responses while we're having conversations with other people. Because we're making these giant leaps and opinions about what the other person thinks. All the time. All the time. And then we're reacting to that.

JJ Parker  17:03  
Yeah. Like you're acting to like your own thoughts. Yes, exactly. Yeah. Yes. Being a human is ironic. Right, your brain is like in a constant state of, like, irony against itself or something.

Melissa Albers  17:22  
Yeah. Yeah, I was reflecting on that. Actually, yesterday, I was reflecting on that, like how engaged our brain is constantly telling us stories. And I have, I started with two new clients this week. So is a very busy week. And I have a number of clients that I've been in partnership with now for several months. And the different kinds of conversations are just so textbook at those different report points in the relationship. And how when people first come to me how stuck in their heads they are, and how it's so hard to see. Because it's painful. Yeah, it is painful.

JJ Parker  18:05  
So this week, another another thing I was dealing with was we had two individuals that were just having kind of like a communication problem around a project, right? And one of the people is like an idea guy. Right? Always has ideas. Yeah. Always spitting out ideas, like, you know, these people, right? Is this like a great constant spray of ideas? And to them? That's, that's like part of their persona and part of their value. Like they think the idea generation is valuable, right. Yeah. So some people on the other side of that firehose, it's like, oh, my god, stop trying to change our project. No, we can't do this or that, right. It's like, it's like, feels like constant breaks. And it's exhausting.

Melissa Albers  19:00  
Yes. Right. Yes.

JJ Parker  19:04  
And so as we're talking about how, like, ideas I like, I love ideas. Like, right, like, I'm an idea guy, too. Yeah. But the way we start spitting those ideas out is important. Right? So I was kind of just doing some coaching or like, hey, how do we bring ideas to the table and Wednesday appropriate, and blah, blah, blah. And we started, you and I talked about this, like, we started using words like, like, Hey, I wonder if Right, right. Right. And so yeah, but it it struck me as you're talking about, like our, our brain, and it's filling in these stories, and yeah, and generating these ideas. It's like, that's what your brain does, right? It creates ideas. And like so many of them are not good, or just throw away or just but it's, it's part of its value is to generate ideas. So you kind of have to objectively think like, are these ideas and stories that are being generated now? Good or bad? If they're not? If they're not good, then throw them away. It doesn't matter, right? Yeah.

Melissa Albers  20:06  
And yes. And the brains job, its its function is to come from a place of experience. Mm hmm. It's creating from a place of past experiences. So it's limited. Yeah, it's limited.

JJ Parker  20:23  
So, like this whole thing where we've got, like, you know, miscommunications happening between people and people not understanding what other people think and your brain trying to fill in all of these gaps with stories that it just makes up like ideas that just creates to see if it might fit or not, right? It's just

Melissa Albers  20:41  
like noise. It's just noise. It's just noise. And then we get tired. I think we get tired, we create noise, we all create noise, I think we get so exhausted from the noise. Yeah, eventually, we just stop or we hit a wall, or we hit a breaking point, or we feel depressed or we get quiet. And, and it's usually in those quiet times where we start then judging ourselves. But what we'd seem to do is push it out to other people's opinion. Again, like, which brings us back to what you started the conversation with. It's like, we start telling ourselves stories that this other person must see me like this. I'm feeling so like this. Everyone else must see me as such a fill in the blank. Yeah. Right. And then those other people had nothing to do with it. Yep.

JJ Parker  21:31  
Yep. Okay, so I want to ask you, we talked about energy, and how, like, You got to get your words and your energy to align for people to actually get it. Yeah. How do you get into a conversation where you're like, posture in the right energy? Oh, you're putting out the right energy? Like, yeah, what do you have around? Yeah, around that?

