Express Vs. Impress

Express Vs. Impress

As much as we may want to not care what other people think of us, most of us are not entirely free from this annoying concern.

For some people the concern over what people think of them rules their lives and controls their daily choices. It truly is a stifling way to live. In whatever way we adjust in order to present in acceptable ways to others, we compromise our true selves. 

“You can't base your life on other people's expectations.” - Stevie Wonder 

Lovely thought but how do we stop caring what other people think?

Two parts are critical to this transition. Firstly, actually caring more about what we ourselves think about our own opinions, feelings and thoughts. Honoring who we are is critical. Sometimes we will be the only person who likes our opinion. That's okay. Your own opinion of yourself really does matter.

Secondly, we need to put in to perspective the opinions of others. If indeed the other person is healthy emotionally, has our best interest at heart, is not shaming or judging us and comes from a place of love, then we may benefit from letting their opinion carry weight.

Far too often we let the opinions of others matter when they are actually judging us, criticizing us, making their acceptance of us conditional and being truly self-centered versus simply loving.

In reality some people actually consistently encourage a desire for approval from others through praise or through shaming. (This is likely coming out of their own need for approval and power.) If you find yourself especially wanting to impress certain people it is worth paying attention to their behaviors. It may not just be your issue of wanting to please!

“Getstrongbro” has some excellent points in this entertaining short video. 

The point that stands out the most to me is his advice to focus on expressing versus impressing. 

It’s a huge shift in thinking. Instead of tailoring your words to win approval by others, focus on your words being a gift to you in giving voice to your thoughts, ideas, emotions, etc. The gift is to yourself. Others may or may not agree but the goal is expression of what you want to say. That goal is in your control.

The reaction by others to our ideas is not in our control. Releasing the need to try and control other people’s reactions is amazingly freeing.


What music could you be dancing to now if you didn't care that others can't hear the music?


Marilyn Orr, MA, CEC, PCC is an Executive and Leadership Coach with Capacity Building Coaching, holding her Professional Certified Coach designation with the International Coach Federation.

Marilyn provides professional coaching for executive and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training and soft-skills development.

Marilyn is author of everyday resiliency workbook “How Absorbent Are Your Shocks?”, available on Amazon. Subscribe to “Marilyn’s Musings” twice monthly blogposts for more leadership and professional development content.

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