The other day, I was writing an email to a major influencer. I was asking him for something pretty important that would help me as a writer.
But I was a little nervous, so I did what many people did. Or rather, I almost did. I caught myself at the end of the email starting to write the following: “You don’t have to do this…”
Wait a second — what was I doing? I was sabotaging myself. And it wasn’t the first time.
Saying “no” for other people
Did I want this favor or not? Of course, I did. So why was I trying to talk this person out of helping me? Because I was scared he would say no. So I wanted to give him an “out.”
But I didn’t need to do that. He was well aware of his right to decline. Writing that escape clause in my email would only weaken my ask.
I was doing something that most people do when they’re unsure of themselves: I was rejecting myself before someone else could.
Many of us creatives do this from time to time. We say no for other people, because of our insecurities and fears.
We apologize for our art. And it’s completely unnecessary.
What I’m learning about influence
Here’s what I’m learning about influencing people and communication:
Either say something worth saying or don’t say anything at all.
If you feel like you have to apologize, then you probably shouldn’t waste that person’s time.
Or (and this is a big “or”), learn to be confident in what you do. To the extent that you don’t have to end your requests with clauses like, “You don’t have to…” or “sorry to bother you.”
When you obviously believe in your message, so will others.
Our words can have an impact
I believe in the revolutionary impact of words, that what we say matters. So when we apologize for “bothering” someone or use self-deprecating comments about ourselves and our work, that’s a bad deal.
If we do this long enough, we may actually begin to believe we have nothing worth saying.
Most people I know don’t believe that. They just believe no one wants to hear them.
Don’t diminish the impact of your words because you’re struggling to believe in yourself. It only undermines the integrity of your message. Instead, take time to learn how to use words well and master the discipline of believing in yourself.
You have the power to inspire (or not)
If you do this, you will inspire people to join your cause and change the world in ways that neither you nor they dreamed possible. And where does this begin? With you. With me. With those who create and care.
If we believe in our art, so will others. It’s simple, but effective. And it makes all the difference.
Take pride in your work. Trust what you have to say. Believe in your message. Or pick a different one.
But whatever you do, don’t apologize. We don’t have time for that.
Do you do this? Do you apologize for your art? Why? Share in the comments.
*Photo credit: Megan Schuirmann (Creative Commons)