Melissa Albers  22:00  
Well, and I I'd like to hear your idea or your ideas and what you think, too, for me, I think the number one thing, and I always have the same answer for almost every question as it relates to this, it's, how do you really feel. And so often, when we don't feel good in a conversation, in a partnership at work, whatever these moments where we don't feel good, is when we start amping up our stories, so and then we kick off a certain energy. That's the natural way we have a feeling, we think about that feeling. And it creates an action, we have a feeling we think about that feeling and it creates the the action. So what I would suggest is, check in with what is that feeling like? I'm in this brainstorm session, and I haven't said anything for 10 minutes, am I being judged for not being creative? Okay, as soon as you hear those questions, and you as soon as you feel a judgement, as soon as you feel heavy inside, ask yourself, Wait a minute, what's behind this? What am I what am I thinking about? That's making me feel bad that's been causing me to act in a way that doesn't really honor or suit me. I think it's just checking in with our feelings first, and, and sometimes you know, what we just don't feel like we're in a good spot. Sometimes we've had a bad night, or we haven't slept well, or our kids are having problems or, you know, there's all sorts of reasons that we don't feel our best selves. But recognizing that, that we often then we'll jump to putting it on someone else's shoulders, because it feels easier to blame someone else than to say, Oh, I'm doing this, like, it's way easier to say, oh, Chris was just doing this or, you know, Tom was just, uh, he was in such a bad spot. It was just hard to deal with them. When the reality is, it'd be it's more gentle and easier to pass through. If you just say that was me, actually, I just not feeling very good. And it's okay. I'm not going to be mean to myself about it. And I'm not going to push my story on other people about it. I'm just gonna say I don't feel good today. You know, it's just like being more present in how we feel. Yeah. And, and, and oh, I'm sorry, were you gonna say?

JJ Parker  24:12  
No, I was just, I was just thinking back to like, my crazy cleaning persona. And like, like, oh, yeah, it was actually trying to be helpful, but I was also probably a little irritated. Yeah, the house got so messy. Right. I just spent an entire Saturday dealing with it.

Melissa Albers  24:33  
Right. So we do that though. We kind of collect stamps. And then that last book, that last stamp fills the book, right. And then we cash the book in. So for you that Saturday morning, the last stamp got filled because you probably stepped on a Lego. Yep. And that was it. You were all in you. Were going to clean the dang house and you are going to prove to everyone not just you. This is what the house can look like, you know? Yeah, but that's normal because I think that's What we do is we feel kind of yucky. And we don't want to acknowledge that to ourselves.

JJ Parker  25:04  
No, but Right. So like, is it possible? Like, would it be possible for me to like, kind of get the point across like, like, I really want to clean the house, it makes me feel better. I am irritated that the house is this messy. This is not a judgment on anything else, anyone else's judgment on the kids, or my wife, or anyone. It's just like I think I need to do for myself. Although that still leaves, you know, it feels like that would still leave a gap. Well,

Melissa Albers  25:34  
I think that but it's a baby, it's a place to start. Yeah, yeah. Because honestly, I think that the most important thing is that we are honest with ourselves. And we get used to being able to honor ourselves through through saying and being and doing our authentic our authenticity. So like, for me, for example, like the thing that I value, I also value a clean house. But the thing that I really value is that the people that are close to me know exactly how I feel about them. Not in a flowery way, but I want them to know that I love them. And so I made a decision that even if it was awkward, I was going to let people know that that's how I felt. And so with all of my friends, and I've told you, I love you, like I've told my friends that I love them. And you know, people don't know how to respond to real deep truths, because it's like, weird. But for me, it's not. To me, it's just like, I want to honor how I feel. And I want to know that people deeply know that I care for them. And so I might not always have the best action. And I may beat myself up sometime. And I may not be my best self. But I am going to push as much as I can in my awareness when I can. I'm going to just honor how I am. And it feels really good to do that.

JJ Parker  26:48  
Yeah, that sounds like a great way to be.

Melissa Albers  26:51  
Yeah, and I'm not there all the time. But I sure enjoy practicing. And I think we can all do that we can all choose just to practice something that is really authentic for us. And say it in a way that we speak from our language. It's like I'm doing this so that I am taking care of letting people know how I feel. I'm not doing this because I have expectations of other people to me, or that anyone has to respond to me in a certain way or that I expect things back. It's just simply, I'm doing this because I'm honoring me and please don't take that personally or don't you know, don't take that the wrong way. We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast site. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. Third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey.com. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.

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Discussed in this episode

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Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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