Most of us were taught not to worry about what others say or think about us. But we might need to rethink this to some degree. If we don’t pay any attention to the reaction of others, we may miss out on the benefit of their verbal and nonverbal responses – reactions that can help us determine the things we love.

While this can be a slippery slope toward comparison and people-pleasing, it’s an interesting thought.

The reactions of others to our actions is a humble gift. As Marcus Buckingham says in his book Love + Work, “these reactions will be excellent raw material to help you understand the dent you are making in the world.”

Suppose a young student is taking part in a talent show. Most people are kind-hearted enough to applaud for children no matter how well they perform. However, kids can pick up the intent.

  • If they feel it’s a cool reception to their gifts, they have the option of either setting that hobby or goal aside and keep searching for their thing; or working harder if they feel passion for this particular thing.
  • If the crowd responds favorably when the student performs (or plays the sport, or fixes the computer, or whatever), the student may be prompted to continue down that path if it’s something they enjoy and can see themselves doing.
  • But if a crowd wildly responds with standing ovations and conversations afterward, that student may realize his/her unique ability and be pointed toward their passion and life work.

How do people respond to you? In what areas of life do you feel like others think you are an expert? Watch for these indications and it may give you hints about the things you love.

This goes beyond performing in front of others. Consider the comments and praises you get when helping people with certain aspects of your job or volunteer opportunities. On the flip side, consider when people quit responding to you or calling upon you to perform certain tasks.

Businesses and individuals who aren’t doing what they love may find that the responses from others indicate a half-hearted effort.

Don’t throw out all the negative comments and reactions from others. Though they may not be fun to deal with, they are a part of the puzzle in honoring your God-given talents.

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