On the Value of Losing Friends and Being Less Influential to People

(updated 2.19.2014)

Sometimes caring less for what others think can be to your advantage. This post will describe the importance of not caring about what others think of you- an experiment I did in caring less for others’ opinions, as well as a few helpful tips if you want to try this in order to take back control of your life.

After becoming a Christian, one of the key evidences to me that a spiritual (read: non-natural) change occurred was that I began to have desires that were changed. One of those was first of all lamentation – lamenting the fact that I had never worshipped God before. As I grew, another aspect of the evidence that I had been changed was that I began to care less for what people thought of me and more of what God (in my taking cues from His word, the Bible) thought of me… not that I was completely cured of what the Bible calls, “The Fear of Man,” but that was the point when the resistance began.

Growing up in the 80’s / 90’s, the teaching of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” had taken root in society in general and had resulted in an ethic (caught rather than taught) in my life of ‘pleasing people’. Some of that may be the ‘Southern Hospitality’ atmosphere that I grew up in. Additionally, some could be ascribed to peer pressure and being young. Now, I realize that there is a certain degree of people pleasing that is common to mankind and especially to children. However, the ‘people pleasing’ I am referring to has more to do with fearing what people would say or think rather than being concerned with what God thinks.

There have been numerous stories over the years that tell of a person or people who had an opportunity to speak up when it would have been wise to do so and avert a loss or disaster. Failing to do so because they would look bad or the organization would suffer a similar perceptual loss. The world system would call this ‘groupthink’ or among school aged children, ‘peer pressure’. The Bible calls it ‘fear of man,’ and it is a deadly poison one can have in one’s life.

Recently, I took on a ‘side job’ as a supplement to my income… As an architect, cash flow was running low. So concurrently, I thought it would be interesting to try an experiment, which would be to turn the Dale Carnegie philosophy on its head. In this experiment, I would not strive to be social at all. I would resist the normal flow of intra-office relationships and just keep my nose down. Mind you, I would not be unfriendly, but I would also not try to advance myself… merely just seeking to do my job quietly, working with my hands, and resisting the tendency toward Carnegieism. I will tell more of my experiment in the days to come… stay tuned!

(updated 2.19.2014)

The experiment ended on 2.13.2014 after having a really good run of a year and four months. As you can tell, my undertaking this experiment didn’t hinder my staying at a job or keeping the job- I imagine that if it would have been a problem, things would have ended a bit earlier.

Tips for Caring Less About What Others Think of You

  1. Excellence – You have to be living for a cause that is greater than yourself that will allow you to have the determined focus necessary for achieving excellence in your work. For me, that cause is Glorifying God through being faithful to my scriptural role of provision for my family.
  2. Happiness – My family has a higher priority than the people at work, therefore my goal is not to hang out with the people at work more and it is to devote as much time to being with my family as possible within the context of faithfulness to my employer as well. During the course of the time of my work there, I only spoke of my family to anyone at the job one time, and outside of the job one time… with the exception of two days before I left, when I mentioned to a fellow workmate that I had eight children, which always boggles the mind.
  3. Integrity – Care for the job over care for inter-office politics. I simply refused to play toward those in the office who were seeking to establish their micro-kingdoms or queendoms.
  4. Witness and Testimony – Modern Popular Culture Christianity trends toward a person ‘fearlessly’ being vocal about their faith at work and building friendships with others at work in order to share the gospel. Because I didn’t do this, I was in a spot to be able to hear what the unbelievers had to say about the ‘Christian’ testimony of an ex-coworker, namely, that he didn’t do good work and was always preaching. I didn’t want to be known for that or associated with that. What I have found, though, is that the employer has a bottom line as far as your ‘stay’ with him, and that bottom line is that the work is getting finished according to the standards that he has to meet. He doesn’t want your witnessing to get in the way of his bottom line. If it is, then you need to go elsewhere.
  5. Isolation can breed respect – If you know that you have an ‘issue’ that can be like a lightning rod, staying away from that issue will allow others to focus on their work. When they see you, they only think of what they know of you. If you don’t tell them the lightning rod issue (I have a family of eight children), then the only thing they can talk with you about is the actual work. This strategy decreases distraction… they may feel less like they know you, but they can trust you to get the work finished.
  6. Pick a ‘good’ quirk to be known for – for me, I picked the quirk of always having nothing on my desk when I left, other than the computer monitor, keyboard, mouse and mouse pad. When I left for the day, it was obvious. When I was there, it was also obvious. People knew that when I was there, I was working by the papers, etc. that were on my desk.
  7. Don’t take the bait – Avoid the ‘baiting’ conversation starters. By avoiding them, you again have less room for distraction. People can’t hate what they don’t know, and if what they know is not distracting, then they can’t hate you for things that are not your personality.

I learned a number of other lessons that I haven’t yet put here about this issue.

I will later make a post about women in the workplace. Oh boy- I am sure to catch some heat from this one. But, will boldly go where everyone use to go before. Nowadays, it is tremendously unpopular to talk about these issues. But, hey, I’m not trying to win friends and be more influential to people.

Leave a Reply