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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  July 28, 2015

How to Answer Your Critics

When you are the front runner, a bullseye is placed on your back. The “lesser knowns” will use your prominence to get attention by criticizing your approach, your perspective, what you eat for breakfast, whatever makes them look cool.

The best response is to use juxtapositions to change the perceptions. The strategy was executed brilliantly in this Fast Company interview with David Allen, the brains behind the “Getting Things Done” movement. Here’s how the pros address the critics:

  • Juxtaposition #1: Challenge the assumptions about you. The first thing Allen does is to knock down inferences about who he is and what he stands for. Look at how his story backs up the fact that he’s more zen / creative than left-brained / OCD. Result: he’s more relatable yet still effective.
  • Juxtaposition #2: Reframe the intention. Mr. Allen also corrects the impact of the system. He reminds readers that it’s not about time management; the goal is to create mental space. This ties into juxtaposition #1 above. Result: shows his insightful thinking and makes the critics look shallow by focusing on the superficial.
  • Juxtaposition #3: End with a zinger about the naysayers. Allen doesn’t let his critics off easy. By identifying a specific value of the system (reduces the drag), he links that value to those who most need it: the productive ones. Artful way of saying “the unproductive don’t understand”. Yes, this last piece is tricky. Stay factual, don’t mention names, and you can pull it off.

 

Bottom line: use the naysayers as a springboard to show off how insightful you are (and at the same time, how silly they are). Show the behind-the-scenes brilliance behind your approach and you’ll negate the critics without giving them any credit.

 

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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.